State Department Briefing by Mark C. Toner, June 7, 2011

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–June 7, 2011.  

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Secretary Clinton Attended the President’s Meetings with German Chancellor Merkel / Bilateral Meeting with Foreign Minister Westerwelle
    • Secretary Clinton’s Meeting with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa of Bahrain
    • Reports of Violent Clashes in Southern Kordofan State in Sudan
    • Ambassador Feierstein’s Meetings / No Updates on President Saleh / Interim Government in Place / Strong Constitution / Time to Move Toward a Peaceful and Orderly Transition / Counterterrorism Cooperation Will Continue
    • Sale of C-17 Aircraft to India
    • Violence at Ramlila Playground
    • A Stable Pakistan Is in the Interests of the Region / Strong Counterterrorism Cooperation
    • U.S. Continues to Support the UN Process with Regards to Western Sahara
    • NATO Mission to Protect Civilians / Qadhafi Must Step Down
    • Secretary Clinton’s Meetings with Saeb Erekat and Isaac Molho
    • Protests / Ambassador Ford’s Requests to Meet with Syrian Government / Requests Deferred / Meet with Wide Range of People in Syria
    • Asad Has Talked About Reform / No Action
    • Arrest of Blogger
    • UN Role in Responding to a Crisis
    • Assistant Secretary Campbell’s Meetings / Broad Range of Issues Discussed
    • U.S.-China Legal Experts Dialogue
    • Evaluation of Food Assessment Team Findings Continues
  • IRAN
    • Must Be Transparent on Nuclear Program / Engage International Community
    • Secretary Clinton’s Travel to United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Zambia


1:12 p.m. EDT

MR. TONER: Welcome everyone. Good afternoon, and welcome to the State Department. We are – sorry to be a little bit late. We are endeavoring to start these earlier in the day for all of you, but obviously today was a very busy morning with the Secretary over at the White House where she participated in President Obama’s meetings with Chancellor Merkel. And of course, we wanted you to be able to watch the top of the lunch that just began upstairs with Chancellor Merkel once again. The Secretary will also hold a bilateral meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle later today. She’ll also meet with the Bahraini Crown Prince, and she’ll attend a dinner in honor of Chancellor Merkel and then depart for, I believe, the UAE and then subsequently Zambia, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.

Just briefly at the top before taking your questions. I do want to note that the United States is deeply troubled by reports of violent clashes between military units in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state, unilateral military actions that prejudice the outcome of negotiations on future political and security arrangements for Southern Kordofan and neighboring Blue Nile state must cease immediately. Both parties to the 2005 Comprehensive Agreement – Peace Agreement must maintain their commitment to the security arrangements in that agreement and work to conclude new arrangements to govern their post-CPA relationship. The parties must make good on their commitment to the Sudanese people and the international community to stay on the path of peace.

And finally, we call on Sudanese leaders from those areas to meet immediately to resolve these issues peacefully and expeditiously and to refrain from further actions that could cause additional violence and human suffering. We also call on the Sudanese leaders to provide the UN mission in Sudan full and unimpeded access required to protect civilians and ensure humanitarian access and contribute to efforts to maintain the fragile peace between the Sudan’s North and South. With that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about the situation in Yemen? Who have you had discussions with? How is – how are things unfolding there?

MR. TONER: Well, like we said yesterday that Ambassador Feierstein and his team continue to meet with the broad cross section of the Yemeni population to get a better assessment of the current situation. Obviously, the situation there remains quite tense. The Secretary said yesterday we believe that the time is now to engage in a peaceful and orderly transition, one that’s consistent with Yemen’s constitutional processes.

QUESTION: And are you hearing from your interlocutors that President Saleh intends to return?

MR. TONER: We’re not – I don’t have any updates on his – whether he will return or not return. I know he’s receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia and, as far as I know, continues to receive that treatment.

QUESTION: Would it be advisable that he consider this the beginning of his exile?

MR. TONER: Again, we went around and around on this yesterday. I think what’s important here is that there is an interim government in place in Yemen, and there is a strong constitution, and that we believe that there is now an opportunity to move towards the peaceful transition that we’ve been urging.

QUESTION: Have you been able to get any sense from Ambassador Feierstein that such a political transition is at hand, or is the interim government committed to continuing Saleh’s policies of the past 33 years?

