Monday, October 24, 2011

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox V. Nuland, October 24, 2011, Press Briefing

US-SyrianNC engagement/assessment on SNC
QUESTION:  (Inaudible) anything about – on this conversation, engagement with the opposition.  Obviously, is it Syrian National Council in Turkey.  They have been trying to get their acts together.  What’s the current status of your engagement with this particular group, claims to be umbrella organization for the other opposition groups?
MS. NULAND:  Well, I think the Syrian National Council itself has said that it is seeking to unify other groups, but even as recently as this weekend, it has made clear that it doesn’t claim to represent all groups.  So even as we talk to and work with the Syrian National Council, we are also talking to and working with many other opposition actors and opposition groups in Syria.  And you know where we’ve been, that we would like to see these groups come together as much as possible.  We want to see them set forth a clear platform for taking the country in a democratic direction, the kind of platform that could really attract Syrians of all walks of life, whether they were Aloite or Sunni or Druze or Christians, and could really provide a vision of a nonsectarian, unified, increasingly democratic Syria because that’s certainly a Syria that we would be proud to be supportive of.  And that’s what we think the Syrian people deserve.

Arab League visit to Damascus
QUESTION:  A delegation from the Arab League is about to visit Damascus.  What would you – what should we expect from this visit?  I believe they gave another final two weeks notice to Damascus.  What would you like to see out of these discussions?  
MS. NULAND:  Well, first and foremost, we obviously support the Arab League delegation’s stated intent that their number one message to the Asad regime will be that the violence in all of its forms – the intimidation, the brutality, the arrests, the torture – have to stop; and second, that the people of Syria should be allowed to exercise their right to protest and that a peaceful transition should begin, including dialogue.  So we will see if Asad will listen this time.  I wouldn’t say that our expectations are terribly high.

Blue Coat tech company helping Syrian Regime to cencor
QUESTION:  Over the weekend, I believe (inaudible) Washington Post Blue Coat – the name of the technology firm is Blue Coat according to the news, is a technology firm the Syrian regime has been using to censor social networking site.  Have you been taking any steps to deal with this company?
MS. NULAND:  Let me say that we are aware and we are concerned about reports of the use of technology by repressive regimes in general, but Syria in particular, to target activists and dissidents.  We are reviewing the information that we have and monitoring the facts as they come in.  As you know, we have very strict controls on most exports to Syria.  We’ve had them since 2004, with some very tiny exceptions, including for the download of some software that we think can be helpful to the people.  Exports that are not covered by those tiny exceptions would be a violation of U.S. law, so we are looking into this.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Questions to U.S. NATO Ambassador Ivo Daalder On NATO Operations in Libya

Ilhan Tanir with Vatan Daily, your line is open.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Ambassador, for your insightful remarks.  I have quick two questions.  One is, if I am not mistaken, you stated that 31st of October is the end of the NATO mission.  After that point, how you are going to oversee the situation that you described if there is civilian attacks?  You are going to confront these attacks?

And my two – second question is:  Many argue in the past there’s a roadmap from Libya operation for future operations.  My question is:  Since things are going very badly in Syria, do you think there are lessons for us to take from Libya operation going forward for Syria?  Thanks so much.

AMBASSADOR DAALDER:  I appreciate both of your questions.  With respect to what would happen after the NATO operation ends on – which we expect to end on the 31st of October, part of the assessment that our military commanders have made and we are making in the North Atlantic Council, which will ultimately make the decision, is the degree to which the Libyan authorities are now capable of providing the protection to civilians.  And it is our view that civilians can now be protected by the NTC, the National Transition Council, and soon the governing authorities in Libya.  And there is no requirement anymore for NATO aircraft to provide that capability.  There isn’t an organized loyalist opposition anymore that is capable of massing forces in big quantities and threatening civilians.  And to the extent there are still threats, folks who can threaten civilians, the NTC and Libyan authorities will be able to take care of that.  So that’s our judgment, and that’s the reason why we moved toward – to ending – winding down the operation and ending it by the end of the month.

