State Department Briefing by Victoria Nuland, September 12, 2011

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–September 12, 2011.  

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Secretary Clinton Travels to San Francisco September 14-16 to Co-host Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations / Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and Economy Summit
    • State Department Hosts September 17th, Third Annual Passport Day in the U.S.A.
    • U.S. Engages Both Egypt and Israel / Situation Needs to be Brought Under Control / Obligations Under the Vienna Convention / Calling on All Sides for Calm / U.S. Hope is to Avoid Spillover into Larger Region / Importance of Maintaining Stability and Peace /
    • Assistant Secretary Feltman Spoke to a Broad Cross-Section of His Counterparts / U.S. Was in Constant Contact with Egyptian Authorities / Broad Conversation with All Neighbors in the Region
    • U.S. Urging Calm in Region / Statements Made From Turkey Regarding Security of Mediterranean
    • PKK, a Terrorist Organization / Turkey has a Right to Defend Itself
    • U. S. Leadership Remains Intense at All Levels / Quartet / Two States Living Side By Side in Peace/ Palestinian State Needs to be Established by Negotiations Between Parties /
    • Hope That Russia, as Part of Quartet Will Continue to Work on a Way Ahead /Time for Quartet to Play a Positive Role / U.S. has had Rich and Deep Multi-layered Conversations with the Palestinians
    • U.S. Condemns Killing of Human Rights Activist / Ambassador Ford / Time for the Violence to End /
    • GCC is Losing Patience / U.S. Believes it’s Time for UN Security Council to Take Stronger Action / UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry on Syria / Syrian Opposition
    • Confirmation of Qadhafi’s Son Saadi Crossing into Niger / Charge Joan Polaschik / U.S. Working with Hungarian Protecting Power /
    • Essential Services Seem to Be Coming Back to Tripoli / Security Team Led by State Diplomatic Security / Team Involved in Reopening of Embassy and Protection of U.S. Official Personnel / Ambassador Cretz / TNC Working with International Community
    • U.S. Assistance to Flood Victims in Response to September 9th Appeal
    • U.S. Favors an Afghan-led Process / U.S. Has Certain Redlines on Reconciliation
    • Russia’s Agreement with Iran on Bushehr
    • U.S. Welcomes the Rise of a Prosperous, Successful China / Does Not See China’s Rise as a Threat


 12:40 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. I have a couple of announcements at the top and then we’ll go to your questions. First to advise that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to San Francisco September 14–16 to co-host the annual Australia–United States Ministerial Consultations, the AUSMIN, with Deputy Secretary of Defense Panetta.

On September 15th, Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Panetta will meet with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defense Minister Stephen Smith to discuss challenges in the Asia–Pacific region, ways to improve and deepen alliance cooperation, and issues affecting global security.

On September 16th, Secretary Clinton will deliver a keynote address to the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and Economy Summit. The WES will bring together private and public leaders to increase opportunities for women in the private sector. She will also chair the High-Level Policy Dialogue on Women in the Economy, which will make recommendations to the APEC leaders meeting, which is later in the fall, November 12-13, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

QUESTION: I just wanted to make sure, did you say Deputy Secretary of Defense Panetta?

MS. NULAND: I said Secretary of Defense Panetta.

Also, on Saturday, September 17th, the Department of State will host its Third Annual Passport Day in the U.S.A. As you know, most of our passport offices are not open on Saturday, but they will be on Saturday, September 17th so that U.S. citizens throughout the country may apply for passport books or passport cards at all regional passport agencies and participating passport application acceptance facilities, including post offices and clerks of the court. Both routine and expedited processing service may be requested this Saturday, so if you need a passport or a passport card, get out there on Saturday.

Let’s go to your questions.

QUESTION: Can you tell us, explain to us what the situation was here on Friday – well, through the weekend, starting Friday, in terms of activity related to the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo? Who was making calls, who did they call, what did they say, and have those calls continued into today?

MS. NULAND: Well, it was a very busy weekend here as events unfolded. We were actively engaged with the governments of both Egypt and Israel at the highest levels. We conveyed strong messages to Egypt at all levels that the situation needed to be brought under control, and that Israeli Embassy and personnel had to be protected under Egypt’s Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations obligations.

