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State Department Briefing by Victoria Nuland, November 28, 2012

  • Written by Press Release
  • Category: Latest National News

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--November 28, 2012.

Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Guests from Chinese Government
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Readout of Meeting of Deputy Secretary Burns and President Abbas in New York
    • U.S. Position on Palestinian Resolution
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Resignation of Ambassador Marc Grossman / Ambassador David Pearce
  • SYRIA
    • Continuing Violence / U.S. Nonlethal Support
    • New Opposition Group
  • SYRIA/TURKEY
    • U.S. Support to Humanitarian Efforts / UN agencies
    • NATO Site Survey Teams / Patriots
  • EGYPT
    • U.S. Call for a Peaceful and Inclusive Dialogue / Constitution
  • DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
    • Ambassador Johnnie Carson Still in Region / Readout of Discussions
    • M23 Troops
  • CUBA
    • Incarceration Alan Gross / The Cuban Five
  • TURKEY/IRAN
    • U.S. Consultations with Turkey / Executive Order 13622
  • TURKEY/GAZA
    • U.S. Working with Turkey in the Context of Gaza Crisis
  • SYRIA/RUSSIA
    • Currency Service Provided by Russia
  • YEMEN
    • Mr. Awlaki / U.S. Embassy / Revocation of Passport
  • CHINA
    • Representations to Chinese on Passport Issue

TRANSCRIPT:

1:04 p.m. EST

MS. NULAND: All right. Happy Wednesday, everyone. We have a group of Chinese guests in the other room, so that they can have some interpretation. They are spokespeople from the Chinese Government, and we want to give a big ni hao to them. I have nothing for you at the top, so let’s go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: Well, let’s start with your incredibly successful efforts to lobby other countries not to vote in favor of the Palestinian resolution at the UN, not only that but also your attempt at secret diplomacy by sending – stealthily sending the Deputy Secretary of State to see Abbas in New York. What did he – what exactly did he want to get from Abbas, and did he get it? Because it seems pretty clear that the Palestinians are going ahead. And it’s not pretty clear, it’s 100 – it’s certain that they’re going ahead.

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, there was nothing secret about the Deputy Secretary’s trip to New York to see President Abbas. I think we’d said two days in a row here that we expected to have a senior member of the Administration go up and see President Abbas, following up on the meeting that the Secretary had about 10 days ago.

QUESTION: Okay. Just on that, was it – that meeting – that it was going to be him and that it would be him having that meeting and that meeting today was known before the briefing yesterday, correct?

MS. NULAND: We made a decision that we would announce that a senior official would go up but that we would not announce the substance of the meeting or the actual facts surrounding it until after the meeting had happened.

QUESTION: Because you --

MS. NULAND: That was something that we did by agreement with the Palestinian side. So just to give you all what we have here: Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and our Special Envoy for Middle East Peace David Hale did go up to New York and see President Abbas this morning. As you know, we meet with him frequently. The Secretary saw him just some 10 days ago when she was in Ramallah. They obviously had a discussion about the peace process, but they also reiterated the U.S. Government’s very real concern about the Palestinian initiative in the UN General Assembly.

We’ve been clear, we’ve been consistent with the Palestinians that we oppose observer state status in the General Assembly and this resolution. We made those points again. And the Deputy Secretary also reiterated that no one should be under any illusion that this resolution is going to produce the results that the Palestinians claim to seek, namely to have their own state living in peace next to Israel.

So obviously we went up to make one more try to make our views known to President Abbas and to urge him to reconsider. He’ll obviously make his own decisions, and he will do that in New York tomorrow. But we thought it was important to make our case one more time.

QUESTION: Try – sorry – your understanding of the Palestinian goal here, in terms of this resolution, is that they expect to get a state out of it?

MS. NULAND: That’s not what I said. I said that the goal that they seek overall is to have a Palestinian state.

QUESTION: Okay. And so they should not be allowed to have anything interim, in between, then. They either get a state – they either go all the way, they get – there’s a deal with the Israelis, and there can be nothing for the Palestinians in between. That’s your position?

