Daily Press Briefing
Mark C. Toner
Daily Press Briefing
April 13, 2012
Index for Today's Briefing
Missile Launch/ IAEA/Food Aid/ Security Council Meeting/ Nuclear Testing
Regional Relationships/Humanitarian Assistance
Administrator Shah Visit
Parliamentary Review/ Drone Strikes
Visit of Finance Minister Shaikah
Shah Rukh Khan Delay at New York Airport
Monitoring Mission/ Ceasefire Status
Rewards for Justice
Health Minister Visit
Reaction to Demonstrations
12:57 p.m. EDT
MR. TONER: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the State Department. Just a brief statement at the top, and then perhaps can answer some of your questions about the situation in Guinea-Bissau.
We strongly condemn the attempt by certain elements of the military to undermine the legitimate civilian leadership of Guinea-Bissau. We regret that they have chosen to disrupt the democratic process, which already was challenged by the opposition’s call to boycott the second round of presidential elections. We urge all parties to put down their weapons, release government leaders immediately, and restore legitimate civilian leadership. And we’re clearly deeply concerned about the safety of all those in Bissau today, and we’re going to continue to work with our partners in the region and beyond as we monitor developments.
QUESTION: That’s it?
MR. TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: To say – have you decided – no decision has been made about – on aid or anything like that?
MR. TONER: No. I mean it’s – look. It’s – we’ve got a situation that’s still developing, events still unfolding. But as I mentioned, since the evening of April 12th, it looks like military forces have taken control of radio and television stations. They remain off the air, as well as seized the headquarters of the ruling party for the independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde party and are attempting to restrict movement. So we obviously strongly condemn this attempt to undermine the civilian authority there. We want it restored as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Right. Okay. Well, then, in the interest of saving time on a beautiful Friday afternoon --
MR. TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: -- I’ve got three really quick ones.
MR. TONER: Okay.
QUESTION: One, two, three. You can just – do you have anything new to say about North Korea that hasn’t been said by the Secretary – what is she – the White House Secretary or Susan Rice at the UN?
Two, do you anything new to say about the Pakistani parliament and the rules of engagement, or whatever they’re calling them, that wasn’t said in Toria’s statement of last night?
And three, do you have anything new to say about the P-5+1 talks tomorrow?
MR. TONER: No, no, and no. (Laughter.) But I think I’ll still get the questions. I don’t think everyone’s as single-minded as you are. But thanks, Matt. I appreciate that, actually. Any other questions you want to –
QUESTION: I have one on North Korea? (Laughter.)
MR. TONER: Sure. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Just about the IAEA --
MR. TONER: I couldn’t resist.
QUESTION: -- monitors. Yeah. Is this – does the U.S. still support sending IAEA monitors into North Korea after the launch?
MR. TONER: It’s a fair question. I mean, obviously, that’s something for you to ask the IAEA. I know – I don’t – I’m not aware of where they’re at, frankly, on deliberations about that monitoring mission. I mean, obviously, what we’ve seen in the past week or so since – or two weeks or so since North Korea announced its intention and then moved ahead with this launch has been the same old, same old with North Korea. And we’re obviously very concerned about the situation there, so – yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Just two, like a short one and a kind of longer.
MR. TONER: Sure. Go ahead.
QUESTION: First, on the food aid. Will – nothing had been delivered, right? There was no --
MR. TONER: No.
QUESTION: So is there any technical thing that we have to look at in terms of food aid? Do you just stop it? Nothing happens? There’s nothing in the pipeline floating around Asia that might has to be – have to be pulled back, or anything like that?
MR. TONER: I don’t believe so. My understanding where we were at shortly after the Leap Day agreement or statement was that they – a team tried to finalize some of the arrangements to be made on food assistance. But then when we had the announcement by North Korea that it was moving ahead with this satellite launch, then we suspended that program.
QUESTION: And then a longer format question.
MR. TONER: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Just in terms of the approach and the policy of the United States right now, I mean, where does engagement go? Is this – we just turn our backs and say you have done what the world didn’t want you to do, and we don’t talk? Because the President did leave open the door, still, of engagement. But realistically, what happens?
