Daily Press Briefing, November 7, 2012
Daily Press Briefing
November 7, 2012
Index for Today's Briefing
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
Close Work with UN Envoy Tony Blair / Goals
Doha Conference Update
Defensive Support / NATO / Patriot Missiles
British Contacts with the Free Syrian Army / Maintaining Contact with Array of Opposition Groups
Offers to Host Assad Outside Syria / Accountability
Doha Process / Syrian Opposition Representation, Structure
Government Revocation of Bahrainis' Citizenship
U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement
Secretary Clinton's conversation with Minister Khurshid
Statements made by Ansar al-Dine / Ouagadougou Process
U.S. Support for Reform / Greek Parliamentary Consideration of Reform Process
12:52 p.m. EST
MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. Into the future. I have nothing at the top. Happy Wednesday.
QUESTION: For the future, can we now talk about the top foreign policy priorities for going forward, and more specifically perhaps, what are the Secretary’s plans herself?
MS. NULAND: I don’t think the Secretary’s plans have changed. You’ve heard her say many times that she intends to see through a transition of a successor and then she will go back to private life and enjoy some rest and think and write and all those things.
QUESTION: Foreign policy initiatives, what’s top of the agenda for the Administration now?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think we need to – we just had an election last night. There are people who were up a lot of the night counting and enjoying it, so I’m not going to stand here and make any big predictions on the second term. I think we’ll let the President take the lead on those things.
QUESTION: Victoria, I just heard Mr. Tony Blair speak from Jerusalem and saying that the environment was quite propitious, actually, to pursue a very active and energetic peace process led by the United States of America with the reelection of the President. Do you concur with the former British Prime Minister?
MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we work very closely with Tony Blair in his role as the UN’s envoy on all of these matters and will continue to do so. Our goals are identical. We want to see these parties get to the negotiating table and we will continue to work to facilitate that, but I don’t have anything particularly new to announce today, Said.
QUESTION: Will the Administration pursue the two-state solution as vigorously as it has in the past four years?
MS. NULAND: Again, all of you guys are going to be looking today for brand-new initiatives for the second term. We’re going to let the President speak to his priorities before we start being highly predictive here.
QUESTION: So lastly, just to clarify, do you believe that the State Department or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, before his presumed departure, will sort of launch a new initiative for the – in particular for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process?
MS. NULAND: I think we’re going to continue to work very vigorously. She has her personal diplomacy that she does with the parties. I think that will continue, as will all of our efforts, but in terms of anything new to announce today, Said, I don’t have anything new to announce at the moment.
QUESTION: I think a lot of (inaudible) stuck pending the results of the elections if you look at perhaps Iran and the nuclear issue, if you look at Syria and what’s going on forward there. Is there a sense now that there might be some way forward of actually moving ahead with the – with some of these very difficult issues which have really bogged down in the last few months because nobody was willing to make a real decision on them?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m obviously not going to credit the premise that things have sort of been stopped, but let me just say that as with any election anywhere, we now have a chance to – now that the election is finished, we have a chance to look forward, and I’m confident that the President and his team will do that and the Secretary will continue to serve through the term. But I don’t have anything new and bold to announce here today.
QUESTION: Can you explain why you don’t agree with the premise of the question? Would that be the fact that there are talks with – among the P-5+1? There are – the Doha meeting that you’ve been involved in, is that what you mean?
MS. NULAND: All of those things. We’ve continued our diplomacy all the way through.
QUESTION: So now that the election is over and the President has safely been reelected, you’re going to answer all of our questions about Benghazi? Or is that too much to hope?
MS. NULAND: I think you know where we are. We have an ARB running, and the ARB, we hope, will answer all of our questions.
QUESTION: So the answer is no?
MS. NULAND: What specifically did you have in mind, Matt?
QUESTION: Well, any of the questions that you’ve been asked over the past several weeks that you’ve refused to answer.
MS. NULAND: And we have tied that to the fact that we have an ARB running. It was never tied to the election.
QUESTION: Oh, I think that some people thought that it was.
MS. NULAND: That was not what we said from this podium ever.
QUESTION: You think as far as Secretary’s future plans are concerned, you think still she can change her mind and she will remain and stay?
MS. NULAND: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Because she mentioned two weeks ago she might stay because of remaining work that – because she happen to be one of the best Secretaries of State in the United States history.