MS. NULAND: We have made clear – and we’ve talked about this all week long, Matt, and I don’t think we need to relitigate a whole other time here – that this resolution is not going to take them closer to statehood. It does nothing to get them closer to statehood, and it may actually make the environment more difficult.

Please.

QUESTION: Did Secretary Burns – Deputy Secretary’s discussion have any specifics on the potential economic impact of them going for this vote, both as it relates to U.S. support and potentially Israeli deals that they have on financing?

MS. NULAND: Well, I don’t have any more details from the actual meeting room today to share, Andy, but we’ve been clear all along with the Palestinians that we are seeking to get money for the Palestinian Authority released from the Congress, but that these kinds of things don’t make it easier, and that members of Congress are watching very closely.

QUESTION: Has the United States put forward any proposals to modify the resolution in a way which would make it more acceptable to you? I understand that Britain has said that they’re going to abstain unless there are certain conditions met, including that the Palestinians agree to sit down immediately to talk without preconditions with Israel, and that they don’t pursue the Israeli military officers through the ICC at any point. Is --

MS. NULAND: Our position has been that we oppose this move altogether. We – there is no language change in this thing that would change our vote.

QUESTION: Will there be (inaudible) for countries who are supporting this resolution? Last week IBSA, India, Brazil, and South Africa, came out in support of this resolution.

MS. NULAND: Well, we have been very clear with our partners and with allies around the world that we intend to vote no, that we think that this is a mistake and makes our effort to try to get the parties back to the table more difficult. But obviously every country will make their own decision.

QUESTION: But would that vote be – would have any impact on the bilateral ties with those countries, India, Brazil, South Africa?

MS. NULAND: This is a sovereign decision for each country to make based on their own policy. We’re being very clear about where we stand. And we’re also being very clear about our concerns about the impact on the peace process. We have many countries around the world outside of the region who come to us and say, “Do something,” and we’re saying that this could make it more difficult.

QUESTION: Did Deputy Secretary Burns get any – what’s your understanding of what the Palestinians are going to do following this last ditch – or what you said, one more time?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m going to let the Palestinians speak for themselves in terms of --

QUESTION: Okay. Well, let me tell you what the Palestinians said after the meeting, and that is that they’re going to go ahead with this. So now you have had the Secretary of State visit with Abbas himself in Ramallah; you’ve had the Deputy Secretary of State go up to New York to see him in his hotel, along with David Hale who’s been telling the Palestinians this ad infinitum, along with other members of the government; they’re going to go ahead and do this. In addition to that, you have more and more governments coming out and saying that they are going to support the Palestinian bid, despite the arguments that you have made. I’m wondering if – I’ve seen the Demarche – I’m wondering if you don’t think that you presented your case strongly enough why it is that you’re going to be in a very, very small minority when this vote happens and you are on the losing side.

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to prejudge a vote that’s going to happen tomorrow. Obviously, we’ll speak to the results of the vote after the vote, Matt. We are in the position, as we’ve been all along in terms of this notion, which has been floated around for more than a year, that it does not help the peace process if that’s the – where we all ought to be focusing our energies.

QUESTION: But – okay. Well, the result of the vote, while the exact numbers are not certain, it is a foregone conclusion that it is going to pass, which means that a large majority of UN member-countries, which would be most of the world, disagrees with you. Can you say now that you will take into account the fact that a huge majority of other countries in the world disagree with you, you’ll take that into account in thinking about how you go ahead from this, how you move forward? Or are you going to pretend that the rest of the world didn’t make this vote, or are you just going to say we don’t care, we have a monopoly on what is right and what is wrong?

MS. NULAND: I think this is a speech rather than a question. Matt, we will obviously --

QUESTION: No, it is a question.

MS. NULAND: We will obviously speak to the results of the vote, after the vote. We will obviously have to take the results of the vote into account as we go forward. Our position at the moment is to continue to make clear that we are concerned that this vote is going to make the work of getting the parties back to the table more difficult. So to the degree to which countries around the world expect us to be working to deliver these parties to the table, this, we believe, will make that job harder.