MR. TONER: Well, you are correct that the White House statement yesterday did note that the door does remain open for engagement, or that we’re prepared to engage constructively with North Korea. But as we’ve said many times, we’re not going to reward bad behavior with engagement. And in fact – and we don’t, as you’ve often heard us say, don’t want to engage in talks for talks’ sake.
And so as we move forward – you talked about where we’re at diplomatically. I mean, I think first, we’re in intensive consultations with all our Six-Party colleagues. And in fact, the Secretary has already spoken today, I believe, with China – Chinese Foreign Minister Yang, and then yesterday with South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kim, and of course, with the G-8 here, she also had the opportunity to speak intensively on this matter with Foreign Minister Lavrov, as well as -- where am I forgetting, who else she spoke with --
MR. TONER: Sorry?
MR. TONER: But anyway, these consultations continue intensively, and moving forward, we’re going to continue to talk with them as we talk about next steps. Obviously, discussions are ongoing today, and Ambassador Rice just gave a readout, in fact, of the Security Council meeting on North Korea’s launch. But I think it’s going to be – I guess if I was trying to characterize it, we’re going to consult, we’re going to move together in a unified manner, and we’re going to – when we do take action, we’re going to do so in a deliberate way.
QUESTION: And just one other thing. The Secretary indicated, and I think Toria in her previous briefing, said often actions from North Korea come in twos or threes. So the obvious next step would be for them to move toward some type of nuclear testing. Is the U.S. picking up any indications from them that they are – I’m not talking about even spies, but – or that type of intelligence, but are you picking up any indication that they are now going to move to that?
MR. TONER: Well, first of all, my do-over. When I was talking about Foreign Minister Lavrov and then, of course, had my brain freeze – that’s what a week in Florida will do to you – I meant Foreign Minister Gemba to add as well. So she’s had a chance to consult with the Japanese, with the Russians, and now reached out subsequently after the launch with South Korea and China.
MR. TONER: Thank you. Anyway, to answer your – your question was about talk about a nuclear test. I mean, obviously, I can’t talk about intelligence matters from the podium. In the past we’ve seen a pattern, if you will, to North Korea’s bad behavior, but I can’t talk, obviously, about any intelligence matters. So –
QUESTION: On North Korea, did you – what the Chinese are saying – what kind of a role they have played or – in this process or as far as missile launch is concerned?
MR. TONER: Just rewinding Goyal, the first part of your question was who?
QUESTION: What role you think Chinese played in this process with North Korea as far as missile launch?
MR. TONER: Well, the Secretary, as I just said, had a good opportunity – or an opportunity to have a good conversation with the Chinese foreign minister this morning. One of the things that she stressed was the need to obviously consult closely with other members of the Six-Party team, if you will, and that we move together in a deliberate and unified way to speak out and condemn this action. So we’re cooperating closely, consulting closely with China. And obviously they’ve got a very important role.
Sorry, to just finish up --
MR. TONER: They’ve – we’re asking them to use their relationship with North Korea to convey our concern about their recent actions.
QUESTION: And finally, what are you telling the regional nations like South Korea and Japan and others now, because they were angry before that they will take action? And where do we stand now as far as regional nations are concerned of the threat in the region?
MR. TONER: Where do we stand now with other – well, as I said, I think the international community is rightly concerned, as I said, given North Korea’s launch yesterday but also its behavior in the past, this pattern of bad behavior. And so we’re going to consult very closely with other Six-Party colleagues as we move forward and speak out in a unified voice.
QUESTION: Could I follow up on North Korea?
MR. TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Just with the food aid, the nutritional assistance.
MR. TONER: Sure. Thank you.
QUESTION: As far as the U.S. is concerned, is this completely null and void, the Leap Year agreement and everything, in light of what North Korea has done? Or could food aid potentially – if their behavior changes in the weeks and months to come, could food aid be resumed or the plan for food aid be resumed, or is this completely over at this point?