MR. TONER: Well, again, I think we need to give this a little bit of time, but clearly he’s been talking to officials within the interim government, including Vice President or acting President Hadi and conveying our views that we believe we should begin – that that transition should begin.

QUESTION: Do you say interim government just because the president is not in the country? The rest of the government remains intact.

MR. TONER: Right. There’s a – the civilian government remains in power and intact. That’s an important – thank you. That’s an important clarification.

QUESTION: So it’s not a government of transition or a government of change in any way.

MR. TONER: It is. It is a government that is now led by the vice president who is now the acting president.

QUESTION: And are you –

MR. TONER: But again, what I would clearly reiterate is that we want to see a peaceful transition take place, one that’s in keeping with the Gulf Cooperation Council’s efforts and the agreement that they put forth, I guess, two weeks ago. Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Keeping in mind that –

MR. TONER: I’m sorry. Just – I’ll get to you. We’ll let –

QUESTION: Did the U.S. get in touch with Saleh to check up on his health?

MR. TONER: I’m not aware that we’ve had any contact with Saleh.

QUESTION: While keeping in mind that most of the people who were serving under President Saleh are still serving, is it fair to call it a, quote, “transition government” and then to follow up –

MR. TONER: I didn’t think – I didn’t call it a transition government. What I said is that there is an acting president in place, and what we want to see now is a move towards an orderly transition, a peaceful transition.

QUESTION: And then in terms of the political opposition, does the U.S. have a good sense of what party or parties are in a position to try to lead the government in a different direction?

MR. TONER: Again, Rosalind, this is a – it’s important to keep the focus on where it should be, which is on the Yemeni people and this is really – these are decisions that they need to make. What we’re calling for is that the transition should begin for an orderly political process, and ultimately one that addresses the concerns that we’ve seen raised by the many protestors and demonstrators over these past weeks. But it’s really up to the government and the oppositions to — the opposition members to get together and begin that process.

QUESTION: How important is it, even for the United States, that there be some sort of quick resolution to this process, in light of the significant al-Qaida presence in the country? And I think the Pentagon said today that military training, U.S. training of Yemeni forces has ceased.

MR. TONER: Well, Brad, it’s always a concern, al-Qaida’s presence in Yemen. And it’s the reason why we’ve had such an ongoing robust counterterrorism cooperation there. But, as we said, many times that that cooperation isn’t hinged on one individual and that we’re going to continue to work with the present government. But also, as Yemen begins this transition process, we’re going to continue to work with the government on those kind of – counterterrorism cooperation. Again, it’s hard for us to put a timeline on this process. What’s important is that the Gulf Cooperation Council has come up with a plan, an agreement that charts a clear way forward.

QUESTION: Did you ask the Saudis to take care of President Saleh?

MR. TONER: Did we ask them to —

QUESTION: The Saudis, to take care of him.

MR. TONER: You mean to accept him for medical treatment? Or to —

QUESTION: Or to convince him to stay in the Saudi —

MR. TONER: Look, the Saudi Government’s been playing a very supportive and productive role in Yemen. I don’t believe we swayed their decision to accept him for medical treatment one way or the other. He went there at their invitation.

QUESTION: But in terms of the political dynamic, is the U.S. asking the Saudis to persuade the president that he should perhaps step aside now?

MR. TONER: And, again, I’ll just reiterate what I’ve already said, which is that he is there. He is receiving medical treatment. I’m not sure how long he’ll be there. But that doesn’t mean that Yemen can stay in a stasis. It needs to — the government that continues, that’s in place, a civilian government, needs to begin that transition process. We need to see an end to the violence that we saw last week. And we need to see all sides moving forward on a constructive basis.

QUESTION: Can we ask – can you take one more? Or can we move to Libya?

MR. TONER: Sure. I’ll finish them.

QUESTION: How much longer –

MR. TONER: How much longer?

QUESTION: — is the U.S. willing to wait for some sort of transition to take place?

MR. TONER: Again, it’s not for us to put specific timelines on what’s happening in Yemen.

Yeah, Brad.

QUESTION: And what concrete signs have you seen from this government – bearing in mind that it’s the same government as Saleh’s government – that shows a willingness to lead to this transition?

