Daily Press Briefing - September 6, 2011
Daily Press Briefing - September 6, 2011
Daily Press Briefing
September 6, 2011
12:54 p.m. EDT
MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. Happy back-to-school. Hope everybody had a terrific Labor Day weekend. I have nothing at the top, so let’s go to what’s on your minds.
QUESTION: What’s your understanding of this convoy of – or one of several convoys of Libyans that have entered Niger? Do you know anything about this?
MS. NULAND: We do. Our Ambassador in Niger has been in touch with Nigerien officials today to discuss this convoy. Apparently, a convoy has entered, and it does include some senior members of the Qadhafi regime, but we do not believe that Qadhafi himself was among them. We have strongly urged the Nigerien officials to detain those members of the regime who may be subject to prosecution, to ensure that they confiscate any weapons that are found, and to ensure that any state property of the Government of Libya – money, jewels, et cetera – also be impounded so that it can be returned to the Libyan people. We’ve also urged them to work with the TNC with regard to their interest in any of these individuals and bringing those who may need to be brought to justice to justice.
QUESTION: When you – two things. One, wouldn’t that property also include the vehicles that they came in?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think we are urging the Government of Niger to take appropriate steps --
MS. NULAND: -- so that they can respond to the requests from the TNC.
QUESTION: And then when you say you understand it does not include Qadhafi, does that mean that that’s what they have – the Nigerien have told you?
MS. NULAND: Yes. There’s no evidence --
QUESTION: You don’t have any other information, just from what the --
MS. NULAND: We don’t evidence that Qadhafi is anywhere but in Libya at the moment.
QUESTION: What about other members of the Qadhafi family?
MS. NULAND: We also have not heard about family members. These appear to be members of the senior military staff. But again, I think we need to let them to get to the capital of Niger, and then I would guess we will hear more from the Nigeriens.
QUESTION: Who do you – who exactly do you believe is within the convoy (inaudible), senior military officials?
MS. NULAND: I’m not in a position here to give you a list. I just have this basic outline from our conversations with the Government of Niger. I would guess that there’ll be more information coming out on this in coming hours.
QUESTION: Is it your understanding that any of these individuals were subject to the UN travel ban*?
MS. NULAND: I think all of them would be subject to the UN travel ban, which is why we’re working closely with the Government of Niger
QUESTION: Could you clarify for us, how were you assured that members of the Qadhafi family were not members of that convoy?
MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t have any information about family members, like either for or against, but there is nothing that we’ve heard from the Nigeriens to indicate that they were family members. What we have understood from the Government of Niger is that these are primarily senior officials of the regime.
QUESTION: Okay. So just to be clear on this point, it was the Niger Government that told you – that informed you that no senior members of the Qadhafi family were members of that convoy?
MS. NULAND: Again, we didn’t ask the question precisely that way. Our understanding is that these are – there were some dozen or more senior members of the regime. We don’t have any information about family members.
QUESTION: What was the reason for why they let them in?
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to what they said about why they let them in, only to say that we had a very good conversation about what needs to happen to them now.
QUESTION: Okay. And then, again, who was it – it was the ambassador and who?
MS. NULAND: Our Ambassador with somebody in the foreign ministry. I don’t have a specific name for you.
QUESTION: They agree – or when you say it was a good conversation, did they agree that they were going to detain them or do whatever you and other – and obviously the Libyans were asking – or you just feel as if you were – it was good because you were able to express your concerns?
MS. NULAND: Our understanding is that they are going to take appropriate measures so that they can take the steps that are necessary, and to work in the future with the TNC on what is to be done with both the people and the property.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the – presumably a treasure trove of intelligence cooperation between the CIA and Mr. Qadhafi in ’04 and ’05 and ’06 and so on?
MS. NULAND: I think you won’t be surprised if I’m not going to talk about intelligence issues at all. I do think on this particular issue, the CIA either has made a statement earlier today or will make a statement later today.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Back to the convoy. So your understanding is they’ll take the steps necessary. Does that mean they’re going to detain these people and confiscate the equipment?
