Military

Daily Press Briefing

Victoria Nuland
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
January 24, 2012

Index for Today's Briefing

DEPARTMENT
Horn of Africa On-The-Record Briefing
Eleventh Foreign Language Twitter Feed
Passport Card Online Pilot Program
ISRAEL
Foreign Affairs Minister Possible Travel to U.S.
ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS ^ ^ Lady Ashton's Plans / Encouraging the Process / Preliminary Discussions
^ ^ Ambassador Grossman's Travel / Meetings ^ ^ U/S Sherman Travel / Consultations
^ ^ Assistant Secretary Feltman's Meetings in Moscow ^ ^ Ship to Syrian Port / Investigation ^ ^ Diplomacy ^ ^ Margelov's Statement
^ ^ Arab League Proposal / Monitors / GCC ^ ^ Embassy Security ^ ^ Ambassador Ford's Efforts
^ ^ Ambassador Grossman's Visit / Istanbul Conference/ Afghanistan ^ ^ U.S.-India Relationship
^ ^ Steps Forward in Normalization of Political Life
^ ^ Law Prohibiting Denial of Genocide / Want to See Good Relations between France and Turkey
^ ^ Strengthening Cooperation / Boko Haram
^ ^ President Saleh's Visit to the U.S.
^ ^ Vice President Xi Jinping's Visit in February ^ ^ Tensions in Tibetan Area
^ ^ Reconciliation Process / Want to See Issues Settled

 

TRANSCRIPT:

12:56 p.m. EST

MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. Apologies for keeping you waiting. We have a number of small things at the top.

First of all, to advise all of you that at two o’clock today we’ll have an on-the-record briefing for all of you with some of our senior folks from the Africa Bureau, Refugees, USAID, to update you on the U.S. response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. So tune into that if you would like to.

Second, to say that we were very pleased yesterday to launch our eleventh foreign language Twitter feed. This is our Turkish language Twitter account, @ABDTurk, which joins our other feeds in Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu. So please join us. And also strengthens our outreach program that Embassy Ankara runs, which also includes Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube platforms.

Last thing is that we are pleased to announce that today marks the start of a pilot program which will allow eligible U.S. citizens to apply for a passport card online. These are the cards you can use for land or sea travel to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. Formerly, you had to send in your old passport book, you had to wait. Now you can do this online if you’re already a passbook holder. So if you’re interested in that, tune into travel.state.gov for more information about the program.

Let’s go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: Is that just for students, and – is it just for students? Is that --

MS. NULAND: No. It’s for any American citizen over 16 who already has a passport book. If you want to apply for a passport card, you can do it online. You no longer have to surrender your book and then wait and all that sort of stuff.

QUESTION: Okay. And that is only for sea and land travel, not --

MS. NULAND: For sea and land travel, correct. If you’re taking a cruise ship to the Caribbean, for example, you can use your passport card, or if you’re a frequent traveler back and forth to Canada or Mexico. So it just is a little bit more convenient for people.

Elise.

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: On Israel, can you talk about the visit of the Israeli foreign minister and why he’s having trouble getting senior meetings with people in the State Department? It doesn’t look as if the Secretary will be meeting with him or other senior, very top officials as usually is the case with other foreign ministers who visit. And some of his aides have said that this is a frequent problem when he visits the United States, and I’m wondering if it has anything to do with his conservative views.

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, I was not aware that a visit of the foreign minister had been confirmed. I understood that he was considering travel but that no decisions had been made. So I would refer you to the Israelis with regard to his precise travel plans. But at this moment, we don’t have anything on the schedule that I am aware of.

QUESTION: Well, part of the reason of his reluctance to come visit is because he’s not welcomed in this building by top officials. Could you say that that’s not a deliberate case and that, if the schedules will allow, that the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary would be willing to meet with him?

MS. NULAND: Again, I can’t speak to how we would receive him if we don’t have a confirmed visit, so --

QUESTION: Well, I mean, as a general rule, is he welcomed in the State Department?

MS. NULAND: He has had meetings with State Department officials in the past. State Department officials have also met with him in Israel.

Said.

QUESTION: Could you tell us what is the highest level he met with from the State Department in the recent past?

MS. NULAND: I’ll have to take that, Said. I believe it’s Deputy Secretary Burns, but I have to take it. And I do think the Secretary’s met him in the past, but I don’t have it at hand.