President Obama also spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu to express United States concern for the safety of Israeli diplomats and to review actions that the U.S. could take to try to help. Secretary Clinton spoke twice to Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr on Saturday, and Secretary of Defense Panetta spoke to General Tantawi to re-emphasize our concerns and our strong messages. Assistant Secretary Feltman was also dialing for regional counterparts both on Saturday and on Sunday, and he spoke to a broad cross-section of his counterparts and the Secretary’s counterparts across the Middle East on – from Friday night all through Saturday and on through Sunday.

QUESTION: Sorry. The Secretary spoke with the foreign minister twice on Saturday, or once on Friday and once on Saturday?

MS. NULAND: Once on – I thought it was twice on Saturday, but we’ll get that for you. I think it was once in the morning and once in the afternoon. All I’m told it’s once on Friday and once on Saturday.

QUESTION: And her message was?

MS. NULAND: Her message was: We need to get the situation under control, you have obligations under the Vienna Convention, please do what you can to protect Israeli citizens, and this is dangerous not only in your relationship with Israel, but in terms of implications for the region as a whole.

QUESTION: What about implications for the U.S.-Egyptian relationship?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, the concern here was, first and foremost, to get the situation under control. In that regard, I would also say that we have been gratified by the strong statements made in the last 24 to 36 hours by both senior Israelis and senior Egyptians underscoring the importance of their relationship with each other, calling on all sides for calm, and bringing the situation back under control.

QUESTION: Well, but in the readout that was released on Sunday morning, it said that the Secretary had spoken about the regional security implications. But I’m wondering did she also point out to – and the importance of the Arab-Israel peace agreement – did she point out to the Egyptians that there would be – that there could be consequences for U.S.-Egyptian relations if somehow that peace deal is breached?

MS. NULAND: I think her expectation was that the situation would be brought under control and that there would be strong statements, as there subsequently were, by the Egyptians about the importance of their relationship with Israel. So with regard to the points you’re concerned about, I don’t think we got to that stage.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on one second?

QUESTION: Okay. So – hold on a second. So in your opinion, right now, this building’s, the Administration’s position is that this crisis is basically over; is that correct?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, the immediate crisis with property and diplomatic security in Cairo seems to have calmed. Both governments have made appropriate statements. The calm seems to be returned to Cairo, and so we consider that responsible and we want to go forward from there.

QUESTION: But you’re not concerned about lingering – this is a kind of lingering incident that casts a pall over the already unsettled situation in the region? You’re not?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think, as the statement we released Friday or Saturday with regard to the Secretary’s diplomacy made clear, our hope is to avoid any spillover into the larger region. And I think the fact that both the Egyptian and the Israeli Government spoke strongly about the importance of bringing the situation under control and the fact that it has now been brought under control gives us some hope going forward. But obviously, we all need to be vigilant.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up on that point.

QUESTION: Is there a feeling of complacency or – I’m sorry.

MS. NULAND: I’m sorry, to your —

QUESTION: Just a follow-up on the Egypt-Israel thing: Prime Minister Erdogan just happens to be in Egypt tonight, and he’s giving a speech tomorrow mid-day, I believe, at the Arab League. Within the original context you just described, is there anything in expectation from prime minister at this time?

MS. NULAND: Well, we also were pleased to see that some of the more extreme statements on both the Turkish and Israeli side with regard to their relationship seemed to have been walked back in recent days. We are gratified by that. I think you know that we had been speaking to both sides on that situation. So obviously, everybody in the region has a responsibility to be urging calm and to be promoting calm.

QUESTION: Was there a feeling of complacency or incompetence on behalf of the Egyptian security or armed forces in protecting the embassy?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to characterize one way or the other. But certainly, if you look at the statements that senior Egyptians have put forward in the most recent days, they are concerned about the fact that there was a security breach and that they were not able to meet their Vienna Convention obligations.

QUESTION: Turkish officials and Egyptian officials are discussing a possible visit by the prime minister to Gaza. Any comment on that?

MS. NULAND: I think Turkey’s made its own statements with regard to that in the last 24 hours, so I’ll leave that there.

QUESTION: But you said Feltman was in touch with regional council in part with regard to this crisis. Who are the countries he talked to, and what kind of message did he convey to these countries?