MR. TONER: I guess I would answer that by saying that North Korea’s behavior to date since we signed this agreement has – as we’ve discussed several times, has raised doubts about their ability to live up to their obligations and their commitments. And so given their willingness to flout international obligations and move ahead with a launch that was clearly in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, that we don’t feel we can move forward at any level, including at the nutritional assistance level, because we don’t feel that we can frankly trust the North Koreans that this will end up in appropriate hands.
QUESTION: Is that – I mean, in your view, is that linking politics with the humanitarian situation? I mean, are there still concerns about – I mean, aid groups --
MR. TONER: I think it’s – I think it’s simply acknowledging that if you can’t trust the government to live up to its commitments on – in one aspect of – then you can certainly not expect it to live up to its commitments on another aspect. And so these – as we’ve talked about all along, nutritional assistance needs to be credibly monitored. We need to ensure that it goes in the hands of the people who need it and who it’s designed for. And so if we can’t trust North Korea to live up to its commitments in terms of its activities and launch of ballistic missiles, then we feel that we can’t trust it on the nutritional assistance that it will get to the appropriate people.
QUESTION: And just – the February 29th agreement as a whole, is the United States still looking for North Korea to comply with that, or is that – as far as you’re concerned, that’s just – that’s over, that’s (inaudible)?
MR. TONER: I would say – I mean, the word I’d say is “suspended” given the current state of –
MR. TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Another subject?
QUESTION: Pakistan, please?
QUESTION: Still on North Korea?
MR. TONER: Let’s go – yeah, you had your hand up for Pakistan.
MR. TONER: Are we done with North Korea?
QUESTION: No. Still on North Korea.
MR. TONER: North Korea. Sorry. Tomoko, finish up with that.
QUESTION: Would you say one of the reason that they failed the launch is the current sanction on North Korea?
MR. TONER: Look, you’re asking me to – I have absolutely no idea. I would point you in the direction of NORAD or NORTHCOM, who can provide you with a detailed technical analysis of the launch, or to the Government of North Korea, which I think acknowledged the launch’s failure.
Yeah. Go – oh, are you still on North Korea?
MR. TONER: Sure. Sorry. I will get to Pakistan. Sorry.
QUESTION: You’ve been referring to the missile launch activity as “deal breaker.” And I remember you using the word “abrogation” as well. But you just said the White House statement still leaves some room open for some talk. Has your position changed? Is the Leap deal agreement effective as of today?
MR. TONER: I just – the White House statement, I think, simply said that we’re prepared to engage constructively with North Korea, but only a North Korea that wants to engage constructively with the rest of the world. And until we see that type of pattern of behavior, then that’s not going to be possible.
QUESTION: So is a deal – was a deal breaker? Did it break the deal? Is the deal still effective?
MR. TONER: We think it was a deal breaker. Yeah.
Yeah, go ahead. Now Pakistan.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you, Mark. These rules of engagement, these are actually recommendations from the Pakistani parliament to negotiate a future relationship with the United States. So do you plan to reengage them? Do you plan to discuss a future relationship with them? Do you have any schedule in mind – future meetings, visits? Are you looking for a midway for building a new relationship particularly on the issue of drones and other issues that they have raised?
MR. TONER: I mean, I – it’s a very good question. I mean, I don’t have any announcements to make today about upcoming trips or travel. I do --
QUESTION: You’ve got someone pretty senior there right now.
MR. TONER: Well, I was going to – I was getting there. I was going to say that our USAID Administrator Raj Shah is on the ground right now in Pakistan. And I think that speaks to what we talked about a little bit in the past weeks, is that we’ve already seen in the past weeks and month or so a reengagement at a high level both with the President’s conversation with President Zardari and then subsequent visits by Deputy Secretary Nides and others. We’ve been reengaging already with – at a high level with the Pakistani Government.
But nothing to announce in terms of next steps or next – or upcoming trips or travel, beyond the fact that what we said yesterday, which is that we are ready to engage with the Pakistani Government on this parliamentary review and on the issues that it has raised. We want to build a very constructive relationship with Pakistan and one that is based on mutual understanding.
QUESTION: Are you looking for a meeting point? I mean, they have come up with certain demands, and you would probably have something --
MR. TONER: I’m sorry. I didn’t hear your question. Are we looking for --
QUESTION: A meeting point for a future relationship. I mean, you probably would go with some of your points, some of your demands. And so do you think – how would you build up this relationship? What will be the basis for this?