QUESTION: Okay. The Deputy met him in Washington or in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?

MS. NULAND: We will take that and get back to you. Okay?

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Andy.

QUESTION: Still on Israel. Baroness Ashton apparently has plans to meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders. And looking ahead to this meeting tomorrow, I’m wondering, is she taking anything new from the Quartet on the current state of their provisional or preliminary talks? And this January 26th date that we’ve talked about and then backed away from in the past, what’s our view on that now? Is that just a non-issue?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, we will send you to the EU for a full rundown of Lady Ashton’s plans. I will tell you that she and the Secretary spoke either at the end of last week or over the weekend and she did say that she was headed to the Middle East to encourage the process that the Jordanians have been hosting; to encourage, as we’ve been doing, as the Secretary’s been doing, the parties to stay engaged with that; to deepen their efforts along the lines of the Quartet proposal from September. So we look forward to hearing from her after her visit.

QUESTION: And what about the – any hopes for tomorrow’s meeting, given the January 26th date, which is (inaudible) hanging out there?

MS. NULAND: Well, you know what we’ve been saying about the January 26th date, that what we think is most important is that these parties stay engaged with each other under the Jordanian auspices, that they take these conversations to the next level, and try to get back to a real dialogue, a real negotiation about the issues that divide them. We do not want to see that 26th date become a straitjacket to those negotiations.

Said.

QUESTION: Yes, ma’am. Do you see like – these meetings in Amman, from your point of view, should they have, like, a timetable or they can go on for a very long time?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, we want to see as much progress as quickly as we can. What we are hoping to do is to move from these preliminary discussions that are ongoing now to real concrete proposals by both sides that can be exchanged in a real, direct negotiation.

QUESTION: So your hope is that these talks will morph into substantive negotiations on issues like water and maybe Jerusalem and other remaining issues?

MS. NULAND: Well, in the first instance, we’ve encouraged the parties to focus on borders and focus on security and then move on to the other issues. But yes, we are hoping they will morph into real, substantive negotiations.

QUESTION: But isn’t it your understanding that you have – already have all these issues already discussed and are, at least from the Palestinian position – point of view – have already been submitted? So what are you waiting for?

MS. NULAND: Well Said, we’ve talked about this before.

QUESTION: Well, let’s talk about it again so --

MS. NULAND: There is a lot of groundwork that has been laid over the years, over the decades. We want to see the parties build on that. But they are continuing to talk directly about how they move forward, about what they want to see from each other. That’s the process that we’re encouraging.

QUESTION: And lastly, the Israelis arrested the chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr. Dweik, who is a Hamas member, but also he is very moderate. He’s someone that has spoken many times before about the need to go along with all the agreements that had been arrived at by the PLO and by the Palestinian Authority. Do you have anything to say about that? Many other members as well have been arrested, but Mr. Dweik in particular.

MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve seen reports of these arrests. Frankly, we don’t have any further information from this podium. We’re not privy to the facts surrounding these cases. So I will refer you to the Israelis.

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Afghanistan? Pakistan? Could you talk about where Ambassador Grossman is right now, how his meetings with the Afghans and the Qataris have gone, and where you see this – the idea of a Taliban office headed as things stand from his meetings? You said things would be clear after he had some of these meetings.

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm. Well, first – and I think I mentioned this yesterday – if you have not had a chance to read it, I would refer you to his press conference in Kabul where he laid out quite clearly the frame for this work and that followed meetings that he had with President Karzai, and he was obviously standing with his counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Luden. He then went on to Doha and had some more meetings there, and my understanding is that he’s going to end up in Europe in the middle of the week to have some meetings with the Europeans. But I think he’s still in Doha today. I’m not actually quite sure.

QUESTION: Didn’t he go to Saudi Arabia?

MS. NULAND: He was talking about it. I don’t know if he’s actually landed.

Yeah. Okay.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up on that. Yesterday, the Department put out the notice that Wendy Sherman is headed to Paris on the same day; it seemed sort of a last-minute trip. And I’m just wondering if you can tell us why she’s going there and why so sudden, if it is sudden, and does the French pending decision on their Afghan troop presence play a part in this visit?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, as under secretary for Political Affairs, Under Secretary Sherman does a huge amount of business with the French Government across the areas that she’s responsible for, primarily, frankly, on the subject of Iran, where they participate in the P-5+1, also on other issues that she manages. So she’s having a broad range of consultations, but they very much focus, as I understand it, on Iran issues and staying coordinated, particularly in light of the strong decisions taken by the EU to tighten their own sanctions.

