Search This Blog


White Press Office Feed

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Former U.S. Soccer National Team Coaches and Players to Travel to Morocco for Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 19, 2012
Building on efforts to empower women and girls through sports, the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Soccer announced today former U.S. Women’s National Team players and coaches will travel to Morocco as Sports Envoys April 22-28, 2012. These Sports Envoys are a key component of the Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative, which aims to increase the number of women and girls worldwide who are involved in sports.

While in Morocco, former U.S. Women’s National Team assistant coach Lesle Gallimore and players Angela Hucles and Marian Dalmy will lead clinics focused on soccer skills and sports psychology for 40 female coaches from the region. They will also partner with the coaches from Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia to conduct soccer clinics with local female soccer players. In addition, the Sports Envoys will lead discussions about the importance of women’s sports and Title IX, the landmark U.S. law that defined equal opportunity.

The Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools – in this case, the game of soccer – to bring people together and foster understanding.

In March, Amanda Cromwell and former U.S. Women’s National Team coach Lauren Gregg traveled to Argentina while Siri Mullinix and Lorrie Fair traveled to Venezuela as Sports Envoys. In addition, the U.S. Women’s National Team participated in a clinic with young female athletes in Japan on March 27 prior to their friendly match against the Japanese Women’s National Soccer Team. In February, former U.S. National Team players Danielle Slaton and Tony Sanneh traveled to Malaysia with Cheryl Bailey, the former general manager of the U.S. Women's National Team.

SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ division devoted to sports diplomacy programs at the U.S. Department of State. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought more than 900 athletes from 58 countries to the United States to participate in Sports Visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent more than 200 U.S. athletes to over 50 countries to participate in Sports Envoy programs.


President Barack Obama participates in a roundtable with unemployed workers who are students in Lorain County Community College job training programs, at Lorain Community College in Elyria, Ohio, April 18, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama was in Elyria, Ohio today where he met with students at Lorain County Community College. The President was there to talk about the Administration’s job training initiatives to help more Americans get back to work and connect unemployed Americans with the skills training they need to find jobs in high-demand, high-growth industries, including the Community College to Career Fund. He told the students that taking classes at community colleges and getting new skills doesn't just benefit students and their future employers but adds economic value to the entire region:

Investing in a community college, just like investing in a new road or a new highway or broadband lines that go into rural communities, these investments are not part of some grand scheme to redistribute wealth. They’ve been made by Democrats and Republicans for generations because they benefit all of us. That's what leads to strong, durable economic growth. That's how America became an economic superpower. That's how we built the Transcontinental Railroad. That's why we’ve got the best universities and colleges in the world. That's why we have cutting-edge research that takes place here, and that then gets translated into new jobs and new businesses, because somebody did the groundwork.  We created a foundation for those of us to prosper.

When you take classes at a community college like this one and you learn the skills that you need to get a job right away, that does not just benefit you; it benefits the company that ends up hiring and profiting from your skills.  It makes the entire region stronger economically.  It makes this country stronger economically.
In this country, prosperity does not trickle down; prosperity grows from the bottom up.  And it grows from a strong middle class out.  That’s how we grow this economy.


Panetta, Clinton Discuss Diplomatic, Defense Policies
By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, April 19, 2012 - The world is full of threats, and the United States must be prepared for them, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview yesterday.

Blitzer traveled to a NATO meeting in Brussels with Panetta and interviewed the defense secretary and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Panetta said he is concerned about North Korea, Iran, Syria and the turmoil in the Middle East. Beyond that, he added, he also worries about threats posed by cyber war, weapons of mass destruction and rising powers. "All of those things are threats that the United States faces in today's world," he said.

On Syria, Clinton said the U.S. goal is to see Bashir al-Assad's government stop killing its own people.

"The goal right now is if the Assad regime were to say, 'OK, we agree, we're going to do everything that [United Nations envoy] Kofi Annan asks us to do,' that will be our focus -- not some future, maybe unlikely, outcome in terms of criminal accountability," she said. "What I'm interested in is 'Let's stop the violence and let's start the political transition.'"
The United States stands ready to do what the international community decides on Syria, she added.

The administration has taken a firm stand on North Korea and the provocative behavior of its new ruler Kim Jong Un, Panetta said. "We're within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world," he said. "And you just have to be very careful about what we say and what we do."

The U.S. alliance with South Korea is strong, Panetta said, and more than 28,000 U.S. service members are based in the country, providing a tangible example of U.S. commitment to peace in Northeast Asia.

