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State Department Briefing by Victoria Nuland, July 5, 2011

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–July 5, 2011.  

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Secretary Clinton will Meet Tomorrow with Peruvian President-elect Humala
    • Nomination of Wendy Sherman as Under Secretary of Political Affairs
    • U.S. Concern about Ongoing Attacks Against Peaceful Protests
    • Humberto Leal Garcia/USG Filed an Amicus Brief for Stay of Execution/Consular Access/ International Court of Justice
    • Arrests in Mexico
    • Capsized Fishing Vessel off the Coast of Mexico
    • Strategic Dialogue Continues with Pakistan
    • Killing of Pakistani Journalist Syed Saleem Shehzad
    • Gay Rights/Human Rights
    • Qadhafi / Turkish Government Aid to TNC/ Russian Chess Talks
    • Burma’s Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, DC
    • Aung San Suu Kyi
    • Dalai Lama Visit to Washington, DC
    • Food Aid
    • Resignation of Reconstruction Minister/ Matter of Internal Japanese Politics
    • DAS Kin Moy Visit to Taiwan
  • IRAQ
    • A/S Feltman’s Visit to Iraq / Uptick in Violence
    • Palestinian Negotiator’s Upcoming Visit to Washington, DC
    • Quartet Meeting at the Ministerial Level in Washington, DC on July 11
    • Visas/Adoptions
    • Referendum
  • IRAN
    • Human Rights
    • U.S. Delegation to Independence / Special Envoy Princeton Lyman


12:43 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. I hope you all enjoyed America’s birthday yesterday. Sorry for the delay. We had a little technical difficulty with the audio today. A couple of short things at the top, and then we’ll go to your questions. First, to confirm that Secretary Clinton will meet tomorrow with Peruvian President-elect Humala. We very much welcome his visit to the United States and look forward to continuing to strengthen our ties with Peru.

On a separate note, Syria. The United States is very concerned about the ongoing attacks against peaceful demonstrators in Syria. The Government of Syria claims that it’s interested in dialogue at the same time that it is attacking and massing forces in Hama, where demonstrations have been nothing but peaceful, and continuing its attacks along the Turkish border. We urge the Government of Syria to immediately halt its intimidation and arrest campaign, to pull its security forces back from Hama and other cities, and to allow Syrians to express their opinions freely so that a genuine transition to democracy can take place. And with that, why don’t we go to your questions?

Please, in the back.

QUESTION: On Mexico, I would like to ask you – I understand the State Department have requested the Texas government to stop the execution of Jesus – of a Mexican national. Do you have any information about that? Because I think the schedule is for tomorrow or past tomorrow; it’s only a matter of two days.

And on the other hand, I would like to ask you what the State Department thinks about the capture of Jesus Enrique Aguilar – Rejon-Aguilar, which is one of the main leaders of the Zetas. I understand it was with support of the U.S. intelligence.

MS. NULAND: Let me first say with regard to the case of Humberto Leal Garcia, the United States has filed an amicus brief – we did that on July 1st with the Supreme Court – in support of the application by Mr. Leal, a Mexican national, covered by the International Court of Justice’s judgment in the Avena case for a stay of execution. And this is to allow some consideration of the fact that Mr. Leal was not afforded a visit by Mexican consular officials at an appropriate moment in the trial proceedings, so to allow that to be taken into account. As you know, this is an issue of reciprocity for the United States because we are very concerned about being in compliance ourselves, here from the State Department, with our obligations under the ICJ, because it’s critical to our ability to get consular access and protection for our own citizens when they find themselves in similar circumstances when they are arrested or detained by foreign governments. So it sends a strong signal to the international community about our commitment to respecting these important obligations.

I don’t have any comment for you on the Mexican arrests. Obviously, we support steps by the Mexican Government to enforce the law and see justice done.


MS. NULAND: On that same —

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, was there any investigation as to why the consular access was not granted in time? Has there been anybody who had to answer for that failure?

MS. NULAND: I don’t want to get too deeply into the legal issues from this podium. But my understanding is it has to do with states’ rights versus federal policy, and it has to do with current policies of the State of Texas.


QUESTION: Can we stay on that?

MS. NULAND: Could – yeah. Sorry. Let’s just stay on Mexico if people want to.


MS. NULAND: Yeah, Jill.

QUESTION: Could you just elaborate a little bit about that? Because, I mean, you said it could affect the rights of Americans. How would that work, specifically, when Americans are abroad? What conceivably could happen without that type of reciprocity?

