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State Department Regular Briefing With Initial Remarks By U.S. Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton


Location: Washington, DC

Briefer: Ian Kelly, Department Spokesman

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Q Hi.

Q Hey!

SEC. CLINTON: How are you all? I actually have missed you.

(Cross talk.)

SEC. CLINTON: I know. I know. And I wanted to thank you for the flowers. I really appreciated those. They are immeasurably adding to the healing process.

But I wanted to come down because, obviously, there's a lot going on. And there are a number of important issues to address today, but I want to start with yesterday's unfortunate events in Honduras, which were a test of the inter-American system's ability to support and defend democracy and constitutional order in our hemisphere.

The United States has been working with our partners in the OAS to fashion a strong consensus condemning the detention and expulsion of President Zelaya, and calling for the full restoration of democratic order in Honduras. Our immediate priority is to restore full democratic and constitutional order in that country.

Today, foreign ministers of the Rio Group will be attending a previously scheduled meeting of Central American leaders in Managua, Nicaragua, to address the issue of Honduras. And tomorrow, the OAS will hold an extraordinary General Assembly.

As we move forward, all parties have a responsibility, to address the underlying problems that led to yesterday's events, in a way that enhances democracy and the rule of law in Honduras.

To that end, we will continue working, with the OAS and other partners, to construct a process of dialogue and engagement that will promote the restoration of democratic order, address the serious problems of political polarization in Honduras, restore confidence in their institutions of government, and ensure that Honduras moves successfully towards its scheduled presidential elections in November of those year.

At the OAS General Assembly earlier this month, in San Pedro Sula, some of you were with me there. The United States insisted that the larger debate on Cuba be framed within the OAS's commitment to democracy and human rights. Along with key partners, we won a reaffirmation of the principles of democracy and constitutional order that define the Organization of American States.

Now, the wisdom of our approach, I think, was evident yesterday, when the OAS and the Inter-American Democratic Charter were used, as a basis for our response to the coup that occurred.

Let me also say a word about the detention of five British embassy staff in Tehran. We are following this situation with great concern. We have noted the statement from the European Union. We find that the harassment of embassy staff is deplorable. And we will continue to support the United Kingdom in calling for their release.

Finally, on Iraq, tomorrow, June 30th, marks the end of U.S. troop presence in Iraqi cities and localities. This is a significant milestone in the responsible withdrawal of our forces from Iraq and in Iraq's journey to become a stable, sovereign, self-reliant state.

This morning, I held a secure videoconference with Ambassador Hill and some of his senior team in Baghdad. The ambassador provided updates on the security, political and economic situation in Iraq, and we discussed a number of the challenges and opportunities that we are facing.

As you remember, this withdrawal is occurring under the so-called SOFA agreement -- the Status of Forces Agreement. And it is occurring in concert with the Iraqis. There is another document that we will now be turning our attention to with even greater concern; that is the Strategic Framework Agreement, which sets forth the way forward for the relationship between the United States and Iraq.

So there is a lot -- a lot going on, and I wanted to come down and talk about some of what we are doing. And I'd be happy to take some of your questions.

Q Secretary Clinton --

Q Secretary Clinton, do you -- do you believe -- you used the words "detention and expulsion." Do you believe that a military coup d'etat has taken place in Honduras? Or are you studying a legal -- a formal legal determination that a coup d'etat has taken place, and that would therefore trigger the appropriations -- the related appropriations aid cutoff that is required under U.S. law?

SEC. CLINTON: Well, we do think that this has evolved into a coup. The president, as you know, has been expelled. A -- another person has been substituted for the president.

But we think that this is a fast-moving situation that requires constant attention, which we are certainly providing to it, along with our bilateral partners and through the OAS, as our multilateral vehicle.

We are encouraging that there be a delegation going to Honduras following the extraordinary General Assembly tomorrow, to begin working with the parties to try to restore constitutional order.

So we are withholding any formal legal determination, but I think the reality is that having expelled the president, we have a lot of work to do to try to help the Hondurans get back on the democratic path that they've been on for a number of years now.

Jill --

Q But you're not now thinking about cutting off aid?

(Cross talk.)

SEC. CLINTON: Jill -- (inaudible).

Q Secretary Clinton, isn't the U.S. in an uncomfortable position, nonetheless, because you're invoking democratic norms to restore a president who, some would argue, was taking illegal steps to stay in office?

