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State Department Briefing by Victoria Nuland, July 6, 2011

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–July 6, 2011.  

    • Upcoming Quartet Meeting/U.S. Continuing to Work with Quartet Partners/Goal is to Get Parties Back to Negotiating Table
    • Special Envoy David Hale Meeting with Saeb Erekat Today
    • Assistant Secretary William Brownfield Consultations in Region/IEDs Central Piece of Agenda in Recent Working Group Meeting
    • Very Concerned About Continuing Violence in Southern Kordofan/Call on Parties to Cease Hostilities, Allow Access for Aid Workers, and Provide Humanitarian Assistance
    • Southern Sudan will Become Independent on July 9th
    • Visit of Dr. Lai Shin-Yuan
    • Visit of Shinsuke Sugiyama and Meeting with Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell
    • U.S. Concerns on Iranian Action in Iraq/Continued Confidence in Iraqi Security Forces
    • U.S. Continuing to Work with Government of Iraq and International Partners on Relocating Camp Ashraf Residents
    • Continued Evaluation of Food Aid Mechanisms
    • Continued Mutual Support on Green Issues
    • Reports of Up to 1.5 Million Internally Displaced Peoples/U.S. Delivery of Nineteen Metric Tons of Food to World Food Program


12:51 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. I hope you all enjoyed the TechWomen presentation upstairs. I have no announcements today, so let’s go to what’s on your minds.


QUESTION: I have a question. French Foreign Minister Juppe said yesterday again that France still hopes to host a conference on the Middle East, and he also said that he would speak actually today with the Secretary about that. So can you share with us any information on this? And also can you preview in a way the Quartet meeting of Monday – what would be the agenda and —

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we remain in close touch with France and the Secretary does with Foreign Minister Juppe as we prepare for the Quartet next week. She’s not spoken to him yet, but we do anticipate that they will speak in the next couple of days. I think our position on this, the Secretary’s position on this has not changed, which is that a conference might make sense at a time when the parties have agreed to come back to the table and we’re actually launching something. But to have a conference about how we have a negotiation doesn’t make that much sense to us, so I think we’ll continue to work with our Quartet partners, with leaders like Foreign Minister Juppe as we go forward on this.

More broadly with regard to the Quartet next week, the ministers are going to come together and take stock of where we are. As you know, since the President’s speech many of the Quartet members have been engaged in the same kind of diplomacy that Ambassador Hale and Dennis Ross have been engaged in, trying to talk to the parties, trying to get them to agree to come back to the table within the framework that the President has set out. So it’s a good opportunity for stock-taking among the major ministers involved.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Please, Andy.

QUESTION: Could I follow up? What – would you also expect there to be discussion of the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN and maybe a coordination of policy among the Quartet about how to approach that? Do you think that’s going to be on the agenda?

MS. NULAND: Well, I don’t want to prejudge their meeting before they have their meeting, but as you know, our goal is to get these parties back to the table and our position on the idea of a UN action in September remains that it’s not a good idea, that it’s not helpful. So presumably folks will be working on the former so that we don’t have the situation on the latter.

QUESTION: Will that message be conveyed later today when Mr. Erekat meets with officials here in Washington?

MS. NULAND: Mr. Erekat is in the Department today. He will see David Hale and Dennis Ross later this afternoon. I think the main focus of that diplomacy remains to encourage the Palestinians to come to the table within the framework that the President has set.

QUESTION: And have you – there’s been some talk about a softening of the Palestinian position with regards to the settlement freeze as a central condition for returning to the talks. Have you been encouraged by anything you’ve heard from the Palestinians? And are you thinking that they might be ready to return?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, we’re about to have Mr. Erekat here, so to prejudge how that meeting is going to go wouldn’t make sense. But why don’t we agree that we will see if we have anything new for you tomorrow after the meeting takes place?

QUESTION: But then, could you just speak in general about since the President’s speech, in these last weeks of diplomacy, both here, in the region, essentially across the world? Are you getting promising signs that there is going to be a renewed reengagement from the parties towards some sort of talks?

MS. NULAND: That is our goal. We had, as you know, a senior official speak to this after the first major round of diplomacy, and we continue to work on it and we’re going to work on it up through the Quartet, during the Quartet, and onward afterwards.

QUESTION: So you don’t sense – is there any sense you can give to how successful or what direction things are moving?