MS. NULAND: Again, I said what I can at this moment. We had a good conversation about it. Our understanding is that the Government of Niger wants to be responsive to the international community and wants to maintain a good working relationship with the Libyan people and with the TNC. So let’s let them speak for what they plan to do as this convoy comes to their capital.
QUESTION: Any conversations with officials in Burkina Faso that is a possible other destination for regime officials?
MS. NULAND: We have been talking in recent days with all of the neighboring states in Libya about their UN Security Council obligations, and those conversations will continue.
QUESTION: Sorry. Who was the – what’s the name of the ambassador in Niger?
QUESTION: Bisa Williams.
MS. NULAND: I don’t have it right here, but we’ll get it for you.
QUESTION: Bisa Williams.
MS. NULAND: Oh, that’s right. It’s Bisa Williams, yes It is Bisa Williams. Sorry, Bisa.
QUESTION: On that front, is there any follow-on onto the Algeria letter that was submitted last week regarding the transit of Qadhafi’s family into Algeria?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything further on the UN Security Council process, but informal discussions do continue in New York.
QUESTION: When you said that you have been in touch with all of Libya’s neighbors, can you – should we just look at the map and say that every single one of them, you’ve been in contact with?
MS. NULAND: We’ve been in touch with Libya’s neighbors. Let us get you a little bit more granularity with regard to who’s spoken to whom in the last few days.
QUESTION: And is that in the form of actual demarches going, or is it just casual kind of --
MS. NULAND: No. Embassy folks have been going in to speak to neighboring governments.
QUESTION: Okay. So they were instructed to go in to speak?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. So this is – we can say this is a – this is – you demarched them all on, “Hey, this is what the UN Security Council resolution says, and you’re expected to keep – you’re expected to do what that resolution says,” correct?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: One last question, ma’am. Is American diplomatic effort conducted out of Benghazi or – primarily out of Benghazi or out of Tripoli now?
MS. NULAND: We – our mission remains open in Benghazi. We will formally move it to Tripoli when security conditions allow. We did, over the weekend, send in an advance team to Tripoli. They’re there now looking at our property and preparing the way for the Embassy to reopen.
QUESTION: What have they found?
MS. NULAND: They found some damage to some of our --
QUESTION: Some damage?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Some significant damage. But let me wait for them to complete their report before we speak more precisely about it. Some damage to the chancery, some damage to some property, but we’re still taking an assessment.
QUESTION: And what’s their security assessment? Do they have a feeling on that front?
MS. NULAND: Let’s let them finish their report, and then we’ll have some more for you, I’m sure.
QUESTION: Other subject?
MS. NULAND: But in general, the report from Tripoli is that the city is increasingly calm, that shops are open again, that the water situation is improving, that people are starting to go back to work. So that’s good news.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MS. NULAND: Sorry?
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. NULAND: Please, anything else on Libya before we leave Libya?
QUESTION: On Palmer report, it was released on Friday – the UN Commission’s report. What’s your understanding about the findings of the report so far?
MS. NULAND: First let me say that, as you know, the U.S. strongly supported the establishment of the UN Commission under the chairmanship of Mr. Palmer. And at the time, we called for the commission to conduct an independent, credible, and transparent investigation. We very much appreciate the thorough and professional work of the commission. And we particularly note some of the recommendations at the end of the report with regard to how similar situations could be avoided in the future, and we call on all relevant parties to take note of those and to use them well. So that’s our essential assessment there.
QUESTION: So to Turkish Government, I am sure you are aware how the reaction came from that. Basically, the Turkish president called it null and void, and it seems biased, and now the Turkish prime minister explained further sanctions. Do you think – are you going to – able to find some kind of solution, these two allies of yours? Things are – looks escalating as the hours go by.
MS. NULAND: Well, we are concerned. We have, over many months, tried to work with our ally Turkey and our ally Israel to strengthen and improve their bilateral relationship. We still believe that getting back to a good partnership between them is in each of their interests, and we will continue to work for that goal with both of them. But we are concerned about the state of the relationship today.