QUESTION: So you think --

MS. NULAND: But I’m not going to speak to our views on this vote until the vote has taken place, okay?

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Well, then I won’t ask that. So you think, though, that countries that vote in favor of this simply don’t understand the incredibly difficult job that you have or that’s been put upon the United States in actually getting some results here. Is that what you’re saying, that they just don’t get it?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speak for the motivations of other countries in making this vote. I’m simply saying that we’re focused on a real objective for the Palestinian people, which is to get them closer to having a state. This isn’t going to do this – that – and it could actually make it harder. So we just don’t understand what it does for anybody real on the ground. That’s the issue.

Okay. Please, Lalit.

QUESTION: Ambassador Grossman?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Please. Yeah.

QUESTION: Why did he resign at this point of time, important time, when you are having bilateral security negotiations on BSA with Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think we put out a statement on this from our Afghanistan team yesterday after he announced to his own staff that he was planning to move on. I think you know that the Secretary pressed him very hard to come out of retirement. He initially had committed to work for a year and then he extended that for a period, but he now very much wants to go back to private life, which he will do.

He came in to preside over the civilian surge, as we called it, in our effort in Afghanistan. And as you know, he led the Administration’s efforts to take us through the Istanbul, Bonn, Chicago, and Tokyo conferences, which laid out the path forward on the economic side, on the security side. So he more than fulfilled the very ambitious mission that the Secretary asked him to take on, and he’d now like to get back to private life, which the Secretary has agreed to let him do.

QUESTION: So who is coming in his place?

MS. NULAND: I think, as we said yesterday, for the interim period his deputy, Ambassador David Pearce, will be the acting senior representative. And then we’ll obviously have to see what Secretary Clinton’s successor, whoever that may be, wants to do with that shop and with appointments.

QUESTION: So that will be left up to Secretary Clinton’s successor?

MS. NULAND: I think that’s the expectation, that it’ll be part of the look at personnel here as a new Secretary comes in. Yeah.

QUESTION: So the Secretary agreed to let him go, to let him do this? Does she have some kind of power? Could she force him to stay?

MS. NULAND: No, of course not. But when you come in and you work for somebody, it’s common courtesy to go to them and say --

QUESTION: No, no, I understand. But I mean --

MS. NULAND: Maybe --

QUESTION: But her agreement --

MS. NULAND: I mean, maybe we don’t remember about common courtesy, I don’t know, but in general --

QUESTION: Excuse me?

QUESTION: Syria.

MS. NULAND: Go ahead. Yeah.

QUESTION: Over the last week, it looks like there have been about a dozen military bases across Syria have been taken over by the Syrian rebels. Do you see any fundamental change on the ground? What’s your assessment right now?

MS. NULAND: Well, we talked about this a little bit yesterday. We are seeing opposition forces continuing to make steady gains. We also are following reports of two deadly car bombs in Damascus today. The fighting in and around Damascus is clearly intensifying, and reports that the opposition shot down a regime helicopter; you’ve probably seen that on YouTube. This is all clearly evidence of the increasing strength of the opposition and its capabilities.

At the same time – we talked about this also on Monday – we see increasingly horrific tactics being employed by the regime as it struggles to cling to power, including direct attacks on hospitals in civilian areas.

QUESTION: As you mentioned, apparently now the rebels are using shoulder missiles, and over the weeks we have seen they are taking from the regime. Is that changing enough your calculations regarding arming, heaving arming? Since they are already getting these arms, do you think that it’s – might be the good time to do something about it?

MS. NULAND: Our own policy is not – has not changed with regard to this. As you know, we are supplying only nonlethal support to the opposition. But analytically, you’re clearly right, that as they take more facilities and as they make gains on the regime, they are able to capture weapons and there are other things getting in there. I’m not able from here to actually confirm the precise type of weaponry in some of these recent attacks, but we’re clearly seeing more lethality there.