MR. TONER: Again, we – the Gulf Cooperation Council was very active in the last several weeks in trying to bring people to the negotiating table and to come up with an agreement that charted a way forward. We supported those efforts. President Saleh, very last minute, as we all know this narrative, declined to sign that agreement. He has now left the country to receive treatment for his injuries. The violence that we saw last week we don’t want to see again. And so, there’s an urgency insofar as there’s an opportunity, there’s a window here where the government can move forward.

QUESTION: But have they indicated that they’ll sign this agreement, that now that he is not there, the vice president, who is the acting president, would sign this agreement?

MR. TONER: Again, I’m not going to characterize what we’ve heard or what our discussions have been with them. But we believe that they need to recognize that there’s — that there needs to be – a credible transition begin.

Yes, go ahead, Goyal.

QUESTION: Another subject?


QUESTION: India and the U.S. has signed a multibillion dollar defense and other contracts. My question is: Many Indians, what they are saying now really that India had been giving billions of dollar contracts to the United States, but at the same time the U.S. has been giving billions to Pakistan for nothing. And even though both countries got freedom at the same time – but where – see where India is today, producing everything but not terrorism, but Pakistan producing only terrorism. What they’re asking the United States now, what is the future of India-U.S. relations in the future?

MR. TONER: Okay, so we started with the sale of the Boeing C-17s, and now we’re talking about the future U.S.-Indian relations. Let me just talk on your first point. As you said, the Indian government is in the final stages of the $4.1 billion sale for 10 C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift transport aircraft. And this was a deal obviously announced during President Obama’s recent visit. This sale will double the value of U.S.-Indian defense trade and provide the Indian Air Force with a strategic airlift and humanitarian response capability that, frankly, is unique in the region. It will broaden India’s capability, for instance, to provide humanitarian assistance to people devastated by natural disasters. It will also allow them to deploy peacekeeping troops around the world and to evacuate its citizens from areas of civil strife anywhere in the world. And I would just say that this deal is indicative of our growing military and humanitarian ties. This kind of airlift capability, as I said, is pretty unique and it’s a significant step forward for India.

You then shifted over to how this reflects on our relations with Pakistan. Look, that’s really – you’re – I think you’re mixing, to use an American expression, apples and oranges here. What we’re trying to do in Pakistan is to build democratic institutions, to improve Pakistan’s security, to help it face an existential threat from terrorism. And that’s where our assistance is focused.

And you shouldn’t see this as a zero-sum game. A strong, stable, peaceful, and prosperous Pakistan is in the interest of the region. That goes without saying.

Finally, the future of India and U.S. relations is bright.


QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: One – just one more follow-on. Sorry.

MR. TONER: I just gave you a pretty multi-tiered answer.

QUESTION: I know, Mark. Thank you.

MR. TONER: But sure, one more. Why not?

QUESTION: Yeah. Why did I ask you was only because ongoing demonstrations —

MR. TONER: Ah, okay.

QUESTION: — in India because Indians are angry. What I’m asking now, when Secretary visited Pakistan with General Mullen, she was carrying a list of terrorists still in Pakistan, including number of terrorists and list given by India also, including Kashmiri, which —

MR. TONER: I don’t know anything about a list, so —

QUESTION: What I’m asking you —

MR. TONER: — just stop that right there.

QUESTION: — are there now still terrorists in Pakistan?

MR. TONER: Well, that’s – look, I never know what the question is going to be until the final sentence, but that’s okay, Goyal. (Laughter.) No, it’s okay. Look, very clearly, our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan has yielded results. We’ve talked about the fact that more terrorists have been killed on Pakistani soil over the years than anywhere else in the world and that were apprehended in Pakistani soil over the years. And that is indicative of our strong counterterrorism cooperation. Have there been bumps in the road? Certainly. Did bin Ladin’s location raise serious concerns? Of course. And we’re addressing those concerns. But ultimately, counterterrorism cooperation, and indeed on a broader level cooperation with Pakistan, is in our nation’s long-term security interest.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. TONER: Actually, can we go back to just – he did —

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. TONER: Sorry. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: That’s okay.

MR. TONER: I’m just remembering (inaudible).

QUESTION: Okay. So this – my question is regarding the negotiations that are taking place now in New York between Morocco and Polisario, so to find a resolution for the Moroccan Sahara. So normally, my question is – so what is the comment of United States about these negotiations, so I receive the same answer. So United States, it support UN process. This is —

MR. TONER: Which we do. We still do.