QUESTION: I just have one more. Turkish B plan – they call Turkey as a B plan sanctions or B plan towards Israel. One of the issue is Turkey decides to send its – dispatch its fleet to eastern Mediterranean. Do you have any objections to this decision?
MS. NULAND: Well, you’re taking me into hypothetical situations. Our emphasis with both the Government of Turkey and the Government of Israel is to hope that we can deescalate, we can defuse, and we can get them back to talking about improving their relationship. There are freedom of navigation issues for both Turkey and for Israel, but we want to avoid future confrontations and we want both of these strong allies of the United States to get back to a place where they have a good working relationship with each other.
QUESTION: Does that mean you agree with the premise of the report, that while maybe the attack on Marmara was excessive, the siege itself is legitimate, correct? The siege on Gaza is legitimate?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to parse the report. I’m not going to comment on one aspect or the other aspect back to the report. I would simply say that we favored having this report, and we believe that they did a thorough and professional job.
QUESTION: But you are satisfied that the report does answer all the issues involved in this?
MS. NULAND: I think I’ve said what I have to say on the Palmer report.
QUESTION: Madam, on Pakistan?
QUESTION: No, no, no. I’d like to stay on this for a second When you say that you’re concerned and that you’d like to see these two allies get back together, how – what kind of talks have you had with – what kind of conversations have there been between U.S. officials and those in Turkey and in Israel?
MS. NULAND: Well, first with regard to Turkey, as you know, Secretary Clinton had a long bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Davutoglu in Paris, and those conversations have been followed up in recent days in Ankara by our Ambassador. We’ve had a number of conversations with Israel on this and on other matters over the last few days. And as you may know, we have Ambassador Hale and Dennis Ross in Tel Aviv today.
QUESTION: And they’re talking about this?
MS. NULAND: I think they’re talking about the full range of issues. The primary reason for their visit, obviously, is to talk about getting the parties back to the negotiating table and avoiding bad scenarios in – at the end of the month in New York.
QUESTION: Yeah. But as it relates to Turkey – we’ll get into the Israel-Palestinian thing, I’m sure, in a second, but what – as it relates to the situation with Israel and Turkey, what are the – what are you telling them?
MS. NULAND: Our view remains that these countries need to have a relationship with each other, and I think we’re continuing to try to work on how that can happen.
QUESTION: Is the concern –
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
QUESTION: Same subject?
QUESTION: Yeah. We’re still on the same topic. Yesterday, The New York Times issued a report that the United States Government has submitted a last-ditch effort – that’s what it calls it, a last-ditch effort – to sort of dissuade the Palestinians from going to the United Nations. Could you share with us more information on that?
MS. NULAND: Well, simply to confirm what I’ve – what I have just said, which is that Special Envoy for the Middle East David Hale and Dennis Ross are in the region to consult with both the Israelis and the Palestinians on how best to overcome the impasse and to resume negotiations based on the President’s May outline. They both met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Barak today. Tomorrow, Ambassador Hale will meet with President Abbas. I would tell you that Secretary Clinton also spoke by phone with President Abbas yesterday to preview the visit, to urge President Abbas to receive them and hear them with open ears, and to continue to work hard with us to avoid a negative scenario in New York at the end of the month.
QUESTION: Well, why isn’t Dennis Ross --
QUESTION: Would you concur with the characterization that it is a last-ditch effort?
MS. NULAND: We are going to continue to work right up till the UN General Assembly, if necessary, to get these parties back to the table, and we’ll continue to work afterwards. That is where we are focused. And as you know, we will continue to oppose any one-sided actions at the UN and we’re making that clear to both sides.
QUESTION: A couple of things. First of all, why isn’t Dennis Ross attending the meeting with President Abbas?
MS. NULAND: I don’t know that he’s not, but presumably he was --
QUESTION: Okay. Because --
MS. NULAND: He usually stays on and has meetings with lots of other folks in Israel, but I don’t know for sure.
QUESTION: Oh. Because you said that – you just specifically said that David Hale was meeting with him, but not --
MS. NULAND: That’s the way I have it here, but I think I wouldn't read anything specific into it. He often stays behind in Israel and does a lot of other meetings that --
QUESTION: So he only engages with the Israelis and not the Palestinians?