Michel.

QUESTION: On Syria.

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on Assistant Secretary Feltman’s discussions in Russia?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I had some communication with Assistant Secretary Feltman this morning. He felt that he had very constructive talks in Moscow. They were led by his counterpart, Russian envoy Margelov, but he also saw folks in the – other folks in the MFA, folks in the Kremlin. I wouldn’t say that there was a major breakthrough, but I think walking through how we understand the situation on the ground, how the Russians see it, how we appreciate the hard work that the Arab League has been doing, its efforts, Assad’s response to those efforts, which we talked about yesterday, and then beginning to strengthen and deepen our conversation about where we go next in the UN Security Council was very useful. He also, of course, raised our concerns about Russian arms sales to Syria, arms trans-shipments, made clear how dangerous we consider this to be.

QUESTION: Did the Russians give any details about the ship that went to – I forget the Syrian port. Did they give any more details about what was on that ship?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is that this was more a matter of us registering our concerns. It’s not clear to me that they have completed their own internal investigation of exactly what happened.

QUESTION: And you seemed to suggest that there was some improvement in the Russian position. There wasn’t a breakthrough, you said, but you seemed to mention that there was progress. Can you be more detailed about what kind of progress it was? Were they talking about changing their draft at the UN?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m obviously not going to get into the blow by blow of this diplomacy, just to say that it had been some time since we had at that level of experts on this part of the world compared notes about how we see the situation on the ground, about our respective contacts with the Arab League, about what can and can’t be done in the UN. So from that perspective, he was upbeat that this may lead to stronger cooperation in New York. That’s obviously the goal, but I don’t want to say that we had a breakthrough either.

Please, Said.

QUESTION: Mr. Margelov made some statements yesterday saying that we have done all we could to – for the Syrian regime, for the Syrian president, in fact, and he urged the Syrians to sort of introduce some reforms and so on. Do you see this as a point of departure from the previously hard position or inflexible position on the Syrian issue?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, I would refer you back to the Russians as to the intent of Mr. Margelov’s statement. But we do see countries around the world increasingly frustrated with the Assad regime, that it has been given many, many chances to get out of the way of a transition and has not taken them.

Please. Still on Syria?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: Still Syria? Yes? No?

QUESTION: Syria.

MS. NULAND: Syria. Andy.

QUESTION: On the question of the monitors, yesterday you said that there was – you would support a continued presence of the monitors on the ground, that they open the space. But now you have the GCC joining Saudi Arabia and saying they’re going to pull their monitors, which makes it appear as though the Arab League itself, or at least its members, are not convinced that this is still a viable operation. Do you think that without the participation of the GCC countries, which have been among your strongest allies in the effort against Assad, that this monitoring operation can really do what it’s supposed to do?

MS. NULAND: Well, Andy, you’re right. When we spoke yesterday, we were operating off this broad Arab League proposal that included both an extension of monitors and their proposal about a transfer of power from Assad to his deputy and a national dialogue on transformation. It was that second part that the Assad regime rejected, and our understanding is that the GCC was not – countries were not interested in continuing if, in fact, the entirety of the Arab League proposal was not going to be accepted.

So you’re not wrong that the GCC provides both the bulk of the monitors and most of the financial support for this mission. So if the GCC is no longer prepared to participate, that will clearly have an impact. So we’re not going to prejudge what the Arab League’s going to do in that context, but clearly, there’s going to be a big hole in this operation now, and it’s a direct result of the Assad regime’s rejection of the larger proposal for a national dialogue.

QUESTION: Are you urging them to reconsider?

MS. NULAND: Urging the GCC? No. Obviously, we respect their decision.

Is it still on Syria? Yes?

QUESTION: Yeah, on Syria.

MS. NULAND: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Any update, please, on the embassy security in Damascus? Were you satisfied about the Syrian security step, or did you require anything new to (inaudible)?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have any update for you from yesterday. We talked about this extensively yesterday, that we have asked for improvements and we’re awaiting a Syrian Government response.