SEC. CLINTON: You know, Jill, I think it's important that we stand for the rule of law and democracy and constitution -- constitutional order. And when I talk about supporting the work that's being done in the OAS and certainly a distinguished delegation to work with the parties in Honduras, I think that all parties involved have to take a step back and look at how the institutions within their democracy are supposed to be working.

So there are certain concerns about orders by independent judicial officials that should be followed and the like. But the extraordinary step taken of arresting and expelling the president is our first and foremost concern right now.

Then we do want to work with the parties, as I said, to try to return to a rule of law. And that means for everybody, you know? Everybody needs to kind of take a step back here and take a deep breath and say, "Look, we have a lot at stake in maintaining our democracy and not going backwards." And we would expect all parties to play a responsible role in doing that.

MR. KELLY: Okay. Bob, AP?

Q Madame Secretary, (he ?) mentioned Iraq. I'm wondering if there are ways in which you think the Iraqis are still vulnerable to letting the sort of security situation slip back to where it was. Are we fully confident?

SEC. CLINTON: Well, you know, Bob, I spoke to Ambassador Hill today. I've spoken to him a number of times in the last couple of weeks. And both he and General Odierno have reiterated their belief that the Iraqi forces are up to the job that currently confronts them. Now, the United States remains prepared to assist if necessary, but there is a great deal of confidence in the fundamental ability of the Iraqis to begin to protect their citizens.

Having said that, we've seen what's happened the last few weeks. We've had some horrific bombings and the loss of hundreds of lives. But our assessment is that the Iraqis are ready, willing and able to step up to this. And, as I've said, we will -- we will continue our presence there. We're not, you know, pulling wholesale out. We will continue our presence there as we fulfill the requirements under the SOFA, and we stand ready to assist them if necessary.

MR. KELLY: Okay, the last question to Jamie (sp) -- (off mike) --

SEC. CLINTON: Oh, we can take maybe a couple more.

MR. KELLY: Want to take two more? Okay.

SEC. CLINTON: Yeah. Yeah.

Q I'll ask all the last questions. (Laughter.)

SEC. CLINTON: (Laughs.) Oh, yeah! Why am I not surprised?

Q Madame Secretary, I hope you're feeling well.

SEC. CLINTON: Thank you. I've -- I'm engaged in a different form of arms control, I think. (Laughter.) Quite challenging.

Q (Laughs.) On Iran, the sense we've been getting from your aides that we've been talking to is that the U.S. policy of engagement obviously is somewhat in abeyance right now as we wait to see this fluid situation on the ground in Tehran and throughout the country evolve.

But I wonder what you would say to the argument that any prospect for meaningling -- meaningful engagement by the U.S. and the P-5 plus one, of which the U.K. is obviously a member, are -- is drastically set back by what we've seen; in fact, that you've gotten your answer to all of your attempts at engaging this regime, that you've seen an authoritarian regime unmask itself, and that, in essence, they're never going to strike any bargain with you on the nuclear question or terrorism or anything else.

SEC. CLINTON: Well, there certainly is reason for us to be cautious in our dealings with Iran. There is not yet a final outcome of the process that they're engaged in internally, to demonstrate to their own people the credibility of the electoral process that has just been completed.

So I am well aware of the daunting challenges ahead of us, or any group that tries to deal with the Iranian regime. Having said that, I think, the president has made clear in several statements, in the last week, that you know we're going to watch this unfold. And we're going to act in America's national interest.

That's what this has always been about. It's never been about Iran as much as it's been about the values, goals and the interests of the United States of America. And we remain committed to doing all we can, to try to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons power. So we're going to watch this. And we're going to, you know, gauge our actions accordingly.

Q But there's no sense you get, in which these events somehow might have enhanced the prospects for engagement. Have they?

SEC. CLINTON: I'm not going to make, you know, a value judgment on what they may or may not have done. I'm just going to reiterate that everything we intend to do is in light of how we view America's long-term interests and security, as well as those of friends and allies, not just in the region but around the world.

Mary Beth.

Q Secretary, sorry, if I could, just return for a second to Honduras, just to clarify Arshad's point.