Provocations such as North Korea's recent failed rocket launch and threats of testing a nuclear weapon should stop, Panetta said. "The fact is it was provocative, and we have made it very clear to them that they should not take any additional, provocative actions," he said.

The defense secretary stressed that this is not just a U.S. wish, but that the international community wants North Korea to end its provocations.


Remarks for 12th Annual Global Travel and Tourism Summit
Press Statement Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Washington, DC
April 19, 2012
Good morning, everyone. I am delighted to send greetings to you as you discuss new ways to lead this dynamic industry through these exciting and challenging times.
The United States and Japan enjoy a strong partnership based on a history of shared experiences, common values and ties of family and friends. This partnership is as strong as ever today. We’ve worked closely with you during the past year to help rebuild after the tragic events of last March. Japan has helped so many people around the world during their own crises and catastrophes and I want to express my appreciation to all of you for meeting in Japan and spreading the message that Japan is indeed open for business, including tourism.

More than one billion people will travel around the world this year. They will help our economies grow and support new areas of cooperation. At the State Department, we’re working to support tourism through student exchanges, study abroad opportunities and our visa waiver program. We, too, want the world to know that America is open for business, tourism and investment.

We are keeping America safe while welcoming visitors who add to our nation's culture and economy. As government and industry leaders, we need to look toward the future, and continue to harness the forces of change. So, I can’t wait to hear about what new ideas you come up with at this conference, because travel and tourism have the power to build new bridges, broaden our understanding, and make our world a safer, more prosperous, peaceful place. Thank you all very much.


UN Security Council Presidential Statement on Guinea-Bissau
Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations New York, N YApril 21, 2012
NOTE: This is issued in the United States’ capacity as president of the UN Security Council
The Security Council recalls its Press Statement SC/10607 of 13 April 2012 and reiterates its strong condemnation of the military coup by the military leadership and political elements in Guinea-Bissau, thereby undermining the conclusion of the legitimate presidential electoral process.

The Security Council rejects the unconstitutional establishment of a Transitional National Council by the military leadership and its supporters.

The Security Council demands the immediate restoration of the constitutional order as well as the reinstatement of the legitimate government of Guinea-Bissau. The Security Council further demands the immediate and unconditional release of the interim President Raimundo Pereira, Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and all officials currently detained in order to enable the completion of the presidential and legislative elections. In this regard, the Council welcomes the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council to suspend, with immediate effect, Guinea-Bissau from the African Union (AU) until the effective restoration of constitutional order.

The Security Council underlines the need to ensure the safety and security of those detained and that those responsible for violent and illegal acts must be held accountable.
The Security Council is deeply concerned by reports of violent repression of peaceful demonstrations, looting, restriction of freedom of movement, the arbitrary detention of civilians and demands their release. The Council calls on the military leadership to release information on the number of arrests and the names and whereabouts of those arrested and further calls upon the military to protect human rights including the rights to freedom of movement, peaceful assembly and expression.

The Security Council welcomes and supports the active engagement and measures undertaken by the AU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), and encourages the coordination of these efforts for the immediate restoration of the constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.

The Security Council urges Guinea-Bissau’s partners to further strengthen these efforts and requests the Secretary General to support these endeavors, namely through his Special Representatives.

The Council stands ready to consider possible further measures, including targeted sanctions against the perpetrators and supporters of the military coup, should the situation remain unresolved.

The Security Council takes note of the AU’s decision to initiate consultations with ECOWAS, the CPLP, the United Nations and other partners on possible additional means necessary for the stabilization of the country, in consultation with the legitimate government of Guinea-Bissau.

The Council requests the Secretary General to keep it informed on developments in Guinea-Bissau and to submit a report by 30 April 2012, concerning the reestablishment of the constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.

The Security Council stresses that the recurrence of illegal interference of the military in politics contributes to the persistence of instability and a culture of impunity, and hampers efforts towards consolidation of the rule of law, implementation of Security Sector Reform, promotion of development and entrenchment of a democratic culture. In this regard, the Council welcomes the efforts of the Peacebuilding Commission Country Specific Configuration and of the Angolan bilateral Mission (MISSANG) in pursuit of peace and stability in the country.

The members of the Security Council emphasize the need to uphold and respect the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Guinea-Bissau.
The Security Council will remain actively seized of the matter.


