Monday, December 12, 2011

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox Mark Toner, Dec 12, 2011, Press Briefing

[Reds by other reporters]

US Drone/Iran
QUESTION:  Why do you think Iran should give [drone] back? 

MR. TONER:  I don’t have any more details.  I’m not going to say anything more about it.

QUESTION:  Well, do you consider it stolen?

MR. TONER:  Again, we’ve asked for it back.  We’ll see how they respond.

QUESTION:  And what – but what’s the rationale for asking for it back?  It’s not a – isn’t it the international law of finders keepers?  (Laughter.)

MR. TONER:  I’ve said all I can say on this.  Anything else?

Iran's threats to Turkey
QUESTION:  A member of the Iran parliament – parliament’s national security council, Hossein Ebrahimi, again threatened Turkey; if it’s attacked, they are going to first attack NATO radar system in southeastern of Turkey.  This is second threat comes from Iran within two weeks.  Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. TONER:  I’m sorry?  You’re saying – you’re talking about Iran – Iranian threats that if they are attacked by --

QUESTION:  Israel or U.S., they’ll attack as a first target.  It will be another --

MR. TONER:  I really don’t have any comment on it.  They shouldn’t be issuing threats like that. 

Syria/Humanitarian corridors/Buffer zone/Turkey's sovereign decision

QUESTION:  About the humanitarian corridors that you touched a little bit, you said about ten days ago you were going to get some details from French, the original --

MR. TONER:  We haven’t heard further details from the French Government. 

QUESTION:  You’re waiting for details?

QUESTION:  Do you believe that to build a buffer zone in the region is the right of Turkey in these conditions?

MR. TONER:  Turkey is going to make its own sovereign decisions.  Turkey’s been a leader in speaking out about the abuses in Syria and has accepted thousands of Syrian refugees, but it’s going to make its own decisions in its own best interests.

QUESTION:  So you see that it is a right of Turkey to --

MR. TONER:  I’m saying Turkey is going to make its own sovereign decisions based on its own security concerns.

QUESTION:  Do you believe that it will increase the pressure on the Syrian regime, this kind of buffer zone? 

MR. TONER:  Again, I don't think anybody’s – I’m not aware that a buffer zone is being seriously considered at this point.  But I do think continued sanctions, the public outrage from all of Syria’s neighbors, is making it clear to Asad that he has no friends left in the neighborhood, except for Iran.

Iraqi PM Maliki Visit/Turkey remarks/PKK
UESTION:  Prime Minister al-Maliki’s visit to here and meeting with Secretary Clinton – have you had a chance to ask or --

MR. TONER:  She sat in on the President’s meeting and then she’s having Zebari over again. 

QUESTION:  (Inaudible.)

MR. TONER:  And right – that’s true.

QUESTION:  What’s exactly the position of why the Iraqi Government is being – appears like supporting the Syrian regime right now?

MR. TONER:  I would just refer you to – I mean, it was the first question the President and Prime Minister Maliki got, and they answered it in great detail.  So I would just refer you to their transcript.

QUESTION:  And Prime Minister Maliki also gave an interview Wall Street Journal and said that Turkey’s meddling with Iraq’s domestic affairs.  Do you --

MR. TONER:  I’m not sure what – you’ll have to elaborate on what he meant by that.  I’m not sure what that means.  What he meant by, I mean, in terms of going after the PKK, or in terms of --

QUESTION:  Not the PKK, just supporting some blocs or certain people is the quote he said.  I’m wondering if Turkey is – was part of discussions here.

MR. TONER:  I’m not aware.  No. 

QUESTION:  But on the PKK – you just touched on it – did you have a conversation on the PKK?

MR. TONER:  Again, I haven’t gotten a readout.  We do talk about our counterterrorism cooperation vis-à-vis the PKK, but I don’t know that it came up in those meetings. 

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