So I mean, the U.S. provides aid both, you know, under the Foreign Assistance Act and the Millennium Challenge. So even though there's triggers in those that countries have to behave, you know, not have coups, you're not going to cut off that aid.

SEC. CLINTON: Well, Mary Beth, we're assessing, you know, what the final outcome of these actions will be.

I mean, this has been a fast-moving set of circumstances over the last several days. And we're looking at that question now. You know, much of our assistance is conditioned on the integrity of the democratic system. But if we were able to get to a -- you know, a status quo that returned to the rule of law and constitutional order within a relatively short period of time, I think that would be a good outcome.

So we're looking at all of this. We're considering the implications of it. But our priority is to try to work with our partners in restoring the constitutional order in Honduras.

Q And does that mean returning Zelaya, himself? You would insist on that in order to --

SEC. CLINTON: Well, we're -- we are working with our partners. The OAS will have this extraordinary general assembly tomorrow. We haven't laid out any demands that we're insisting on, because we're working with others on behalf of our ultimate objectives, which are shared broadly. So we think that the arrest and expulsion of a president is certainly cause for concern that has to be addressed. And it's not just with respect to whether our aid continues, but whether democracy in Honduras continues.

MR. KELLY: Okay?

SEC. CLINTON: Okay? One more? Yeah, we'll take -- yeah. Yes.

Q Madame Secretary, back to Iran, the Guardian Council has just announced that it -- after the limited recount, that they consider the vote valid. Is this enough for the international community? Do you plan on recognizing the government of President Ahmadinejad? And we've seen this crisis over the last few weeks illustrate a real division in the regime. Do you think that this is the beginning of the end of the Iranian regime?

SEC. CLINTON: Well, I'm not going to speculate on, you know, what happens with their internal regime. Obviously, they have a huge credibility gap with their own people as to the election process, and I don't think that's going to disappear by any finding of a limited review of a relatively small number of ballots.

But clearly, these internal matters are for Iranians themselves to address. And we hope that they will be given the opportunity to do so in a peaceful way that respects the right of expression. And it has been, you know, my position and that of our administration that we support the fundamental values of people's voices being heard, their votes being counted. And we'll have to see how this unfolds. You know, it's -- this is a historic moment for Iran and for the Iranian people, and I don't want to, you know, speculate on how it's going to turn out.

Q But will you recognize President Ahmadinejad as the democratically elected president of Iran?

SEC. CLINTON: We -- you know, we're going to take this a day at a time. We're going to watch, and carefully assess what we see happening.

So, thank you all very much.

MR. KELLY: Thank you.

Q How does your arm feel? Still painful?

SEC. CLINTON: It is. It is. Don't break your elbow. I guess that's my last word of advice. Yeah. But, you know, I'm -- I am -- every day gets a little bit better. So, thanks all.

Q Thank you.

Q Thanks for coming up.

MR. KELLY: All right, well, it's tough to follow the headliner, but I'm happy to take your questions.

Q Can we start with Honduras?


Q I know that it's always hard for the U.S. government to aggregate all of the money it gives to any given country. So question one is, do you know what is the total amount of U.S. assistance to Honduras? If you don't know that, question two would be, can you lay out even some of the line items? I know that the Millennium Challenge Corporation's compact is five years, 215 million (dollars).

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

Q Are there any other line items that you can give us, to give us a sense of the size of the aid that might be -- might some day be in question here?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, well, let me see. I mean, the answer is, of course, we know how much aid there is. And I'm just checking to see if I have it here. I know that we asked the Millennium Challenge people and the USAID people to come up with those -- with those figures.

You know, the secretary said this is -- we're still analyzing what's happening -- I mean, it just happened yesterday. We know that there are some restrictions on assistance that the U.S. can give to a country where there has been these kinds of overturning of the constitutional order. But you know, we're very cognizant of that, and we'll get back to you with the actual data on the amount of assistance --

Q Great. If you could get that to us today, I'd be grateful --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I don't think that'll be a problem.

Q So, Ian -- I'm sorry -- (off mike) -- you're not calling it a coup. Is that correct? Legally, you're not considering it a coup?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think you all saw the OAS statement last night, which called it a coup d'etat. And you heard what the secretary just said.

Having said that, we're also very cognizant of the particulars of U.S. law on this. So let us get back to you on the legal definition issue. I don't want to necessarily make policy up here.