U.S.-North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (NAPEO) Economic Ministers Policy Dialogue
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 20, 2012
Under the auspices of the U.S.-North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (NAPEO), Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment Robert D. Hormats, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Elizabeth L. Dibble, and Special Representative for Global Partnerships Kris Balderston met April 20 with Ministers from Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia, as well as with the Ambassador of Libya to the United States, on the margins of the Spring Meeting of the World Bank Group.

Maghreb Ambassadors in the United States and other representatives from the U.S. Department of State joined the dialogue to highlight economic issues of mutual interest, including creating policy environments for job creation, promoting public-private partnerships, regional competitiveness, financing for new businesses, and cross-border business opportunities in the Maghreb. The dialogue also focused on the U.S. commitment to overall economic engagement and partnership with the region, following Secretary Clinton’s recent travel to Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

One of the main objectives of NAPEO is to create a public-private network that encourages American private sector companies and organizations to increase their involvement in the Maghreb region. NAPEO represents a vehicle by which its members in the United States and in North Africa can identify, initiate, and sustain locally-driven projects that foster economic opportunity (especially for youth), regional integration, entrepreneurship, a positive business climate, and skills training. The Partnership aims to positively impact thousands of youth in the Maghreb and to build 250 cross-border partnerships in the next 5 years that increase links between the United States and the Maghreb.

NAPEO is a regional initiative within Partners for a New Beginning (PNB), a global alliance of public-private partnerships led by Coca-Cola Company CEO Muhtar Kent, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Aspen Institute, and other prominent American business and civil society leaders committed to deepening engagement between the United States and local communities abroad.


New Iran Sanctions Committee Designations
Press Statement Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 20, 2012
The United States welcomes the important actions taken by the UN Security Council’s 1737 Committee.
On April 18 the 1737 Committee imposed sanctions on two individuals and one entity found to be involved in an intercepted arms shipment from 2010. All three of these targets are linked to the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which provides support to Iran’s proliferation activities, as well as much of Iran's support to global terrorism. As a result of these sanctions, these targets will have their assets frozen and the individuals will be subject to both an asset freeze and a travel ban.
These designations demonstrate the unity of the international community and a clear resolve to hold Iran accountable for its actions and prevent entities and individuals from assisting Iran in evading UN sanctions.


To celebrate its 22nd anniversary in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope has released a dramatic new image of the star-forming region 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula because its glowing filaments resemble spider legs. A new image from all three of NASA's Great Observatories - Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer - has also been created to mark the event.

30 Doradus is located in the neighboring galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud, and is one of the largest star-forming regions located close to the Milky Way . At the center of 30 Doradus, thousands of massive stars are blowing off material and producing intense radiation along with powerful winds. The Chandra X-ray Observatory detects gas that has been heated to millions of degrees by these stellar winds and also by supernova explosions. These X-rays, colored blue in this composite image, come from shock fronts -- similar to sonic booms -- formed by this high-energy stellar activity.

The Hubble data in the composite image, colored green, reveals the light from these massive stars along with different stages of star birth including embryonic stars a few thousand years old still wrapped in cocoons of dark gas. Infrared emission from Spitzer, seen in red, shows cooler gas and dust that have giant bubbles carved into them. These bubbles are sculpted by the same searing radiation and strong winds that comes from the massive stars at the center of 30 Doradus.

Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI; Infrared: NASA/JPL/PSU/L.Townsley et al.


Dr. Jose Centeno, director of the Joint Pathology Center's Biophysical Toxicology and Depleted Uranium/Embedded Metal Fragment Laboratories, demonstrates the variety of shrapnel pieces removed from service members and veterans. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk
Laboratory Analyzes Shrapnel to Look for Uranium
By Terri Moon Cronk
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md., April 19, 2012 - Military doctors here are examining shrapnel taken from service members and veterans, looking for depleted uranium and other metals.
Biophysical Toxicology and Depleted Uranium/Embedded Metal Fragment Laboratories branch is analyzing the embedded fragments and providing second opinions at military and Veterans Affairs medical centers to treat those who had retained shrapnel.
"Our goal is to improve the care of wounded warriors," said Army Col. (Dr.) Thomas Baker, interim director of the Joint Pathology Center, the umbrella organization for the lab.