MS. NULAND: I don’t want to characterize where we are. I think we need to let Quartet ministers come together and see what they conclude when they meet next week. I would simply say that this is hard work. You can see that this is hard work getting these parties back to the table, and that hard work will continue not only in the United States but by all the Quartet partners.

QUESTION: And what’s the goal of the Quartet at this time?

MS. NULAND: I think I spoke to it a minute ago. It is for these ministers who are very supportive of this shared goal of getting the parties back to the table to compare notes on where they are on the diplomacy that all of us have been having with the parties, and to see where we go from here.


QUESTION: Another subject?

MS. NULAND: Yes. Anybody else on Middle East? No? Please, (inaudible).

QUESTION: On Turkey, if I may.


QUESTION: Could you give us some details about Secretary Clinton’s trip to Turkey, firstly? And secondly, as you might know, two opposition parties refused to take oath in the new Turkish parliament. I know that you don’t want to seem interfering into domestic affairs, but are you concerned at all that your NATO ally might go into deeper political deadlock?

MS. NULAND: First, on possible Secretarial travel, I don’t have anything to announce today. I’m hoping we’ll have something to talk about later on in the week, but right now I’m not – I don’t have anything on the schedule.

And you were right that we’re not going to get in the middle of internal Turkish politics, but Turkish diplomacy – Turkish democracy is vibrant, is strong, and these parliamentarians are working out their issues. So I think we’ll leave it there.

Please, in the back.

QUESTION: In the press conference with Assistant Secretary Brownfield yesterday, the interior minister announced a crackdown against the IED factories, and Pakistan security forces have also launched an operation in some parts of North Waziristan that there has been a longstanding demand. If you can comment if these actions are line with the demands made by United States after the Abbottabad operation.

MS. NULAND: As you know, we did have a very good working group session. Ambassador Brownfield, I believe, spoke to some press in Pakistan yesterday after the session. And you all asked me yesterday whether IEDs were on the agenda. They were the central piece of the agenda, so I can confirm that. And we are working very hard with our Pakistani partners on their own efforts to strengthen their ability to combat IEDs. So it was a good meeting. We are making progress together. But most importantly, Pakistan is taking strong ownership of this issue at home.

QUESTION: Lieutenant General Rodriguez said this morning in his valedictory press conference from Afghanistan that the U.S. military has been disappointed in the Pakistani military’s cooperation in trying to secure Afghan security, notably on not just the shipment of IEDs into Afghanistan but also the failure of the Pakistani military to do anything about the people going in to provide support and on-the-ground building and training of others who would set off these explosives. What kind of pressure – what kind of readout do you have from Ambassador Brownfield’s meeting that the Pakistanis understand the gravity of this, especially given that U.S. forces, most notably, are leaving in a year’s time and won’t be there to help protect the Afghan people from these sorts of attacks?

MS. NULAND: Again, Ambassador Brownfield spoke quite extensively yesterday. Let us try to get you a transcript of what he had to say in Pakistan. But this is precisely why we are working on these issues together. And as you know, the United States has a lot of experience now, after all this time in Iraq and in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, with IEDs. We’re trying to help our Pakistani partners get stronger in this area, and my sense from what we had from Ambassador Brownfield’s consultations was that he feels that this working group is helping to advance our cooperation and advance Pakistani capability in this area.

So, let me just go to —

QUESTION: There’s some new satellite imagery in Sudan that shows what appears to be a massing of troops, a convoy headed toward South Kordofan. I was curious if you were concerned about this and if the recent violence that you’ve seen there gives you any pause into what the Department has said was its consideration of easing some of the measures, including the – Sudan’s place on the state sponsor of terrorism list? I’m curious if any of those – any of the violence that you’ve seen is – gives you any pause in the – as you approach the July 9th independence?

MS. NULAND: We’re very concerned about the ongoing situation in South – in Southern Kordofan, and we’ve made that point at every level from the Secretary on down over the last couple of weeks repeatedly. And we continue, including today – Ambassador Lyman to call on the parties to agree to and implement an immediate cessation of hostilities, to allow unfettered access for aid workers, and to provide the humanitarian assistance into Southern Kordofan. This is an urgent requirement. We put out a statement about it yesterday as well.

That doesn’t change the fact that on July 9th, Southern Sudan will become independent. This is something that both the parties are ready to endorse. This is the culmination of a six-year process. But even after independence, there are issues to be worked on, including Southern Kordofan.