QUESTION: How – have you given it a deadline in terms of when you feel that you need to see these improvements, or you just can’t hold on any longer?

MS. NULAND: We’ve not put a hard deadline on it. I’ve seen some deadlines mooted about in the press, but we want to – as I said yesterday, we would like to be able to keep the Embassy open, and we’d like to have the security cooperation we need. So we’ll see where this goes.

QUESTION: What’s the importance about the --

QUESTION: Can I get your comment again on the statement that by Mualem – that Syria is – will not agree to any Arab proposition from this point on, opting instead for what is known in Arabic as the security option, which is basically continuing what they are doing?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think it’s productive for me to get into a tit-for-tat with Foreign Minister Mualem here. Thank you for the opportunity to do so, though, Said.

Ros.

QUESTION: What sort of work has Ambassador Ford been able to carry out if the situation, security-wise, has deteriorated so significantly?

MS. NULAND: He continues to see figures across the spectrum in Syria. He’s in contact with many of them through other means that we have – phone and internet and all that kind of stuff. So he remains in close contact. He also obviously manages the mission and manages our other personnel who have broad contacts. And he’s able to collect those, report his views on what Syrian – to reflect Syrian society and the different conversations going on there.

QUESTION: But in terms of his ability and his staff’s ability to move about and to actually see things for themselves, has that been prescribed?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think we’ve talked about this before, Ros, that for the last two and a half, three months, every request that the Embassy has put forward, whether it’s for Ambassador Ford or anybody else to travel beyond the security zone of Damascus, has been denied. So they keep trying and they will keep trying, but unfortunately, the Syrian Government has not been prepared to support this.

QUESTION: But what about within the city itself? Is he able to move around? Has he been able to meet with Syrian counterparts?

MS. NULAND: He has.

Goyal.

QUESTION: New subject?

MS. NULAND: Anything else on Syria before we leave Syria?

QUESTION: One more question on Syria.

MS. NULAND: Michel.

QUESTION: The Arab League has decided today to postpone its mission in Syria starting tomorrow if Damascus didn’t agree on the extension. How do you view this?

QUESTION: Suspend --

MS. NULAND: To suspend the monitoring mission?

QUESTION: Exactly.

MS. NULAND: I hadn’t seen that before I came down, but as we said here in response to Andy’s question, if the countries who are providing the bulk of the monitors and the bulk of the money are not willing to participate, then it would follow naturally that they would have to make this decision. So obviously, we respect their decision, and we put responsibility at the Assad regime’s feet. They are the ones that rejected out of hand, as I said yesterday when the ink was barely dry on the paper, the larger proposition made by the Arab League.

Please. Finished with Syria?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. NULAND: Let’s go to Goyal.

QUESTION: Thank you. First, can I go back just quick on Ambassador Grossman’s visit to India, please? When he was in India, first Indians were opposing as far as reconciliation with the Talibans or talks with the Talibans by the Afghan Government. Now, India is in favor of those talks. India is supporting the Afghan-led process.

My question is: When Ambassador Grossman was in India, was this discussed or something – this came up as far as --

MS. NULAND: I think we’ve talked about this for more than a week, Goyal. Same question. He was there almost a week ago. The Indian Government did participate in the Istanbul conference. One of the outcomes of the Istanbul conference was for all of Afghanistan’s neighbors to make positive statements about reconciliation under the right circumstances, India being one of those countries. Obviously, this was one of the topics of discussion, as we said a couple of times here this week.

QUESTION: Why did I ask this? Because – now, my question: Indian delegation is here in Washington. If somebody – if they are meeting somebody here at the State Department and some of the panelists, they participated yesterday at George Washington University. India-U.S. relations and this topic, which I asked the question, came up there.

My question is now: What they are saying is now that India and U.S. has a lot of work to do as far as the relations are concerned because two top U.S. officials supposed to address the panel, including assistant secretary from the Defense Department and Assistant Secretary from the State Department, Mr. --

MS. NULAND: Blake?

QUESTION: Blake, Mr. Blake. Thank you. And both cancelled their participation at the last minute. My question is: They were asking the same thing, why it happened. Do we – do you see any kind of (inaudible) in the relations between the two countries or --

MS. NULAND: Absolutely not. I can’t speak to whether they both had the scheduling conflict. Maybe they both had to go to the same interagency meeting. I really can’t speak to that. But don’t over-read. We’ve had a number of high-level folks in India recently.