MR. TONER: I do think we’re ready to have – as we’ve said many times, we’re awaiting the end of this parliamentary review. And my understanding, in fact, is that this still has to be – obviously, there’s still a little bit left in this political process. It still has to be approved by the cabinet, is my understanding.
But as we move forward, we definitely want to engage, to talk about the breadth of issues that have been raised in this parliamentary review and to come to a better understanding of our relationship.
QUESTION: Did they tell you that these are not binding on the government?
MR. TONER: Did they --
QUESTION: Did they tell you that these recommendations are not binding on the government; the government does not have to follow them in letter and spirit?
MR. TONER: Well, again, I think we’re – we’ve talked a lot about this parliamentary review. We’re going to engage with the Pakistani Government in a way that listens to their concerns, recognizes their needs in the relationship, recognizes that this is a shared relationship and a shared commitment, and move forward.
Yeah. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Who is Shah seeing while he’s there, and will he be discussing any of the things that are in the Pakistani demands, list of demands?
MR. TONER: He did actually meet with Foreign Minister Khar today, and that is all I have just from – I’m not sure – was he supposed to meet with President Zardarai? Thank you. Yes. But I’m not sure when that meeting is taking place.
QUESTION: Do you know if they’ll be talking about any of --
MR. TONER: Not to my understanding. No, he’s – I mean, he’s there to talk about our civil assistance – civilian assistance, rather.
QUESTION: Is there – and what about that? Is there some --
MR. TONER: Well, that’s been --
QUESTION: What are the issues with that?
MR. TONER: I mean, that has continued throughout this parliamentary review and throughout the turmoil, if you will, in the relationship post November 26. So that’s been ongoing. That has not stopped. So he’s there to review those programs.
QUESTION: Mark, there are four major demands. One, are you ready to apologize? They’re asking for the 24 Pakistani soldiers who were killed. Two, stop all the drone and other attacks. And three, that Pakistani should be treated just like you treat India. And fourth, finally, that Pakistan should be a given a nuclear – civil nuclear just like to India.
MR. TONER: Goyal, those are a nice try to get me to negotiate and talk about that ongoing relationship from the podium, but let’s let us sit down with our senior officials, sit down with Pakistan’s senior officials, and discuss it.
QUESTION: No, this is what --
MR. TONER: Sure, Goyal.
QUESTION: Sorry. This is what I am saying that this is what has been going on in the media in Pakistan every day and in discussions among those politicians and all that. That’s --
MR. TONER: No, I think we’re aware of some of the concerns that the parliamentary review raised. And they’re – frankly, some of them are not new to us, so we’re going to engage.
QUESTION: You said that you’d talk about the breadth of the whole thing, correct? That would be every subject that you’re willing to talk about with them?
MR. TONER: I don’t know if we would talk about every subject under the sun. We’d talk about --
QUESTION: No, no. Every subject that they raised, you’re willing to talk about, including --
MR. TONER: Well, we’re going to talk to them about our civilian cooperation as well as our counterterrorism cooperation, security cooperation --
QUESTION: So you’re willing to talk with them about the drone strikes?
MR. TONER: You know I can’t talk about any intelligence matters.
QUESTION: You can’t talk about it with us. Can you talk about it with them?
MR. TONER: Well, again, we have very robust counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, is this something – they put this on the table. Are you – is this something that’s on the table for the U.S.?
MR. TONER: I’ll just say that we’re going to talk about aspects – all aspects of our relationship moving forward.
QUESTION: You’re going to talk about all aspects of what they raised?
MR. TONER: Including counterterrorism cooperation, but you know --
QUESTION: Does that include – is that your understanding? Does that include drone strikes?
MR. TONER: I cannot address that point.
QUESTION: But wait – forget about the word – the two words “drone” and “strike.” You are willing – the U.S. is going to talk to them about everything that’s in this review?
MR. TONER: I think we’re willing to address their concerns moving forward and find a middle ground.
QUESTION: Well, without naming them, are there some issues that you’re not willing to talk about?