MS. NULAND: I think you know that there was an ICJ case that found that we were in insufficient compliance with the rights of consular access, and that case was upheld in U.S. courts. So the concern is that if we don’t set a good example here and allow foreign governments to visit their citizens who are detained or arrested or ongoing – having legal difficulties, that we could face reciprocal denial of access for our consular officials when American citizens find themselves arrested or detained overseas. So our concern is to be in compliance with the ICJ ourselves. That’s why we filed this amicus brief, so that we can ameliorate this situation so that our own citizens don’t face reciprocal denial of access.

QUESTION: And are you able to – I know it’s a legal issue, but are you able to speak to that opinion among some that Texas should be able to do whatever, basically, it wants and not respect the decisions by Washington, D.C. or federal courts?

MS. NULAND: Well, this case is going to be reviewed by the Supreme Court, we believe. That’s why we filed this amicus brief, and it’s up to the Supreme Court to settle issues of states’ rights versus federal responsibility.

So – please.

QUESTION: Can I stay on Mexico?


QUESTION: Do you have any update on this capsized boat from yesterday, on anything that’s being done to help the survivors and if you have any update on anybody that may have been recovered since yesterday?

MS. NULAND: As you know, the Mexican navy and the U.S. Coast Guard are continuing their search and rescue efforts. We’re still missing seven U.S. citizen passengers who were aboard the ship. This was a private fishing vessel that was chartered and tragically sunk off the coast of Mexico. We have 19 U.S. citizens who have been rescued. U.S. consular officials in Tijuana have met with them, have provided consular services to them, and we just want to take this opportunity to thank Mexican authorities, particularly the Mexican navy for their hard work in the search and rescue efforts.

QUESTION: So that would leave one person dead then, correct?

MS. NULAND: Yes. We have one American fatality.

QUESTION: A quick one back on the case. I was just wondering if you knew if the State Department has ever filed a similar amicus brief in any death penalty case?

MS. NULAND: Whether the United States has?


MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to that. We can —

QUESTION: It would be interesting —

MS. NULAND: — I would refer you to the–

QUESTION: — just to know if there was precedent for it or not.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I think probably that’s best addressed to the Department of Justice. They would probably be the keepers of the record on that one.

Anything else on Mexico? No? Please.

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria?

MS. NULAND: Yes. We can go back to Syria.

QUESTION: You said that you are very concerned over the situation in Syria. How is this really different than, let’s say, your position was last week? Or is there a degree to quantify your concern at this juncture?

MS. NULAND: A week ago, Hama was the positive example of a city in Syria where peaceful demonstrations were allowed, where people were meeting each other and organizing and talking. And today, we see Hama surrounded by Syrian security forces, so we’re going in the wrong direction.

QUESTION: Do you feel that we are reaching a tipping point where you have perhaps to declare that Mr. Asad should step aside?

MS. NULAND: The Syrian Government has declared an interest in having a national reconciliation dialogue. So on the one hand, they claim to be talking the talk, but the walk we see them walking outside of Hama, et cetera, belies their interest in really having a national reconciliation dialogue, so we’re concerned.

QUESTION: What signs would there have to be by the Syrians to show that they are genuinely interested in pursuing talks with the opposition?

MS. NULAND: As we’ve said, we’d like to see their forces pulled back from cities, from the border. We’d like to see the violence stop. We’d like to see peaceful demonstrators allowed and we’d like to see a real dialogue begin. We want to see political prisoners released. We want to see repression and torture ending in Syrian jails.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: In Kabul yesterday, there was a protest demonstration against Pakistan for the shelling for the last couple of weeks which has killed around more than 50 people in Afghanistan. What is your sense of situation over there, shelling by Pakistan inside the Afghanistan territories for the last couple of weeks?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything specific on that issue. I will tell you that our own strategic dialogue at the working level continues with Pakistan on a broad range of issues. We have Assistant Secretary Brownfield there either today or tomorrow continuing our law enforcement and counternarcotics dialogue with Pakistan, so we continue to work the full range of security and law enforcement and stability issues with Pakistan.

QUESTION: And just to follow up on the same issue, New York Times today reported that U.S. believes that ISI was involved in the killing of the Pakistani journalist. Do you agree with that?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to any intelligence issues, obviously, from this podium. I will say that when this incident occurred back in May, we issued a very strong statement, and I will simply repeat today that we strongly condemn the abduction and killing of reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad, and we’ve raised our concerns about this case with the Pakistani Government.

QUESTION: Do you believe this is an act of terrorism, killing a journalist there?

MS. NULAND: Anywhere in the world, killing an innocent journalist is a gross violation of human rights and needs to be investigated.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MS. NULAND: Please, please.