QUESTION: And finally, that – anybody meeting here at the State Department from the Indian delegation in Washington?

MS. NULAND: I, frankly, will refer you to Emily Horne. I’m not sure who this delegation is.

Samir.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Field Marshal Tantawi declared today that he’s planning to lift the emergency law beginning on Wednesday. What is the U.S. reaction to this?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, we congratulate the people of Egypt, who have been asking for this for some time and who have persevered in their effort to achieve this and many other of the goals of their peaceful revolution. We also note that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced that it’s turning over all legislative authority to Egypt’s newly elected and seated People’s Assembly. So these are obviously good steps. Taken together, these actions represent major steps forward in the normalization of political life in Egypt.

QUESTION: But isn’t lifting the emergency law only partial, and some opposition have called it cosmetic?

MS. NULAND: Well, there was a little footnote on this, as I understand it, that it would continue to be applied in the case of thuggery and other small cases.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. NULAND: We are seeking some clarification from the Egyptian Government what they mean by that. But the fact that they are finally, after these many, many months of demands, taking the major step is very important for Egypt and for its future.

QUESTION: But given that the term thuggery has not been defined, it could be very broadly applied, even to people walking into the streets of Cairo or Alexandria and celebrating. Thus, basically, it would not have changed, even though he says the law has lifted. Is the U.S. concerned that this may be, as the critics were suggesting, more cosmetic than actual change in policy?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, that is why we are going in to the Egyptians and asking for their clarity on this point and encouraging them to be absolutely clear with the Egyptian people as well.

Please, sir.

QUESTION: A different topic?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The senate of France yesterday passed a law which prohibits the denial of genocide, and (inaudible) to the Armenian genocide. And Turkey obviously is protesting, and Armenia welcomed the outcome of the vote. I was wondering if you followed the process and the under secretary who accidentally happened to be in Paris yesterday, whether he had the chance to talk to his French counterparts about this.

MS. NULAND: Well, you know that our views on these issues are very well known. They are unchanged. We have shared with the Government of France our views and how we have chosen to handle this issue. Frankly, this is a matter between Turkey and France, and we want to see good relations between them. They are both allies of the United States, and that’s our message to both sides.

Please, Scott.

QUESTION: Could you give us a readout on the discussions between U.S. officials and Nigerian officials on the Boko Haram threat? You told us earlier in the week that there were U.S. counterterrorism officials in Abuja.

MS. NULAND: Scott, I’m not going to get too much into details, except to say that obviously we were comparing analyses of the threat, and we were talking about how we might strengthen cooperation so that we can better help the Nigerian Government get its arms around Boko Haram and comparing analysis about how we might do that together.

QUESTION: Human Rights Watch today said that the Nigerian Government needs to do more. Do you agree?

MS. NULAND: Needs to do more --

QUESTION: To combat the Boko Haram threat and to ensure that those involved are – that everyone involved in the instability is brought to justice.

MS. NULAND: Well, we certainly agree that anybody involved in violence, instability against the Nigerian state, against innocent civilians, needs to be brought to justice. These are precisely the kinds of issues that we are in discussion with the Nigerian Government about. They themselves are trying to get their arms around how they can do more, how they can provide greater peace and stability and calm things. But we are also sending a message, very strongly, to all people of Nigeria to settle their issues peacefully and respectfully of each other’s differences.

QUESTION: What is the U.S.’s assessment of the Jonathan government’s ability to deal with this kind of sectarian violence?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’re obviously not going to give the government a report card here from the podium, but as I’ve been saying, we have our counterterrorism experts there so that we can work to strengthen their capabilities,which is something that they want, and how – so we can be supportive of their counterterrorism efforts.

QUESTION: Yes. (Inaudible.)

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I wonder if I could ask a question about Tanzania. The Tanzanian Government last week, or a little more than a week ago, arrested a human rights – or a journalist turned human rights activist, Alexis Sinduhije, who was considered the premier government opposition figure for Burundi. Do you have any information on that?

MS. NULAND: I don’t, Said. I’ll take that one and see if we have anything to give you.

Elise.

QUESTION: On Yemen.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: We know that President Saleh’s visit has been approved. Was wondering if there were any officials that were planning to go to New York to meet with him.