QUESTION: Regarding the new Syrian opposition group called Coalition, National Coalition, it has been now about two weeks, I believe, since its inception and it have been recognized by a number of European countries. What’s your assessment so far? Do you think they have the right track?

MS. NULAND: I think in general, we are pleased with the progress that they have been making. As you know, they had a meeting earlier this week or at the end of last week with the international community on assistance and they were able to give us some very precise and well-organized guidance on the political support and non-lethal support.

They also today held some closed meetings in Cairo, which continue tomorrow, to work on finalizing their organizational structures. You’ll recall that after the meetings in Doha, we had urged them to do two things: to continue to strengthen their internal structures so that they could be effective; and to deepen and broaden their outreach within Syria so that they can best represent the needs of the Syrian people so that the movement is truly connected to what’s happening on the ground. We’re seeing both of those things happening well, and we’re continuing to look at those trends.

QUESTION: There have been reports from that Cairo meeting that it’s been marked by some serious disagreements, and specifically that the SNC sort of remnants that remain in the broader coalition are trying to push back for more representation. Do you feel that that coalition is sort of set in stone, that they’ve got the numbers that they need in the right proportion?

And secondly, do you – is it your hope or expectation that they are going to come up with this structure that you’re talking about, a political structure, presumably, perhaps sort of a potential prime minister-type person in time for the Friends of Syria meeting in Morocco next month?

MS. NULAND: Well, the goal of the meeting that they’re in now, which is a closed-door meeting, it’s not a meeting that we’ve had much – we’ve seen people coming in and out, obviously, but it is their own internal meeting – is to come up with the structures to take the organization forward, the committees to work on different things, leadership structure, et cetera. So we are hopeful that they’ll be able to come to agreement on that.

Vibrant debate is a good thing, particularly if the result is a consensus-based structure that is broad and is strong for the period going forward. But I think we don’t want to prejudge where that’s going to go. The fact that they’re meeting, that they’re working on it is important, and it’s their decision whether they need to change some of the things they did in Doha or whether they just need to broaden and deepen the movement going forward. So we’ll see how that comes forward.

Was there – I can’t remember --

QUESTION: It was just sort of – do you expect to see a sort of a shadow government taking form in time for the Friends of Syria?

MS. NULAND: I’m not sure that that’s the way they are going to characterize what it is that they are trying to do. I think in the first instance they’re looking to have a clear leadership structure for the organization and leaders to take forward the different lines of work, whether it is political organization, whether it’s outreach to the international community, whether it’s support for humanitarian, et cetera, so that all those things can get done going forward.

QUESTION: And would that, establishing those sort of clear lines of responsibility, would that sort of make it easier for you guys to advance their recognition, that you don’t have to make them the sole legitimate representative?

MS. NULAND: It’s certainly one of the things that we’ve been saying since Doha. We want to see increasing organization, increasing clarity about who we should work with and increasing effectiveness in the way they are able to work with Syrians on the ground so that they can be guiding us in the international community in our support. So it’s one of the things that we’re watching, and it would certainly be helpful.

QUESTION: Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I just --

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- follow-up? Once the coalition met some of the criteria you just elaborated, what should we see as a change of the U.S. policy regarding Syria?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, I’m not going to prefigure where we may go on this until we go there. But we’ve obviously said that as they do increasingly well in terms of their internal organization and in terms of their connectivity to the situation inside Syria, we will continue to evaluate our relationship with them. So we’ll just have to see.

QUESTION: And again, Syrian refugees now in Turkey. Today, a number of intellectuals called on Turkish Government to open up to international humanitarian relief organizations. Apparently, it’s not open to them. What’s your assessment while try to cope with this refugees now about 140,000-50,000 people? Is there a good partnership with Turkey regarding this refugee crisis in Turkey?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think as we’ve been saying for more than a year now, Turkey has been a superb host to the Syrians seeking refuge there, and we’ve been working very closely with the Government of Turkey for a long time. Turkey was able to handle this with only its own resources even though all of us in the international community, including UN agencies, had been open to doing more. But our understanding is over the last few months, Turkey has been welcoming more help from UN agencies both in terms of establishing and managing camps and in terms of financial support to those camps, and particularly with the winterization. So some of our assistance is now going directly to Turkey, both directly and through UN agencies to support the refugee floods.

