Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22, 2011, My Qs and As with the State Dpt. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland

Below my questions to Spokesperson Nuland, on August 22, 2011
QUESTION:  Two quick questions on Turkey.  One is the Turkey’s fighter jets bomb[ed] in Iraq last week [for] three days.  Are you still on same page with the Turks on this?  Turkey was excited [also] to boost its presence in northern Iraq.

The second question is you also praised last week that you’re supporting the cooperation between Iraq and Turkey, but a couple of statements came from Iraq that they’re kind of annoyed with these bombings.  What’s your assessment [situation btw these] neighbors?

MS. NULAND:  I don’t think I have anything new on this from what we said last week, which was that we understand these air strikes were conducted, we recognize Turkey’s right of self-defense, we urge Turkey and Iraq to maintain close contact on these issues and to cooperate.

QUESTION:  There have been – there have been many conflicted reports about the whereabouts of Qadhafi.  What’s your understanding right now, where he is or whether he’s alive or that –

MS. NULAND:  I’m not going to get into our intelligence reporting, only to say that, like you, we’ve noticed that he hasn’t been seen in public in quite some time.  His last message was a radio message, I think.  And there are rumors rampant, as you know, in Tripoli and elsewhere.  If he is alive, the best thing he can do for his people is to step down immediately and end this.

QUESTION:  And one more question.  How was the climate last night and this morning in the State Department?  Do you see this change as a vindication of the leading behind – from behind policy or is there any way you can describe the climate within this day here?

MS. NULAND:  Well, I certainly regret – I certainly reject the premise of the way you phrased the question.  As you know, the President and the Secretary have been very focused on a strong international community response to this Libya crisis, to the support that all of us have given to the Libyan people, to the Transitional National Council as it moves forward using all of the tools at our disposal, maintaining broad contacts with countries in the neighborhood, in the region – GCC, Arab League, NATO, et cetera.  So obviously it’s not over till it’s over.  But this has been a community of common action, of size and scope that is quite unprecedented in the modern era.  That is the way this President, this Secretary believe that diplomacy needs to be done, that that is smart power, but again, we have to finish the job and help the Libyan people have the future that they so want.  And we have to finish the job on the ground in Libya and ensure Libya is fully liberated, and then we have to stay with the Libyan people as they work through this transition politically, economically, et cetera.

QUESTION:  So was there – it was a conscious choice to start calling him the tyrant Qadhafi?

MS. NULAND:  I don’t think that this word ought to be a surprise with regard to this guy and what he’s done to his own people.

QUESTION:  Do you think same description can be applied to Asad – Bashir al-Asad as well?

MS. NULAND:  We’ve made absolutely clear where we are on Asad.  He also needs to go.  He has not led a transition, and he continues to brutalize his people.  

QUESTION:  NATO stated this morning that it is ready to work with TNC.  Is the ground troops by NATO – is under any consideration or – and you are – if you are planning to ask any peacekeeping troops from any of your allies right now?

MS. NULAND:  My sense is that NATO obviously needs to maintain its vigilance, as it has said, until the situation is stable and peaceful and all of Libya is under the TNC and Libyan people’s control.  So that job continues.

With regard to onward future mission for NATO, I don’t think anybody is envisioning boots on the ground, but I think we need to wait and see.  NATO has a long tradition of supporting the UN, supporting the European Union, other international organizations in humanitarian relief, other things like that.  So let’s just wait and see what’s needed.

QUESTION:  On Syria again, last week you talk about sanctions, oil and gas sanctions, and your conversation with EU European allies.  Friday, UK British Foreign Office minister said that oil sanctions may hurt Syrian people instead of Asad regime and they are not going to do anything about it so far.  How this message do you think is in line with the U.S. approach to Syria?

MS. NULAND:  I think the press mischaracterized what he actually said.  What he said was that the EU as a whole is looking hard at how it can implement tougher sanctions, including in the oil and gas sector, and it needs to do so in a way that hurts the regime and doesn’t hurt the people, which is a goal we share, obviously.

QUESTION:  IMF released a report this morning, and was saying that basically Iran’s GDP growth at 3.5 percent within a year and the inflation rate, it decreased from 25 percent to 12 percent.  Obviously, they know what they are saying.  So my question is:  It has been more than a year on – in terms of applying sanctions.  How effective are the sanctions do you think at this point, after these figures?

MS. NULAND:  Our sanctions are not designed to pinch the Iranian people.  They are designed to make it harder for Iran to get the technology that it seeks for a weapons program or to be able to proliferate.  So the GDP growth in Iran is not the goal of these sanctions.  It’s to get them to stop proliferating, to get them to come back into compliance with their UN Security Council obligations.

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