QUESTION: Yeah. So, but – so how important for United States to find the resolution for this conflict, especially with the existence of al-Qaida in the Maghreb and Sahara?

MR. TONER: I’m sorry. The last little bit – how important is it for the United States to —

QUESTION: So how important to find the resolution for this conflict, especially with the existence of al-Qaida in the Maghreb and —

MR. TONER: Well, I think it’s very important. And I know we give often the same answer, but in fact, there is a UN process in place, evidenced by the fact that there are these meetings going on in New York right now, and we believe that charts the best way forward. But certainly, we want to see a peaceful resolution to that situation. And obviously, where there is instability, ongoing instability, as we’ve seen in many places throughout the world, that is the – that’s exactly the kind of environment where terrorism feeds upon. So —

QUESTION: So al-Qaida there?

MR. TONER: Yes, that’s what I’m —


MR. TONER: Go ahead.

QUESTION: No, my question, I was going to enter into the Libya situation.

MR. TONER: The Libya situation. Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Can you explain where is – how – where is the NATO going in this moment in Libya? Because it is not clear. We are hearing bombardments all day in Tripoli, day and night. It seems like a hunting. What’s going on? What’s going on with the people there? What information exactly do you have, and when do you think this is going to end? Where we are going from here?

MR. TONER: Well, again, let’s take a step backwards and remember what and why NATO is there. NATO is there to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973, and that – the mandate of that resolution was to protect the civilian population. NATO is working diligently to degrade the military capabilities of the Libyan forces, and I think its strikes, air strikes, are evidence of that ongoing commitment to, again, degrade Qadhafi’s forces so that they can’t carry out indiscriminate attacks against Libyan civilians.

QUESTION: But do you think there is still power in the Qadhafi forces? They have a power to combat in this moment?

MR. TONER: They’ve – I mean, we’ve seen that they’ve shown an ability to adapt to – again, look, for me to talk about operational details, you’re really better off going to NATO command and control in Italy. But what I can say is that they’ve shown an ability to adapt to the changing environment and become resilient and continue, as I said, these attacks against civilians, innocent civilians. So what NATO is trying to do through a multiple array of devices, is degrade that capability.

But again, I think as – in terms of how long, it’s impossible to say. I mean, we continue on the political side to put pressure on Qadhafi to try to wear down his regime to make them aware that the writing is on the wall and that they need to step down. And those around him increasingly are getting that message. We’ve seen some high-level defections. But it’s impossible for me to say when that’s going to take place.

QUESTION: In the political field, there is a government there in Libya and there’s – I mean, who is managing the situation in Libya? What’s going on in this moment? How are these helpful? What’s going on there?

MR. TONER: I’d refer you to the government in Tripoli, the Libyan regime in Tripoli, to answer those kinds of questions. We continue to urge Qadhafi and his regime to read the writing on the wall, as I said, and recognize that the international community and the Libyan people see them as illegitimate.

QUESTION: Qadhafi apparently was on state radio a couple of hours ago saying that he’s staying in Tripoli and he would be there dead or alive. Is this just setting himself up?

MR. TONER: His rhetoric continues. I’m not going to comment on his latest statements.

QUESTION: Also on Libya, Libya foreign minister is in China right now and China has also talked with TNC, both parties. But China never urged Qadhafi to step down. I wonder is there anything U.S. expect China to do, and what is U.S. stance on this issue?

MR. TONER: Their stance – our stance on China meeting with —

QUESTION: Both parties, but China never —

MR. TONER: Yeah. Again, there’s a UN mediator on this issue, and we believe that should be the focus of efforts to mediate the conflict there. That said, China and the rest of the international community continue to look with concern upon the situation in Libya, and we’re trying to find a way forward, but I think what’s really important is the red lines that Qadhafi is illegitimate as a leader, and therefore he must step down and – before that democratic transition can take place.

Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, Mark, the Secretary is surely aware that Congressman Weiner made a public, televised apology to one of her closest and top staffers yesterday. Does she have any reaction to that, and does she – is she displeased that he would have violated the trust of someone so close to her?

MR. TONER: I don’t have any comment on that.


QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Peace process – do you have a readout on the meetings yesterday?

MR. TONER: I do. The Secretary did have good separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, both Isaac Molho and Saeb Erekat. And then Hale – David Hale and other officials engaged in separate follow-up meetings with them. Obviously, as I said yesterday, these meetings are part of ongoing consultations with the parties on how best to move past the current impasse.