MR. TONER: Again, let’s let these conversations move forward until – and I’m not going to – we’re not going to take anything off the table or put anything on the table.
QUESTION: Can I talk about India-Pakistan relations going on now at the --
MR. TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: -- especially at the Atari border, a lot of activities are going on between India and Pakistan people-to-people and trades, and they want to open the borders and cultures and trade relations and opening. As far as Mr. Shah, sir, being in Pakistan today, is he discussing any of these things or that as far as opening of the – a lot of things that people-to-people between the two countries after especially the President Zardari’s visit to India?
MR. TONER: It’s a fair question, Goyal. I can’t tell you specifically whether it’s being raised in his conversations. Of course, you know where we stand. We support improved relations, better dialogue, more people-to-people exchanges. Everything you essentially just ran through we view as a very positive development. But I can’t preclude that he’s – it’s going to be raised in some of his conversations.
Yeah. In the back. Sorry.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: Staying in the region --
QUESTION: Can we stay on Pakistan, please?
MR. TONER: Yeah. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Pakistani Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh is coming to town this week – weekend. Is he meeting anyone in this building next week?
MR. TONER: I’ll take the question.
QUESTION: India’s movie star Shah Rukh Khan was detained at a New York airport yesterday. Do you know why he was detained for the second time in two years, and what are the reasons? Is there something pending against him? Do you suspect something against him?
MR. TONER: Well, I can say we are certainly aware, as you stated, that he was temporarily delayed before admission at the White Plains, New York airport. He was – or is apparently, or was apparently traveling to an event at Yale University. And we have, obviously, the utmost respect for Mr. Khan and his work both as an artist and a humanitarian. And we offer our apologies for any discomfort or inconvenience he may have suffered as a result of this incident.
QUESTION: What were the reasons for delay, and how long was the delay?
MR. TONER: Well, I’d refer you to the TSA for any specific questions about the incident.
QUESTION: Have you received any official communication from Indian Government?
MR. TONER: We have. Both the Indian Ministry of External Affairs as well as the Indian Embassy in Washington have expressed their concern.
QUESTION: This for the second time that he was detained or delayed at the airport in U.S. And first time after he was detained, you had said this will not be repeated again. So what happened this time?
MR. TONER: Well, again, my understanding – you used the word “detained.” I’ve been told he was simply delayed. But in any case, I wouldn’t necessarily look at this as some sort of pattern but rather two separate incidents. Obviously, we’ve expressed our regret about the incident and recognize him – that he’s a very renowned artist and humanitarian. Obviously, he was going to Yale, I think, to receive a prestigious award there. And we apologize.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Sorry. You said – I’m not sure – quite sure I understand the --
MR. TONER: Yeah. Go ahead.
QUESTION: -- nuance of delay. Was he delayed in handcuffs in a cell? (Laughter.)
MR. TONER: No. No.
QUESTION: Well, what does that mean?
MR. TONER: Now my understanding, he was delayed actually --
QUESTION: Delayed – I mean, delay is what happened when there’s bad weather.
MR. TONER: -- actually disembarking from the airplane. There was a delay of an hour or so from him getting off the airplane.
QUESTION: Well, what does that mean?
MR. TONER: He wasn’t – that it wasn’t --
QUESTION: What, he couldn’t physically get off the plane?
MR. TONER: It wasn’t – that is not detention. That is a delay.
QUESTION: Well, was it delay because --
QUESTION: Was it tied to him?
MR. TONER: Sorry?
QUESTION: I mean, was the delay personally tied to him, or was it an airport thing?
MR. TONER: Again, I’d refer you to the TSA, but no, I don’t – they believe it was airplane related. But again, he wasn’t – but he wasn’t detained. He was simply delayed getting – disembarking.
QUESTION: Well, were all the other passengers on the plane delayed?
MR. TONER: I don’t know. I don’t think so.
QUESTION: Is that because --
QUESTION: Well, then this is not a delay. I’m sorry. I mean, if he was yanked off the plane – he was held on the plane?
MR. TONER: That is my understanding.
QUESTION: And he was not allowed to leave the plane?
