Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16, 11, My Qs and As with the State Dpt. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland


QUESTION:  Yesterday, Turkish foreign minister made a statement, and you didn’t have time to comment on that.  You said that you didn’t see the speech.  Would you be able to elaborate and have your view on Turkish latest approach to Syria today?  Thank you.

MS. NULAND:  Secretary Clinton also spoke to this this morning at NDU in her extensive comments on the situation in Syria, and she made the point to that audience, which I obviously can’t improve on, that Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu made this trip in the interest of giving Asad a last chance, and he obviously has squandered that last chance, and the Turkish Government’s own frustration and concern is evident in the statement that the foreign minister made yesterday.

And more broadly, it speaks to the point that the Secretary’s been making about the growing chorus of condemnation around the world.  Just six months ago the notion that close allied – close partner Turkey would make such comments about Syria would be unheard of.  But it’s his own actions that have drawn this kind of criticism.

QUESTION:  So you stated that his last chance is past now, and there is no more diplomacy.  Is this the –

MS. NULAND:  The foreign – Foreign Minister Davutoglu drew his own conclusions and made his own warnings.  I’m not, obviously, going to speak for the Turkish Government.  The Secretary made clear, as we’ve all been making clear, what our posture and what our policy is, that we are working with  partners and allies to tighten the noose economically and politically, and we will continue to do that.


QUESTION:  Yes.  Going back to the foreign ministers yesterday, Foreign Minister Davutoglu – yesterday his speech, he said that there are unspecified steps he’ll be taking if the violence continues.  And today there are a couple of (inaudible) that are talking about buffer zone and then they – those reports, some of them are denied.  My question is:  Is there anybody can shed light what would be the next steps now as a humanitarian aid or an engagement?  Should we wait from allies, from Turkey or from you, beside the sanctions track?
MS. NULAND:  On the humanitarian side, I think you know that the Turkish Government has been very generous in setting up camps, in providing support for those refugees who’ve come over the border.  The U.S. has repeatedly offered our support to the Turkish Government, to UNHCR in that effort, and we are very gratified by that open response.  And as the humanitarian situation develops, we continue to look at it.

QUESTION:  Well, same issue – ambassador.  You, I believe, last week, cited a couple of Arab countries withdrawing their ambassadors from Damascus as a positive thing in terms of isolating Asad.  But on the other hand, you sending your ambassador to Damascus, isn’t that a kind of a contradiction?  On the one hand, you send your ambassador to talk more, but citing as a positive thing --

MS. NULAND:  This is not a one-size-fits-all situation.  In the case of the United States, we need to be available to have contacts with some of these new Syrian voices who are emerging.  Other countries make other decisions based on their relationship to express their concern, to increase the pressure.  In the United States’ case, it would be counterproductive.  In the case of other countries, neighbors of Syria, strong partners and supporters, their choice of that kind of action sends the kind of message that we hadn’t seen from the region before.


QUESTION:  In this context, few of senators, members of Congress, and also GOP contenders last week criticized the U.S. Administration for its condemnation on Israel as a close ally.  How do you respond to that?

MS. NULAND:  The members of Congress know where the Administration stands.  We’ve been very clear here.  We’ve been here – clear in the Quartet statement.  It is their right as elected officials to have a different view, but that doesn’t change the view of the Executive.  

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