MS. NULAND: Well, I will make sure she reads the transcript and hears you say that, Goyal. (Laughter.) She seems pretty set in her plans. I think you probably misread a little bit the way the comment came out earlier. What she was talking about was that she would ensure that the transition to her successor happens smoothly, and I think that’s still her intention.
QUESTION: One more. In India, she’s well-liked and that’s what their views are, that they hope that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when she was in India, they really love her, stay – and to be continuous. That’s why.
MS. NULAND: Excellent.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: The last one on the Secretary of State’s impending departure: A moment ago, you said she would serve through the term. Is – that’s pretty certain at this point?
MS. NULAND: That’s what she’s been saying.
QUESTION: She has, right.
MS. NULAND: Yes. She’s been very consistent.
QUESTION: And do you have any sense of how quickly the transition would come?
MS. NULAND: Well, one doesn’t generally have a hearing on a successor for the second term until the second term has begun, but it’s obviously up to the President to make a nomination when he’s ready and for the Congress to act – for the Senate to act on it. So you know how that usually goes. You know – you’ve been around the block as well Guy.
QUESTION: What can you – can we move on?
MS. NULAND: Yes, please.
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: What’s going on in Doha right now? And then part two of that is: What’s all this chatter about Patriot missiles going to the Turkish border?
MS. NULAND: Well, I talked to our team in Doha this morning, to Assistant Secretary Jones and to Ambassador Ford. They noted that the actual full conference hasn’t actually begun yet in Doha. It’s going to start tomorrow. Today is a day of continuing meetings within the SNC and then preparatory meetings among some of the other participants. So they actually didn’t have too much to report because the meeting itself, the big meeting, will be starting tomorrow. So we’ll stay in touch with them.
With regard to Patriots, I assume you’re referring to press reports that Syria might – that --
MS. NULAND: -- Turkey might go to NATO to ask for some support – is that what you’re referring to?
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I wouldn’t say press reports. I would say Turkish officials saying that, which are then reported by the press, certainly. But this isn’t just something that’s been made up out of thin air, which is what you seem to suggest by saying “press reports.”
MS. NULAND: No. Apologies, you’re right. There was at least one Turkish official this morning that talked about going back to NATO. I think you know that since – well, for many months, but certainly since the Article 4 consultation that we had in NATO with Turkey at Turkey’s request following the beginning of these cross-border incidents, we’ve been working within NATO and with Turkey to look at what other defensive support Turkey might require. My understanding is that as of today, we haven’t had a formal request of NATO. But as you know, in the past we have reinforced Turkey with Patriots. So we will await a formal request and then NATO will deliberate. But we’re obviously looking at the full range of things to ensure that Turkey remains safe and secure.
QUESTION: Does it have to be through NATO?
MS. NULAND: No, but traditionally as a longtime NATO ally, Turkey seeks NATO support when it feels its security might be in peril.
QUESTION: Right. But outside of NATO, they could just buy them, couldn’t they?
MS. NULAND: They could, and they have a bilateral program with us as well. But there are any number of things.
QUESTION: With the possible deployment of these Patriot missiles, do you think that we’re getting closer to sort of enforcing a no-fly zone or a safe haven? I asked that – this question last week. Let’s see if you have something new to add.
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything new to add and I’m not going to get into hypothetical situations. On the no-fly zone itself, you know that we’ve been saying for quite a while we continue to study whether that makes sense, how it might work. With regard to the question of Patriot missiles in Turkey, we’ve talked about this before. Patriot is a defensive system. It’s responsible for knocking down incoming missiles, so its purpose would be to defend the territory of Turkey. So I think you’ve got apples and oranges going here, Said.
QUESTION: I mean --
QUESTION: Well, yes, it’s intended to be defensive, but there’s certainly nothing to prevent them from using them offensively, is there not?
MS. NULAND: It’s not a missile. It’s an interceptor for missiles.
MS. NULAND: Right?
QUESTION: Okay. Just --
QUESTION: What? No. I mean, something gets shot up in the air to shoot something else down. That – you can use that offensively; it’s just a question of whether it’s shooting up or shooting over.
MS. NULAND: Right. But unless there is something being shot in your direction, it has no purpose. It doesn’t have a warhead on it.
QUESTION: But the issue – I think one of – the issue is whether Turkey – whether it’s interested in using this or would it be interested in using this to fire at stuff that is still in Syrian territory, or would it only be once stuff, in theory, enters its airspace.