"We advise [doctors] how to follow up and what treatment is needed" to mitigate the potential effects of uranium and other metals, he said.
The lab analyzes all combat-associated metal fragments taken from DOD personnel that might pose a long-term health risk, such as depleted uranium, which can contribute to kidney damage over time, Baker explained. The lab also develops laboratory capabilities in metal toxicology to support the Defense Department, The Pathology Center and VA and Army programs that require exposure assessment to depleted uranium, embedded fragment analysis and analysis of certain metal alloys, officials said.

The only one of its kind in the United States, Baker said, the lab keeps a registry of the fragments for future re-evaluation. The register now includes 600 specimens.
The lab also has the only diagnostic equipment in the nation that can detect where the uranium originates in the body, noted Dr. Jose Centeno, the lab's director.

A wide range of materials are packed in improvised explosive devices, the doctors said.
The metal fragments and alloys the labs analyze comprise common metals and alloys of steel, aluminum, copper and brass. Depleted uranium is contained in some fragments, the doctors said, noting that shrapnel specimens are tested in triplicate for accuracy.
Concerns about tainted fragments began in 1993 following the Gulf War, when evidence arose of kidney damage from uranium, the doctors said.

For 18 years, 75 volunteers have participated in a study as part of the depleted uranium program, Baker said. All but one, an Iraq War veteran, served in the Gulf War, said Centeno, a physical chemist with a background in the toxicology of metals.
While many service members and veterans have retained fragments because of high risks removing them would pose, Baker said, some alloys such as depleted uranium are not safe to leave in the body. Because of that potential risk, DOD and VA have comprehensive programs to reach troops and veterans for testing, he added.

Baker said service members and veterans who carry shrapnel but haven't sought medical care should seek advice from a doctor or call the Baltimore VA Medical Center, which works with the laboratories here.

"Anybody with an embedded fragment who hasn't been followed up or hasn't seen a physician should [do so] ... and talk to them to discuss their risks," he said.


U.S. Humanitarian Aid Reaching Syria and Neighboring Countries
Fact Sheet Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 20, 2012
The United States is pursuing every avenue to get humanitarian relief to those affected by the violence in Syria and is engaged in focused diplomatic efforts to secure full and unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to reach those in need. The United States is providing an additional $8 million in humanitarian assistance to support the people of Syria, bringing the total amount of U.S. emergency aid to nearly $33 million to date for this crisis. Our assistance is through international and non-governmental humanitarian partners, including:

$10.5 million to the World Food Program (WFP);
$8.5 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);
$7.8 million to non-governmental organizations (NGOs);
$3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); and
$3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Within Syria:
The number of displaced Syrians is estimated at approximately 300,000. Many of these individuals and other vulnerable and besieged communities have received U.S. assistance in the form of medical supplies and other humanitarian relief. Humanitarian assistance is provided on the basis of need, not political affiliation, and is being distributed to the most vulnerable through international and non-governmental organizations. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is providing substantial assistance to Syrians and other civilians at great risk. Sixty thousand people in several governorates, including Homs, Lattakia, Dara'a and Rural Damascus, have received food and other essentials over the last two weeks from the SARC, with ICRC support. ICRC has established teams inside Syria to more efficiently deliver assistance to those who need it most. The ICRC provided the SARC branches in Damascus, Rural Damascus, Idlib and Homs with enough medical supplies to treat 200 casualties. Additionally, 2,000 displaced persons will benefit from improved water and sanitation at 10 public buildings in Homs. UN and NGO partners are delivering critical medical services and food, water, blankets, hygiene kits, and heaters.

Non-Syrian refugee populations within Syria are suffering from economic disruption related to the current situation, including 500,000 Palestinian refugees and 100,000 Iraqi refugees who have traditionally enjoyed government protection in Syria. Vulnerable refugee populations within Syria are receiving food and cash assistance, emergency health care, water, sanitation, and educational support through partners with U.S. government funding.

In March, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a special alert voicing serious concern over the state of food security, especially for vulnerable groups.
Over 100,000 people affected by the civil conflict in 11 governorates in Syria are receiving food assistance from the World Food Program (WFP) with U.S. government support, reaching up to 250,000 Syrians in April. The WFP operation provides rations to displaced Syrians and host families, households that have lost breadwinners or livelihoods, and other food-insecure families. Several hard hit areas within the governorates remain inaccessible due to insecurity or government restrictions.

In Neighboring Countries:
We recognize the generosity of the Governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq, who have kept their borders open and are hosting and providing assistance to those fleeing the violence in Syria.

As of April 19, there were approximately:
23,700 Syrians in Turkey;
22,000 Syrians in Lebanon;
14,400 Syrians in Jordan; and
2,400 Syrians in Iraq.