MS. NULAND: He spoke to a broad cross-section of his counterparts. His message was the same as the message that the President and the Secretary were giving – that we all needed to urge calm, that we needed to get back to a place where Egypt and Israel could be confident in their relationship, could be confident in the agreements that they have with each other, that we –that this was important not simply to settle the immediate problem of security around the Israeli mission in Cairo, but also with regard to the region as a whole as we move into a very complicated period heading towards the meetings in New York next week.

QUESTION: Can I just take this a little bit broader? I mean, how much of a concern it is to you that now that you see so much turmoil in the region – Egypt was one of Israel’s closest allies – now that these – some of these new governments that were keeping the peace with Israel are being replaced, are you concerned that there’s going to be a wider – not that there hasn’t been an anti-Israeli sentiment in the region, but that this is going to be more acted upon, that governments are not going to be able to keep the peace, are not going to want to keep the peace, that there’s going to be a much more hostile attitude towards Israel in the region now?

MS. NULAND: Obviously, this was an extreme incident. It was a very serious incident. That’s why not only the U.S., but governments around the region swung into action to try to restore calm and to try to ensure that the right things were said on both sides.

But again, it’s not simply about this isolated incident. It’s about the importance of maintaining stability and peace across the region not only day to day, week to week, but month to month, which is – takes us back to the messages that we’ve been sending on the way to the meetings in New York next week.

QUESTION: Is that perceived an isolated incident? Is that what you just said, it’s an isolated incident? You don’t think it’s part of a trend or possible trend?

MS. NULAND: Again, there was a breach of security. The Egyptian Government has made clear that they regret this, that they are taking steps. They did take steps. So we are hoping that it was indeed an isolated incident.

Okay. Other things on this?

QUESTION: Can I ask just a follow-up, a philosophical question on this issue? I mean, after 30 years of sort of a peace treaty with Egypt and so much investment, U.S. investment in this peace, is there any kind of re-examining as to why this peace basically has always been called and now is almost withering away?

MS. NULAND: You know where we are, which is preserve the fundamentals and to try to make progress, which was why it was so important to all of us, including, most notably, to Egyptians and Israelis, to get this particular incident under control.

QUESTION: If the Egyptian officials give the permission to Turkish prime minister to go to Gaza from Egypt, during the Egypt visit, it is an indication for you?

MS. NULAND: You’re giving me all kinds of hypotheticals. But I think the Turkish Government has made its own statements about such a visit in the last 24 hours, so I would refer you to those.

QUESTION: You just stated that you view de-escalation in the relations between Turkey and Israel, and many disagree with that with new statements. Would you be able to elaborate on that? What kind of statements you have seen that can be signal to walk back?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to repeat here statements made by those two governments. But there were statements made from Turkey with regard to security of the Mediterranean over the weekend. There were statements made by Israel with regard to Turkey’s interests, particularly on its border, that were more reassuring than some of the more extreme ideas we’d heard previously.

QUESTION: Had there been any condemnation of the statement made by Foreign Minister Lieberman that they will – if Turkey maintains this kind of hostile posture towards Israel, they will support the PKK?

MS. NULAND: Said, I think I’ve just gone as far on that one as I want to go. You know where we have been on this subject, which is to urge Israel and Turkey to get back to a place where they can have a productive relationship.

QUESTION: Right. But you consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization?

MS. NULAND: We do.

QUESTION: Any readout about the meeting between Phil Gordon and Ambassador Tan?

MS. NULAND: Beyond saying that the full spectrum of U.S.-Turkish relations, that our concerns about Turkish-Israeli relations, and our discussion on the way forward, both in Middle East peace, Libya, and Syria were all discussed, that would be about it.

QUESTION: Did the issue of drones come up in that meeting? I know there was that report in The Washington Post yesterday about a supposed Turkish request for U.S. basing of drones in Turkish territory.

MS. NULAND: Well, Andy, I know you wouldn’t expect me to get into intelligence matters here.

QUESTION: Hope springs eternal. (Laughter.)

MS. NULAND: Hope springs eternal. You know where we are on the PKK. We believe that Turkey has a right to defend itself, that the PKK is a terrorist organization, and we continue to urge and try to facilitate good dialogue between Turkey and Iraq.

QUESTION: One quick follow-up on PKK. Just to give you opportunity to respond, Iran’s chief of land forces just stated today actually that U.S. consulate in Erbil, Iraq gave some ammunition to PKK, PJAK within this month.