QUESTION: Okay, but that answers the first part of the question. The second part was whether any of the recent violence that has happened in the region has given you any pause with regard to removing Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list.

MS. NULAND: As we – when we worked on the CPA initially, it became – the terms were very clear that the United States would be prepared to address this issue when all aspects of the CPA had been addressed. So we’ve made progress in that regard, we are ready to move to independence on July 9th, but there are these remaining issues. And it’s not just the situation in Southern Kordofan. We also have to have a final settlement of the future status of Abyei. We have to deal with the other unresolved border areas. We have to deal with the citizenship issues. So all of those issues will be continued and we’ll continue to have a dialogue on those issues, and we are encouraging the parties to try to complete them as soon as possible after the 9th.

QUESTION: But I mean – but when you talk about the – removing Sudan from the state sponsors of terror list, have they satisfied all the requirements or all the conditions on Darfur to merit taking off the list and now they just have to handle these other issues? Or across the board, is the Sudanese Government going to have work to do?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Sudanese Government has work to do. Our focus is primarily on implementing the CPA in full, and then we can deliver the benefits of the CPA.


MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: Ambassador Lyman – you welcomed the idea that the North and South are going to continue negotiating beyond Saturday. Is the United States going to have any on-the-ground role in this? Is Lyman staying out in the region after the 9th, for instance?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, Ambassador Lyman has been intimately involved at every stage, as has the Secretary of State. Repeated phone calls to both parties, the meeting that she had with both sides in Addis Ababa a couple of weeks ago where she personally assured them that if they could reach a ceasefire and an agreement on Ethiopian peacekeepers into Abyei, the United States would ensure that the UN Security Council supported that deal – that did come to pass. We’ve had that first stage. So we will stay very much engaged.

With regard to the precise travel plans of Ambassador Lyman after the events in Juba on the 9th, I can’t speak to it exactly, but he is very much involved, and his efforts will not cease until we have full implementation.

Please? Anybody else on Sudan before we leave Sudan?

QUESTION: Ambassador Munter was scheduled to meet –

MS. NULAND: Ambassador?

QUESTION: Ambassador Munter was scheduled to meet Secretary Clinton this morning. So if you could tell us –

MS. NULAND: I’m sorry. I didn’t –

QUESTION: Ambassador Cameron Munter.

MS. NULAND: Campbell –

QUESTION: Cameron Munter.

MS. NULAND: Cameron Munter, of – our ambassador in Pakistan.

QUESTION: Yeah. He was scheduled to meet Secretary Clinton this morning. So if you could just tell us –

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to that, but generally we don’t speak from the podium about our internal discussions with our ambassadors. But as you know, the Secretary follows the U.S. diplomacy with Pakistan very closely. She always see Ambassador Munter when he’s in town, generally does.

QUESTION: Just two other reports. One that is about Pakistan denying UN access to assess the level of humanitarian assistance required in the areas where operation is now being launched, if you could comment on that. And the second report is that the Pakistani commission that was made to investigate Abbottabad operation and the aftermath of that, it had its first meeting today. And the first demand it has made is that the family of Usama bin Ladin should not be repatriated If you could comment on that as well, and if you are in touch with the Pakistani authorities about the commission and what it is doing?

MS. NULAND: I’ve seen the reports on all these things. I’m not prepared to comment from here, but we can take the question and come back to you.

QUESTION: A follow-up –

MS. NULAND: Please. Yeah. Please, Christophe.

QUESTION: How do you see the rather intense fightings which developed today in northern Waziristan? This is the beginning of a military offensive by the Pakistani army? Is it something that the United States would expect or hope for?

MS. NULAND: I would refer you to the Pakistani army on what they’re up to in Waziristan.


QUESTION: Can I just follow – one – according to WikiLeaks, there was a report that U.S. had requested China to go through some of the routes, some of the humanitarian aids to Afghanistan through China. I understand the Chinese have denied the access to the U.S. because you thought – I mean, U.S. thought you had been putting all the eggs in one basket, like through Pakistan, only you’ve been seeking another route.

MS. NULAND: Goyal, I can’t imagine you’re asking me to comment on a WikiLeaks cable because you know that I wouldn’t do that. I don’t think it’s any secret that the U.S. is looking for multiple routes for ourselves, for our allies to support the operation in Afghanistan. That only makes good sense.