QUESTION: Also, there are about two million displaced Syrians within Syria. And as you mentioned, winter is coming up. People are arguing that it’s going to be even more disaster. I don’t know how it can get worse, but winter is coming. Do you think something has to happen? Do you think you have to move little more decisively to help these millions of people within Syria?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know that the UN agencies have two global appeals out for more support for their humanitarian efforts. The U.S. is the largest donor to refugees inside Syria, some 200 million in support for refugees inside and – internally displaced in Syria and refugees outside Syria. We are focusing our efforts very much in this stage on winterization as well as donations to the World Food Program. We still have complaints from the UN about access inside Syria, so that’s something that everybody with influence needs to push on the Syrian regime about. But it’s obviously very concerning as it gets colder and colder. We’ve all seen the reports both from IDPs and from refugees.

QUESTION: Final question: These Patriots – apparently there is a team that’s doing some field work in southeast of Turkey. Do you know which countries going to lend these Patriots and which type of Patriots are going to Turkey?

MS. NULAND: I think those are among the things that are being worked out now. My understanding of the status of this is that Turkey has formally made its request to NATO and NATO has sent site survey teams to Turkey to look at where to place them, what kinds of systems might be required, countries that could donate them. There are a number of NATO countries, just a handful, that have these kinds of systems, so we have to look at the right mix. But I don’t think that the team is back yet or has made recommendations back to headquarters.

QUESTION: But still the request is accepted?

MS. NULAND: Again, the way this works is the country makes a request, then there is a gathering of information, the site survey team – that’s what’s going on now – and then a formal recommendation from NATO military authorities and the civilian staff that works on it. This comes back to the NATO council and perhaps higher for a decision. So the decision hasn’t been taken yet.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. favor such a deployment?

MS. NULAND: We’ve said that we strongly support NATO meeting the needs of our Turkish ally. We have to work through what precisely we would approve, but that process is in train.

QUESTION: Is the --

QUESTION: Timeframe? How long does it take, the process?

MS. NULAND: I think we just have to see how long this site work takes.

QUESTION: Is there a general rule for trigger of these missiles? That’s one as one of the discussion points that – some of Turkish officials said trigger command and control of these missile is going to be in Ankara. Do you have any lead on that, any --

MS. NULAND: Well, in terms of the command and control, that’s part of which systems you deploy and all those kinds of things. That has to be worked through. But these are defensive systems, so just to remind that they don’t have a warhead of their own; they knock incoming missiles out of the sky if such missiles exist. So they are virtually automatic once they’re deployed.

QUESTION: But they can be used for no-fly zone, for example? For northern Syria, it has that capability.

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, Turkish officials have made clear that the request is for territorial defense and population defense of Turkey. It’s not for use beyond – the request is not for use beyond the Turkish border.

Please.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I wondered what the U.S. reaction is to the chaotic scenes we saw again in Tahrir Square overnight with teargas being thrown. I believe there was quite a lot of injuries and maybe one or two deaths.

And then also, secondly, there’s – the panel that is looking into the drawing up the constitution has said that they’re nearly finished, the wording’s going to be completed today, and they’re going to vote on it tomorrow. Is this something that has been communicated to you guys at all, and have you seen any draft?

MS. NULAND: Well, we obviously continue to follow very closely the political situation in Egypt, which is still very much unfolding. As you said, Jo, you can see it on the streets, but there is also a huge amount of internal discussion going on among stakeholders still in Egypt. We have continued to call for a peaceful and inclusive dialogue between the Government of Egypt and all of the various stakeholders, and that those protesting in the streets do so peacefully, that the whole process be peaceful.