MS. NULAND: I’m sorry. This is an Iranian statement about U.S. action?

QUESTION: Land forces, commander of land forces, just stated that U.S. consulate in Erbil, Iraq gave some ammunition to PKK and PJAK within this month.

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to dignify an Iranian statement on our relations with either Turkey or Iraq with a comment.

QUESTION: What do you say to people who say that this – that what’s happening in the Middle East right now is – the results of a failure of leadership, of American leadership? The President has said that he wanted a peace treaty within a year. He said that more than a year ago, and things seem to be going in the opposite direction. Is this a leadership failure? And the other part of that question is what leverage is the Administration willing to use to keep the vote in the UN from happening, the Palestinian statehood vote?

MS. NULAND: With regard to leadership, it is the United States that has been trying to lead the international community and specifically to lead the parties and the Quartet back to the peace table. That was the basis for the President’s speech on May 19th. Yes, a year ago he – we said that we wanted to see negotiations start. When the course we were on didn’t succeed, the President stepped back, spoke more clearly in his May 9 speech – 19 speech about the framework for peace, starting with negotiations that we all see, 1967 borders with swaps. And since then we’ve been working on that basis with the Quartet and with the parties to try to get them back to the table. So U.S. leadership remains intense at all levels and will be so for the foreseeable future on this issue.

With regard to New York, we’ve been talking about it for several weeks here. We do not believe that a state can be created in New York that that will lead to two states living side by side in peace. If this comes to a vote in the UN Security Council, we’ve made clear that we will veto. We are talking to both sides about the opportunity to come back to the table and to try to do that, ideally, before we get to New York, and we’ll continue to do that in the days ahead.

QUESTION: You said you don’t believe that a state can be created in New York. Is that correct?

MS. NULAND: I said that this is not the right route in this case for —

QUESTION: Because isn’t that how Israel was created?

MS. NULAND: These two – this – the Palestinian state needs to be established by negotiations between the parties. Our view on that hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: But, I mean, they’re not going – they – you know full well that they’re not going to the UN Security Council any more. They’re not going to not go, and they’re going to go the UN General Assembly. Isn’t that right?

MS. NULAND: It is – you’d have to talk to the Palestinians about what their plans might be. There are a lot of different views out there. Our view remains that neither course, neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly, is going to lead to the result that they seek, which is to have a stable, secure state, living in peace that they have to do this through negotiations and that that’s the fastest and best course to do so.

QUESTION: Yeah. Do you have a reaction on Russia saying today that they would support any Palestinian initiative at the UN? And also, since Russia is part of the Quartet, where are we in terms of a possible alternative offered by the Quartet to this Palestinian initiative?

MS. NULAND: Well, we are continuing to work on a Quartet way ahead, as we have been working for a number of weeks. That is the focus of our efforts with the Russians, and we would hope that the Russians will continue to work with us in that direction in the coming days. And I think our view on this is well known.

QUESTION: So you don’t have any – you don’t think it’s a problem that your – one of your main – a quarter of the Quartet is now coming out to – in support of something that you think is a disaster?

MS. NULAND: We think that there is time yet for the Quartet to play a positive role in getting these parties back to the table, and that is the direction that all Quartet parties ought to be pushing at the moment.

QUESTION: All right. And then one more —

QUESTION: Could you get —

QUESTION: — thing on the Embassy situation. Prime Minister Netanyahu was effusive in his praise of President Obama and the United States for what they did to help – for what you guys did to help end the siege or the crisis. So other than making these phone calls that you talked about, what exactly did the U.S. do?

MS. NULAND: The United States was in constant contact at all levels with the Egyptian authorities to make not only the broad strategic points about why the situation had to be brought under control, but also to provide some tactical support and advice for calming the situation. And beyond that, I don’t think I should go.


QUESTION: Can you go back —

QUESTION: Hold on a sec. But why would he be so appreciative? What – were diplomats or family members of Israeli diplomats given refuge in U.S. – in the U.S. Embassy?

MS. NULAND: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Did U.S. Diplomatic Security help in any way?

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to that. I’m not sure that we would speak to that, but I’m happy to take the question and see if we have anything specific to say about it. But —

QUESTION: So there were no Israelis affiliated with – either who worked for the Embassy or affiliated with them, i.e. families, in U.S. – on U.S. property in Cairo on Friday night?