MR. TONER: Again, I would refer you to the TSA for details of the incident.
QUESTION: This is really Orwellian. That’s a delay?
MR. TONER: That’s a delay.
QUESTION: Was he on some type of –
QUESTION: Is that because his name is Khan? That’s number one. And number two, in India, what discussions are going on now, Mark, that this is not the only one first incident only with Mr. Khan or a famous film star but also many other incidents took place with the high-class Indians. They named all of them and they were really concerned why it is happening, only somebody with a turban but he is in the Prime Minister Manmohan’s government and a high class and other – among other businessmen and so forth. So what can you assure them in the future what should be done or what can be done between these problems?
MR. TONER: Well, I mean, actually there is a program whereby travelers can alert – identify their status before they depart via the Embassy. And that’s one approach or avenue to take.
In answer to your first question, look, I really would have to refer you to the TSA in terms of their screening procedures, why this individual, why two times. Again, I don’t know. I don’t have the answers.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up on Goyal’s question, I think that the allegation that the Indians are making was that it was racial profiling, that – because he has a Muslim name. Is that --
MR. TONER: I mean, I think we all know that that’s clearly not the case. The fact of the matter is tens of thousands of Muslims travel to and from the United States every day and are not detained or delayed. (Laughter.) And --
QUESTION: Well, this one was.
MR. TONER: And so when something obviously goes wrong, we hear about it, but we don’t hear about the vast majority when – and it all goes smoothly. So no.
QUESTION: Sorry. One last thing on that.
MR. TONER: Yeah. Sure.
QUESTION: So you said that this is something that the TSA is sort of in charge of?
MR. TONER: Well, they’re responsible for airport screening, so I don’t know – I don’t have – they probably have a very detailed report about the incident. I don’t know. I don’t know why he was delayed.
QUESTION: But it’s not something that you then work with them on, especially after an Embassy and the foreign ministry calls the State Department to ask them about that. I mean, how – what kind of communication does the State Department and the TSA have on issues like this?
MR. TONER: Well, we respect very much that they have an important job in keeping passengers safe and keeping Americans safe and keeping all airline passengers who are traveling or transiting the United States safe. And so we’re very respectful of the important role that they play. Certainly, we’re always seeking – I don’t know, in this particular case, what the follow-up might be. I can certainly look into it. But I know in the past, we’ve certainly talked with them about procedures, but again, mindful of the fact that they’ve got – they have a job to do.
QUESTION: Just a clarification?
MR. TONER: Yeah. Sure.
QUESTION: You said that the incident happened, the apology has been given, but you said to stop it in future --
MR. TONER: And he went on to --
QUESTION: To inform the Embassy --
MR. TONER: -- to Yale, where he received his award.
QUESTION: No, no. To – yeah, but in future, to stop such things to happen, you said to inform the Embassy. What exactly is that, the details? Have you talked to the Indian ministry?
MR. TONER: I’d refer you to the Embassy in New Delhi, but it’s a program that they have where they can identify their status before they depart to address any difficulties that they may experience.
QUESTION: And finally, as far as the U.S. new ambassador, Madam Nancy Powell, is concerned, and she must be going through all this, facing all these questions when she arrives in Delhi. She must be briefed all this.
MR. TONER: Look, I’m – it’s a – as I think I’ve said, it’s an unfortunate incident. We’ve apologized. I don’t know what more there is to say beyond the fact that he went on and had a very fruitful visit and, I believe, made the – helped or encouraged – there’s a YouTube video, somebody told me, of him dancing with the director of admissions at Yale as though they were in a Bollywood musical. So all’s well that ends well.
QUESTION: On another subject if they’re all done?
MR. TONER: It’s still – I’m sorry, are we still --
QUESTION: Was an apology issued to Mr. Kahn, or was it issued through the Indian Embassy – the Embassy of the U.S. and India?
MR. TONER: Well, I offered my sincere apologies that he may have experienced – I’m not sure that it was done on a personal level. I don’t have that information.