Q Can you check if you've actually begun the process yet of determining, from a formal legal standpoint, whether indeed it is a military coup?

MR. KELLY: Yes. Okay. Sure.

Yeah, Jill?

Q When the secretary was answering a question that I asked about -- she said that it's important to stand back and look at the big picture --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

Q -- but she also said that there are some concerns that the United States has, and that seemed to be, you know, obviously actions by the president who has been deposed or kicked out of the country. When she met with Zelaya, did she urge him not to go ahead with that referendum?

MR. KELLY: You know, I know -- because I attended that meeting, I know that there was some broad discussion about it. I don't -- we don't normally get into the details of our diplomatic exchanges.

I think our consistent line throughout, both in Tegucigalpa through our embassy and then through OAS channels, is that we recognize there's been a political conflict there and that we believe very strongly -- as strongly as we can as the United States -- that these kinds of political conflicts have to be worked out through dialogue and have to be done in democratic and constitutional ways, and that we can't support any kind of extraconstitutional approaches.

Q But it looks -- I mean, if you analyze what's been going on, it looks as if the U.S. has really failed to make any impact whatsoever. I mean, if she -- you won't go so far as to say that she said, "Please don't go ahead with this," but they did talk about it. You had previously good relations, apparently, between the Honduran military and the United States.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

Q Now they won't even apparently take calls. What else? I guess that would be two of them, at least. So obviously they're not listening to anyone right now in the United States and maybe even in the rest of the world. Have you talked to them? And also, doesn't this show that there's some weakness on the part of the United States in at least trying to encourage democratic behavior?

MR. KELLY: Yeah; well, I mean, I wouldn't say that we've necessarily failed. I mean, this just happened yesterday. We are working primarily through the OAS, the Organization of American States, our permanent council. There's going to be a meeting of foreign ministers tomorrow -- I'm sorry, next week.

And, I mean, we could not have made stronger statements that these actions are deplorable. We used the world "condemn." The OAS used this word "condemn." And so what we're looking to do is make it clear to the various parties in Honduras that this is -- this is absolutely outside the bounds of democratic principles and constitutional norms, and it needs to be reversed.

Q Can I follow up, Ian?

Q (Off mike) --

Q Are they taking your calls, though?

MR. KELLY: Sorry?

Q Are they -- are they taking your calls?

MR. KELLY: Absolutely, yeah.

Q And yet they --

MR. KELLY: I mean, we're still -- I mean, we still have an ambassador down in Tegucigalpa.

Q Who is he talking to?

MR. KELLY: I can't tell you exactly who he's talking to, but he's -- I know he's been talking to people in the congress. But I -- you know, I'm just -- I'm not going to -- I'm not going to talk about the details of his conversations.

Q Ian --

Q Is the military taking your calls? Because yesterday, as Jill is alluding to, the -- one of the senior administration officials who briefed on background on the phone --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

Q -- said that they had stopped taking your calls.

And so I guess, I think, that's a relevant point because as of yesterday, the military wasn't talking to you. And they're the ones who put him on a plane to Costa Rica.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I don't know the answer to that question today actually.

Q Can you take the question?

MR. KELLY: Sure, I'll take that question?

Q And can I follow up?

I mean, it's unclear what you're really looking for, because you're not calling for -- you're calling for the restoration of the democratic order and the constitution. But you're not calling for the president, who you say is the legitimately elected president of the country, to go back.

So can you --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, we are.

Q Secretary Clinton just said --

(Cross talk.)

No. Secretary Clinton just said that she doesn't know what the U.S. is calling for. You're working with your allies.

(Cross talk.)

MR. KELLY: We signed up to that very strong statement, from the OAS Permanent Council, that demanded that President Zelaya be reinstated as a legitimate president.

Q Is that the only way constitutional order can be restored? Is that the only way democratic rule is restored, is if he is brought back to power?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think, that's the most important aspect of it that we are focused on now, his return to power.

Q As president?

Q But Ian, I mean, most institutions in the government -- the congress, the military, most of the ministries, the clergy -- nobody supported what he did. And even senior administration officials say it was not a smart move and it possibly was borderlining on illegal.

So how does he go back and be the president given that he has no confidence by the rest of his country?