And, of course, she spoke at length following her meeting with – her bilateral with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe about how we viewed the situation, which is that the status quo is unsustainable. But before we meet, we need to see a commitment on – by both sides to return to negotiations.

QUESTION: Did Erekat hand a letter to – was it the Secretary or Mr. Hale?

MR. TONER: I don’t know, Bret. I can look into it. I don’t know if we’d acknowledge that, but I don’t know if there was any exchange of letters or —


QUESTION: I was reading a Twitter of the vice deputy of Israel, saying that Israel – the position of Israel in this moment, talking about what’s going on, the clashes in the border with Syria. He said that this is a tactical – a political tactic from the Syrians in order to divest the attention from the situation in Syria, trying to move some of the Palestinians in Syria, moving to the frontier of Israel. Do you have any view on that?

MR. TONER: I mean, I think I said yesterday, I mean, there’s – we don’t have any hard evidence, but we’ve seen this kind of behavior before, and certainly it seems in keeping with the Syrian regime’s actions that they would try to deflect or distract international attention from what’s going on internally in Syria by encouraging these kind of protests.

QUESTION: Mark, on Syria, too. The French foreign minister has said yesterday that he agreed with Secretary Clinton to ask the UN Security Council to vote on a resolution – on the draft resolution condemning Syria. Do you know when the Security Council will vote on this draft?

MR. TONER: I don’t know when that vote may or may not – may take place. I don’t know.

QUESTION: Mark, as far as the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations is concerned now, he has support widely from global leaders, including from the White House and here in this building. He had been saying that UN and he should play much more greater role or he should have more powers and – but my question is, when you go for a resolution at the United Nations, then those resolutions are run by NATO, what role UN plays as far as in Libya or in Afghanistan and elsewhere?

MR. TONER: Well, we believe an important one, because when you just look at Libya, part of the very quick process that took place towards action on the Libyan crisis, and, indeed, averting a humanitarian catastrophe around Benghazi and elsewhere, was really generated by the UN coming together quickly and taking action by passing these Security Council resolutions. So indeed, it tells you that the UN can be a very responsive organization, and it can also be important in generating a cohesive international response to a crisis.

Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: What’s the latest about Ambassador Ford in Syria? Is he able to meet with Syrian government officials to express U.S. concern about this?

MR. TONER: It’s a good question. I have not – I haven’t taken the temperature, if you will, there today in terms of what – who he’s – he’s had requests in to meet with the Syrian government – I think I mentioned this last week – and those requests have been deferred, denied, I don’t know how you want to put it. But he continues to meet with a wide range of actors within Syria, and again, it helps provide us with a better picture of what’s going on there.

QUESTION: But does – but the Syrian government is refusing to – (inaudible) his requests?

MR. TONER: He had not been granted access, I believe, as of last week. I don’t know if that’s changed. I’ll check.

QUESTION: What about any conversations between this building and Ambassador Mustafa?

MR. TONER: Here within Washington?


MR. TONER: I’ll check on that as well.


QUESTION: Do you think that Asad thinks that he’s different from what’s going on in Libya, that he is not touchable? How – what interpretation do you make?

MR. TONER: You’re asking me to enter into the mind of Asad, and I really can’t. It’s pretty clear that while he’s talked a great game about reform from the time he came into power, he delivered very little, if nothing, and continues to do so, and meets the demands of legitimate protests or legitimate demands of these protests, rather, with a brutal crackdown and repression. We continue – our focus remains on garnering international pressure and bearing it down on his regime through sanctions and through other ways and means, and we’re looking at other ways and means to do so, to put pressure on him.

QUESTION: So we are in a situation very close what happened in Libya, maybe in the infant stages?

MR. TONER: I’m not comparing the two at all. In fact we’ve – it’s too easy to try to put a one-size-fits-all approach here —

QUESTION: Looks similar.

MR. TONER: — but in fact all these situations are different. Where we have been consistent on is our belief that in the universal rights of these citizens to express their desires for a better future and to protest or demonstrate peacefully.

In the back.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about the Mr. Kurt Campbell visit to China? I heard he left to the Mongolia after he – meeting with the high-level —

MR. TONER: He is in Mongolia today. Correct.

QUESTION: — yeah – officials. I want to know, do you have any specific word of updated information about that, what they talked about, especially the North Korean issue of —

MR. TONER: In Mongolia or in China?