With regard to what the Libya operation may mean for the future and whether it’s a model, each case, of course, is unique.  There were very unique circumstances with respect to the Libya case.  NATO early on made very clear that in order for NATO to involve itself in this operation, there needed to be a demonstrable need for military action, strong regional support, as well as a sound legal basis.  And those three criteria came together in late March when the Arab League decided that it was necessary, in their view, to establish a no-fly zone and requested the UN Security Council to provide a mandate for such action.  And of course, the kind of threats that were being – and attacks that were being waged by Qadhafi’s forces against the civilians in Libya, in Tripoli and the threat that was being posed in Benghazi, showed there was a demonstrable need.

In the case of Syria, there clearly is attacks by government forces on civilians.  But it’s also clear that the opposition forces as well as the Arab League do not think it is a good idea for outsiders to intervene and they are strongly against that.  Nor is it clear that intervention on the outside would have the desirable effect.

So each case is unique.  In the case of Syria, the situation needs to be resolved by the government ceasing its attacks on civilians.  And the government, in fact, has lost its legitimacy and now needs to step aside.  Military force is not the answer in all circumstances and it’s probably not the answer in this circumstance.

QUESTION:  I understand, sir.  I have a very quick follow-up.  There are some serious allegations that Syrian regime behind the latest PKK terrorist attacks in southeastern of Turkey, and now Turkey sent some 10,000 troops, according to some news reports.  Do you think if these allegations are proved to be true, would this be one of the members of the NATO is being attacked by another country?  Would it be everything – can this (inaudible) within this framework?

AMBASSADOR DAALDER:  I’m not familiar with the information.  I just haven’t been – been focused too much in the last few days on what’s happening in Libya, and I’d just rather not comment on hypotheticals.  Turkey, of course, is a strong and valuable member of the NATO alliance, and we are committed to the security of Turkey.

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox Toner, October 20, 2011, Press Briefing

Davutoglu Remarks on Assasination Plot

You want to go?  Go ahead, Ilhan.

QUESTION:  Yes.  Today, Iranian foreign minister was in Turkey and there was a press conference.  And today also, the week after Foreign Minister Davutoglu debriefed on the Iran plot – assassination plot.  And Foreign Minister Davutoglu says today basically what needs to be done is that all parties involved share what they have and clear the issue.  Didn’t the foreign minister of Turkey got all the evidence on the Iran plot?

MR. TONER:  We did brief Turkish officials on the Iran plot, yes.

QUESTION:  Basically, Foreign Minister Davutoglu says, “We do not believe,” – this is quote, “We do not believe that Iran would resort to such ways.”

MR. TONER:  I think it is, frankly, unbelievable for many people to consider that such a plot could be hatched by a sovereign nation on the soil of another sovereign nation against another sovereign nation.  So it is unthinkable and unbelievable.  But as we have said in our – in making case last week, and then continuing to make the case to our allies and partners, we believe the evidence supports that there was indeed this plot.

QUESTION:  So at the time when EU goes with the sanctions, you have been putting more pressure on --

MR. TONER:  Well, I think we talked about – we’re going to continue to put pressure on Iran.  And it goes – that goes without saying.  But one of the things we’re talking about as well is ways to strengthen existing sanctions.  And indeed, these are, from what we’ve seen in press reports, that these sanctions are beginning to bite.


Turkey-Iran cooperation against PKK/PJAK, Trilateral aggreement

QUESTION:  Do you have concerns about the Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers pledging closer cooperation against Kurdish rebels?

MR. TONER:  Well, we obviously condemn the PKK as a terrorist organization, and we are working jointly with Turkey as well as with Iraq to combat it.

QUESTION:  This is Iran.

MR. TONER:  I know.  Let me finish.  And we obviously stand with our NATO ally, Turkey, and its fight against the PKK.  In terms of any relationship or what it may have said with cooperation in terms of Iran, I’d just refer you to the Turkish Government.