QUESTION: This meeting in Pakistan with William Brownfield —


QUESTION: — part of it had to do with IED-making facilities and the number of Pakistanis that have been killed as well by IEDs. I’m just wondering, when we had testimony just recently from General Allen and Admiral McRaven saying that they’ve told Pakistan where some of these IED-making facilities are and they have yet to go after them, was – did Brownfield take a message to them today insofar as that’s concerned that we need more cooperation in going after these facilities?

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak today to the precise question of IEDs, but as you know, Assistant Secretary Brownfield has been working, as he does all over the world, the full set of law enforcement and counter – and counternarcotics issues with the Afghans. There is a separate counterterrorism working group under the Strategic Dialogue, which has also met in the not-too-distant past, so it sounds like some of that would come more appropriately under that working group.

QUESTION: So you don’t know if the IED threat has been brought up at this particular meeting?

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to it. Let me see what Bill has to say.


QUESTION: Another on Pakistan?


QUESTION: There was a gay rights event at the Embassy, and apparently there have been a number of rallies across the country in protest about that. Has there been any formal complaint by the Pakistani Government about that event?

MS. NULAND: Not that I’m aware of today. I think you know how strongly this Department and Secretary Clinton feels about these issues, that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights, and that we will speak out for what we think is right anywhere in the world, including in Pakistan.


QUESTION: Yes. It was reported today that Qadhafi has opened line of dialogue with the opposition. Do you support such calls?

MS. NULAND: We’ve heard lots of reports of this kind – Qadhafi’s talking, Qadhafi’s not talking, Qadhafi’s leaving, Qadhafi’s not leaving. You know what the U.S. position is – that he needs to end the violence, pull back his forces, step down. So that hasn’t changed. And we’re looking for action, not —

QUESTION: So you don’t support a political solution or dialogue between the two factions?

MS. NULAND: We support whatever’s going to get us to a place where Qadhafi knows it’s time for him to go.




QUESTION: Turkey recognized Libyan rebel forces as an entity, official entity. Does the U.S. Administration have any plan any time soon to recognize?

MS. NULAND: First of all, to say that we very much welcome the step that the Turkish Government has taken, including its provision of aid to the Transitional National Council. I think you know our position, which was articulated by the Secretary at the last Contact Meeting at Abu Dhabi, that we do see the TNC as the legitimate and credible interlocutor for the Libyan people, and we are working very closely with them on the full range of issues associated with the transition.

Anybody else on Libya? Libya and —

QUESTION: One more, one little sort of shift over the weekend related to these reports of talks was that the TNC saying that Qadhafi might be allowed to stay in Libya. And so my question really is: Does the U.S. take any position on that? Would the U.S. be okay with a solution that left Qadhafi in Libya if out of power?

MS. NULAND: From our perspective, first things first, we need to know that this guy is ready to end the violence, pull back his forces, and step down from power. That’s what we’re focused on at the moment.


QUESTION: Yes. There – what’s the opinion of the State Department on the Russians’ attempts to have some type of negotiations, including those intriguing chess talks?

MS. NULAND: The chess talks. Again, the talks need to lead to the result that we have been seeking, that the TNC is seeking, that Libyans are seeking – an end to the violence, a pullback from the – of his forces, and a recognition by Qadhafi that it is time for him to step down from power and to go. So we are obviously watching all of these efforts. We’re waiting for some of these efforts to succeed and get the message through to him.


QUESTION: But you support the Russians trying to do this?

MS. NULAND: We are interested in getting to the result of Qadhafi understanding that he needs to step down from power. So the degree to which the Russians are sending the same message today that we are sending, obviously, we’re supportive of that.

QUESTION: Morocco —

MS. NULAND: Anybody else on Libya?

QUESTION: Yeah. Where does he need to pull his troops back to?

MS. NULAND: Well, he’s still on the march. He’s still attacking innocents. So what we have said for the – for a long time was his forces need to go back to barracks, they need to go back to where they’re home-based. We need to see an end to the violence. But the most important aspect here is for Qadhafi to understand it’s the time for him to give up power.

QUESTION: Morocco?

MS. NULAND: All right. Anybody else on Libya before we leave Libya?


QUESTION: Not to Libya. Palestinian and Israeli.

MS. NULAND: No Libya? Any more Libya? Libya in the back. No? Going once, going twice on Libya? No? Okay.

Please, sir.

QUESTION: On Burma, there was a report over the weekend that the deputy chief of mission of Burmese Embassy in Washington has desire and has sought asylum here. Has he?

MS. NULAND: We have seen those reports. I’m not in a position to comment on them here.

QUESTION: Has he contacted the State Department?