MS. NULAND: Not to my knowledge. If that is incorrect, we’ll get back to you.

QUESTION: Do you – but do you know?

MS. NULAND: As I said —

QUESTION: I mean, have you asked that question of people and you were told no, or is it just that you haven’t asked and so that’s – so you’re able to say that – not to your knowledge?

MS. NULAND: I will simply stand and say that, to my knowledge, the answer is no. If that proves not to be correct, we’ll get back to you.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the UN effort for a minute?


QUESTION: Okay. The editorial today in The New York Times suggests that the Administration has not given anything to the Palestinians to sort of dissuade them from going to the UN. And in fact, it lays out some reasonable things, like saying a state on ’67 with swaps and so on with a timetable. Why is that such a difficult thing when, in fact, it is very consistent with U.S. policy? Why don’t you come out and say, “Look, if you don’t go, we do this in return”? Why is that not an option?

MS. NULAND: Said, I think you can understand that it’s not in the interest of successful diplomacy for me to go into the back and forth of our conversations with the Palestinians. But we’ve had very rich and deep and multi-layered conversations with the Palestinians, including the Secretary’s call with President Abbas not too long ago, and we will continue to have those conversations going forward.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. In the same newspaper, in The New York Times, there was a very harsh article written by an ally of the United States, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, who was an ambassador, a Saudi ambassador to Washington. And he said, “Look, if you really cast a veto, we will cease to be your ally,” basically. Do you take that seriously or do you dismiss that or do you look into it with some – an element of seriousness?

MS. NULAND: I’ve seen the piece. You know where we are, including in our conversations with Saudi Arabia and other neighbors about the need to get back to the peace talks.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Please.



QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the killing of Syrian rights activist Ghiyath Mattar?

MS. NULAND: We put out a very strong statement earlier this morning condemning this brutal killing in strongest terms. This was a very high-profile human rights activist in Syria, apparently arrested on September 6th and died in custody – again, further evidence of this regime’s brutality, indiscriminate force, and absolute disregard for human life and for the human rights of its citizens.

QUESTION: Has the Embassy made any calls to the foreign ministry, the ambassador, or anything?

MS. NULAND: The Embassy was very intent that our statement come out very strongly, and it did. And that statement has been circulated widely with Syrian officials, and Ambassador Ford has made his own contacts with appropriate people, including with the family.

QUESTION: Did you issue any warning to the Syrians that there are others that were arrested with the late Mr. Mattar – did you issue any warning for them as to their safety?

MS. NULAND: We do it every single day from this podium, in Syria, publicly and privately, that it’s time for the violence to end, it’s time for those political prisoners to be released, it’s time for the arrests and the torture to end.

QUESTION: But would you say something like, “We hold you responsible for the continued living, so to speak, of Mr. So-and-So and So-and-So that were arrested with Mr. Mattar?”

MS. NULAND: Of course, we say those things. I would also note that the GCC is also losing patience. You might have seen its statement yesterday calling for the “killing machine” to end.

QUESTION: I’m wondering, in light of all this, what you see now as the prospect for a UN resolution on this. Russian President Medvedev said that, in his view, new sanctions are absolutely not what was required to help pressure the Syrians. Where are you on that front, trying to get your – marshal your forces?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we strongly disagree. We believe that it’s time for the UN Security Council to take stronger action. We continue to consult in New York. We want a resolution that has sanctions teeth, and we also want to be able to answer the call of those Syrian demonstrators who are calling for the UN to be able to monitor the human rights situation in Syria. So we’re going to keep working on it, but we certainly are speaking privately and publicly to all UN Security Council members to look hard at the bloodshed and the violence in Syria and to take the necessary action with us in New York.

QUESTION: The UN Human Rights Commission today appointed a three-person panel to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. How does that fit into the game plan of moving forward with a broader and stronger UN step? Is that something that is required for or will be useful to building this next step at the Security Council that you’re looking for?

MS. NULAND: Well, you’re right; the UN Human Rights Council has appointed now this commission of inquiry on Syria. The first step would be for that commission to be allowed to travel to Syria and make a report. So we’ll be interested to see whether the Syrian Government allows them in and allows them to do what the UN Human Rights Council has appointed them to do.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: A couple questions —

MS. NULAND: Wait. Anything else on Syria before we leave Syria?