As of April 15, UNHCR has provided almost 34,000 blankets, 10,000 bed mats and 5,100 family tents in response to the arrival of displaced Syrians in Turkey and the earthquake in Van. Additionally, UNHCR is providing technical assistance on protection issues including camp management, voluntary repatriation, and registration to the Government of Turkey. The Turkish government’s humanitarian assistance provided through the Turkish Red Crescent exceeds international standards.

In Lebanon, 3,000 people received food and hygiene kits from UNHCR and the Danish Refugee Council, with the help of local municipalities and charities. NGOs have rehabilitated the homes of 29 host families in Lebanon by providing cash grants; and have rehabilitated one collective center, with 18 more collective centers in the process of being upgraded. Additional homes and collective centers have also been identified for future rehabilitation, to better enable sheltering of displaced Syrians. ICRC and the Lebanese Red Cross have provided medical training to a number of hospitals.

In Jordan, nearly 2,600 individuals received out-patient health services through UNHCR and its implementing partners since April 1, 2011. Three clinics, in the cities where most Syrians are located, provide free health services to vulnerable Syrians. Additionally mobile medical units travel to reach newly arrived Syrian populations in need of urgent medical attention. Almost 400 Syrian families have received non-food items, such as blankets, mattresses, cooking sets and other items. Syrians arriving at the Ramtha facility in northern Jordan receive hot meals from WFP.

In Iraq, the Government of Iraq has opened a new camp for Syrians fleeing the violence. As of April 15, UNHCR and IOM provided 104 families with non-food items, such as blankets, mattresses, cooking sets, and other items.


Press Gaggle by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, after Security Council Consultations on Syria, April 20, 2012
Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations New York, NY April 20, 2012
Ambassador Rice: We had a working session as you know. It lasted—what, three hours? Three and a half hours? And out of it has emerged an ad ref text that various Council members will send back to their capitals for instructions. If Council members are in a position to vote, we are aiming to do so tomorrow around 11. It’s possible that not everybody will have instructions at that point. It’s possible that there will not be an agreed text at that point. We’ll see, and we’ll re-group accordingly. So, I regret to say we’ll see you for a second consecutive Saturday.

Reporter: Does the U.S. support the compromises that were made?

Ambassador Rice: The U.S. will take the text back to Washington and review it
carefully, and we’ll come to our final judgment.

Reporter: And those compromise are the SG will only have to certify a reduction in
violence not the withdrawal of the Syrian forces?

Ambassador Rice: There’s no certification.

Reporter: Verify.

Ambassador Rice: There’s no certification—I mean you all have the text. You’ll be able to study it, and I think you’ll be able to see.

Reporter: But he has to give an assessment—excuse me—on whether the violence has sufficiently decreased to a deployed amount whereas before he had to also say—
Ambassador Rice: Joe, read the text.

Reporter: I don’t have it.

Ambassador Rice: You missed it. It was just handed out by the French.

Reporter: Just a few copies.

Reporter: Is (inaudible) going to have independent air support or they going to rely on the Syrian?

Ambassador Rice: That’s not resolved between the UN and Syria.

Reporter: Madame Ambassador, what’s—after all these hours of negotiations, does the U.S. think progress is made? I mean this has been quite fast. Very fast. Progress in getting the whole council behind a resolution?

Ambassador Rice: I mean, I think we’ll know tomorrow when people have their instructions. I don’t want to presume that. We have an ad ref text that is by definition the product of extensive negotiations. I think we ought to let each capital make its judgment about whether to vote for it.

Reporter: Are you sending the observers immediately after the vote?

Ambassador Rice: It’ll be the UN that sends the observers, so that would be a question for the Secretary General.

Reporter: See you tomorrow morning.

Ambassador Rice: See you tomorrow.