MS. NULAND: Again, you’re getting into all kinds of hypotheticals that haven’t been raised in NATO or, as far as I’m aware, in any formal Turkish context. The purpose of deploying Patriots in the past in Turkey has been to prevent the incursion of Turkish airspace or Turkish territory by incoming from another location.
QUESTION: Was this done in the past or in countries (inaudible)?
MS. NULAND: In the Iraq context, I think both in Gulf I, and then in 2003.
QUESTION: But they don’t have any of their own Patriot assets, do they?
MS. NULAND: I, frankly, am going to send you to the Pentagon for whether there are some permanently deployed things around some of their military facilities.
QUESTION: Could you clarify one more time for us if you are still committed to non-lethal aid and that’s it, I mean nothing beyond that during today or tomorrow or what may transpire as a result of this meeting?
MS. NULAND: Our policy hasn’t changed since the last time you asked, Said, which I think was Monday. Right?
QUESTION: I have to keep asking.
MS. NULAND: Yeah, okay.
QUESTION: When was the last time that the Secretary spoke with her Turkish counterpart? Has she spoken to Davutoglu about this issue specifically – the Patriots, I mean?
MS. NULAND: She has not. And again, we’re continuing to talk at NATO about what might be needed, including at the level of Ambassador Daalder. The last time she spoke to Foreign Minister Davutoglu I think was a couple of weeks ago, but we are expecting that they will talk again soon, but not necessarily on this issue but on the full package of Syria issues.
QUESTION: Sorry. Were you surprised by the timing of these comments from the Turks? I mean, it was about four hours after Obama won reelection and they’re announcing new U.S. policy, it seemed. What did you make of that?
MS. NULAND: Well, they weren’t announcing new U.S. policy. They were talking about things that they themselves might propose in NATO, which, frankly, are things that we’ve been talking about at NATO for some time. So it wasn’t particularly surprising. The subject wasn’t surprising.
QUESTION: Right. But officials --
MS. NULAND: And remember that this starts with the fact that Turkey has been the victim of shelling from the Syrian side for more than a month now.
QUESTION: But I think it was that official who specifically said that they were holding off until after the U.S. election until these requests and these discussions would take place.
MS. NULAND: Again, we’ve been talking about what defensive needs they might have for some time.
QUESTION: Prime Minister Cameron says that the United States, Britain, and other allies of the opposition should do more to shape the Syrian opposition, which I suppose you’re doing in Doha, and open direct communication with the rebel military commanders. Do you share the British Prime Minister’s opinion on that?
MS. NULAND: Well, he made some comments about British contacts with the FSA. I think we’ve made clear that we haven’t barred contacts. In fact, I think we mentioned that Ambassador Ford had had a direct phone call with some of the FSA folks and his people, obviously talked to them. So from our perspective, this is a question of trying to maintain a broad cross-section of contacts among those who are trying to shape the future of Syria.
QUESTION: What was the comment that he would back helping safe passage for Assad out of the country if that would end the bloodshed? I wondered what the United States might think about that, particularly because of the issues of accountability and bringing people to justice once this conflict ends.
MS. NULAND: Well, he also made a follow-on set of comments, where he made clear that Britain also wants to see accountability for Assad. I would simply note that it’s our understanding that a number of countries, particularly regional states, have offered to host Assad and his family if he chooses to leave Syria. Of course, from where we’re sitting and we would expect within the eyes of the Syrian people, there will be accountability questions. What we have said is that the question of accountability for Assad is something that the Syrian people are very much going to have to be in the lead on.
QUESTION: And in what form has this offer been made, do you know?
MS. NULAND: I’m going to refer you to countries who may be interested in making those offers. We, have not – we, the United States, have not made any offers to host Assad.
QUESTION: Which countries have particularly?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m going to let them speak for themselves. I’m not going to speak for them.
QUESTION: As far as any sort of potential immunity deal for Assad goes, that’s something that the Syrians themselves have to work out if Syrians of whatever stripes decide that that’s the price to pay to get them out of there; the U.S. wouldn’t have any problem with that?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. Our view on this is that those who’ve committed abuses need to be held to account. How and in what form that comes forward is something for the Syrian people to decide.
QUESTION: Sorry. Why can’t you say which countries it is? Can you at least say how many?
MS. NULAND: I will – beyond saying that there are a number of countries in the region who have made clear to us that they have made overtures, I’m not going to speak for them.
QUESTION: Well --
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to --
QUESTION: We’re not asking you to speak for them.
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to name them either, Matt. I’m going to let them name themselves if they feel – if care to.