QUESTION:  But you don’t have – let’s – in context for a second, the Turkish military is inside Iraq right now, and it’s talking about much closer cooperation with Iran.  Does that raise some red flags for you?

MR. TONER:  You’re talking about much closer cooperation with Iran?

QUESTION:  On a military-military level against the Kurdish rebels.

MR. TONER:  Against the PKK.


MR. TONER:  And --

QUESTION:  P – the (inaudible) --

MR. TONER:  Again, I just think where we stand on this is that we are committed to work with Turkey on combating the PKK.  In terms of what they may or may not be talking with Iran about, I’d refer you to them.

QUESTION:  Do you have any update on --

MR. TONER:  I do want to follow up.  Yesterday, I was asked – sorry, I was – just have the information here.  I was asked yesterday about the Trilateral Security Dialogue.  It does meet on a monthly basis, and the last meeting was on October 3rd, 2011, since we’re on the topic.

QUESTION:  So are you considering to extend mechanism after New Year?

MR. TONER:  It’s independent of other agreements, and its work will continue beyond the end of the year.

Syria, Homs, Syrian Army entering Lebanon

QUESTION: I believe a couple days ago, you were asked whether Syrian army entered Lebanon. According to news reports, six, seven times, the army entered Lebanon. Have you been able to confirm these reports?
MR. TONER: That’s a good question. I don't know if we have. I’ll take the question on, whether we’ve confirmed the reports. Obviously, it’s – it would be of concern.

QUESTION: And at Homs in Syria, a fierce battle has been going on for some time. I believe yesterday 41 people got killed, if I am not mistaken. First of all, UN Security Council, is there anything – now do you have any renewed initiative at the UN Security Council?
MR. TONER: Well, we would certainly welcome further action by the UN Security Council on Syria. Unfortunately, that – the resolution of several weeks ago now was rejected, and so we commit ourselves to working, again, on – with likeminded partners and allies, both in the region, in Europe, and elsewhere, on other ways that we can increase the pressure on Asad.
But you’re right; every day that goes by, we see this violence perpetrated by the Syrian Government continue. We see more deaths of protestors. It’s obviously something we’re concerned about. We’re supportive, certainly, of the Arab League and its efforts to mediate a dialogue. We’re not particularly optimistic since the Syrian Government’s shown no interest in pursuing any kind of dialogue. At the same time, as you mentioned in Turkey, we see the Syrian opposition continue to coalesce. We think that’s a positive sign, and certainly as it becomes more broadly representative of the Syrian people, that’s – it offers – it can offer a future vision for these protestors who are out in the street risking their lives every day.

But let’s be completely clear that the onus for these deaths lies on the Syrian Government, on Asad, on his regime, who continue to kill innocent civilians, and it’s appalling.

QUESTION: Reportedly, there is a huge – a military operation is about to set against Homs in coming days, almost --
MR. TONER: Right. We’ve seen continued deaths and violence around Homs. We continue to urge the regime to grant immediate unfettered access to Syria for internationally recognized human rights monitors. This is something the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry has asked about. We also call on access for independent journalists from a variety of media sources to report on what’s going on. It’s something that they’ve rejected thus far, because these are people who could bear witness to their atrocities.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox Toner, October 19, 2011, Press Briefing

[Reds by other reporters]

PKK Attacks/Turkish incursion into N.Iraq/Turkey-US cooperation

QUESTION:  Today, in southeast of Turkey, there was a terror attack, and according to latest numbers, 24 Turkish soldiers got killed, and wondered what’s your reaction to that, first of all?

MR. TONER:  Well, you saw the White House statement – the statement from the President that strongly condemned this morning’s outrageous terrorist attack against Turkey.  We stand in solidarity with the Turkish people and condemn in the strongest possible terms these attacks in Turkey’s Hakkari province.  They demonstrate a disturbing uptick in violence comparable to the level of the 1990s, and again, we express our deepest condolences, and we stand with our NATO ally Turkey and its fight against the PKK and in solidarity with the Turkish people.