Brazil-U.S. Global Partnership Dialogue (Brasilia, April 16th 2012) Joint Communiqué
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 18, 2012
he following is the text of a joint communiqué on Brazil-U.S. Global Partnership Dialogue.
Begin Text:
Minister of External Relations Antonio de Aguiar Patriota and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted the 2012 Global Partnership Dialogue (GPD) on April 16 to review the state of our bilateral relationship following the successful April 9-10 visit of President Dilma Rousseff to the United States, and to highlight the considerable progress in the development of our joint cooperation since the last GPD was held in June 2011. The Participants also noted with satisfaction the important role of the GPD in the formation of the Brazil-U.S. partnership for the 21st century. They agreed that the GPD is an increasingly important mechanism for advancing our bilateral cooperation and promoting shared interests around the world. Minister Patriota and Secretary Clinton also reviewed the progress of several other bilateral dialogues, including the October 2011 Economic Partnership Dialogue; the February 2012 U.S.-Brazil Management Committee to Advance Cooperation on Biofuels; the August 2011 and March 2012 meetings of the Dialogue on the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction; the February 2012 Political-Military Dialogue; the March 2012 Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology; the March 2012 Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Dialogue; and the April 2012 Space Security Dialogue.

They stressed that several initiatives fostered at the 2011 GPD moved forward during President Rousseff’s visit to Washington, such as the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Aviation Partnership, the Memorandum of Understanding for Technical Cooperation Activities to Enhance Food Security in Third Countries, and the announcement of concrete initiatives to promote the increased flow of goods and travelers between both countries. The participants underscored that academic and research collaboration is a priority between our two countries, and that the U.S. goal of “100,000 Strong in the Americas” complements Brazil’s “Science without Borders” program. They celebrated the successful implementation of the Action Plan on Education, with hundreds of Science without Borders students already studying in the United States. The participants also welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on State and Local Cooperation during the Presidential visit.

The 2012 GPD was preceded by high-level discussions on bilateral and international issues. Working groups met on Africa; Latin America; economic and commercial issues; science, technology, innovation, and the environment; internet communication and cyber-related issues; and education and culture. In addition, GPD participants met to discuss issues related to social inclusion.

They expressed satisfaction with the enhanced bilateral cooperation under the Joint Commission on Science and Technology, and welcomed the establishment of a working group on innovation. They also noted the mutual commitment to deepen cooperation and collaboration on a range of issues, including oceans, space, biotechnology, health, nanotechnology, and disaster management. They reviewed Secretary Clinton’s announcement of her intention to send an Innovation Delegation, comprised of entrepreneurs, university representatives, and senior government officials, to Brazil.

They also welcomed the establishment of a new dialogue mechanism on Internet and information and communication technologies (ICT)-related issues such as Internet governance, Internet public policy, cybersecurity, and ICT and telecommunications policy. Participants agreed to hold a first interagency "whole of government" discussion in the second half of 2012 to address the priority issue of Internet governance and cooperation on other Internet policy matters, with plans to hold other discussions over the course of the year.

They underlined education and innovation as key factors in promoting social inclusion, competitiveness, and economic growth. They supported efforts to include American community colleges and students enrolled in the Brazilian Federal Professional and Technological Education Network in the Science without Borders and 100,000 Strong in the Americas programs. They also welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States under the U.S. –Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality.

The parties agreed to deepen the dialogue that links education, scientific research, and innovation through the Fulbright-Science without Borders Scholar and Distinguished Chair Awards. They also agreed to intensify dialogue with U.S. agencies that conduct scientific research, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as with private sector companies and associations, to explore ways they could further support the Science without Borders and 100,000 Strong in the Americas programs.

The Participants emphasized the importance of the mutual benefits of stimulating increased investment and trade. In this context, they welcomed the creation of a dialogue on investment during the Presidential visit. They also committed to work closely together to satisfy the requirements of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program and Brazil’s applicable legislation to enable U.S. and Brazilian citizens visa free travel.

The Participants noted that strengthening cultural exchanges is a joint priority for both the United States and Brazil, and agreed to facilitate musical collaborations and exchanges between our two countries. Activities could be centered in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Salvador, Bahia - cities that are emblematic of the rich musical traditions of our countries - and feature performances by Brazilian and American musical groups, workshops, youth programs, and social media. Another partnership priority will be to explore showcasing Brazilian and American musical groups in third countries, possibly Haiti and Mozambique.
They announced their intention to pursue increased dialogue and cooperation on security and in the fight against transnational organized crime, and looked forward to exchanging experiences and intensifying collaboration on this matter. In furtherance of this objective, they welcomed the upcoming visit of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Assistant Secretary William Brownfield to Brazil to meet with counterparts.

The GPD participants supported an intensified dialogue on regional discussions to include exchanges on the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and East Asia and the Pacific. Recognizing the importance of regular dialogue on shared interests in these regions, the Participants committed to hold discussions later in 2012.
The participants, recognizing shared values and objectives, agreed on the importance of maintaining an open dialogue on Africa to expand the successful existing trilateral cooperation and to exchange views on political developments to identify common contributions to help achieve peace, stability, and sustainable economic development in the region. The Participants also identified new areas for trilateral cooperation in the agricultural and energy sectors.