MS. NULAND: No, no, he engages with both sides. I just – on this particular trip, that may be the division of labor that they’ve worked out.
QUESTION: Well, it’s actually been the last several trips that it’s been like this. Also, you said that Secretary Clinton, when she spoke to Abbas, urged him to see them and hear them, plural. And it’s kind of interesting then that “them” isn’t going to Ramallah, only one of them is.
MS. NULAND: I wouldn’t read --
QUESTION: Did Abbas refuse to meet with Dennis Ross?
MS. NULAND: I sincerely doubt that. I would not read too much into my use of prepositions. Why don’t I get this a little bit more precise as to exactly who’s going where. But in any event, the call Secretary Clinton made to President Abbas was to ensure that he hears the U.S. message and that we have a real conversation about options for getting the parties back to the table.
QUESTION: And then --
QUESTION: Just hold on --
QUESTION: Wait --
QUESTION: No, no. “Them” isn’t a preposition, I just want to let you know.
MS. NULAND: Thank you, Matt.
QUESTION: And then --
MS. NULAND: Ms. Gaetano, my eighth grade grammar teacher, will thank you for that.
QUESTION: You said that you’ll continue to work up until the GA and after. What about during the UNGA – do you anticipate Secretary Clinton trying to get the parties together or President Obama? I mean, will there be, as there was last year, some efforts to try and use that venue to try and get the talks back together?
MS. NULAND: I think we’re going to use every day, every hour, every venue, to try to get these parties back to the table.
QUESTION: So – but do you anticipate some kind of – are you efforting some kind of meetings at the UNGA that might kind of jumpstart the talks? Do you intend that venue as a kind of major linchpin in that effort?
MS. NULAND: I think it’s too soon to tell where we’re going to be. Our goal is to have these parties committed to coming back to the table before we get to the GA, but let’s see where we are.
QUESTION: I know that you said you’re going to work up until the last day, but I mean, realistically, is there any progress in your talks with the Israelis or the Palestinians that leads you to believe that in the next two weeks – and I guess it would be less than two weeks – that you can get the parties to agree to come back to the table?
MS. NULAND: Why don’t I come back to that question after we see how these Hale and Ross talks go.
QUESTION: Hamas has banned today some Palestinian students from travel to the U.S. to participate in Fulbright program. Do you have any reaction to that?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. This is not a good situation. As you may know, the U.S. has a number of people-to-people programs, et cetera, that are designed to help the people of Gaza. One of – we have educational, cultural, professional exchange programs. We had six or seven Palestinian students – they were 15- to 17-year-olds who had been accepted on the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange Study Program for the 2011-2012 academic year, and Hamas denied them exit from the Gaza Strip, both on August 16th and again on September 1st.
So here you have Hamas denying these students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have an educational and cultural experience outside of Gaza. So we join the students, their parents, human rights organizations, and many others in calling for the YES students who wish to leave Gaza for this opportunity to be allowed to go.
QUESTION: Does that invitation continue on? I mean, suppose Hamas changes its mind in the near future. Will these young men and women be still invited?
MS. NULAND: Well, we obviously don’t want – it’s supposed to be for the academic year.
QUESTION: I understand.
MS. NULAND: We don’t want them to miss too much of the program. But obviously, were Hamas to change its mind on an urgent basis, we would do what we could to get these students here.
QUESTION: And technically, does the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem follow up on this issue?
MS. NULAND: We are continuing to follow up. How precisely we do that, I assume it’s from our missions there.
QUESTION: A new subject?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Just wait a sec.
MS. NULAND: Sorry.
QUESTION: I just want to point out that you’ve answered a hypothetical question. If Hamas was to change its mind, you would – okay, so the next time you try and get out of something by saying it’s a hypothetical question, be reminded of that. (Laughter.)
MS. NULAND: In the back, Goyal.
QUESTION: One question.
MS. NULAND: One more on this?
QUESTION: One more on that.
MS. NULAND: Okay.
