Friday, January 06, 2012

My Qs and As w/State Dpt. Spox Victoria Nuland, Jan 6, 2012, Press Briefing

Turkey Military chief arrest
QUESTION:  On Turkey quickly, yesterday former Turkish military chief got arrested.  Do you have any read on that?

MS. NULAND:  On the arrest of the former chief of the armed forces of Turkey?

QUESTION:  Yesterday, yes, last night.

MS. NULAND:  Well, we’re obviously monitoring developments in this case as well.  It’s quite a high-profile case in the ongoing Erdogan case.  We have urged the Turkish Government to ensure that the investigations, any prosecutions in this – in these cases proceed in a transparent manner, that all the defendants be assured due process in accordance with international standards, and that should be the case, obviously, with regard to the former chief of staff of the armed forces.

QUESTION:  When did you urge them of this?  Today?

MS. NULAND:  Well, we’ve been urging it all along since this round of prosecutions began.  I don't have specifics, but I’m confident that the Embassy has, again, made those demarches to the Turkish Government in recent days.

QUESTION:  Is there any way you can (inaudible) as what kind of respond have you been receiving?  It has been about a couple years now that you have been urging Turkish Government. 

MS. NULAND:  Well, I think the Turkish Government obviously knows that we’re monitoring this closely and that we want to see the Turkish constitution upheld and international standards upheld.

Davutoglu visit to Iran/Iran sanctions
QUESTION:  Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu was in Tehran yesterday.  A couple of questions:  They stated – Irani foreign minister state that their goal is to double the trade between Turkey and Iran between – foreseeable future.  How do you assess these new goals in terms of isolation of Iran, just the context you described earlier?

MS. NULAND:  Well, we’ve seen some of the announcements primarily from the Iranian side of the results of this visit.  We have begun consultations with the Turkish side on what it gleaned, what its messages were, and what it learned when it was – when Minister Davutoglu was in Tehran.  Our Ambassador in Ankara was in to see the minister today.  I frankly don’t have a report on that meeting, but one of the subjects that they were discussing was a debrief on this trip.

There is no question that the United States and Turkey share the goal of bringing Iran back to the table and back into compliance with its international obligations.  We don’t always have an identical view on tactics, but the strategic goal is the same, so I – that’s why it’s so important that we consult on what the minister saw on his trip and next steps that he sees.

QUESTION:  In the past, there were similar goals stated by both countries, and at the time you stated from this podium that it is not a problem, obstacle, whether Turkey’s increasing its trade with Iran.  In general, if this is the case, do you think it’s a problem now?

MS. NULAND:  Again, I think we wanted to consult with the Turkish side on its intentions.  If we’re talking about baby food, it’s not a problem, but – there could be other issues, but I don’t want to prejudge Turkish intentions before we’ve had a chance to consult with Turkey.

QUESTION:  Iran foreign minister yesterday also said Turkey could be the best venue for the next round of talks on the nuclear program.  Do you have a view on this?

MS. NULAND:  Well, let’s start with the fact that public statements notwithstanding, the Iranian side has not yet formally advised us that it is ready for the next round of P-5+1 talks.