We do remain concerned about the lack of consensus among the various groups, and we reiterate the call that we’ve been making for many days now for a full and inclusive dialogue to address any differences, both on the declarations that the government’s made with regard to the interim period, but also with regard to the constitutional issues. I don’t believe that we have seen a full draft of what will be put forward. Frankly, I don’t think it’s been published either in Egypt.

So these are very, very important issues and they need to be taken forward in a consensual manner that satisfies as many stakeholders in Egypt as possible.

QUESTION: Do you find it surprising that only less than a week after President Morsi made this decree that suddenly the constitutional panel seems to have managed to work out everything and is ready to present a draft?

MS. NULAND: Again, we’ve seen some of these public statements, but we have to see how this goes forward. You know there have been a number of fits and starts in this process. We want to see it be, obviously, peaceful, consensual, and deliberative and really taking into account the views of as many Egyptians as possible so that it has roots and legs.

QUESTION: Are you hopeful or optimistic any deal is going to come out between the – President Morsi and judiciary?

MS. NULAND: Well, I obviously don’t have a crystal ball. We’re obviously watching the situation.

Yeah. Scott, on – still on this? On Egypt?

QUESTION: No, Congo.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Did Ambassador Carson brief the USAU meeting this morning on his mission to the region?

MS. NULAND: Well, it turns out I had it wrong yesterday. He took another day in the region. He was actually still in Kinshasa as of yesterday. He’s not going to come back till tomorrow. I think as much as he wanted to be here for Chairperson Zuma’s visit and for the dialogue, he was very much engaged with the parties in the Great Lakes region and decided to take an extra day there.

So yesterday was the final leg of his trip. He and his French and UK counterparts had a constructive set of discussions with DRC President Kabila. They also saw Prime Minister Matata. They continued to press the parties to support the plan that was drawn up in the Great Lakes meeting last week and to urge implementation of the call for M23 to comply with the calls for a cease-fire, to withdraw from Goma, and then for a longer-term resolution to be taken forward by – under the leadership of Museveni, Kagame, and Kabila to really address some of the underlying issues in eastern Congo.

So that’s what we’ve been working on. He’s been very much in lockstep, as I said, with his French and German colleagues, and is taking the extra time to really press hard.

QUESTION: M23 leaders in Goma say they’ll quit the city on Friday. You said previously you’ve heard some good things from them but haven’t seen anything. Do you think that this is encouraging?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, we’ve seen quite a bit of talk. Our understanding is that the situation remains volatile. We do see some movement of M23 troops, but we can’t tell whether this is preparatory to a withdrawal or whether it’s just sort of a redeployment, but we are continuing to press and to urge those with influence to press as well.

Please.

QUESTION: But he didn’t manage to meet with President Kagame even though he stayed an extra day?

MS. NULAND: Well, he was in Kinshasa today, as you know.

Please.

QUESTION: On India?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: This week, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman went – traveled to India and met her Indian counterparts. Do you have any readout on those meetings? And what are the key issues she raised with Indian officials?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think she did some press in – when she was in India, Lalit, which we made available.

QUESTION: I saw one of her interviews, yes, yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah, so I don’t have anything beyond what she herself said about the visit, which was that it was obviously constructive. I refer you to the interviews that she gave there.

Catherine.

QUESTION: On Cuba?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: On Alan Gross, Cuba put out a statement today detailing a biopsy that Mr. Gross had. I’m wondering if you have any concerns about the validity of those results.

MS. NULAND: Well, you know where we have been on this. In addition to our calls for Alan Gross to be released, we have continued to express concerns about his deteriorating health. He’s lost more than a hundred pounds in the time since he was arrested. He’s got severe degenerative arthritis which affects his mobility, and he has other health problems that require treatment and that cause him quite a bit of pain. He has not been allowed to see a doctor of his own choosing, let alone be released on humanitarian grounds, which is what we’ve been calling for, for a very long time now.

So I don’t know who this doctor is, and we’re not in a position to evaluate, obviously, the results that the Cubans have put forward. We want to see him released, and if – we also want to see him have access to the kind of medical care he clearly needs.