MR. TONER: In China. I didn’t get a full readout. I know he met with a wide range of Chinese officials, but as to the substance of his discussions, obviously, they touched on the broad range of bilateral issues and multilateral issues that we usually discuss with the Chinese. But I’ll try to get a clear readout for you tomorrow.

QUESTION: But according to the other – the medias, they are talking about the Six-Party Talks or something like that.

MR. TONER: I’m certain that they talked. I believe he met with the Chinese representative on North Korea, and I’m certain that they talked about the efforts to find a way forward on the Six-Party Talks.

Go ahead, Kirit.

QUESTION: Different topic. Back on Syria, actually.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: There was a prominent Syrian blogger who was apparently dragged out of her house —

MR. TONER: Right.

QUESTION: — earlier today by a couple youth. I was curious if you had any comment on that. I believe she’s a dual-citizen —

MR. TONER: Well, in fact —

QUESTION: — and so I don’t know if there was anything you could say about that on that front too.

MR. TONER: — I don’t have much to say, other than that we’ve got officials both in Damascus and in Washington working to ascertain more information about her and that includes confirmation of her U.S. citizenship. We’ve been unable to confirm that as of yet.

QUESTION: Do you know if the Embassy had done any work with her, given her prominent position in the country at all as an outspoken critic? Do you know if the Embassy had been in touch with her prior to all this or during any of the uprising?

MR. TONER: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I’ll check. I would assume so, since they do, obviously, maintain relations with a wide range of actors within any given society that – in which we work, but I’ll have to check to confirm that.

Yeah. Go ahead, Goyal. Oh, Goyal. Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the food aid decision to North Korea?


QUESTION: Any timeline?

MR. TONER: I mean, they’re back, they’re assessing, but I don’t have any timeline or any decision yet.

QUESTION: What kind of food aid the U.S. will be – have to North Korea. Is it rice?

MR. TONER: Well, again, where we’re at now in that process is the assessment team’s returned, they’re going to evaluate their findings, we’ll undoubtedly consult with partners before we make a decision. Assessment’s one side of it. Having kind of end-use monitoring is another aspect to this. We need to make sure that it reaches the people it needs to reach or it’s intended for.

As to the type of food aid, I think that’s all to be decided as well.

QUESTION: But if the military can – North Korea military using that rice or whatever food —

MR. TONER: I think that’s one of our concerns, is that somehow it be diverted or used for other means.

Yeah. Go ahead, Goyal.

QUESTION: Mark, one more question on India. As far as the hundreds of thousands of those demonstrators in Delhi for – against corruption in India, the whole world was watching on television. And now the supreme court has taken the issue without anybody file any petition, because what they saw, the police and government brutality against the innocent people in Delhi. My question is the Secretary now – because this has gone around the globe now – if anybody has spoken in India, if they have spoken with the Secretary, or are you taking any action, because your Embassy – U.S. Embassy in Delhi is watching. They have, I’m sure —

MR. TONER: They are indeed. And I think, in part, you kind of answered your own question, which is that the supreme court there has taken up this issue. Look, India is a country with a strong democratic tradition, and it’s a place where people have the freedom to express themselves in a peaceful manner in accordance with the law. As I said yesterday, we believe this is an internal matter, and we also believe that any questions raised by this incident will be addressed by India’s democratic institutions. It speaks to the strength of India’s democracy that it’s able to take these issues on and to hold people accountable if need be. And we’ve seen that with the Indian media, and now we’re seeing it with its legal institutions as well.


MR. TONER: Sure. Iran.

QUESTION: — the President said during his joint press conference with Chancellor Merkel that if the IAEA – and I’m quoting here – “this week determines again that Iran is continuing to ignore its international obligations than we, meaning the U.S. and Germany, will have no choice but to consider additional steps, including potentially additional sanctions to intensify the pressure on the Iranian regime.” Can you characterize what sorts of sanctions through what mechanisms those might be solved?

MR. TONER: No. I’m not going to get into the details. The President spoke to this issue. I have nothing to add except that – just continue to stress that there’s a door that remains open to Iran. It continues to fail to walk through that door towards transparency and engaging the international community and coming clean about its nuclear program. And indeed, if it doesn’t come – if it doesn’t take that opportunity for engagement, we’ve always said that there’s a sanctions side, and I believe the President was talking to that.

