Monday, June 25, 2012

My Qs and As with State Dept Spox Nuland, 06-25-12

Reds by other reporters

TurkishJet Incident

QUESTION:  Turkey and --

MS. NULAND:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  -- the downed Turkish jet incident.  The first question is:  Has Secretary Clinton spoken to Foreign Minister Davutoglu since Saturday?

MS. NULAND:  Not since the phone call that she read out – that we read out yesterday.  You will have seen the statement that we put out based on her phone call with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. 

QUESTION:  Have there been any notable exchanges between the other Administration officials and the Turkish officials so far since Saturday?

MS. NULAND:  Yes.  Under Secretary Sherman has been in contact with the political director.  Phil Gordon’s been in contact with the political director.  Our Embassy, Ambassador Ricciardone, has been very much involved in consulting with the Turks. 

QUESTION:  So today, Syria’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman came out and basically said that it’s self-defense – that’s what they did and shot down Turkish jet.  We all read your Administration statement.  What’s your response to this latest self-defense argument of Syria?

MS. NULAND:  Well, as we said in our statement – and I’m not going to get into details of the incident; I’m going to send you to the Turkish side for those – but as we said in our incident[1], there was no warning to this aircraft.  It was just shot out of the sky.  And that obviously is not in keeping with international norms in such incidents.

QUESTION:  So what would you recommend your Turkish ally to do at this point?  What’s your recommendation to Turkey?

MS. NULAND:  Well, they are continuing to consult with their partners.  You know that they have asked for an Article 4 consultation at NATO.  They are continuing.  I think the Foreign Minister made calls to all of the P-5 over the weekend.  So we look forward to continuing to hear their views of this incident and to hear what they want to do moving forward. 

QUESTION:  Are you willing to extend your full support if the – tomorrow with the NATO Summit in Brussels if Turkey would ask to respond to Syria in same kind?

MS. NULAND:  Well, I’m certainly not going to get into predicting what Turkey might ask for at NATO, what its views might be at NATO.  And I’m certainly not going to be drawn into hypothetical situations.


Article 4/NATO
QUESTION:  What your position would be in this Article 4 consultation?

MS. NULAND:  Well, an Article 4 consultation under the NATO Treaty is the right of any ally when it has security concerns of any kind.  So essentially, we start with being in listening mode to an ally that has asked for the consultation, and then we go from there. 

QUESTION:  Is it a two-way thing?  Would you advise them --

MS. NULAND:  Of course, of course.  But we have to see what Turkey comes in with and what it wants from NATO after it briefs on the situation. 

QUESTION:  What would you want from them?

MS. NULAND:  Again, I’m not going to prejudge a meeting that hasn’t happened yet.

QUESTION:  How are the – or is there anything more solid on this meeting, the contact group meeting?  Is it going to happen, not going to happen?

MS. NULAND:  The proposal of Kofi Annan for --


MS. NULAND:  Yeah.  We are continuing to talk to Kofi Annan’s staff.  There were meetings over the weekend, including a number of the countries who might be represented.  But as we’ve said, we’re not going to settle finally until we’re sure that we can have a meeting that’s going to make real progress in the interest of a democratic transition. 

QUESTION:  Is it your understanding that if the U.S. doesn’t go, is there a meeting that it will skip, or is this meeting not going to happen if you guys decide it’s not the right time?

MS. NULAND:  Well, what we’re trying to do is come to some consensus among some of the major players as to what the meeting would look like so that everybody can see that it will be worth having.  So --

QUESTION:  Right.  But I mean, are you under the impression that if he’s going to go, he would go ahead with having a meeting if you guys weren’t going to go?

MS. NULAND:  Again, you’re getting me into hypotheticals I just can’t predict.

QUESTION:  Well --

MS. NULAND:  But we’re trying to get to the point where we work on the elements of this meeting in a way that it can be productive and that we can all go.  Whether it’s on that timeline or whether it takes more time, or – we’ll just have to see.

QUESTION:  Toria, just a NATO question.  Maybe (inaudible) -- 

MS. NULAND:  I know nothing about NATO. 

QUESTION:  -- but you know NATO very well.  With Chapter 4 consultations, then does an individual country ask for Chapter 5, or does it have to be applied for that and then other – the other members say yes, we agree?  Or how – could you walk us through Chapter 5?  What could potentially happen next?