The Participants welcomed the beginning of a trilateral partnership with the Government of Haiti to improve agriculture practices and technologies. The Participants agreed to cooperate on the Domestic Finance for Development (DF4D) initiative coordinated with specialized Brazilian public institutions to promote effective fiscal management and transparency in third countries, including in Africa. Further, the Participants agreed to expand cooperation in agricultural technology in third countries, with special emphasis on Central America and Lusophone Africa, and to work towards an instrument which will reflect their agreement to work on regulatory cooperation and public outreach, among others. Noting ongoing activities in Africa and Haiti, the Participants expressed their interest in expanding joint trilateral cooperation in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as other parts of the world.

The Participants reaffirmed the intent of both countries to continue to cooperate with Haiti in order to promote its economic and social development. In order to spur new public-private partnerships for Haiti’s energy sector, they committed to work with the Government of Haiti on design and implementation of its national energy plan, including its plans to modernize Haiti’s electric utility and harness renewable energy sources, like the Artibonite 4C hydroelectric plant, to power Haiti’s future development. The Participants reiterated their commitment to Haiti’s security and agreed to pursue partnerships to build the capacity of the Haitian National Police.

The Participants took stock of the progress achieved under the Memorandum of Understanding on the Advancement of Women and under the Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality over the last year, including a new focus on ways our governments and private sector will collaborate to create economic opportunities and career training for historically marginalized and vulnerable ethnic groups, women, and youth in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic games. They also expressed their joint commitment to seek new ways to promote additional collaboration on LGBT issues in human rights multilateral fora.

The Participants exchanged views on the recent Summit of the Americas, held in Cartagena, Colombia. They highlighted the important contribution of the existing sub-regional and regional processes to the economic and social development of the Americas. Minister Patriota and Secretary Clinton also stressed the importance of the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil as an opportunity to promote sustainable development through innovation and broad stakeholder engagement.


he Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Mississippi (SSN 782) transits the Thames River during sea trials. Mississippi is the ninth Virginia Class attack submarine. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Jeffrey

Future USS Mississippi Successfully Passes Sea Trials, On Track for Summer Commissioning
From Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs
GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Pre-Commissioning Unit Mississippi (SSN 782), the nation's newest and most advanced nuclear-powered attack submarine, arrived April 17 at General Dynamics Electric Boat following its successful completion of Alpha and Bravo sea trials.

Testing evolutions completed during Alpha sea trials included diving to test depth, conducting an emergency surfacing, and testing the submarine's propulsion plant and were designed to evaluate the ship's seaworthiness and operational performance.

"With each Virginia-class submarine delivery, we continue to raise the performance and quality even further above an already high bar. Our first look at Mississippi's performance underway shows that she has continued that trend," said Virginia Class Program Manager Rear Adm. (sel.) Michael Jabaley, who rode the ship during Alpha Trials.

Bravo trials consisted of testing Virginia's acoustic performance and combat systems.

The ninth ship of the Virginia-class, Mississippi is on track to deliver up to one year early of its contract delivery date. All Virginia-class submarines currently under construction are scheduled to deliver earlier than their original contract delivery dates.

Mississippi is commanded by Neptune, N.J., native Capt. John McGrath, who shared the experience of seeing his crew successfully operating his ship at sea for the first time.

"It was an exhilarating experience to finally see the crew operate the ship at sea. The sea trials schedule was extremely challenging and required us to drive the ship at its operational limits. I was very happy with the ship's performance, but I was even happier with how our Sailors executed their duties throughout the underway," said McGrath.

Mississippi's sponsor Allison Stiller christened the ninth Virginia-class submarine during a ceremony at General Dynamics Electric Boat, Dec. 3. Mississippi will be commissioned in Pascagoula, Miss. June 2.

Construction on the submarine began in February 2007. Virginia-class submarines are built under a unique teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News.

Virginia-class submarines are designed to dominate the world's littoral and deep waters while conducting Anti-submarine; anti-surface ship; strike; special operation forces; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Their inherent stealth, endurance, firepower, and sensor suite directly enable them to support five of the six Maritime Strategy Core Capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.