QUESTION: I just wondered, when might the advance team go to Syria ahead of or as part of this monitoring mission? And do you have to wait until you get some kind of clearance in New York, or what’s --
MR. TONER: It’s all being – yeah. I mean, that’s exactly what’s going on right now in New York. And obviously, they met this morning. Ambassador Rice emerged – talked about the conversation that they had deploring North Korea’s actions, and then went back in. The second part of the meeting, I think, is going to focus on Syria and next steps.
You heard the Secretary yesterday talk about a very robust monitoring mission is what we want to see, and we want to see that advance team out there. What we saw in the last day or so was a very fragile truce emerge, a very fragile first step. So now it’s important to get this advance team out there and to get a monitoring mission on the ground.
QUESTION: So right now you’re still waiting for some agreement in New York on that? You’re not thinking about just going ahead?
MR. TONER: That’s what they’re discussing. I mean, obviously, this is in support of Kofi Annan’s process here, and so it’s appropriate that that’s done through the council.
Yeah. Go ahead, Matt.
QUESTION: When you -- just on that, I mean, would you expect to be part of a monitoring mission?
MR. TONER: You know what? I don’t know if that’s – again, I don’t know if the composition’s been discussed or debated.
QUESTION: Do you think that the Syrians would welcome an American presence?
MR. TONER: I’m very doubtful, but the Secretary’s very clear that she wants to see as robust a mission as possible.
QUESTION: And you’re not going to barge your way in? You’re not going to just barge your way in and say hi, we’re here to monitor the ceasefire?
MR. TONER: We never barge.
QUESTION: Oh? I’ll remember to tell that to the Iraqis. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: To follow up, I mean, what’s your assessment of how the truce is holding? It’s been a day. There’s been some reports from human rights groups of deaths. I mean, what’s the assessment?
MR. TONER: Sure. I’ve heard there’s – sure – from – we do hear from these LCCs, these local coordination committees that sporadic fighting continues in parts of Syria. I’ve heard estimates of seven to ten people killed today. So again, this is – at best can only be described as fragile. But it is a first step; we want to try to build on it.
And obviously, as the Secretary was very clear about yesterday, as – there are still other elements to the Annan plan that need to be implemented by the Syrian Government. This is not a menu; this is a set of obligations, so we need to see them move forward on all of the elements of the plan, which is an inclusive, Syrian-led political dialogue and transition, a cessation of all forms of violence, humanitarian assistance, access to all areas and populations in need, the release of all political prisoners, and the freedom of movement, access for media and journalists, as well as freedom of assembly.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary discuss Syria yesterday with the Saudi defense minister?
MR. TONER: I promise you I will try to get you a readout. You, of course, saw that they walked out and did a – brief comments at the top of their meeting. I did not get a full readout of their meeting. I can certainly imagine that they discussed in some detail Syria.
QUESTION: Is the Reward for Justice – one, is it working as far as – and second, one person, Jubair Ahmad from Woodbridge, Virginia, a Pakistani citizen, he pled guilty that he was providing information and material support to the LET in Pakistan.
MR. TONER: Right. Geez, I left talking about that, and I come back a week later and still talking about it. Anyway, this will take some time, Goyal. These programs often do. They do have a very high success rate overall, which is why we use them, frankly. So let’s wait and see.
And in terms of your second question, I’m not familiar with the case, so I would refer you to the other – Department of Justice or local authorities.
QUESTION: Just a brief one. The health minister of Myanmar, Burma is here. I was just wondering if there was anything specific that the U.S. wanted to discuss or wanted to promote in the country during his visit.
MR. TONER: Well, I mean, obviously we’ve got the reopening of a USAID office in Burma, which is a positive first step. I can imagine many of the programs – again, I don’t have a detailed list or assessment in front of me, but many of our programs touch upon health matters – preventative health care, childhood communicable diseases, that kind of stuff. So – but I don’t know what – specifically who he’s meeting with.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. TONER: Oh, Samir, anything else? Are we done?
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the demonstrations in Egypt today against the military rule and the people from the Mubarak era not to run for the presidency?
MR. TONER: I don’t, beyond that it’s up to the Egyptian people to set the parameters of their political process and democratic transition moving forward, and they certainly have the right to peaceful assembly.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)
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