MR. KELLY: You know, it is -- what happened yesterday was, as I say, was deplorable. But I think we have to keep focused on what's important here. And that's that we need to restore a democratic political process in Honduras. And Mel Zelaya is the democratically elected president of Honduras.

Q But he wasn't acting within the democratic norms that you're talking about right now.

MR. KELLY: Well, I'm not going to address that. I know that there was a political conflict of course, within the country, over the issue of a referendum. But these kinds of conflicts need to be worked out in a -- through peaceful and democratic dialogue.

Yeah, James.

Q Do you regard that if the situation is not resolved, along those lines, let's say, if the status quo prevails, that the United States will not recognize the legitimacy of the next round of elections in Honduras?

MR. KELLY: The next round of elections, which are in November?

Q In November.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, you're asking me to speculate on something that may or may not happen.

Q Well, it never requires a great flight of speculative fancy to imagine that the status quo will continue, so -- (laughs).

MR. KELLY: Well, I don't know about that. But I mean, literally, this is 24 hours ago.

Q Right. But -- so, you know, whether he gets in -- gets back into power or he doesn't, you've got elections on the 29th of November.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

Q So will the United States regard those as legitimate elections?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think -- you know, again --

Q He wouldn't have been running.

MR. KELLY: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to speculate on the legitimacy of elections that are in six months' time.

Q Ian, apparently tomorrow there's going to be a move at the OAS to call for all the countries in the hemisphere to break relations with Honduras.

MR. KELLY: I haven't heard that.

Q Okay. Would the U.S. would be willing to go along with that?

MR. KELLY: Like I say, I haven't heard that. We have an ambassador in Tegucigalpa right now who's very engaged in assessing the situation and reporting back to us. But I'm not aware of any move to break off relations.

Q Is there any -- (inaudible) -- withdrawing the ambassador?

MR. KELLY: Like I say, we have an ambassador on the ground. We -- at this very -- this very unstable time, we think it's important to have an authoritative voice there. We think it's important to have Ambassador Llorens there.

Q Could I --

MR. KELLY: Kirit, yeah.

Q Has your ambassador been in touch with -- with the, I guess, interim president? And what has your message been to him?

MR. KELLY: As you know, I'm not aware of that, and I'm not sure -- I mean, I can see if we can find out that information. But I know that he's -- like I say, he's very much engaged.

Q Well -- well, what would your message to him be, speaking for the government now?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, the message is, is that they -- they need to -- they need to have a legal, consensual solution to this -- to this situation.

Q What would you -- would you ask him not to -- to step down from his power to allow --

MR. KELLY: No, well, you know -- I can tell you what our overall message is, but I'm not going to tell you what -- I don't know. I -- I'm not there. I'm not clear what the --

Q But you say --

Q You don't have to be on the ground to know what your government would like this interim president to do. I mean, what would you like him to do?

MR. KELLY: We want -- we want the -- the constitutional order to be restored in Honduras.

Q But you say "legal and consensual."

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

Q I mean, it's not consensual for anyone else in the country to return him to the presidency.

MR. KELLY: I don't quite understand that.

Q Well, I mean, when you say "consensual," it means that everybody agrees.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, well --

Q And obviously if most of the institutions of the government kicked him out and expelled him, then no one's going to consent to agree to put him back.

MR. KELLY: I -- you know, I -- just -- that may be; that may not be. I don't know. I mean, I'm not going to pronounce on what the consensus is in Honduras right now. What I do know is that Mel Zelaya is the democratically elected president.

Q What about the resignation letter that was read out in his name?

MR. KELLY: I've seen reports on that, but given the way that he was hustled out of the country, I don't know if I would give a lot of credence to it.

Q Ian --

MR. KELLY: Can we move to another subject? (Chuckles.) Maybe I'll take one more question on Honduras.

Q So -- (off mike) -- a little confused. And I guess what's happening is, Secretary Clinton said it evolved into a coup, which is a very interesting phrase. There seems to be a lack of clarity. I mean, is the U.S. government -- did they go to the constitution of Honduras and read it in Spanish and say, "Okay, this is permitted, this is not permitted"? It's almost like saying "a little bit pregnant," you know? Is it illegal? Is what they did illegal according to the Honduran constitution?

MR. KELLY: I believe that it is. But I am not an international lawyer. I think that --

Q So do you think that's a crucial issue when the U.S. looks at this?

