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.  

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