QUESTION: So you can’t dispute whether – because they’re saying his health is normal, he doesn’t have cancer.

MS. NULAND: Well, this is obviously their doctor who went to see him, not his doctor and not a doctor who is out in the United States or anywhere else where he should be evaluated.

QUESTION: Well, there was a rabbi who is also a doctor who went to see him last night. He said that he’s in good health. You don’t have anything to say about that?

MS. NULAND: Again, this was not a doctor of his choosing or of our choosing, so we’re not in a position to evaluate that.

QUESTION: Just a quick two questions regarding Turkey.

QUESTION: Can I stay on this?

MS. NULAND: Let’s just stay on this one.

QUESTION: The statement also said that he has consular visits every month; is that correct? Are these visits regular?

MS. NULAND: We are, from our interests section, able to see him about once a month. He’s also able to make a phone call once a month. But again, just to remind that this is a guy who’s been incarcerated for no reason for three years and ought to come home.

Please.

QUESTION: You were asked about --

QUESTION: Hold on. Wait, wait. This is a guy who’s been incarcerated for three years for no reason? The Cubans seem to think they have a reason to incarcerate him. You do – I mean, whether or not you accept the – whether he’s guilty of the charges that were put against him, that simply isn’t enough to say that – for absolutely no reason, considering the Cubans don’t agree, for example, with the convictions of the Cuban Five. They would say the same thing, would they not?

MS. NULAND: Alan Gross was given a 15-year prison term simply for the supposed crime of helping the Jewish community of Cuba communicate with the outside world. That is a far different thing than the Cuban Five, who were all convicted in U.S. courts of committing crimes against the United States, including spying, treason, et cetera.

QUESTION: You’re familiar with the lawsuit that Mr. Gross’s wife has filed?

MS. NULAND: Indeed.

QUESTION: Yeah. When this was brought up before, you kind of gave just a standard answer. There are some pretty interesting allegations in that lawsuit. Are you able to talk at all about what those – about those allegations to counter them, that he was not properly trained in espionage or in protecting surveillance or that kind of thing? Are you able to talk about that at all?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, Matt, it’s now a legal matter, so you need to go to the Department of Justice on those issues.

QUESTION: You were asked about a gas for gold deal between Turkey and Iran a couple days ago. Do you have anything more on that? I mean, do you have any comment on this deal? Apparently Senate is bringing bill to put sanctions to end such deals as well.

MS. NULAND: Well, we continue to consult with Turkey. As you know, we had a preliminary round of successful consultations with Turkey with regard to the sanctions under the NDAA. As you know, those need to be – those are – the exemptions that we grant are for six months and then we have to do it again. So consultations, obviously, are continuing with Turkey and other countries with regard to the scope of the U.S. sanctions laws against Iran.

I would simply note that we also have on our books Executive Order 13622 from July 31st, which allows the United States to sanction countries that provide precious metals to Iran, so that’s obviously another subject to discuss with those countries where it might apply. But discussions continue with Turkey.

QUESTION: Again on Turkey, during the Gaza crisis, there was a disagreement, a huge disagreement between Turkey and the U.S. Have you been able to patch up some of the differences between two countries regarding those disagreements during Gaza?

MS. NULAND: You’re talking about the recent round of Gaza --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: -- violence?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: Look, we were working closely with Turkey in the context of the Gaza crisis because Turkey has influence that we don’t have with Hamas, and we have other influence in the region. We had some clear disagreements with some of the rhetoric coming from Turkey. We were clear about that privately and publicly. But I think we all want the same thing, which is for the Palestinian people, wherever they are, to live in safety and security, and for Israelis to be able to live in safety and security. So --

QUESTION: How was --

MS. NULAND: -- I think we were all very pleased with the outcome of the ceasefire, et cetera.