QUESTION: And second, if I may, also on Pakistan?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: According to the Pakistani newspaper reports, General Musharraf is here in the U.S. – now in Chicago, I believe. He will be speaking some of the public events. But Supreme Court of Pakistan has arrested – issued arrest warrants for him. If Pakistani authorities in any way have asked the U.S. for his extradition to Pakistan?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything on that for you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Please, in the back.

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you. I wanted to ask you about the status of the sale and upgrading of F-16 fighters to Taiwan. Where are we at in the process? The window for opportunity for sales to Taiwan is narrowing. There’s been a lot of talk around town. So I was wondering if you could clarify.

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything new for you on F-16 sales to Taiwan today. No decisions have been made.

QUESTION: And can you just outline where we’re at in the process?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think we’re anywhere other than where we have been. We’re continuing to evaluate under the Taiwan Relations Act if and when and how.


QUESTION: Also on Taiwan, yesterday, I asked – the Mainland Affairs Council Minister Lai Shin-yuan is in D.C. Could you tell us about – like, who is she meeting from this building? And also what issues are you going to discuss with her?

MS. NULAND: I can confirm that Dr. Lai, minister of Mainland Affairs Council from Taiwan, will visit the United States. I think she’s already here, as you mentioned. These kinds of visits are normal, they are part of our regular unofficial relationship between Taiwan and the United States. She will have appropriate meetings with Administration officials. But as you know, in keeping with our longstanding policy, we don’t comment on – with precisely whom or on the content of those meetings.

QUESTION: Could you also comment on what are you going to discuss with her? Is arms sales to Taiwan included?

MS. NULAND: Again, we generally discuss the full range of issues, but I’m not going to comment beyond that.

Please. Over here.


MS. NULAND: Actually, behind you.

QUESTION: Yeah. Shinsuke Sugiyama from the Japanese Foreign Ministry is in Washington starting today to meet with Assistant Secretary Campbell. Wondering what’s going to be on the agenda for them, and if they’re going to discuss any preparations for trilateral meetings during the ARF meeting in Bali?

MS. NULAND: Yes, you are right. The – Assistant Secretary Campbell’s counterpart is here. They will meet – looks like they’re meeting today, July 6th. And we would expect the full range of U.S.-Japan issues – bilateral, regional, and global – to be on the agenda. Given that the ASEAN meetings are coming up, I would guess that they will be concerting positions on that.


QUESTION: Another major (inaudible) concern is that Turkish Government is expecting from Turkey – from U.S. One is Reaper drones and the second one the Cobra attack helicopters. Turkish Government is expecting those two major systems since last year. Is there any development on this issue?

MS. NULAND: I have nothing for you on that. Thanks. Please, in the back?

QUESTION: Persian News Network, Voice of America. What is the State Department’s take on the internal conflicts within the Iranian regime?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think we’re going to get in the middle of Iranian politics. We’re obviously watching it closely. Our interest in Iran is primarily in seeing Iran fulfill its international obligations.

QUESTION: With regards to Iraq situation, especially that they haven’t requested officially for the U.S. troops to remain there, if it doesn’t happen, what is the take on that? I mean, is there an action plan on the – Iran’s effort to influence Iraq situation?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know that we have grave concerns about what Iran has been doing in terms of supplying weaponry and trying to stir up violence in Iraq. Ambassador Jeffrey spoke to this yesterday, trying to exploit the current situation. That said, we have a lot of confidence in Iraqi security forces and in their ability to maintain security in Iraq. We continue to say that if Iraq were interested in some residual U.S. presence staying in Iraq, we would be willing to have that conversation. But at this point, we haven’t had a request.

QUESTION: But there is two key position in Iraq Government. Defense and internal ministry hasn’t got any minister there. These are two key position. Are you confident within the – Iraq’s government to handle their conflicts internally? Because they don’t seem to be reaching any substantial unity amongst themselves.

MS. NULAND: This is democracy in action in Iraq. They are involved in trying to take their internal situation to the next level. So from our perspective, we continue to work with them on the full range of issues, including the security situation today and the security situation as we head towards the end of the year and the withdrawal of the remainder of forces.

Andy, did you have something?

QUESTION: May I have one more question?

MS. NULAND: I think we’ve done it on that subject.



QUESTION: A follow-up on Iraq?

QUESTION: I’ve got an Iraq one.

MS. NULAND: Lots of Iraq today. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: A couple of months ago, a senior State Department official rolled out a U.S. plan for relocating the residents of Camp Ashraf, saying that there was a concern in this building that they face the potential for more violence against them if they stay where they are. The head of that group is now going around telling media outlets that they’re rejecting this plan sort of outright, that they won’t consider it.