QUESTION: Turkey also decided to actively campaign for the Palestine statehood recognition at the UN. Is it concern for you?
MS. NULAND: Of course, it’s a matter of concern. Our position is well known. We think that this taking action at the UN in September is not going to lead to lasting peace, two states side by side. Only negotiations can do that.
QUESTION: Would it be fair to say that you’ve been lobbying other members of the international community not to vote in favor of such a move?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Could you talk about whether – is that like just kind of ambassadors going around talking to their host government, or have you issued a kind of formal diplomatic demarche to all nations?
MS. NULAND: We have been absolutely clear publicly and privately, first and foremost with all of the states that have traditionally worked actively on this dossier, but also now with states that could be confronted with a decision in the General Assembly, and making clear that we think that this is the wrong way to go and that it could potentially make getting back to the negotiating table harder.
QUESTION: Okay. But are we talking like formal letters or we’re talking just in your consultations?
MS. NULAND: We have been talking in diplomatic channels – and I think I won’t go further than this – to a much broader section of countries than we usually talk to about Middle East peace because many of them who don’t usually get confronted with decisions like this could be confronted with a decision in the General Assembly.
QUESTION: Other than Palau, the Marshall Islands, how many people have said that they’re prepared to vote against?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to start counting noses here. Our diplomatic efforts will continue.
QUESTION: Haven’t the responses that you’ve gotten led you to just become resigned to the fact that this is going to happen and this is going to pass?
MS. NULAND: We’re not resigned to anything. We’re going to continue to work this because we think that the best way to deal with this is to get back to negotiations.
QUESTION: So then you’re hoping for what exactly? You’re hoping for maybe five countries to vote against as opposed to just two?
MS. NULAND: We’re hoping that we’re not going to come to this, that we are going to be able to get these parties back to the table and have a solution to this before the GA that takes us back to the table, back to negotiations. That’s what we’re working for.
QUESTION: But you’re preparing – you’re obviously – but the premise that your actions belie that statement. You’re expecting this to come – you’re expecting the Palestinians to come to a – this to come to a vote or to bring it to a vote, because that’s why you’re lobbying countries to vote against it. So it would seem that if you want to prevent it from coming from a vote, your efforts would be best directed toward just the Palestinians themselves. That, obviously, has gone nowhere. So the question is – you’re lobbying. I’m not sure what the goal of the lobbying of the other countries is, because it’s clear that it’s going to pass. Are you hoping to get just ten, five? What are you hoping for? Because the last time, all of Europe either abstained or voted for it This time, it looks like it could be the same, it’s probably going to be the same thing. And traditionally, it’s the U.S., Israel, and some South Pacific islands that vote together on resolutions like this.
So I’m just curious. Are you hoping that you’re going to get more than just a handful to vote no?
MS. NULAND: My comments on the Gaza students notwithstanding, I’m not going to speculate here today on different scenarios and how they might go down and how we might react to them.
QUESTION: Well, aren’t you --
MS. NULAND: You understand where we’re trying to go, which is to work first with the parties, but also with other states that might be involved in New York to make clear that the United States believes that it is a very bad idea to be trying to create a new state in New York rather than to do it at the negotiating table. It’s not going to work.
QUESTION: Are you threatening the Palestinians with withholding aid to them if they were to take such a move? Or are you just saying that it’s not in their best interest?
MS. NULAND: We went through this last week while you were on your fabulous vacation that didn’t happen so much. We don’t threaten. We don’t threaten. But we are making sure that they are hearing the voices in the Congress, which are getting increasingly loud on this subject.
QUESTION: Have you told the countries that you’re lobbying that you will look askance at a vote in favor of this?
MS. NULAND: I think I’ve said what I’m going to say on our efforts to head off a bad scenario in September.
QUESTION: But if you could clarify it, I mean, and clarify it (inaudible) straight, what about countries that may have promised you they will not attend the vote, so to speak, and this way they will not put in an untenable position of having to vote no? Have you been assured by countries like Poland, for instance, that --
MS. NULAND: We could do this every day between now and when we go to New York, speculate on scenario A and scenario B and scenario C. I think that’s not going to be productive. You see where the bulk of our efforts are. At the moment, our bulk of our efforts are out in the region with Hale and with Ross, and we want to see those efforts bear fruit.