QUESTION:  President Obama also wants to cooperate with Turkey.  Is there any specific steps that the U.S. Government is ready to do?

MR. TONER:  Well, as you know, we’ve cooperated in the past on counterterrorism against the PKK.  We do condemn them as a terrorist organization and demand that they cease their terrorist activities, and we’re going to continue to cooperate with Turkey in combating the scourge of the PKK.

QUESTION:  Do you think you are going to –

MR. TONER:  I don’t have anything concrete to point to, but our existing cooperation will certainly continue.

QUESTION:  Turkish Government has been seeking to get some drones and other new arms to fight against PKK.  Do you think –

MR. TONER:  I don’t have anything on that for you.

QUESTION:  On this issue, Mark, in the past, Turkey has pursued the PKK into Iraqi-Kurdistan territory and other places.  Would you support Turkey if it conducts such operations?

MR. TONER:  Well, I think we would – we look to both Turkish and Iraqi authorities to cooperate and coordinate and work together to combat the PKK.  There’s certainly – they certainly have a shared interest.  We encourage always Iraq’s neighbors to respect its sovereignty by cooperating closely with the Government of Iraq in combating these terrorist groups that operate along the border region.  And indeed, these are a common enemy to both Turkey and Iraq.

QUESTION:  Is it, to the best of your knowledge, there is no, let’s say, safe haven for the PKK in any Syrian territory?

MR. TONER:  In any Syrian?

QUESTION:  Syrian territory.

MR. TONER:  I’m sorry.  Look, as I said, we’re going to continue to work with Turkey to combat the PKK.  I don’t know about safe havens in Syria, but we’re certainly going to try to increase our counterterrorism cooperation to go after the PKK.

QUESTION:  Okay, but --

QUESTION:  Do you if these – what (inaudible) calls have been made from here to Turkey in raising this issue?

MR. TONER:  Not yet.  No. 

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

MR. TONER:  Not that I’m aware of.  No.

QUESTION:  One more question.  Even though U.S. Government has been helping in terms of intelligence as the public statements we know since 2009, there is this anti-American sentiment in Turkey again today as well.

MR. TONER:  Anti-American –

QUESTION:  Anti-American sentiment over this new terror attack.  Some argue that still it’s some kind of link between these attacks and the U.S. presence in Iraq.  How do you explain to these differing opinions, and it is growing actually?

MR. TONER:  How do you speak to – look, I can’t be any clearer, Ilhan, that we view the PKK as a terrorist organization, as an enemy of both the U.S. and Turkey.  And we’ve been cooperating, as you said, for many years now in combating them.