I’m wondering if that rejection has been communicated directly to you, and is there a Plan B if the U.S. – what’s the next step as far as the U.S. is concerned regarding the Camp Ashraf situation?

MS. NULAND: We are continuing to work with the Government of Iraq, with the Ashraf leadership, with all of our international partners on a plan to relocate the camp. This is an ongoing dialogue. We want to see this done in a way that avoids further violence and leads to a long-term solution. So this is an ongoing process and our goals, I think, remain the same, which is to see an appropriate settlement of the issue.

QUESTION: But if they’re rejecting this plan, then clearly, you have to find another path to reach those goals, don’t you?

MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t want to speak to the specifics of the negotiation that we’re having, both with the Iraqi Government and with the Ashraf leadership. I think those talks will continue.



MS. NULAND: Please, on Iraq.

QUESTION: Iranian vice president was visiting Iraq today, and he said that Iran is ready to build and provide security to Iraq. He added that the relation between the two countries has reached a very high level. Do you have any reaction to this?

MS. NULAND: I don’t. I don’t.

QUESTION: Why not?

MS. NULAND: I think I’ve already spoken to our – (laughter) – I think I’ve already spoken to our concerns about Iran’s intensions and Iran’s activities in Iraq.

QUESTION: North Korean —

MS. NULAND: Please, in the back.

QUESTION: The Turkish foreign minister has decided yesterday to stop the air operations in Libya during Ramadan. Would it – would you support this idea to stop, to postpone at least, the air operations, air assaults in Libya during the Ramadan?

MS. NULAND: I mean, I can’t speak to internal Turkish decisions made in the context of Ramadan.

QUESTION: No, it’s —

MS. NULAND: We have very strong relations with Turkey on the subject of Libya and we’ll continue to work towards our common goal, which, as you know, is for Qadhafi to understand it’s time for him to go.


QUESTION: North Korea (inaudible), has there been any decision on whether the U.S. will provide aid? And basically it’s now three weeks on, maybe a month on, since they got back from their trip. What’s taking so long?

MS. NULAND: No decision has been made. We’re continuing to evaluate the team’s report and we’ll get back to you when we have something.

QUESTION: Is this a matter of just internal building discussions or is this a matter of consultations with the EU or with other countries in the region? Because certainly we’re now talking about several more weeks where people are reported to be eating grass and dirt, and children are dying.

MS. NULAND: Again, I think this is a matter of continuing to evaluate what the team found in terms of the different parts of North Korea that it was able to visit, and in terms of evaluating the need as compared to other needs around the world, and also evaluating our ability to monitor and ensure that if we were to go forward with this, that the food would get to the people who need it and not be exploited.

Way in the back there. Thanks.

QUESTION: There are reports that China’s (inaudible) health is failing. Do you have a reaction to that or confirmation of where – of his status or —

MS. NULAND: We’ve seen the same press reports that you have, but I’m not in a position to confirm here. We would refer you to the Chinese Government which, to our knowledge, has not yet made a statement on this.

Please, Andy.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) back to North Korean on food aid for a minute?


QUESTION: In her comments last week, I think it was, the Secretary, when she met the South Korean foreign minister, in any event, the Secretary said, as you just did, that there are concerns accountability, transparency —


QUESTION: — of how the North Koreans would handle this. So my question is: Are these questions that you’re going to go back to the North Koreans to try to get answered before you’re going to make any decision? Is there something else that they can provide you with that would speed this decision along? And if so, how would that information get transmitted? Is there another team would go back or they’d send a cable or what?

MS. NULAND: Again, this was one of the issues that was on the agenda of the team that went, not only the question of need but also the question of solving some of the problems that we’ve had in the past, some of the concerns we’ve had in the past about our ability to monitor. So if and when we were to make an affirmative decision, this would have to be part of it. So, presumably, those issues were discussed there, whether we have – until we’re ready to make a decision, we couldn’t go to how we would assure ourselves, specifically, working with the North Koreans about where it would go. But it’s very much on our minds that we cannot waste American taxpayers’ dollars by providing aid that goes to the wrong people. If we’re going to do it, it needs to go to the people in need.

QUESTION: So the question then would be – it would be sort of the mechanics of how any potential U.S. program would be structured? That would be how you would be looking to sort of prevent seepage or make sure that it’s accountable, not that the North Koreans would provide you with more information or different plans for how to distribute it?