QUESTION: Yes. Today, a spokesman for the Syrian National Council, Mr. Ghodmani, I believe, stated that they should be announcing a Syrian National Council on Thursday. Do you have any information about credibility or representation of this new council, and would it be any hope for international community to look to Syrian situation a little differently?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we have supported a coalescing of the Syrian opposition. We have urged them to come up with their own roadmap for change. So if, in fact, that is forthcoming, that will be a good thing and will be helpful to those inside Syria and those of us in the international community who support those inside Syria who want change.

Please. Still on Syria?


MS. NULAND: Anything else on Syria?

QUESTION: Very quickly. Could you comment on the report that alleged that there are increased activities, or increased diplomatic and economic activities between Syria and Iraq, that the Iraqis are replenishing depleting oil supplies and so on, they are increasing their aid, they’re giving cover – diplomatic cover and so on? So could you comment on that?

MS. NULAND: I cannot. It would seem inconsistent with the public statements made by Iraq that the killing needs to end.

Kirit, still on Syria?

QUESTION: No, Libya.

MS. NULAND: Anything else on Syria? No?

QUESTION: A couple questions. First there are now reports that Saadi, one of Qadhafi’s other sons, has crossed into Niger. Have you confirmed that with the authorities there? Do you have any comment? I believe he’s subject to the 1970 travel ban.

MS. NULAND: We have confirmed with the Government of Niger that Saadi crossed over, that they are either in the process or have already brought him to the capitol of Niamey and intend to detain him. My understanding is he is *not on the 1970 list, but the Government of Niger, as it did with previous members of the regime, has made clear to the TNC that it is prepared to cooperate with the Libyan Transitional National Council on the disposition of these people. And we are encouraging dialogue between them, and I think the TNC is trying to make its own decision about what it thinks the appropriate course of action is.

QUESTION: That includes all the people that went over last week as well, right?

MS. NULAND: Correct, correct.

QUESTION: Any update on the Algeria letter at the UN?

MS. NULAND: No, except that the UN Security Council has to make a decision whether to send this to the Sanctions Committee. I don’t think that’s happened one way or the other.

QUESTION: Okay. And a couple questions just on the team that went over the weekend to Tripoli.


QUESTION: Any readout on any meetings they may have had already on – again, on the condition of your embassy, when you think you might be able to open it? And then I did have a follow-up on – you mentioned that there was a security team that was going to go in with them. The Pentagon said this morning that those would include several members of the military. I’m curious if that in any way, in your view, violates the pledge not to put boots on the ground?

MS. NULAND: First, to say that Chargé Joan Polaschik and a small policy team along with more security folks and technical folk did arrive in Tripoli on Saturday evening. They started working immediately. Chargé Polaschik has already met with TNC National Security Advisor Bazama and with Deputy Foreign Minister Bishari in Tripoli to discuss political developments and also to discuss the security needs of the U.S. mission.

We’re also working now with our Hungarian protecting power – you remember they were our protecting power throughout the period that we weren’t present in Tripoli – to provide necessary services to U.S. citizens until the Embassy in Tripoli can formally reopen and until we are able to provide a full menu of consular services.

I would also say that Chargé Polaschik and her team report that things to do seem to be coming back to normal in Tripoli, that the water situation, the electricity situation, essential services do seem to be coming back to normal in Tripoli. But we still have quite a bit of work to do to secure appropriate facilities for our folks. Some of the members of that team are sleeping three and four to a room at the moment as we try to establish a permanent place to be until we can get our facilities back together.

QUESTION: And then on the other question of the security team, whether that constitutes “boots on the ground”?

MS. NULAND: The security team is under what we call Chief of Mission Authority, so this is a security team that’s led by State Diplomatic Security as we have in missions around the world. You’ve all seen the Marines standing guard. The DOD personnel are working under Diplomatic Security and under Chargé Polaschik to try to work on the various security issues having to do with the protection of those personnel as well as the reopening of our facilities. For example, folks had to go in and check and make sure there weren’t any booby traps in our old building, those kinds of things. So this is a normal part of reestablishing embassy diplomatic facilities and we – when the President made his commitment, no boots on the ground, that obviously had to do with entering into the fray between the Qadhafi forces and the Libyan freedom fighters, and that’s not what these guys are engaged in.