QUESTION:  You don’t have any update on Predators issue and the Cobra helicopters?
QUESTION:  And this second question:  Do you think that the withdrawal process of U.S. troops from the region, from the northern Iraq and all over the Iraq, will cause any void of authority in the region? MR. TONER:  We have confidence in Iraq’s security forces to maintain both external and internal security, and – otherwise, we wouldn’t be moving forward with our withdrawal.
QUESTION:  What is the role of U.S. presence in the region?  I mean, you are providing the air security now in northern Iraq?  What is the exact role of U.S. presence in the – for – in terms of Iraq – northern Iraq security?
MR. TONER:  Well, again, we’ve been – as we’ve been moving towards the January 1st withdrawal date, we have been ceding more and more areas to the control of Iraqi security forces as they’ve grown in the strength of their own capabilities.  I’m not sure what the situation right now is in northern Iraq.  I’d have to get those details, or I just would encourage you to contact the Department of Defense.
QUESTION:  Are you considering a kind of trilateral security agreement between Iraq, U.S., and Turkey?  MR. TONER:  I missed that.  I – Arshad, just – sorry, but I missed the – sorry.  (Laughter.)  You’re not distracting.  Sorry, I just missed the question.  
QUESTION:  Are you considering a kind of trilateral security agreement --   
MR. TONER:  A trilateral security agreement?
QUESTION:  Trilateral security agreement between Iraq, Turkey, and U.S. –
MR. TONER:  Again, I would just say that we’re working to have better coordination and cooperation both between the U.S. and Turkey against the PKK, but also, importantly, between Iraq and Turkey. QUESTION:  On this very issue, Mark, are you having separate talks with the Government of – the governor of Kurdistan, the President Barzani of the northern province of Kurdistan or his prime minister, Nechervan Barzani?
MR. TONER:  On this specific issue?
QUESTION:  On this specific issue, because in the past, there has been a great deal of animosity between Turkey and the government in northern Iraq and Kurdistan.  So are you sort of gearing talks or seeing – overseeing talks between Turkey and Kurdistan independent of Iraq?
MR. TONER:  Yeah.  I’ll take that question.  Certainly, our aim is to – as I said is to enhance cooperation between Iraq and Turkey and to focus both countries’ efforts on ending the scourge of the PKK. 

QUESTION:  This final clarification.  In the past, you stated clear stance and support for Turkey to cross-border operation, just a month ago actually, and there are different reports now.  It is your stance still to support Turkish military operation?  Some say already some of them inside – 
MR. TONER:  I would just say that we certainly recognize Turkey’s right to defend itself against terrorist attacks.  We also certainly encourage Turkey to work closely with the Government of Iraq to combat this threat. 


Davutoglu-SyrianNC meeting/US-SNC meeting?

QUESTION:  On Syria, Turkish foreign minister just yesterday met with Syrian National Council that was formed in Turkey.
MR. TONER:  Right.

QUESTION:  Some argue that this is the right step in the recognition of the SNC?  First of all, are you considering to take similar steps to meet with the Syrian National Council anytime soon?
MR. TONER:  Well, again, I – we’ve – we have met with and will continue to meet with members of the Syrian opposition and – going forward.  And we’re also seeing this Syrian opposition and this – and in part, the Syrian Transitional National – Transitional National Council, is that right – the Syrian National Council, I think, is what it’s called – continue to coalesce and grow.  We believe it’s one of the major voices within the Syrian opposition.  We’re still seeing the Syrian opposition coalesce.  We maintain contacts both within Syria and outside with Syrian activists and expatriates as we move forward.  It’s an important element of our strategy. 

QUESTION:  So you are saying you met with this particular council?  
MR. TONER:  I don't know if we’ve had meetings with the council that’s in Turkey now.  I’ll take your question.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox Toner, October 17, 2011, Press Briefing

Iran Plot/US Diplomatic Teams/No World condemnation

Go ahead, Ilhan.
QUESTION:  Other subject.  Iran.
MR. TONER:  Good?  Iran you said.  Unless we’re good?  Okay.

QUESTION:  My first question is:  You sent few special diplomat teams to several capitals.  What have you seen as a results, how the governments that received --debriefed so far reacted?  Have you received any kind of reaction to this assassination plot?
MR. TONER:  Well, Ilhan, as you mentioned, we have sent some teams out to capitals.  We’ve also, on a purely – on our missions in many of these countries have been talking to host governments as well about this.  So it’s been a mixture.  And then of course at a higher level, certainly the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary have made a series of calls, as I believe has the President, to some allies – key allies and partners to talk about this issue.   We’re still in that stage where we’re having these discussions.  I think the President and others have said it’s really important that we hold Iran accountable and we’re going to continue as we move forward to discuss ways to do that.