MR. KELLY: I believe that it is illegal, yes. I mean, I don't think that there was -- you know, look. I will take this question. As I say, I am not an international lawyer. But this was not a democratic solution to some of the conflicts that we saw leading up to -- leading up to yesterday's events. And I think that's our real issue with this, and I think that's the issue with all of our colleagues in the OAS.

Q Ian, is it fair to say that the secretary said, look, as a practical matter, this is a coup, but we're not yet making that formal legal determination, which would of course then trigger the cutoff of most aid --


Q -- but you're essentially trying to create some space to try to reach a negotiated outcome?

MR. KELLY: I think that we -- right now we're calling on all parties to come to a negotiated solution.

Q And if it's -- among the questions that you agree to take, would you mind considering taking one other one, which is -- and I honestly don't know what the answer is -- how much time -- is there any limit on how long the administration may take to determine whether a military coup has taken place?

MR. KELLY: I don't believe that there is, but -- but we'll let you know if there is.

Q Thank you.

Q Yeah, and could you take the question about what contacts? Because it seems a little bit unclear. Yesterday, the administration officials were saying that there was no contact with the new government or with the military and --

MR. KELLY: No, no, I think they just said with the military.

Q All right, well, if you could take that.

MR. KELLY: Okay.

Q And they also called it illegal and illegitimate.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

Q So presumably, you should have no hesitation in doing that from the podium.

MR. KELLY: (Chuckles.) Yeah, under normal circumstances, I would have no problem saying it. Given the fact that I have absolutely no legal training, though, I would prefer to have my colleagues in the Office of the Legal Adviser respond to that.

Q What time will they be briefing? (Laughs.)

MR. KELLY: (Laughs.) In about five minutes, I hope.


Q New topic, Afghanistan. Richard Holbrooke, on the weekend at the -- I believe it was the G-8 foreign ministers meeting, said that U.S. policy with regard to drugs was changing; that instead of eradication, which he described as shooting Afghan farmers, there would be a policy of stopping the drugs, of -- what was the word that he used? -- interdiction, combined with support to the farmers in Afghanistan. I was wondering, do you have any strategy for how this interdiction should work? Will it be a NATO operation? Would it be in cooperation with other countries in the area which are affected by the flow of drugs from Afghanistan?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

Q Is there a clear road map on how that would work?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think, first and foremost, this is an Afghan operation. And our efforts and the efforts of our NATO allies have been to -- have been to support the Afghan government's efforts to deal with this problem of narcotics. We remain committed to counternarcotics in Afghanistan. I think what we're talking about here is we would like to increase our efforts to alternative crop development, public information and interdiction, rather than eradication.

Again, this is really -- it's up to the Afghan government to determine how they go about their own counternarcotic efforts. But we do -- we do support them, of course.

Q Well, the Afghan government seemed to indicate -- or the Afghan forces, counternarcotics forces, seemed to indicate that they were happy with the policy as it's now working. And there was some discrepancy there in regard to --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, well, I haven't seen any -- I haven't seen any statements from the Afghan government in that regard.

Yeah, in the back.

Q Yeah, two questions about North Korea. Could you update the schedule of Ambassador Goldberg's trip to Asian countries? And the second one is, Financial Times yesterday reported that Kim Jong Il's son has traveled to China and met some of the leaders there. And this kind of report appears sometimes, and do you have any comment on that? And what do you think about succession process ongoing?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, well, I'll answer your first question. Then I'm going to ask you to ask your second question, because I'm not sure I understood it.

In regards to Ambassador Phil Goldberg, as you know, he has been named coordinator for implementation of U.N. Resolution 1874. He plans to depart soon to lead an interagency delegation, including representatives of the National Security Council, Department of Treasury, and Defense. Their first stop will be Beijing. And of course, the purpose of this trip is to consult with our partners in the region on the implementation of Security Council -- U.N. Security Council 1874. But I don't have specific details on his itinerary yet.

Yeah, Bob?

Q Do you have an answer to the question that was raised last week about the two Palestinian-American boys who cannot get out of Gaza to get their --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I might. I might. Hold on a second.

Ah-ha. Okay. (Chuckles.) We're aware of the situation. Due to Privacy Act limitations, we have no comment at this time. We'd like to emphasize that our ability to provide consular services in Gaza is quite limited. And of course we've -- all along, we've urged American citizens to refrain from traveling to Gaza.

