Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 11, My Qs and As with State Dpt. Spokesman Victoria Nuland

QUESTION:  Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu just made a statement and gave an ultimatum in which he said that these are the final words and if the violence continues there will be nothing on the table to discuss.  Since the cooperation between two countries very close, what’s your assessment is the final word?  What’s your expectation?

MS. NULAND:  I haven’t seen the precise statement from the Turkish foreign minister.  We were aware that Turkey would make a strong statement today.  A week ago, the Turkish view was that they would send Foreign Minister Davutoglu down, give Asad a strong list of demands, and the hope would be that he would listen to his neighbor who has had significant influence, has strong trading relations and strong political relations over many years with Syria.  And all we saw after that visit was an increase in carnage.  So it’s not surprising to us that Turkish patience is wearing thin, and I think it’s completely consistent with the position that we hold at the moment.


QUESTION:  Can you elaborate on the latest phone conversation you just mentioned between Davutoglu and Secretary Clinton?

MS. NULAND:  I think we put out a written statement, did we not?


MS. NULAND:  Or perhaps Turkey did.  Obviously, the main subject of the conversation was to compare notes on Syria in advance of the Turkish Government’s statement today.  There were a couple of other regional subjects also discussed.


QUESTION:  So would it be fair to say that you would not oppose Turkish intervention to Syria if deemed necessary?

MS. NULAND:  I’m not going to speak to a hypothetical situation at all.


QUESTION:  Another week and another housing permits from Israel, one of your favorite topics.  It’s about 300 in West Bank.  First, what’s your reaction to that?  And second, do you have any sense that the Israeli administration takes your view or worries under any consideration, given the fact that it’s kind of cycle?  Once they issue new permits and then U.S. Administration condemns it, and then they do it again, and then you do it again.

MS. NULAND:  We have seen this – reports of this approval for apartments in the West Bank.  We consider it deeply troubling.  As I said last week with regard to other housing activity, these kinds of actions are counterproductive to the resumption of direct negotiations.  We have raised this issue with the Israeli Government.  We will continue to make our position known.  Like every American administration for decades, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity.

More broadly, as you know, and as the Secretary said on Thursday or Wednesday, when Foreign Minister Stoere was here, we remain committed to getting these parties back to the table.  We have – our Palestinian partners continue to tell us that their priority is negotiations as well, so what we need to do is end the cycle here of this movement going in the wrong direction and get folks back to the table and get positive steps on both sides towards that goal.

QUESTION:  Last Thursday, the issue – same issue was raised, and I am wondering since last Thursday, within the last four days, have you been able to raise this issue.  And surely Israel is one of the close ally of U.S.  And what kind of a response have you received within last few days that – what is behind of these actions?

MS. NULAND:  We continue to speak to the Israelis about this activity directly.  I’m not going to characterize the – either what we said or what they said back.

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