QUESTION:  Turkey, also one of these countries who received the team, after two days, Foreign Minister Davutoglu just yesterday stated that it’s too early to react.  Didn’t Ankara or other capitals receive the full briefs and proofs?  Why do you think this hesitation on the -- 
MR. TONER:  You’re asking me to give a readout of the Turkish Government’s reaction.  That’s something for the Turkish Government to do.  But we have been discussing with them.  I’m not sure, frankly, what the time frame was, whether they’ve been there and come back already, and I think that’s the case.   But certainly we, moving forward, are going to continue to have these conversations.  As I said, we believe it’s very important that for this egregious violation of international law that Iran be held accountable.  So we’re going to be working with our allies and partners in ways to both strengthen existing sanctions and also possibly take new steps.

QUESTION:  My last question:  We have not seen any kind of reaction actually across globe and very little maybe --given your accusations are very heavy, very serious accusations.  Just one would think that could be more reaction, more condemnation from world.  Why do you think is hesitation?
MR. TONER:  Well, I think they are very serious allegations.  We have – you’ve seen various reports saying that initially they seemed extraordinary even to our law enforcement agencies as they followed up on these, and then they were subsequently substantiated by facts.  And so it is an alarming plot that’s come to the surface here so I think governments are rightly trying to digest the enormity of it.

Syrian Regime direct threat to US?/WaPo Editorial/Syrian Refugees in Turkey

QUESTION:  Syria? 
MR. TONER:  Syria. 

QUESTION:  Over the weekend, Washington Post did a editorial that was arguing that Syria’s Asad regime is a threat to the U.S.  Do you agree with this?  
MR. TONER:  Who – I’m sorry.  Who said this?  

QUESTION:  Syria’s – Washington Post editorial.  Do you agree that his regime is direct threat to the U.S.? MR. TONER:  The instability created by Syria’s actions, the Syrian government’s actions against its own people, certainly is a threat to the region.  We’ve seen Turkey bear the brunt of some of that instability with refugees pouring across its border, and Turkey certainly responded in a very humanitarian way, in a generous way, to these – to this influx of refugees.  It is destabilizing to the region, but it’s mostly destabilizing for the country itself and for the innocent civilians who every day are oppressed and hunted and killed by this regime. 


QUESTION:  On Syria, so you don’t see the argument valid, which is the pressure comes from the Syrian diplomats, for example in Washington or in U.S., spying activities of these diplomats, they are threat to the United States Government and the Syrian Americans here in this country.  That was the argument used in Washington Post editorial.  
MR. TONER:  Oh, okay.  I’m sorry.  Look, there’s a Department of Justice investigation into this matter.  We’re going to let that investigation run its course.  As you may recall, we talked about this months ago in July, I believe, when our assistant secretary for Diplomatic Security called in the Syrian ambassador and said, “We’re aware of what you’re doing.  We don’t like it.  Stop it.”  And now you have legal action being taken against an individual.  So we’re not going to countenance this kind of behavior.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox Nuland, October 14, 2011, Press Briefing

Turkey-Iran, Special diplomatic team in Ankara

MS. NULAND: Yeah.  Please, Johann. [ilhan]
QUESTION:  Secretary Clinton, I believe, had a phone conversation yesterday with Foreign Minister Davutoglu.  Was Iran one of topics or did your government ask anything special from Turkey in terms of new sanctions on Iran? 
MS. NULAND:  The Secretary and Foreign Minister Davutoglu spoke this morning, in fact, very early before her speech.  And the conversation was only on Iran, and it was her opportunity to brief the foreign minister on the situation, and I think you know that the Turkish side requested a briefing team, so I believe our briefing team was sitting in the foreign minister’s office when she made the phone call, so she was able to say hello to Ambassador Benjamin as well.  So -- 

QUESTION:  So the briefing team already went to Turkey and -- 
MS. NULAND:  That’s my understanding, that they were actually there when she called Foreign Minister Davutoglu.

QUESTION:  Is there any way you can share with us what’s the Turkish reaction so far?  
MS. NULAND:  I think that would be a question for the Turkish side, Johann. [ilhan]

QUESTION:  Does that team then go to Moscow, or is it a totally separate -- 
MS. NULAND:  I think there are different teams, but I’m, frankly, not sure who’s going where. 