Q So they have no -- there's nothing you can do for them?

MR. KELLY: No, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that we -- I can't -- I can't comment on the particulars of it, because we don't have a -- a Privacy Act waiver for them.

Q On Israel, it's been reported that Ehud Barak is going to present some sort of compromise to your Mideast peace envoy tomorrow, at their meeting, that reportedly would have some sort of three-six- month freeze on new constructions.

Is that acceptable? Is that dead in the water? Does it go far enough or too far?

MR. KELLY: Well, as you probably know, defense Minister Ehud Barak is going to meet with Special Envoy Mitchell in New York tomorrow morning.

Of course, we've been working with all the parties, to try and come up with an environment conducive to the resumption of negotiations. And we look forward to sitting down and talking about what we can do, to move this process forward. But let's see what -- I'm not going to prejudge what happens tomorrow. Let's see -- this is tomorrow morning they're going to meet.

Q In the past, the secretary and others, including the president, have said that they would accept no settlement growth. And they've put a full stop at the end of that. It doesn't sound like you're saying that now.

MR. KELLY: What I'm saying is that in order to create this environment that I talked about, that would be conducive to the resumption of negotiations, both Israel and the Palestinians need to comply with their obligations under the road map. And both sides know exactly what that means.

For the Palestinians, it means ending incitement to violence against Israel and demonstrating an ability to provide security. For Israel, it means a stop to settlements, which is laid out very specifically in the road map. A freeze on all activity relating to settlements, including natural growth, is what it says in the road map.

Q No compromise is really acceptable then in this.

MR. KELLY: Well, you know, inherent in the word negotiation is of course sitting down and finding what one side -- you know, what the other side wants, and then working out a way to come to a resolution that leads to our goal of a lasting peace in the Middle East.

I'm not going to say we're -- you know, we're not willing to compromise or -- I mean, let's just see what happens.

Q And then one other question on Israel, that Human Rights Watch has put out a report faulting Israel for using precision drone attacks that resulted in civisual -- civilian casualties in Gaza earlier this year. Do you have any reaction to that, please?

MR. KELLY: I haven't seen that, actually, that report. I think in general, of course, we've been calling on all sides to avoid actions that would lead to more tension. And -- but beyond that I don't really have any comment.


Q Another question on Iran. I might've missed the answer on this, but did the United States deny a visa to a first vice president of Iran to attend the meeting of the United Nations last week, as their mission claimed?

MR. KELLY: I think the short answer to that is "no." But we do have more information that we can give you -- I mean, some more details on that. I just -- and I'd -- never mind, I do have that. Hold on a second.

We're aware of the statement of Iran's U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, where he said that the first vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran was denied a visa. We did receive a large number of applications to this U.N. Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development.

On June 16th, however, the Iranian mission requested that we return the passports, including Vice President Davoudi's, without visas. Late on June 23rd, the applications for a large Davoudi delegation were submitted too late to be processed for a conference that began the next day, on June 24th. In addition, the department did expedite the processing and issuance of visas for a smaller delegation, led by Foreign Minister Mottaki. All in all, seven visas were granted for that.


Q Just on Iraq, with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from major Iraqi cities tomorrow, our report on the ground in Mosul is saying the military there is keeping six U.S. military posts inside the city due to recent tensions between the Kurdish and Arab communities in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

Is your understanding that the agreement is to pull back from all the major cities within Iraq? Is that how -- how you -- are there any exceptions to that, as far as you know?

MR. KELLY: Well, as far as I know, the agreement is very clear: June 30th, U.S. forces pull out of -- out of urban areas. And we're -- we are very committed to fulfilling the terms of that agreement.

Regarding this specific instance, I'm not aware. But of course, we -- we want to do what's right by Iraq. We'll have to look into this specific instance. It may even be a question for the Pentagon and not for us.

Okay. Thank you.

Q There's one more.

MR. KELLY: Oh, Kirit's got one more. Okay.

Q Somebody was asking about earlier, but it goes back to that report of Kim Jong Il's son traveling to China with a military delegation and what you thought of that. I know you're looking for a sort of confirmation of that from the Chinese --

MR. KELLY: No, I've just seen press reports on it, but I don't have any -- any confirmation of it.


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