QUESTION: So a quick follow-up. On the content of the conversation between Secretary Clinton and the President of the Palestinian Authority Abbas, could you share with us?
MS. NULAND: Other than to say it was a good conversation, and the purpose of it was to set the table for the discussions that we will be having out in the region and to – and for her to ask President Abbas to receive the U.S. team with open ears, I think that’s as far as I want to go.
QUESTION: On Pakistan?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Madam, the recently killed al-Qaida members announced by Pakistan, is that – if U.S. knew in advance of any information from Pakistan? And also, do you believe that now Pakistan is with the U.S. in a real way helping the U.S. to counter – fighting against terrorism?
MS. NULAND: Well, you won’t be surprised, Goyal, if I don’t go – get into what we knew when in intelligence channels. But I will simply repeat what the White House said over the weekend, which is that we applaud the actions of Pakistan’s intelligence and security services that led to the capture of this senior al-Qaida operative who was involved in planning attacks against the interest of the United States and many, many other countries. This action dealt another blow to al-Qaida and is an example of the long-standing partnership we have and an example of the counterterrorism operation that helps the security of Pakistan, helps the security of the United States, and helps the security of the whole region.
QUESTION: What do you think now Pakistan-U.S. relations after this recent action taken by Pakistan?
MS. NULAND: We remain committed to our continued cooperation, and we will continue to work at it in our mutual interest.
QUESTION: And finally, if anybody – your Secretary called anybody in Pakistan congratulating them?
MS. NULAND: She has not made phone calls to Pakistan in the last day or two.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: On Korea?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: South Korea’s top nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac is scheduled to visit Washington this week. I think he’s arriving here tomorrow. Is his trip related with any possible signs of further talks with North Korea or the resumption of Six-Party Talks?
MS. NULAND: You are – just to confirm, yes, that Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Issues Wi Sung-lac will be here tomorrow and on September 8th. This is part of our regular ongoing close consultations with South Korea on these issues. He will meet Deputy Secretary Burns. He will meet Assistant Secretary for East Asia Pacific Kurt Campbell. He’ll meet our Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Bosworth. And he’ll, also on the 8th, meet our Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control Robert Einhorn. And this – again, these meetings are designed to make sure that we stay together on these essential issues.
QUESTION: So do you say there is no – any signs of further talks with – further dialogue with North Korea in the near future?
MS. NULAND: Well, why don’t we let these consultations go forward and see where we are? But as you know, we have not seen signs, as yet, from North Korea that it’s prepared to meet the conditions we’ve set forward.
MS. NULAND: Please.
MS. NULAND: Sorry. Still on Korea?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is the discussion between Wi Sung-lac and the U.S. official going to be – also cover the result of Kim Jong-il’s recent visit to Russian --
MS. NULAND: I would assume we would compare notes on what we’ve heard. Yes.
QUESTION: When it comes to the North-South talks and U.S.-North Korea talks, is it the U.S. position that the sequence does not really matter?
MS. NULAND: I think we’ve said many times that we want to see North-South relations improve, and we want to see North Korea meet its obligations. I don’t – I think we need to see both.
QUESTION: Will he also be meeting with Clifford Hart?
MS. NULAND: Clifford Hart will be participating in the meetings, yes.
QUESTION: Just a quick question on (inaudible)?
MS. NULAND: Are we still on Korea?
QUESTION: What is the status of Clifford Hart at the State Department? What it is title? (Inaudible) come from?
MS. NULAND: I don't have his title here, but he is our North Korea advisor. He works under Stephen Bosworth, who is the President’s special representative for North Korea.
QUESTION: Is there any update on food aid to North Korea?
MS. NULAND: No update on food aid. You did see our note that we put out around on Friday that we did deliver flood aid to North Korea over the weekend.
QUESTION: On Iraq?
MS. NULAND: On Iraq. Yeah.
