Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox Mark Toner, September 29, 2011

[Reds asked by other reporters]

Cyprus Gas Drilling-UN Reunification
QUESTION:  Yes, I have a question on Cyprus.  Previously, you said, and I quote, that “The United States supports Cyprus’s right to explore for natural gas.”  You also said that the U.S. Government support the activities of Noble Energy and energy diversity in Europe.  Yesterday, Mrs. Nuland said something else.  Can you tell us exactly --

MR. TONER:  Well --

QUESTION:  -- the real U.S. position on the Cyprus drillings?

MR. TONER:  Sure, Michael.  Thank you, and I appreciate you actually asking the question, because I do want to be very clear, and I do believe that Toria was clear yesterday but perhaps some of her quotes were taken a bit out of context.  But let me just walk you through our position. The United States supports Cyprus’s right to explore for energy.  Having a U.S. company involved in developing the energy resources of Cyprus is also positive.  The United States continues to support strongly the Cypriot-led negotiation process, conducted under UN good offices, to reunify the island into a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.  That has not changed.  We continue to believe that the island’s oil and gas resources, like all of its resources, should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement.  And we don’t believe that developing offshore energy resources need hinder those reunification talks.

QUESTION:  Do you have any comment on the threats by the prime minister of Turkey against Cyprus?  He even implied that he’s ready to invade again in Cyprus.

MR. TONER:  Again, Michael, I just would say that there’s a very clear path forward here.  There’s a Cypriot-led negotiation process being conducted under the UN.  That’s the best way to resolve all of these issues. Go ahead.

QUESTION:  So you are saying that the exploration at this stage does not hinder the reunification talks at the UN.  Is this your position?

MR. TONER:  That’s our position.  

PM Erdogan's Visit to Refuge Camps-Sanctions against Assad
QUESTION:  Okay, I have one more.  Turkish prime minister is supposed to visit the border camps, refuge to the Syrian opposition figures.  And it is expected that he’s going to impose some sanctions.  Have you been coordinating with Turkish Government in terms of sanctions on the Syrian Government?

MR. TONER:  Well, I think we’ve been coordinating not just with Turkey, but with a variety of countries both in the region as well as their partners in the EU and elsewhere.  The idea being we’re trying build up – build momentum.  I think we’ve said before it’s been tough, but frankly, the Asad regime has been doing a pretty good job themselves in building up international consternation against their actions and then isolating themselves to a great extent.  But we continue to coordinate with Turkey.  We understand that they’re bearing a very real sacrifice with the refugee situation and we commend them for what they’ve done so far.  

US Ambassador Attacked-Syrian Opposition NFZ
QUESTION:  You said that the ambassador’s visit was supposed to be discrete; apparently somebody got the information.  Do you have any idea how?

MR. TONER:  No idea, and I just would say that he’s not trying to – by discrete, I mean he’s not trying to call attention to his actions, he’s simply trying to carry out what he believes are his basic and important duties as an ambassador in a country like Syria – to continue to meet with the opposition.

QUESTION:  Just to clarify, you just – I believe you said that you had – between your meetings with the Syrian opposition, you don’t see a kind of a united front in terms of asking, demanding for a no-fly zone?

MR. TONER:  Again, we have not – what we’ve seen – and what we’ve heard, to be more accurate, is a desire for this to be a nonviolent movement, and for it to be a Syrian-led movement.  And, frankly, it is a Syrian-led movement, and what we’ve seen so far on the part of Syrian opposition is tremendous courage in the face of violence. 

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