QUESTION: How advanced are these offers though? I mean, have they been made just clear to you or have they actually been made to Assad and his family members?
MS. NULAND: The understanding is that a number of countries have made clear to Assad that they would be willing to host him. He has chosen not to avail himself of those opportunities.
QUESTION: I wonder if I could ask you a general question. Last week, there were a lot of concern by many a world leader about a possible disruption of the course of current U.S. foreign policy as a result of any possible political change at the top. Do you think that this kind of goodwill towards the course that you have taken over the past three or four years could be interpreted into sort of ameliorating tense problems in Iran and perhaps getting things rolling in the Middle East and other places?
MS. NULAND: I didn’t exactly understand what you were asking. It sounded like a if x, then y political question, Said.
QUESTION: Well, it’s exactly that, as a matter of fact. I mean, there was like a consensus among many of the world leaders, they were concerned that there may be a disruption in ongoing American foreign policy and leadership throughout the world, especially with a crisis like in Iran, the stalled Middle East process, and so on. Could that be taken and sort of turned into some sort of capital towards, perhaps, a more engagement or more active engagement?
MS. NULAND: Again, with reelection, the President has an opportunity now to shape his second term, and I’m not going to get ahead of him doing that, Said.
QUESTION: But if I might --
MS. NULAND: You can keep trying, however.
QUESTION: If I may follow up on that. Basically what we could ask with hindsight, not looking forward --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- because you don’t want to do that, but looking back at the campaign that has now ended, can you talk a little bit about whether that campaign actually influenced the American foreign policy in any way? And if so, then what was the influence? And then we can deduce the possible changes.
MS. NULAND: We don’t talk about American politics at all here, and we’re not going to start now, after the election, either.
QUESTION: The – I am sorry, one more second – the President famously said, very infamously, it depends on point of view, I guess, that he will be more flexible in some areas after his reelection. Will – is that the feeling here at the State Department, that the leaders will now be playing it more by their instinct or whatever you want to – whatever spin you want to put on that?
MS. NULAND: The feeling here at the State Department is we’re going to let the President shape his second term before we shape it for him, how about that?
QUESTION: What does the attitude of the officers here at the State Department with the results of the election?
MS. NULAND: We are not going to talk about political things here, we’re not going to talk about the private political views of individuals here. Good try.
Please, in the back there?
QUESTION: Syria, just --
MS. NULAND: Still Syria? Yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah, one more thing on Syria.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: On the contacts with the FSA – is this something that you specifically want to enhance in the coming days or weeks? You said that Ford has had conversations by telephone with the commanders, but is this something --
MS. NULAND: I think our --
QUESTION: -- that you’re specifically going to want more of?
MS. NULAND: I think we’re not in any particular posture there. I think you know that the focus of our diplomatic effort with the Syrians is on the political opposition meeting in Doha and our hope that the Syrians will be able to meet their own desire to refresh the leadership and have it be broadened and more effective.
QUESTION: But I thought at this meeting you were hoping that the people fighting on the ground would be more better represented in the political opposition. I think the Secretary said that pretty clearly. So I assume you guys would want to maintain the same level of contact with the opposition as it broadens.
MS. NULAND: Yeah, I don’t think we’re looking for any change at the moment. We’ll let you know if that changes.
QUESTION: But you want change in the opposition, that’s correct?
MS. NULAND: We do. We’ve been clear about that.
QUESTION: So why do you not want to say that you want to have conversations with – more conversations with these people if you also want them in the opposition?
MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t think that we have any difficulty having the kinds of conversations that we need to have, and we’re not necessarily looking for a change of posture at the moment. We’re just going to see who emerges from this process in Doha and go from there.
QUESTION: So – wait, I – that doesn’t make any sense. You want these people in the opposition. You want to continue talking to the opposition. But you won’t say that you want to talk to them?
MS. NULAND: Again, we are not dictating who should be in this opposition. We’re not even dictating the organizations that should participate. We are simply saying this needs to be a decision that Syrians make, that we wanted to see a broader cross-section of folks have an opportunity to participate, hear their voices – have their voices heard in the Doha process, particularly those from inside Syria from the political opposition. It’s not actually clear to me whether the FSA is represented in Doha. I don’t think they are.
QUESTION: Yeah, but did the Secretary – didn’t she clearly say that this needs to be more representative of those fighting and dying for – on the ground in Syria?
