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Daily Press Briefing

Robert Wood
Acting Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
February 27, 2009



Background Briefing on Secretary Clinton's Upcoming Trip

Durable Ceasefire in the Region / Moving Forward on the Peace Process / Working With New Government Once They Are in Power

Tension in the Area / Talking to Various Parties

Reviewing Policy on Iran / Concern of Nuclear Issue
Appointment of Ambassador Ross as Special Advisor

Secretary Clinton's Meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis / Focus on OSCE, U.S.-Greek Relations and the Balkans

Trilateral Meeting / Link Between Afghan and Pakistani Security / Taliban and al-Qaida Threats / Next Trilateral Meeting / Improving Security Situation

Fighting in the Southern Town of Malakal / Concerned By Violence / Working with Our International Partners / Concern of Darfur

Potential Missile Launch / Potential Violation of Resolution 1718


10:31 a.m. EST

MR. WOOD: Happy Friday, everyone. Before I start, I just want to remind you all that there will be a background briefing by some senior U.S. officials to talk about the Secretary’s upcoming trip that will follow this briefing.

QUESTION: Did we make any progress on getting at least to talk to them on the record?

MR. WOOD: I think we’re working on that, so just bear with us. I think it should happen, but -

QUESTION: Without a – okay. But without any words from the Secretary, it really doesn’t – I mean, people speaking on – nameless people speaking about her trip doesn’t really do us any good.

MR. WOOD: Hear you loudly and clearly. We’re working on it.

QUESTION: And while you’re working on that, if you work on it successfully could you make the top of it on camera as well as on the record?

MR. WOOD: Don’t know about that. Don’t think that’s going to happen.

QUESTION: Still not --

MR. WOOD: That part – I appreciate your --

QUESTION: Looking out for the networks, you know.

MR. WOOD: I appreciate your points. Understand.

Questions? No questions?

QUESTION: Do you have any details about Bosworth’s itinerary?

MR. WOOD: I don’t at this point. Once we do get that itinerary, we’ll get it to you. But we don’t have anything at this point.


QUESTION: Do you have any reflection on the apparent reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority? The talks in Cairo seem to have produced some convergence there.

MR. WOOD: No, I don’t have anything for you on that, Dave. You know, what the Secretary and others in this building are focused on is to try and help get some kind of a durable ceasefire in the region and, of course, deal with the humanitarian situation in Gaza. But I don’t have any way of characterizing how things are going with regard to, you know, talks, you know, between Palestinians.

QUESTION: Is a better relationship between the two a positive thing?

MR. WOOD: I don’t know. I’d have to refer you to, you know, for one – in one case, the PA.


QUESTION: How useful can the Secretary’s talks be in Jerusalem since the Israelis haven’t yet formed a government?

MR. WOOD: Well, as I said the other day, the Secretary wants to talk to all the parties and get a sense, on the ground, as to how things are, how receptive various parties will be to moving forward with the peace process. But she’s certainly well aware that there is not a government in place at some – you know, at this point. And she looks forward to working with that new government once it is in power. But again, she wants to take a – you know, get a sense of what’s going on on the ground and see how we can possibly move the process forward.


QUESTION: Yes, on Serbia. Mr. Wood, Serbia has launched a probe into atrocities against the former Yugoslav army in Bosnia and issued arrests against 19 people. Do you have any comment?

MR. WOOD: I don’t.

QUESTION: And also, what is the U.S. position vis-à-vis to the tension arising in fragile Bosnia-Herzegovina as the country’s Serbs seeking now full independence?

MR. WOOD: Well, we obviously would be concerned about any kind of tension going on – tension in Bosnia. And we’ve obviously been talking to various parties to see what we can do to, you know, calm the situation down. But beyond that, Lambros, I don’t have anything else for you on it.

QUESTION: Do you consider that as a threat against the U.S.-brokered Dayton agreement of 1995 reached by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke?

MR. WOOD: I think it’s premature to go that far, Lambros.

QUESTION: How was the meeting yesterday between Assistant Secretary Feltman and the Syrian ambassador?

MR. WOOD: It was a – you know, a very frank discussion. Ambassador Feltman pointed out a number of concerns that the United States has about Syrian behavior and activities. We felt it was important that we communicate, you know, our concerns directly to the Syrians at this level. And we’ll wait and see how the Syrians respond to our concerns about a number of things, such as, you know, support for terrorist organizations, its inability to be – well, at least from our standpoint, it isn’t doing enough to serve as a good neighbor to Iraq, its interference in Lebanese internal affairs. So we wait to see how the Syrians respond to our concerns.

Let me follow with Samir. Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have a readout on the meeting Ambassador Feltman had yesterday with the commander of the Lebanese army?

