Monday, September 12, 2011

My Qs and As w/Spox Nuland, also Turkey portion of the briefing September 12, 2011

[pragraphed portion asked by other reporters]

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:  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:  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:  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. 


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