QUESTION: Is the – is there any way of exploiting what appears to be growing political instability within Tehran in order to get it to come clean, as it were, on its nuclear program?

MR. TONER: We would certainly be hopeful that elements within Iran would recognize the opportunity to engage with the international community and to become transparent about its intentions, the intentions of its nuclear program, but we also remain skeptical.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. believe that there – that these elements potentially exist within the political structure?

MR. TONER: I – look, I said what I said.

QUESTION: Mark, do you have new – more details on the Secretary’s agenda when she’s in the UAE?

MR. TONER: Well, the UAE is all about the Contact Group meeting on Libya. And then beyond that, she’ll, obviously, be touring to Africa, going to, as I said, I believe, Dar es Salaam as well as Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and Zambia. And she’ll have a – obviously, she’ll be talking about both pan-African issues but as well as the bilateral issues that we share with those countries. But I don’t have details on her events and stuff like that. I think those are still being finalized.

Yeah. Go ahead, Kirit.

QUESTION: In the UAE, does she plan to raise any of the regional issues like, for example, the GCC deal that was offered to Yemen? Is she planning on having any meetings about that?

MR. TONER: I imagine on the sidelines she’ll — they’ll talk about a wide range of issues concerning the region.

QUESTION: Anything more about her visit with the Crown Prince this afternoon?

MR. TONER: Sure. I mean, we’re going to try to get a more fulsome readout later in the day for you, but, obviously, she’s pleased to welcome the Crown Prince here to the State Department. They’re going to discuss regional issues, as well as the current situation in Bahrain. We’ve seen Bahrain has taken some steps in recent days towards undertaking a credible political process that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Bahraini people. As the President made clear in his speech, the only way forward for Bahrain is to engage in dialogue. And we commend the Government of Bahrain for taking these steps to create a more conducive environment for that dialogue to take place.

QUESTION: Any sense of how firmly she will raise the question of alleged human rights violations?

MR. TONER: Again, let’s wait for them to meet, and then, we’ll issue a statement, a readout of the meeting. We’ll obviously raise our concerns as we would in any meeting with – I mean, obviously Bahrain is a friend and partner, but we can be candid with them as well.

QUESTION: A question on China?

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Later this week, Chinese and U.S. legal experts are meeting.

MR. TONER: Right.

QUESTION: Have you got any details about those meetings and whether – who is going to represent the Chinese side? Are they non-government people? And what do you hope to get out of this dialogue?

MR. TONER: Sure, this is the next round the U.S.-China Legal Experts’ Dialogue. Is this what you’re talking about?

QUESTION: Right. That’s it. That’s it.

MR. TONER: It’s going to take place here in Washington on June 8th and 9th. The idea behind this is that it brings together, in answer to your question, both governmental and non-governmental experts, legal experts both from U.S. and China, to address the benefits and practical implementation of the rule of law. And the dialogue – the legal experts’ dialogue offers an opportunity to explore key legal issues of mutual interest for both China and the U.S.

And, obviously, we’re interested in pursuing in-depth discussions on practical cooperation, more practical cooperation, in terms of rule of law. This is in keeping — we talked about the Strategic Dialogue or the — that we have with China. And this is just one element of that, trying to improve our communication about the rule of law and the importance of it.

QUESTION: What mutual interests would there be between Chinese lawyers and U.S. legal experts? Because it seems like the Chinese legal system is, at the moment, sort of basically used to can dissent in the country.

MR. TONER: Look, there’s –

QUESTION: So what would the mutual interests be?

MR. TONER: I’m certainly not a legal expert, but this is – this is a chance to talk about some of these hard issues and difficulties in a candid way with a broad range of legal experts. It’s also an opportunity to share different experiences, both the American and Chinese experience in rule of law. And it’s also an opportunity to forge deeper ties, in terms of – so that legal exchange can take place.

QUESTION: I mean, part of the recent crackdown in China has been disbarring of lawyers and disappearing – detentions of lawyers. Would the U.S. side raise concerns over that?

MR. TONER: Look, I think where we have legitimate human rights concerns, we’ll raise them.

QUESTION: Could you be a little more specific on the Pakistan (inaudible)?

MR. TONER: I can’t. I don’t have here — I can try to get you more. I don’t have any broader detail on the participants, sorry. Is that it? Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m.)