QUESTION: How was – Turkish role during the truce was realized between Hamas and Israel? Was it helpful or do you see any --

MS. NULAND: Well, I think we commented on this at the time. I don’t think I have anything new to say about the --

QUESTION: During the agreement, regarding the agreement, to sign the agreements, how was Turkey’s role?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think we talked about the fact that Turkey was using its influence with Hamas, but I think this is probably a question better addressed to the Egyptians who were in the lead.

Andy.

QUESTION: Just wondering if you were ever able to shake out anything more to say about the currency – alleged currency shipments to Syria from Russia.

MS. NULAND: Yeah, we have a little bit more there. And it turns out that – and I actually should have had this on Monday, but I did not – the Syrian regime itself publicly acknowledged in August of this year that Russia was providing this currency service. And we obviously made our views known to Russia, as we have about military support before, during, and after that. But it didn’t dissuade them.

Please.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up on – from the other day, on North Korea. What information do you have on the diverted shipment going from North Korea to Burma? And what was the United States role in this?

MS. NULAND: I think we spoke to that yesterday. I don’t think I have anything new from yesterday on that one.

Anybody else?

QUESTION: Yeah. Judicial Watch has released some stuff that they got, FOIA material about Anwar al-Awlaki. Remember him?

MS. NULAND: I do.

QUESTION: So one of the things that they discovered was – or that’s been uncovered in these documents is that the Embassy in Yemen was instructed to invite Mr. Awlaki to come to the Embassy to receive a letter. This would have been – they weren’t supposed to tell him what the letter was about. But the letter was, in fact, to revoke his passport. And I presume that there’s some legal requirement that you make at least an effort to inform someone if they’re going to be stripped of their citizenship and/or passport. Is that correct?

MS. NULAND: Well obviously – and just to be clear, this was not a stripping of citizenship. It was a revocation of the passport, and there is a difference there. And yes, we are required to try to notify the individual.

QUESTION: Okay. So this raises the question: Since he was on this secret hit list, if he had shown up, or if anyone had shown up, can you – are you under any obligation not to kill them while they are either en route or in – on the Embassy property itself to receive this letter? You’re familiar with these stings where people get invited to certain things, they show up and then they get arrested for not paying child support, whatever. I’m wondering in this case, or in a case like it – and I don’t know if there are any others, but – are you obligated not to kill someone who is responding to such an invitation?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to entertain the notion that we would be calling him to the Embassy for that purpose, Matt. We were calling him to the Embassy for one purpose alone, which was to revoke his passport and to advise him that if he was prepared to travel back to the United States, where he would have faced prosecution, we would give him a one-way passport back to the United States. He chose not to answer --

QUESTION: Probably smart of him.

MS. NULAND: -- our request for him to come to the Embassy.

QUESTION: But that raises the question, though, because he was on a list, on a kill list. And I want to know --

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to --

QUESTION: I want to know if someone is invited to a U.S. – if a U.S. citizen is invited to a U.S. Embassy to receive an official letter, official government document, regardless of whether that letter – what that letter is for, do they have any kind of legal protection against being killed by their own government?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to what list he may or may not have been on. There was only one purpose for him to be invited to the Embassy, and that was for us to deal with the revocation of his passport.

QUESTION: I would appreciate it if – not specifically related to this case, but if there could be a – if someone could attempt to find an answer to this, because I would like to know whether the government feels that it is in its rights to kill someone, to kill an American citizen it has invited onto its property on its property.

MS. NULAND: Matt, I will see if our lawyers have anything further to say to you, but I think the whole premise is inappropriate.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up from yesterday. I was wondering if you were (inaudible) Beijing and, in fact, made any representations to the Chinese on the passport issue.

MS. NULAND: In fact, we’re making some representations today. And there’ll be more senior representations tomorrow as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Could you say – I mean, what – are you doing it here or in Beijing?

MS. NULAND: We’re doing it here, with the Embassy.

QUESTION: You’re doing it here.

QUESTION: Can you get (inaudible) response?

MS. NULAND: We will. Yeah. Okay?

Thanks, everybody.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:46 p.m.)

Source: state.gov

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