MS. NULAND: We are in receipt of a letter from him, but I’m not in a position to comment any further on private diplomatic correspondence.

QUESTION: But do you think he fears his life if he goes back —

MS. NULAND: I think you’d best speak to him about that question. Yeah.

QUESTION: And secondly, Aung San Suu Kyi is traveling in other parts of the country. Do you have anything to say on that, her travel outside the – in northern part and other parts of the country?

MS. NULAND: Obviously, it’s good news that she’s no longer under house arrest, that she is able to meet with her supporters around the country. And we hope that this is a harbinger of better things in Burma.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Peace talks? Palestinians?

MS. NULAND: Please. Here.

QUESTION: The Dalai Lama just arrived in DC in the last hour. Are there plans for meetings here, or if you could, at the White House?

MS. NULAND: He – the Dalai Lama is in Washington for the Kalachakra religious ceremony. Our Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Maria Otero, is also designated as our special coordinator for Tibet issues. She’s going to meet him at the airport. She’s going to see him later today. And with regard to any other meetings in Washington, I don’t have anything to announce at the moment.

Anything else on the Dalai Lama? No. Please, here.

QUESTION: Just wondering if you have any update on food aid to North Korea after the Europeans –

MS. NULAND: I do not. I do not.


QUESTION: On Japan, do you have any reaction to the resignation of the reconstruction minister after his offensive comments over the weekend?

MS. NULAND: I do not. It’s a matter of internal Japanese politics.

Please, in the back.

QUESTION: Taiwan? It was reported American Institute in Taiwan confirmed that Kin Moy soon to become U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State for Chinese and Taiwan Affairs, had visited Taiwan last week, and he also met Ma Ying-jeou and other Taiwanese officials. Can you confirm them? And what was the purpose of his visit?

MS. NULAND: I can confirm that Kin Moy was in Taiwan. As you know, he has just been named as the new deputy assistant secretary, under Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, for China-Taiwan issues. So it would make sense for him to go and meet interlocutors in Taiwan. But that’s all I have for him.

QUESTION: Do you have any readout of his meeting?

MS. NULAND: I do not. I do not.

QUESTION: And also another issue is the mainland affair minister of Taiwan, Lai Shin-yuan, is in DC right now and she is here for the whole week. Is she going to meet any officials from this building?

MS. NULAND: I’ll have to take that question. I don’t know the answer at the moment.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Please, in the back.

QUESTION: Thanks. What’s the – can you give me the State Department’s reaction to the World Trade Organization’s decision, finding against China’s export restraints?

MS. NULAND: I have to say you stumped me on that one. We’ll take it and we’ll get back to you. Thanks.




QUESTION: How concerned are you about the uptick in violence there and the fact that there’re still no defense or interior ministers after six months? It seems like when there was not a government in place in Iraq for so many months, the U.S. put a lot of pressure on them to get it together. Is that same pressure being applied now to get these key positions filled and do something about the violence with the withdrawal pending?

MS. NULAND: I think you saw that Assistant Secretary Feltman is in Iraq today for the opening of our consulate in Basra. It gave him an opportunity to have some meetings with Iraqi officials. With regard to the uptick in violence, I would simply say that the people who are doing this are not only enemies of the United States, they’re also enemies of the Iraqi people and their desire to live peacefully and have stability in their future.

So we continue to work with the Iraqi security forces as they get ready for the full takeover of their own security. But obviously, we continue to work with the Iraqis on ensuring that they have a full and strong and stable government.


QUESTION: Peace talks.

MS. NULAND: Say again?

QUESTION: The peace talks?


QUESTION: Could you share with us an update on the trip or supposed trip of the Palestinian negotiator this week?

MS. NULAND: I can simply confirm that he is going to be in Washington, as I understand it, later in the week. We will do what we can after those meetings to give you some kind of a readout.

Also, I think you saw us confirm on background – I’ll confirm it on the record – that we will have on July 11th a meeting in Washington at the ministerial level of Quartet ministers.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. NULAND: He will certainly meet with David Hale. I can’t speak for the rest of his meetings at the moment. I think we’re still thinking about that.

QUESTION: But on just – recall the – the Palestinian negotiator is not meeting with the Secretary of State?

MS. NULAND: I cannot speak to that at the moment. I’m not sure any decisions have been made.


QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Wendy Sherman?


QUESTION: Wendy Sherman has been nominated —


QUESTION: — named as under secretary for political affairs? I have confirmed – some sources say that she will – may need to lead North Korea and Asia affairs while Bill Burns will focus on Europe and Middle East. I’m just wondering if it is true or not. And also, people expect that she will bring some change to State Department approach toward North Korea because of her career under the Clinton Administration. What would you say?