MS. NULAND: Again, I don't think we’ve made any – I don't think there are any plans for any officials to go meet with him, not that I am aware of. As we’ve said, this is not a political visit. This is a medical visit.

QUESTION: Right. It’s not a political visit, but we’re not going to read that John Brennan went to – or some other senior State Department official went to New York to meet with him, regardless?

MS. NULAND: Not to my knowledge. Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Is he in New York already?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m going to refer you to the Yemenis. He is coming for medical reasons, so I don't think it’s appropriate from this podium for us to be giving his travel itinerary or his – or details about that. Let’s let the Yemenis decide what they think is appropriate to put forward.

QUESTION: The American ambassador to Sana’a was saying today that President Saleh is still in Oman.

MS. NULAND: Well, that --

QUESTION: But --

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to get into it – into his travel arrangements from this podium. I’m going to send you to the Yemenis.

QUESTION: Could you clarify to us now, when he’s in the United States, is there any other – does he enjoy any privileges as a president or former president, or he’s like any other tourist that comes to the U.S. for either visiting or medical care or anything?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is that he does enjoy some courtesies here, including security protection, et cetera. But I can’t speak to what they are specifically.

QUESTION: And does that include diplomatic immunity?

MS. NULAND: I don’t – I can’t speak to that, Said. I’ll take that, too. That’s your third one you have me taking today.

Please, in the back. Oh, sorry, Ros.

QUESTION: Does he travel restrictions? Is he limited just to the tri-state area, for example?

MS. NULAND: He has – his visa is for medical treatment, so those are the terms of his visa.

Please.

QUESTION: Do you have any details (inaudible) regarding the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit to United States in February? Because White House just had a brief release yesterday. So do you have any details regarding the trip?

MS. NULAND: Well, the White House is hosting this visit. Vice President Biden is hosting the visit. The White House, as you say, put out a pretty meaty statement about his plans, including the fact that he will be received in the Oval Office by the President and that he’s going to stop in California and in Iowa. So he’s going to have a long visit here, but I don't have anything further. I would send you to the White House for any more details, because they are the hosts.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Madam, according to reports, Chinese are cracking down Tibetans. Inside Tibet, a number of deaths were reported. Any comments on that?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. We are seriously concerned by reports of violence, continuing heightened tensions in the Tibetan area of China, including reports that security forces in Sichuan province have been opening fire on protestors, killing some and injuring others. As you know, we have repeatedly urged the Chinese Government to address its counterproductive policies in the Tibetan areas, which have created tensions and threatened the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people, and we urge the Chinese Government to engage in constructive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives as a means to address Tibetan concerns. I think you’ll see a statement later today from our high representative for Tibet, Under Secretary Maria Otero, if you haven’t already seen that, expressing our concerns here.

QUESTION: Is there any concern that the fact that these security forces are mowing down Tibetans in Sichuan is going to affect the optics of Vice President Xi’s visit? I mean, is this the right time for the vice president of China to be visiting the United States, when they’re stepping up their repression of the Tibetans?

MS. NULAND: Well, we have always been clear, at every level, our concerns about these issues, not only our concerns about human rights for Tibetans but also about human rights in general in China. We will be just as clear on this visit as we have been in other encounters at the high level with Chinese officials.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Anything else? Just in the back? Back – yeah.

QUESTION: Can we go to Pakistan?

MS. NULAND: Sorry. Pakistan? Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah. Is there any concern in Washington that political instability in Pakistan might affect U.S. efforts to bring – to involve Taliban in reconciliation process?

MS. NULAND: Well, we have said that we think that it is – would be helpful and important for Pakistan to be brief, for Pakistan to be involved. We have been very open with them about this. Ambassador Grossman has been speaking to them about it. In the past, they have made positive statements about reconciliation, including by participating in the Istanbul conference. So at the moment, the issues that we are awaiting discussion with Pakistan about are issues separate from this. They have to do with the counterterrorism and military relationship.

QUESTION: I mean, are you concerned the political instability – the government has issues with judiciary and the army? How concerned you are – the political instability in Pakistan?

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about this many times before. We support the civilian government. We want to see the issues settled through dialogue and within the Pakistani constitution. We’re pleased to see that the groups are talking to each other and trying to work through these issues.

Thank you very much.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:28 p.m.)

DPB # 15



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