Egypt Coptic Clashes, SCAF

MS. NULAND:  Okay.  Johann. [ilhan]
QUESTION:  Actually, related to last subject, Egyptian army also recently was accused in – on night of October, actually, with the Coptic Christians.  At the time, you said you’ll look into it and wait for the result of the investigation.  What’s your current view after five days?  Do you have any kind of understanding whether the army did use force against this (inaudible) group?
MS. NULAND:  I spoke to this extensively on Tuesday.  The Secretary spoke to Foreign Minister Amr later in the day Tuesday.  We expect that the Egyptian Government will do a full and thorough investigation.  My understanding is that investigation is still ongoing and that it will take steps to remedy whatever it finds went wrong with security procedures as a result of that investigation.  

QUESTION:  In general terms, actually – this question from one of the activists from Egypt came today – in general terms, can you in any way explain how do you see the general condition of civil liberties, particularly free speech and torture cases, in post-revolution Egypt?
MS. NULAND:  I think you know that in our dialogue with the Egyptian Government, in our dialogue with Egyptian civil society, human rights has been fundamental to the conversation and to our expectations and aspirations for the democratic future that Egypt has to have.  Obviously, the events over the weekend were not in keeping with the high standards that everybody wants and everybody excepts, including in Egypt and the international community, and that’s why we have to have a full investigation and lessons have to be learned and remedial steps have to be taken


Turkey-EU Progress Report

QUESTION:  A quick one on Turkey:  European Commission just released its progress report on Turkey and it criticizes Turkey in terms of human rights and Cyprus issue, but also gives some better points as well.  Have you had a chance to look at the report, whether Turkey and EU relations – how do you see the progress so far going on?
MS. NULAND:  Well, you know that the United States has long supported Turkey’s aspirations to join the European Union.  Turkey is – we have encouraged Turkey to pursue the political and economic reforms that are necessary for EU accession.  And we think that the accession process itself strengthens Turkey, strengthens the European Union.  I’m not prepared to parse the EU’s report, if that’s what you’re asking for.  But we would like to see the – Turkey be a member of the EU.

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox Nuland, October 13, 2011

Iran Assasination Plot
QUESTION:  I am little late.  I hope you didn’t already address it, but my question is:  It has been about four days past since the plot unveiled, and you have been engaging with the countries across the world.  How is your first impression,that they can see something is happening within next week or so, near future?
MS. NULAND:  Well, Under Secretary Sherman spoke to this on the Hill earlier today.  I think the President spoke to this.  We’ve had a number of countries come forward with their own statements of condemnation, and we welcome that.  And we’ve had many countries saying that they will look hard at whether their own national nooses are tight enough around Iran, based on the sanctions that the UN has put forward and their own individual sanctions. So that effort continues, and we have – we are also in the process of giving more information to those countries who have asked for it.  

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) specific on Turkey, Turkey and USA, their own differences when it comes to Iran and the latest round of sanctions.  Can you tell us, elaborate us how the negotiations or meetings with Turkish counterparts are going forward in terms of new Iranian sanctions?  
MS. NULAND:  I don’t have any details of Ambassador Ricciardone’s intercession with Turkish counterparts in front of me.  I do know that the Secretary and Foreign Minister Davutoglu are to speak either today or tomorrow, so why don’t I give you more after that phone call.


Iran Plot

QUESTION:  What’s your assessment on the potential gain for the Iranian regime out of such a massive act of terror plan in the U.S. soil?
MS. NULAND:  I can’t even begin to get inside the heads of people who would plan such a thing.

QUESTION:  How do you see the Mexican role within this plot?  Do you see any responsibility from their point?  Or is this a cause for U.S. Government to increase its activities within or with Mexico in coming times?
MS. NULAND:  First of all, thank you for that opening.  I neglected to thank the Mexican Government.  We’ve had superb cooperation with them throughout this period, and that was the – one of the purposes of the Secretary’s conversation with her Mexican counterpart, to thank Mexico for the superb cooperation we’ve had together. 