MS. NULAND: Let me start by saying that we’re delighted that Wendy Sherman has now been nominated by the White House for the very important job of under secretary for political affairs. This nomination now goes to the Senate for its advice and consent. So I think in advance of Senate advice and consent and confirmation and her swearing-in, it would be premature to talk about the likely division of labor between her and Deputy Secretary Designate Bill Burns, who is also awaiting final confirmation. But as you know, Ms. Sherman is very experienced in Asian issues and particularly in Korean issues.

QUESTION: And one more, please.


QUESTION: Last week, you announced a decision to – for – provide North Korea with food aid. Do you welcome the EU’s move?

MS. NULAND: We have noted the EU’s move, we have talked to the EU about its move, and we understand their decision. We have not made our own decision.

QUESTION: Is it a factor to consider when you make your own decision?

MS. NULAND: Obviously, we are in close touch with the EU on these issues, as we are in close touch on all of the issues that we work on around the world. But the U.S. will make its own decision when we get to that stage.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam.

MS. NULAND: Thanks.


QUESTION: On Russia, the ambassador, John Barley, was saying that there will be the signing apparently next week, I understand, on visas and adoptions. Do you have a schedule on that or what exactly —

MS. NULAND: I don’t. We are still working out the final details. We are obviously hopeful, but I don’t have anything to announce yet.


QUESTION: Morocco?

MS. NULAND: Morocco, yes.

QUESTION: Official figures show that 98 percent of them would respect constitution changes. Do you have any feeling about fair and balanced, or fair, free and – about elections? How do you think the elections went there?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, it was a referendum, so it was —

QUESTION: Referendum, I understand. But —

MS. NULAND: — a yes vote or a no vote.


MS. NULAND: So I can’t speak to the reporting of 98 percent. We did welcome the decision by Moroccan leaders, now supported by Moroccan people – we understand it was something like 72 percent turnout – to move in the direction of constitutional reform, to move in a more democratic direction. So now we need to see that vote of the people implemented.

QUESTION: So you don’t have a view on the 98 percent?

MS. NULAND: I do not.

QUESTION: What do you think about the process of the constitution changes that they put forward? There were a lot of questions whether they just put very brief time to put forward for people to vote, or many other issues, actually. Do you have any issues with the process of those changes?

MS. NULAND: I think, as we said yesterday, we have welcomed the fact that Morocco is moving in a more democratic direction; at least that’s what the voters asked for with their vote. So now we need to see where this process goes in terms of real change in Morocco.


QUESTION: A quick one on Iran: Yesterday, a senior Iranian lawmaker was saying that he plans to, with parliament, try to bring lawsuits against 26 U.S. officials and former officials on human rights charges and would be tried in absentia, and that there’s also been some sort of motion of Iranian parliament to try and do this. I was just wondering what your reaction would be to this kind of event.

MS. NULAND: We’ve seen it. I would call it a pretty clumsy tit-for-tat in response to the multiple human rights sanctions that the international community has leveled in the direction of Iran.

Anything else?

QUESTION: Anything on Sudan with the coming independence observances this weekend? Anything that the U.S. is doing? Anyone going? Any concerns about what Khartoum might try to pull in the last few days here?

MS. NULAND: We are obviously planning to send a U.S. delegation to the independence. We’re not in a position to announce that delegation yet. I do hope that when we do announce it in the next couple of days, we’ll be able to get a briefing for you on – from those folks. But more generally, let me say that Envoy Princeton Lyman continues to work with the parties in the lead-up to July 9th, and we welcome commitments over the weekend by both Sudanese President Bashir and First Vice President Kiir that they’re going to continue negotiating on all the outstanding issues even after July 9th. What we have been saying, what Ambassador Lyman, what the Secretary has been saying to the parties is it’s now time to set a firm deadline for those additional issues to be concluded after July 9th.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: Has there been a decision yet on how the U.S. will have any diplomatic representation inside Southern Sudan or —

MS. NULAND: I think we’ll have more to say on that towards the end of the week as we head towards the 9th.

Anybody else?

QUESTION: Would that be a separate ambassador?

MS. NULAND: Why don’t we just say that we’ll have more to say on that towards the end of the week, but we are looking for Southern Sudan – South Sudan to become an independent country?


MS. NULAND: All right?

QUESTION: On the —

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: A follow-up on the Burma thing: Have you received any communication from the Burmese Government on the DCM issue?

MS. NULAND: Not to my knowledge.

Thanks very much.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:11 p.m.)

Source: state.gov

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