QUESTION: Are the security people also working on – working together with the TNC, talking to them about their own security issues and advising the military advisors, any of that sort of thing?

MS. NULAND: This team is involved in the reopening of the Embassy and the protection of U.S. official personnel.

QUESTION: You said that they were – that some of the team went in looking for booby traps, and the Pentagon said two of them were explosive ordinance technicians. Did they find any?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is the building has been cleared. We were able to take some of the international press corps in to review the damage earlier today, so I understand the facilities have been secured.

QUESTION: Going back to the —

QUESTION: Is it the intent – sorry, just a quick follow-up. Is it the intent that the chargé will remain there until – is this an open-ended assignment for her or is this just a brief visit that will then – she’ll leave and they’ll sort of reassess what happens next?

MS. NULAND: Well, she is Ambassador Cretz’s deputy, so she was assigned to Mission Libya under Ambassador Cretz, so she is the forward element, if you will, of the policy team. And she will obviously – she’s preparing now for our formal reopening for Ambassador Cretz’s return and then she’ll resume her duties as deputy at that stage.

QUESTION: So she – but she will then – the idea is that she’ll stay in Tripoli until that – until whenever?

MS. NULAND: She’ll stay in Tripoli and complete her assignment which is at least a year.



QUESTION: At least (inaudible) —

QUESTION: What does it imply for – what does it – sorry.

QUESTION: Just to follow up quickly on that, any sense on the reopening at this point?

MS. NULAND: I think we are not talking months; we’re talking weeks, but I don’t – I can’t speculate exactly when at this stage.

QUESTION: What does it imply for the letter of the Algerian Government to the UN Security Council to be referred to the UN Sanctions Committee? What does it imply technically?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, this was a sanctions issue, so that is one course of action that the UNSC could take, but I’m not going to speculate on what they might do.


QUESTION: On Ambassador Cretz’s phone calls today with business leaders, who did – who was on that call and —

MS. NULAND: Let me get – let us get you a little bit more information on that. I think this was an effort to reach out to U.S. business with interests in Libya to try to encourage them as conditions are right to come back in to talk to them about OFAC licensing and other things that will be necessary until we can get to the stage in the UN, which we hope is sooner rather than later, where we can unwind some of these 1970, 1973 restrictions.

QUESTION: Back to Pakistan?

MS. NULAND: Are we finished with Libya?

QUESTION: Just on the Embassy thing, there’s – these DOD people that went in are not Marine guards, right? I mean, that —

MS. NULAND: I don’t know exactly what service they’re from, but they were in service —

QUESTION: No. I mean, but —

MS. NULAND: — to the larger mission of embassy security.

QUESTION: But they’re temporary; they’re going to leave after they’re done, correct?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: So there’s not – and did Tripoli have Marine guards? Was there a —

MS. NULAND: All our embassies around the world have some Marine guard presence, but I’m happy to take the question and be sure.

QUESTION: No. No, they don’t.

MS. NULAND: Do not?


MS. NULAND: Well, we’ll take —

QUESTION: But did Tripoli – I’m curious, does – did the Embassy in Tripoli have a Marine guard?

MS. NULAND: We’ll take the question. You mean before we had to close —

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah.

MS. NULAND: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: On Libya —

QUESTION: (Inaudible) confirm that the two of them are one specialist and there are four DOD personnel on —

MS. NULAND: I’m going to refer you to DOD. Sounds like they spoke to some of these details earlier today.


MS. NULAND: Are we finished with Libya? Yes?


MS. NULAND: Not with Libya? Okay.


MS. NULAND: Please. Still Libya. Please.

QUESTION: Today, China officially recognized TNC as the ruling authority. Do you have a comment on that?

MS. NULAND: China recognized the TNC? I had not heard that, but that’s a very welcome move if true.

QUESTION: Pakistan’s prime minister has made a global appeal for help because flooding has again caused devastation this year. So is United States planning any relief efforts like last year?

MS. NULAND: In response to Pakistan’s September 9th appeal, the U.S. has already swung into action, providing assistance to flood victims and internally displaced people. We have already started sending food assistance through AID. Our assistance should reach about 346,000 Pakistanis. We’re also sending shelter and nonfood items through AID partners to reach about 5,500 families. And we’re also providing medical services to reach about 500,000 Pakistanis.