Pro-Assad Demos in Damascus

QUESTION: There were thousands of pro-Asad protesters in Damascus today. How do you read today’s pro-Asad demonstrations?
MS. NULAND The regime obviously has a strong ability to get its message out, but that doesn’t change the fact that, in cities across Syria, peaceful protesters are protesting against this regime. And those people are facing brutality on a daily basis, whether it is Syrian security forces firing on them, whether it is arrests, whether it is torture, imprisonment, et cetera.
QUESTION: Is this an assumption, or do you have any links that you can prove between the regime and the demonstrations, or organizing the demonstrations?
MS. NULAND: The Syrian – regimes of this type, autocratic, dictatorial regimes - are very capable of doing rent-a-crowd when necessary.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox Nuland, October 11, 2011

[Reds by other reporters]

Turkey's KCK Kurdish Arrests
QUESTION:  There have been hundreds of arrests in Turkey since 2009.  According to opposition Kurdish part, about 1,500; according to government interior ministry, about 500.  What’s your understanding of this – some of them local elected officials, some of them party members, and most of them belong to the Kurdish opposition party.

MS. NULAND:  Well, we are aware of these arrests, and we are monitoring the cases carefully.  We urge that any investigations and prosecutions proceed in a transparent manner that protects freedom of expression and that all the defendants be assured due process in a timely fashion and in accordance with international standards.

QUESTION:  Certainly this has been going on for about two years.  So detainment and arrests have been going on for over a couple of years.  So your statement is this trial should be transparent, but what is your view so far within these years is happening and some of them have been jailed.  Have you come to any conclusion in terms of these universal values you just described?

MS. NULAND:  Again, I think our concern is that the prosecutions be – if they are going to be prosecuted – be transparent and that the cases be handled in a timely manner, which has not always been the case, as you point out.

NATO Missile Defense-Turkey-Israel

QUESTION:  Thank you so much, ma’am.  I just wanted to ask you if the whole concept – the whole idea of providing Russia with legally binding guarantees of the U.S. missile defense system, non-aiming Russia is on the table, as she discussed.  Is she discussing this idea with foreign minister – Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov?  
MS. NULAND:  Well, as you know, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher is in Moscow this week.  She is continuing the discussions that she’s been having with her counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov on the opportunity for Russia and the United States, and more broadly, Russia and NATO to cooperate in the area of missile defenses.  As you know, the system that we are building with NATO is a defensive system.  It is not directed at Russia, and we do believe that there are exciting and important opportunities for Russia and the U.S. to cooperate in missile defense.  Russia has missile defenses, we have missile defenses, they ought to be able to cooperate together, which is a different matter than the legally binding issue.  I think you know where we are on that one.
QUESTION:  Well, you also know where the Russians are on that.  And they still pretty much demand you at least consider this.  Are you willing to do that? 
MS. NULAND:  Well, I’m not going to get ahead of the negotiations and discussions that we’re having in Moscow, but we certainly believe that a strong partnership in missile defense is in our interest.  We hope that the Russians will see it in their interests because these are defensive systems and are designed to protect against threats that we share, and we would like to work together on these issues.

QUESTION:  Can I do a follow-up on missile defense?
MS. NULAND:  Please.

QUESTION:  I asked this question before, actually, and you answered, but these discussions in Turkey have been continuous.  The question is whether the intelligence that is going to be gathered by the system will be shared with Israel through America or the NATO.  Can you explain whether the claims are correct?
MS. NULAND:  Well, we have answered this question before and --

MS. NULAND:  -- our answer hasn’t changed.  This is a NATO system that Turkey is contributing to.  We’re very grateful for Turkey taking on this role within NATO.  The information from the radar is designed to protect all NATO allies.