QUESTION: The third president, Masoud Barzani, has told the U.S. forces to stay in Iraq, and warning of a civil war if the American forces withdraw. What can you tell them?
MS. NULAND: I think our public position, our private position, hasn’t changed, that our plan is to withdraw by the end of the year. Were the Iraqi Government to come forward and make a request for some continued security assistance, we would be prepared to look at it.
QUESTION: Do you consider this call as a request from an Iraqi leader?
MS. NULAND: Well, we have heard many different views from individual Iraqi leaders, but they have a government, and we need to hear a united view from the government.
QUESTION: There was an article, a very lengthy article, by Ayad Allawi last week basically calling for that, so that’s the head of a major political Iraqi bloc. Now you have the Kurds calling for that. There are talks of some sort of behind the scene agreements between the Pentagon and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense for a rotation. And so, did you know of that?
MS. NULAND: I mean, it’s clear that a lot of Iraqis are thinking about this and talking about it. But obviously, we couldn’t get into a discussion on the basis of informal comments by individual Iraqis.
QUESTION: I guess the question is: Is the United States flexible enough to accept such a request when it happens?
MS. NULAND: Again, you’re taking me into hypotheticals as to when this might happen. Our view hasn’t changed, that if they have something that they would like us to do, we’re prepared to look at it
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Is there any --
MS. NULAND: Oh, sorry. Still on Iraq?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is there any possibility to make a deal with north Iraq regarding the future of the U.S. presence in Iraq instead of waiting for a request from the Iraqi Government?
MS. NULAND: I think we have for many years operated on the basis of a single policy with regard to a unitary Iraq. I don’t see that changing.
QUESTION: On Haiti, based on allegations against Urugayan peacekeepers sexually assaulting a Haitian boy, any – a young man – any – are you guys aware of that allegation, and is there any room for the U.S. to help investigate this?
MS. NULAND: We have seen the press reports. We understand that the UN is going to launch its own investigation, and that’s the appropriate place for that to be.
QUESTION: Just a quick question. Recently, U.S. has asked the Swiss banks and Switzerland Government to open the accounts of Americans holding more than $50,000 in their accounts in Swiss banks, and otherwise they will face penalties and so forth. What I’m asking you is: Is that also going to be some kind of global accountability, including, of course, they have been asking Indian corrupt politicians, among others?
MS. NULAND: Goyal, I don’t have anything for you on that one way or the other. I’m happy to take the question, but I’m not sure we’re going to have much to say.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the death of this American contractor in Afghanistan, murder of –
MS. NULAND: What’s the name? I don’t, I don’t think, at the moment. What’s the name? And we’ll get something for you.
QUESTION: Well, that was one of the things I was hoping that you would tell me.
QUESTION: There are reports he was found beheaded. Do you have any information on that?
MS. NULAND: Is this in the last couple of hours? I don’t --
QUESTION: The last 24 hours.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. I’ll – we will take it and see what we know.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: You just said that U.S. cooperation and discussions with Pakistan continue, so is there any discussion on the supposed cooperation mechanism that Pakistan is asking United States to put down in writing? And is there any discussion on those points as well?
MS. NULAND: This has been an ongoing discussion for a number of months, whether it makes sense to have some sort of a framework statement, and I think we’ll continue to talk about it.
QUESTION: Middle East?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you aware that the Israeli Government has taken a decision to dislocate or relocate about 20,000 to 30,000 Palestinian Bedouins from the Negev in a place called Araqib, and in fact is suing them to pay the costs of the demolition? Are you aware of that?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything on that.
QUESTION: Could you find out and see if --
MS. NULAND: We will take the question, sure. Absolutely. Yeah.
QUESTION: Turkey also agreed on this NATO missile system over the weekend while it was also stating its sanctions against Israel. My question is, one of the conditions Turkey put forward was to – not to share the intelligence with Israel. Is this condition met?
MS. NULAND: I think you saw that we, along with NATO, welcomed Turkey’s decision to participate in the Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense. This is a NATO system, and it is designed to protect NATO.
Anything else? No?
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)