MS. NULAND: Again, there are many ways that this could go, from direct eyes on to other ways to be assured, but it’s very much part of the team’s mandate to make sure that if we go in that direction, we know that it’s the people in need who are getting the food.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: And just to follow up, I think what he’s getting at is what is the exact evaluation? Is it an evaluation of U.S. capacity to deliver it in an accountable way, or is it an evaluation of what the North Koreans are providing in terms of their commitment to getting it to the people that need it?

MS. NULAND: Again, unless and until we have a team report to speak to, I can’t get too far into details. But the concern has been that whether it was U.S. food aid or other food aid, in the past, it has not ended up on tables or in the mouths of those most in need.

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. NULAND: So there have to be mechanisms that we have confidence in, that the American taxpayer can have confidence in, that the American Congress can have confidence in, to ensure that it is the truly needy and the truly hungry who receive the aid, if and when we decide to go forward.

QUESTION: So you’re evaluating the mechanisms?

MS. NULAND: It’s a matter of – it’s a matter of need. It’s also a matter of transparency and mechanisms and whether those who are providing the confidence are trustworthy interlocutors. That’s about as far as I can go on that one.


QUESTION: Another question on that monitoring issue?


QUESTION: The European Union last weekend laid out assurance the North Korean side on the monitoring – they will be willing to provide or willing to agree. I wonder if the U.S. team, when they visited Pyongyang, whether they got a level of assurance from North Korea on the monitoring issue. Was this something that’s equivalent to what you had gotten from North Korea?

MS. NULAND: Again, I can’t speak to the specifics of the conversation. I would simply say that, like the EU, this is a major issue of concern to us to ensure that we have a system that meets our standard of reliability. So if and when we go in that direction, that’ll be something that we would be prepared to talk about, but we’re not there yet.


QUESTION: I just have a question on India – I mean, actually U.S.-India economic and security relations. Recently, a lot of Indian delegation were here in Washington on security and also second Green Revolution that they are seeking from the United States, which U.S. helped India first Green Revolution. My question is that if they have made any request for security equipment or second Green Revolution from the United States and what – any comments?

MS. NULAND: We continue to work on these issues with India. They are primary issues on our – in our bilateral relationship, as India seeks to become greener and seeks to become a global leader on climate change, to ensure that we’re working together to provide as much mutual as we can, and I expect that in coming week’s we’ll have more to say about those issues.

QUESTION: And just quick follow. As far as security concern in India is a domestic security concern – what they are seeking from the U.S. is to combat domestic kind of terrorism and other problems that India is seeking. Is that under consideration for those little small equipments?

MS. NULAND: Well, we do have a rich counterterrorism dialogue with India, and it seeks to address both our work at home and our work together globally. So I don’t think that’s news, but again, we’ll have more to say on that in coming weeks.


QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Aid agencies are calling the drought in the Horn of Africa the worst in 60 years. Do you have a comment on that and the food shortages and the refugee situation?

MS. NULAND: I do. We are very concerned. We have seen reports of up to 1.5 million IDPs, considerable refugee flows into neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya. We have already delivered some 19,000 metric tons of food to the World Food Program, and a lot of that has already been staged in warehouses to ensure rapid delivery into the area. But just this morning, Secretary Clinton asked our folks to continue to look at this and work hard on what we can do together and what we can do with neighboring governments to ensure that we don’t have another massive humanitarian catastrophe. So it’s a matter of concern and a matter of ongoing work here.

Please. Anybody else? Oh, sorry.

QUESTION: On Russia: The deputy prime minister of Russia, he said Russia will expand Arctic border to seek gas. Do you have a comment on that?

MS. NULAND: I had not seen that. We will take a look at that and get back to you.

And in the back.

QUESTION: A U.S. congressmen delegation has visited Gilad Shalit’s family last week in Israel, and the family members said the U.S. – the Turkish prime minister has involved with this issue (inaudible), but the release of Gilad Shalit from Hamas – do you have any update? Have you contacted with the congressmen who have talked to family members?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything new on that for you.

QUESTION: Just one —

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: — lingering issue. Do you – you might have touched on this already, but do you know, now that Congressman Kucinich is back, have you had any briefings with him? Has he met with anyone in the building or —

MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, he has not.

Thanks very much.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:24 p.m.)

Source: state.gov

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