Monday, November 07, 2011

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox V. Nuland, November 7, 2011, Press Briefing

Rassmussen/Clinton Meeting
QUESTION:  Can I just follow up on your announcement?  The meeting between NATO Secretary General Rasmussen – Syria, I believe, will be one of the discussion topics.  Is there any way you can elaborate agenda of the Secretary?  Will there be any specific subject that will be pressing to the Secretary here?  
MS. NULAND:  Well, the primary focus of dinner is planning for the NATO summit next May in Chicago, which the U.S. will host, and getting ourselves together with the NATO SecGen on the main goals for the summit.  On any issues beyond that, let’s see what comes up at dinner, and if we have anything to read out, we’ll read it out tomorrow.


SNC Ghalioun/Peace Process
QUESTION:  On the Arab League peace plan, it looks like over the weekend SNC Burhan Ghalioun basically rejected the dialogue proposal with the Asad regime.  On the other hand, Asad regime continues the killing.  Do you think this Arab peace plan is still on the table?  Is there any effectiveness can come out of it?
MS. NULAND:  Well, I think you’ve seen the same reports that we’ve seen that the Arab League itself is concerned that the regime is not meeting the conditions that it signed up to and has called for another urgent meeting next Saturday to review the situation.  


QUESTION:  You stated that this vast majority of protesters do not want military intervention.  Is it – does it include also no-fly zone?  Do you think vast majority of protesters still don’t want no-fly zone?  Because according to videos coming out from the – Syria, many activists argue the opposite.  How confident are you that vast majority of Syrians do not want intervention and no-fly zone? MS. NULAND:  Well, our information remains that the vast majority of Syrians, and certainly those in the opposition in Syria, do not want foreign intervention, and they particularly do not want foreign military intervention.   I’d also make the point that what we’re facing here is different than what we faced in Libya, which were long stretches of desert and columns of tanks pulling into cities.  What we have in Syria are government forces entrenched in towns and villages, in stationary positions, with tanks now facing houses and buildings and, as I just said, in Homs, starting to fire on those buildings.  So what a no-fly zone does in a situation like that is not particularly clear.  

QUESTION:  And do you think that economic sanctions are going to solve and stop these tanks from shelling the houses of people? 
 MS. NULAND:  Well, we’re – what we’re saying is that countries that are continuing to trade with this regime, countries that are particularly still giving them weapons, need to think about what they’re feeling here. 

Syrian Oppositions
QUESTION:  One, there’s a new Syrian opposition group that announced itself today in Paris.  It’s called the National Committee to Support the Syrian Revolution, and one of its members is former Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam, who was in the Syrian Government for about 30 years.  Do you have any comment on this?  Are you beginning to see more of a Syrian opposition start to coalesce, and do you have any comment or have you had any particular contact with this group or this individual?   MS. NULAND:  My understanding is that we have had contact with the group in Paris.  We’ve obviously had contact with the group in Istanbul.  Our message continues to be that the Syrian opposition in Syria, the Syrian opposition in exile, needs to work together and needs to lay out as clearly as it can a roadmap for change that its people can rally around and that can unite the aspirations of these different groups.


Davutoglu Interview w/FT/Buffer zone/NFZ
QUESTION:  Turkish foreign minister today gave an interview to Financial Times and he did not rule out neither buffer zone or no-fly zone.  Last week, NATO General Secretary Rasmussen looked like he did.  Do you think this might be one of the agenda items tonight that will be on the table?
MS. NULAND:  I think you asked me earlier whether Syria would be – would come up in dinner tonight.  I think you just come right back around it.  As I said, the first item on the agenda for dinner is to set an agenda for the Chicago Summit and to work together on a good summit.  The degree to which other issues come up, and they may, we’ll read you out on whatever we can tomorrow.

QUESTION:  You just mentioned that some of the countries have to retain their help to the Syrian regime.  Is there any way that you can elaborate which countries do you think the most responsible supporting and giving more room Asad regime to continue its brutal crackdown?
MS. NULAND:  Well I think we’ve been clear here that we’re looking for as many countries as possible to match the kinds of steps that we’ve taken, the kinds of steps that the EU has taken, and particularly those countries that continue to trade with the regime and that continue to sell it weapons really need to think twice.


Turkey/Iran/US IAEA Report
QUESTION:  Given the disagreements in the past with the Turkish Government, but this time have you talked to Turkish Government in terms of coming out – this coming out report next week or on the economic sanctions side?  Is there anything that you have been talking to Turkish Government on the Iran?  
MS. NULAND:  Well, we regularly talk to the Turkish Government on Iran.  It comes up every time the Secretary meets with Foreign Minister Davutoglu.  We obviously work together in the IAEA, and we’ve obviously been in close touch with Turkey, as we mentioned, after it happened, when the plot was foiled against the Saudi ambassador here.  

QUESTION:  Do you think this time are you on the same page with the Turkish Government in terms of danger – Iran’s nuclear capability?  
MS. NULAND:  Well, I think, again, we’re – we and the Government of Turkey are waiting to see what’s in the director general’s report. 

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