MR. WOOD: I don’t at all, Samir. But you asked me that yesterday, I’ll try and get you an answer – get you a readout on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: Please.

QUESTION: During the President’s visit to Ottawa, a Russian bomber was intercepted by Canadian fighter – a fighter pilot, or planes in the Arctic. How concerned are you about the timing?

MR. WOOD: Well, I saw a brief press report on that, but I don’t have anything more on it. I’d refer you probably to either the Canadian military or NORAD.


QUESTION: Yesterday, Ambassador Rice said U.S. will work to stop any illicit action by Iranian regarding nuclear program. Is that part of the review on Iran’s policy?

MR. WOOD: Well, we are obviously reviewing all aspects of our policy with regard to Iran, and certainly the nuclear issue is one that we’re very concerned about, and that will be an issue that will be covered under the review. But I don’t have anything beyond that right now, other than our previously stated policy with regard to Iran’s nuclear program and our desire to see Iran, you know, comply with its international obligations.

Let me go to someone else. Michel.

QUESTION: Iran wasn’t satisfied with the nomination of Ambassador Ross as a special advisor for the Secretary for the Gulf affairs. Do you have any reaction?

MR. WOOD: Well, it’s – you know, he is someone who will be working for the U.S. Government. It’s not for Iran to decide who they’re satisfied with or not with regard to an appointment by the Secretary of State.


QUESTION: Yes, on Greece. Do you have any readout on the talks between Secretary Hillary Clinton and the Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis of last Wednesday?

MR. WOOD: Yeah, they had a very, very good and friendly discussion, as I think I mentioned earlier. They talked about a number of issues, particularly focused on the OSCE, U.S.-Greek relations, the Balkans. It was a very good discussion. The Secretary enjoyed meeting with her Greek counterpart. There will likely be – there will certainly be further conversations between the two. It was a very, very good meeting, and we look forward to working with Greece on a whole range of issues that are on the foreign policy agenda.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Yesterday’s trilateral meeting – U.S.-Pakistan-Afghanistan – did they reach to any agreement regarding alleged connection between Afghan security and Pakistan’s?

MR. WOOD: I think it’s pretty much understood by all parties that there is a link between Afghan and Pakistani security. The Taliban and al-Qaida are threats to both countries. And what we want to see is much closer cooperation between the United States, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, as we try to deal with these threats.

It was a good – a good discussion. There were a number of issues that were dealt with at this trilateral meeting. There will be future meetings. I believe the Secretary said that probably either – I think sometime in late April or May would probably be the next trilateral meeting. It was a very good forum for trying to deal with these very, very thorny issues of security. And you know, the Secretary thought it was very useful to have, you know, representatives from, you know, both Pakistan and Afghanistan here together so that we could really talk about this threat to regional security that’s posed by al-Qaida and the Taliban.

QUESTION: Any concern about Pakistanis addition troop deployment, 17,000 more troops? Pakistanis didn’t raise any concern regarding adding 17,000 more troops, U.S. troops to (inaudible)?

MR. WOOD: Well, I don’t want to get into specifics of the discussions, but certainly the question of how we can improve the security situation both inside Afghanistan and along its border was certainly an important topic of discussion.

QUESTION: Yeah, the fighting in the southern Sudanese town of Malakal, do you see that as a potential threat to the 2005 peace deal between North and South? And what would you do to stabilize things?

MR. WOOD: Well, we certainly hope it’s not a threat to that agreement. We’re concerned, of course, by any type of violence that’s going on in that region. Sudan is – the Sudanese people have suffered for such a long time, and we’re going to work with our partners in the international community to try to do what we can to make sure that this type of violence doesn't continue and that we can, at some point, you know, bring peace and security to the people of Sudan, you know, and specifically Darfur, which is another great concern to all of us in the international community.


QUESTION: Any reaction on the agreement between the Palestinian factions in Cairo yesterday?

MR. WOOD: I think I just addressed that a little bit earlier.

QUESTION: Sorry about that.

MR. WOOD: That’s quite all right.


QUESTION: Just on the North Korean potential missile launch, Ambassador Chris Hill said yesterday that the activity, while the North Koreans claim it’s a satellite launch, it sure looks like a missile launch. He said that would be in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718 and other possible resolutions. Do you know what those other possible resolutions you were referring to were? And can you say for sure if a satellite launch would violate 1718?

MR. WOOD: I’ll take the second part of your question first. It certainly would, as Chris said. It certainly would violate 1718, which, as I’ve said many times, you know, prohibits the North from engaging in ballistic missile related activity.

With regard to other resolutions, I didn’t see, you know, Chris’s comments. We’d have to look into it a little bit more carefully and see which ones he’s referring to. I’m happy to follow up on that for you.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks.

MR. WOOD: Anything else?

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 10:40 a.m.)

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