MS. NULAND: Right. But I wouldn’t extrapolate any particular organizations from that. She was simply saying that we’ve had an opposition representation that was largely comprised of folks who hadn’t been in Syria in decades, and we want to see more folks who are leading the revolution there, and who are actually cognizant --
MS. NULAND: -- of the desires and needs of a broad cross-section of Syrian people be represented in this organization. So don’t put words in anybody’s mouth, here, as to --
QUESTION: But that – no, no, I’m not putting – but that would – to me, that implies that if you want to speak to the people who are leading the revolution, and those are the people fighting and dying on the ground, you want to speak to the leaders – or you want to see the leaders of the military aspect of this revolution involved in the opposition, no?
MS. NULAND: Again, they are involved in the opposition. The question in Doha is whether there’s going to be a political leadership structure that emerges, that can be more effective.
MS. NULAND: Please, back here. Can you tell me who you are?
QUESTION: I’m with the Institute for Gulf Affairs. We’re a news agency. And yesterday, the Bahraini monarchy revoked 31 indigenous Bahrainis in the opposition movement. I just want to know what the State Department’s position is on this issue.
MS. NULAND: Well, we are greatly concerned by the Government of Bahrain’s decision to withdraw the nationality of 31 Bahraini citizens. We’ve continually called on the Government of Bahrain to create a climate that’s conducive to reconciliation, to meaningful dialogue, to reform, to bring peaceful change. So – but it is our understanding that decisions of this kind, like the citizen revocation, can be appealed in the administrative courts, so we want to see that process proceed transparently.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Two quick questions India related: One, as far as this – with the Secretary here at the State Department, or without her, do you see any changes between India and U.S. relations, or change any ongoing policies? And second, in recent months India has been going country-to-country as far as civil nuclear deals like Australia, France, Russia, and now Prime Minister of India was in Canada, also, for the same deal, because the U.S.-India civil nuclear deal signed in 2006 did not go through anywhere so far. What I’m asking you: Do we see now future of this civil nuclear deal between the two countries will go through, and also any change in the new policy?
MS. NULAND: Well again, I think my answer on the question of continuity and policy – you know that we have an excellent relationship with India across the board. In terms of what might come in a second term in terms of new initiatives, I’m not going to foreshadow that until the President’s had a chance to think through that and articulate those things himself.
You know where we are in our work on a civil nuclear deal with India. We’re continuing to try to settle the remaining issues. We are also in contact with some of these allied countries who are also pursuing nuclear deals with India. There’s, in our view, enough work here for everybody, and we all have the same concerns about the way this goes forward safely and fairly. So we’re in contact with each other.
QUESTION: Yeah, finally, because India feels that without U.S. participation and help, even though they will go to country to country, the deals will not go through with U.S. or with other countries.
MS. NULAND: Well, I think the issues that we still need to work through other participants also have in terms of liability, cooperation, et cetera. So they have to be worked out.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary get a chance to talk to her new Indian counterpart?
MS. NULAND: She did. She talked to her new Indian counterpart --
QUESTION: Do you have a readout?
MS. NULAND: -- over the weekend. I guess it was on Saturday. I thought that we had said something about that. Yeah, she spoke to him on November 3rd. She congratulated External Affairs Minister Khurshid on his new appointment, and said that she looked forward to working with him. She also thanked him for his leadership in the Strategic Dialogue, and also for India’s support for accession to the IOR-ARC, and for hosting the recent U.S.-India-Japan trilateral which we had last week. And she said that she looked forward to working with him and having a chance to meet at an appropriate time.
QUESTION: Yes, on Mali. And I’m sorry, I was not here yesterday. You may have --
MS. NULAND: We didn’t brief yesterday. I wasn’t here either.
QUESTION: That’s – I really wasn’t here. One of the Islamist groups in Mali has reportedly now agreed to allow humanitarian aid groups to enter its territory and showed an openness to peace talks. Have you seen these reports? How is the United States involved in this within the context of Ms. Clinton’s visit to Algeria, which I think was last week?
MS. NULAND: I think you’re talking about the statements made by Ansar al-Dine yesterday or today. So we welcome Ansar-al-Dine’s announcement rejecting extremism and declaring the group’s willingness to engage in a process of honest political dialogue with the interim Government of Mali. As you know, we have been calling for some time for a political conversation. This is one of the groups that participated in – is participating in the ECOWAS-led dialogue process in Ouagadougou, which we’re also supportive of. And Ansar-al-Dine is also one of the groups that’s had a strong dialogue with the Government of Algeria. So now, having talked the talk, we want to see them walk the walk and lead the way in terms of a strong political process in Mali that can support greater security in the country as well.