MS. NULAND:  Well, Article 4 of the – and I would refer you to the NATO Treaty.  It’s a nice, short document.  It’s on the website,  Article 4, as you’ll see if you read that original charter from 1949, speaks to the right of any ally to ask for political consultations, essentially.  Article 5 can be invoked either by an ally who has been struck or by others when there is an issue of having been attacked. 

Search/Rescue Operation -- TurkishJet

QUESTION:  Same topic.  Have you been asked from Turkey for the rescue-and-search operations for the lost pilots of the jet?

MS. NULAND:  My understanding is that through our regular military-to-military channels we’re providing some support, but I don’t think we’ve been asked to actually participate in the operation.  But I’m going to send you to DOD for the details on where we are exactly.  But we’ve made clear that we’re open to what can be helpful.

UN Monitor Mission
QUESTION:  On Syria again, so far, as far we know, is UN monitors right now in Syria and waiting and the mission is halted.  What’s your timeline?  How long they are – are they expecting any specific order?  What they are waiting for in Syria right now in their hotels?

MS. NULAND:  Well, you know that they have a mandate that runs 90 days from when it was initially issued, so that takes us into the middle of July.  My understanding is that they are now postured essentially in their large bases, that they continue to feel that the security situation is insufficient for them to go out and monitor and patrol.  So the bulk of the energy now of the international community is focused on whether we can get further progress on the Annan Plan and particularly this issue of a democratic transition, but also the issue of trying to get a ceasefire so that the monitors could become effective again.  And if we’re not at that place, then we’re going to have to reconsider where we are with the mandate and certainly by the time it expires. 

Syria's Grand Mufti Visit to DC
QUESTION:  According to news reports, State Department has given a visa to Syria’s Grand Mufti, Hassoun, who has been on the record threatening U.S. and West sending suicide bombers just a couple months ago.  Apparently, he is going to talk about dialogue and coexistence in one of the D.C. think tanks.  Do you have any information on that?  How such a person can be given visa – are you fully comfortable with that?

MS. NULAND:  Well, we are aware that he, along with a number of other clerical figures, has been invited to an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  But you won’t be surprised if I’m not going to comment on visa matters at all, in terms of confidentiality under U.S. law. 

QUESTION:  Very quick follow-up.  Will there be any meetings with the Syria’s Grand Mufti at State Department or any Administration officials are going to have meetings with him?

MS. NULAND:  Again, what we have at this point is an invitation.  I don’t have anything for you on anything further. 

QUESTION:  I don’t know – I suspect you will not know about these bulletins which seem to have come out while we were in the room, but a Turkish Government spokesman says that Turkey will protect itself within international law and that Syria’s downing of the Turkish aircraft will not go unpunished.  The same spokesman says that another Turkish plane was fired upon by Syrian forces during the initial search and rescue operation for the first plane.  Do you have any comment on those?  And is the statement that it will not go unpunished a helpful one? 

MS. NULAND:  Again, I think our next plan with our Turkish allies is to hear what they have to say when they come to the NAC tomorrow, to be briefed by them, and to have a better sense of the path forward from their perspective.  So we will await that meeting. 

QUESTION:  Very briefly, do you have anything to say about this apparent surge of – well, not surge, these latest defections?

MS. NULAND:  That we’ve seen the reports that you have seen; that they appear to be credible; that there were dozens of Syrian military who defected to Turkey overnight with their families; that there are at least 38 soldiers, including military officers.  So this appears to be an increasing pace of these kinds of military folks voting with their feet, voting with their airplanes, voting with their cars, voting with their families against the Assad regime.  And this is something that we have long called for, for people to follow their consciences, refuse to obey orders, and to make their views clear. 

QUESTION:  There are several reports today in Arab media that 20 of the defected soldiers who went to Jordan over the weekend are going to be sent back to Syria.  Have you heard on this or what’s your comment on --

MS. NULAND:  I don’t have anything on that.  The bulk of the officers we saw were going into Turkey that that was – but as you know, Jordan has been very welcoming of refugees and defectors from Syria all the way through this.  So that would surprise me. 

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