QUESTION: Will it be in addition to the already-promised civilian assistance, or this will be part of that?

MS. NULAND: This is a continuation. We’ve given flood assistance in the past. This is new. This is assistance that follows on that. I have a little bit more here – 8,000 tents, 17,000 shelter kits, food rations for 71,000 families through our international partners like the International Organization for Migration, UNHCR, and the World Food Program.


MS. NULAND: Good. Please.

QUESTION: Can you confirm the press reports that the United States allows the Taliban to open the political office in Qatar by the end of this year?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to comment on those specific reports beyond saying that you know where we are on Taliban reconciliation. We favor an Afghan-led process. This Afghan-led process has many facets. But from a U.S. perspective, we have certain redlines. Anybody reconciled has to accept the Afghan constitution, has to renounce violence, drop weapons, and support human rights in keeping with international standards.

QUESTION: Why can’t you say whether you would endorse such a move? I mean, obviously, you’ve talked about reconciliation. There have been – you’ve admittedly had contacts with the Taliban and there is some discussion of the Taliban having an office outside the region where it could better communicate with members of the international community. Why can’t you say whether the U.S. would support such a move?

MS. NULAND: We don’t want to get ahead of an Afghan-led process, beyond saying what we support in the process generally.

QUESTION: A clarification on the attack on the Embassy in Cairo?


QUESTION: Considering that the only Arab – other Arab country that has relations with Israel is Jordan, has anyone talked to the king of Jordan about the possibility of something like this occurring in Amman?

MS. NULAND: Suffice to say we’ve had broad consultations with all of the neighbors to ensure calm and to do what they can to keep the peace locally, regionally in this period.

QUESTION: Different topic? On Bushehr – I believe that it was inaugurated today in Iran. Do you have any comment on that? And I believe – and I note from the podium some of your colleagues have spoken to this in the past, but do you have any proliferation concerns about that facility?

MS. NULAND: This is with regard to Russian and Iranian officials officially inaugurating Bushehr?


MS. NULAND: Well, there are a couple of things here. First of all, we would note that Russia’s agreement with Iran on Bushehr provides that Russia will provide the fuel for Bushehr and will take back the spent fuel, which, in our view, underscores the point that Iran doesn’t need its own enrichment facilities because it can receive fuel from the international community, as it is in this case.

We would also note that with the opening of Bushehr, Iran is now the only country in the world with an operating power reactor that has not ratified the Convention on Nuclear Safety. And in the wake of the Fukushima incident, this is quite troubling. And more broadly, the Bushehr opening doesn’t change the fact that Iran still has to meet its larger obligations to the international community and the IAEA.

QUESTION: Do you have any concerns about diversion from that facility of nuclear material?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Russians, as you know, have undertaken, as I just said, to both provide the fuel and take the fuel back. So we in the international community look to the Russians to make sure that that is indeed the case.

QUESTION: And you’re confident in their ability to do that?

MS. NULAND: Again, this is part of the deal, and we will look to the Russians to make sure that it’s the case.

QUESTION: I have two more questions, the first on – back to Libya. What’s your expectation now? It seems China and the U.S. are on – now on the same page on Libya issue. What’s your expectation of China to cooperate with the U.S. in the future?

MS. NULAND: With regard to Libya?


MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, the Transitional National Council is working extensively with the international community, primarily with the UN in the lead, to come up with a list of places where it might need international support. So the degree to which the UN puts out appeals for support for Libya, it would be terrific if China could answer some of those appeals. There are a number of specific things that China has experience with where it might be helpful.

QUESTION: Another thing is last week China issued the white paper, underscored the peaceful development. What is your response to the white paper?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we welcome the rise of a prosperous, successful China that plays a growing role in world affairs consistent with global rules, global norms, and institutions, and a China that’s committed to advancing a positive bilateral relationship with us. We don’t see China’s rise as a threat, nor does – nor do we seek to contain the – China’s rise.

QUESTION: Do you see this as some – China is showing its willingness to be more transparent?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, any statement by China where it elaborates its intentions geo-strategically is welcome, but we continue to hope that we can have more military transparency.

Anything else? No. Okay. Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:22 p.m.)

* Saadi Qadhafi, a former soccer player and current film investor, is listed in the UNSCR 1970 in Annex I (travel ban), and Annex II (Asset Freeze) in UNSCR 1973.  [return to text]