QUESTION: I’m sorry, could you just repeat who would lead the way, the walk the talk?
MS. NULAND: (Laughter.) Did I confuse you?
QUESTION: Whom do you want to see do that? Yes.
MS. NULAND: Well, this particular group, which is a group that’s participating in the Ouagadougou process, has said good things about the possibility for political reconciliation with the transitional government. So they’re talking the talk. Now they need to walk the walk and work on an actual reconciliation deal that others can join into as well.
QUESTION: Can I suggest that you use another expression?
MS. NULAND: Am I boring you, Matt? I’m so sorry.
QUESTION: Well --
QUESTION: The Ouagadougou process --
MS. NULAND: The Ouagadougou process, you like that?
QUESTION: No, the walk the walk, talk the talk.
QUESTION: That one, too.
MS. NULAND: Okay. I’m open to your suggestions.
QUESTION: Particularly for Nicolas, because apparently it doesn’t translate into French. (Laughter.)
MS. NULAND: It doesn’t? It doesn’t work? (Laughter.) (In French.)
QUESTION: Instead, if you could use multiple analogies to American football, that would be good. (Laughter.)
MS. NULAND: Excellent, excellent, excellent. We’ll do – that’s Mark’s department, you know. I’m more into ballet and opera on my side. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible) because American football is not always understood --
QUESTION: It doesn’t translate either, okay. (Laughter.) Mark is the football dude.
QUESTION: I wanted – maybe I’m also behind the curve a little bit in terms of what you’ve already announced, but if I’m not, please tell me if you have any readouts on Mrs. Verveer’s travels throughout the former Soviet space. I think she was in Ukraine.
MS. NULAND: This is Melanne Verveer’s trip?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything here, but let me see if her office has something to share.
QUESTION: If you could, thank you.
MS. NULAND: Okay.
QUESTION: In Europe?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Reports of hundreds of thousands of protestors in the streets in Greece again. I mean, to what degree are some of the economic and social problems registering on the radar here at the State Department in terms of concern about stability?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know that for more than a year now, if not two, three, we’ve been deeply engaged with our European allies and partners – the Treasury Department, the President, obviously the Secretary – to support the kinds of reforms that are necessary and trying to share maximum support.
Today is a big day in Greece. As you know, the parliament is considering the reform package. And we have all along urged Greece to implement the necessary reforms, to improve the long-term competitiveness of their economy, to make Greece more attractive to investment, and to return the country to growth. This is important not only for Greece but for the Eurozone as a whole. So they have important decisions to make today about how to implement that going forward. And that’s obviously a decision for the Greek people to make, but we very much support the process of reform that’s underway.
QUESTION: Over that three-year process --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- I mean, it’s been, obviously, destabilizing to the global financial markets.
MS. NULAND: Right.
QUESTION: Social stability. The kind of protests that you’re seeing in the streets, I mean, what has changed in terms of the characterization of the viewpoint on some of these reforms so far?
MS. NULAND: Well, not only Greece but other countries – Italy, Spain, a number of countries – are having to make very, very tough choices. They’re choices that are difficult for their citizens. There’s choices that have resulted in political change as well. They’ve required consensus across the political spectrum. So this is a process that we’ve been, obviously, in conversation with our European allies and partners with for a long time and in the G-7 context, in the G-8 context. So it’s something that we are continuing to watch, and again, it’s a very important period right now in Greece.
QUESTION: Puerto Rico.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Puerto Rico, wow.
QUESTION: Well, I’m not sure if this is your – within your arena at all, so please tell me if I’m – probably not.
MS. NULAND: I think it’s probably not, but why don’t you give it a try?
QUESTION: But anyway, they voted last night for the first time ever to become a U.S. state, as in of the 50 – the 51st U.S. state. And --
MS. NULAND: Well, one of the 50 would require us to kick somebody out. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Sorry. They want to be the 51st. (Laughter.) So they want to become the 51st U.S. state. I mean, is there anything that’s united – that the State Department is actively – would be involved in? Would that be a process that would come through you, if it were to go forward?
MS. NULAND: No. I don’t think we’re involved in that at all. But if I’m not right about that, we’ll let you know.
MS. NULAND: All right. Thank you all very much.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:23 p.m.)
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