VA to Increase Mental Health Staff by Nearly 10 Percent
April 19, 2012 by Brandon Friedman
In an effort to decrease wait times for Veterans in need of mental health care, VA will soon increase its mental health staff by 1,900. This will represent nearly a 10 percent increase in mental health staff across the Department.
As you read the full announcement below, one thing to note is that this increase is not necessarily final. VA will continue to evaluate the needs of our Veterans on an ongoing basis and the Department will add staff as needed.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki today announced that the department would add approximately 1,600 mental health clinicians – to include nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers as well as nearly 300 support staff to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff as part of an ongoing review of mental health operations.

“As the tide of war recedes, we have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to anticipate the needs of returning Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “History shows that the costs of war will continue to grow for a decade or more after the operational missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended. As more Veterans return home, we must ensure that all Veterans have access to quality mental health care.”

VA’s ongoing comprehensive review of mental health operations has indicated that some VA facilities require more mental health staff to serve the growing needs of Veterans. VA is moving quickly to address this top priority. Based on this model for team delivery of outpatient mental health services, plus growth needs for the Veterans Crisis Line and anticipated increase in Compensation and Pension/Integrated Disability Evaluation System exams, VA projected the additional need for 1,900 clinical and clerical mental health staff at this time. As these increases are implemented, VA will continue to assess staffing levels.
“Mental health services must be closely aligned with Veterans’ needs and fully integrated with health care facility operations,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel. “Improving access to mental health services will help support the current and future Veterans who depend on VA for these vital services.”

VA will allocate funds from the current budget to all 21 Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) across the country this month to begin recruitment immediately. Under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Shinseki, VA has devoted more people, programs, and resources toward mental health services to serve the growing number of Veterans seeking mental health care from VA. Last year, VA provided specialty mental health services to 1.3 million Veterans. Since 2009, VA has increased the mental health care budget by 39 percent. Since 2007, VA has seen a 35 percent increase in the number of Veterans receiving mental health services, and a 41 percent increase in mental health staff.

VA has enhanced services by integrating mental health care into the primary care setting, developed an extensive suicide prevention program, and increased the number of Veterans Readjustment Counseling Centers (Vet Centers). VA’s Veteran Crisis Line has received more than 600,000 calls resulting in over 21,000 rescues of Veterans in immediate crisis.“The mental health of America’s Veterans not only touches those of us at VA and the Department of Defense, but also families, friends, co-workers, and people in our communities,” said Petzel. “We ask that you urge Veterans in your communities to reach out and connect with VA services.”


Washington, D.C., April 19, 2012 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a Chicago-based securities dealer affiliated with online brokerage firm optionsXpress with violating the registration provisions of the securities laws when it continued trading operations after delisting from the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and deregistering with the SEC, apparently to avoid an audit.

The SEC’s Division of Enforcement instituted administrative proceedings against OX Trading LLC, optionsXpress, and their former CFO Thomas E. Stern, alleging that OX Trading operated as an unregistered dealer from October 2009 to November 2010 and illegally transacted in securities while not a member of a national securities association or national exchange from March 2009 to November 2010.

According to the SEC’s order, Stern terminated OX Trading’s membership with the CBOE and ended the firm’s broker-dealer registration with the SEC. Meanwhile, OX Trading quietly continued to conduct trading through a customer account at optionsXpress. Stern, who also was OX Trading’s chief compliance officer, later fabricated and backdated an allegedly exculpatory letter purporting to demonstrate that he had properly informed CBOE that OX Trading would deregister and become a customer of optionsXpress.

Earlier this week, the SEC charged optionsXpress and Stern for their roles in a naked short selling scheme.

“OptionsXpress, OX Trading, and Stern have displayed a profound disregard for regulators, compliance obligations, and the regulatory requirements that dealers must satisfy for the privilege of operating in our markets,” said Daniel M. Hawke, Chief of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit. “Registration of brokers and dealers is a fundamental part of the regulatory structure and provides the foundation upon which many other investor protections are built.”

According to the SEC’s order, OX Trading and optionsXpress became wholly-owned subsidiaries of The Charles Schwab Corporation in September 2011. OX Trading, which originally registered with the SEC in 2008, was created to provide price improvement on orders from optionsXpress customers and to profit from those trades. OX Trading received electronic requests for quotes (RFQs) from optionsXpress. These RFQs allowed OX Trading to determine whether it wanted to be the counterparty to an optionsXpress customer’s order. OX Trading allegedly made money when it traded as a counterparty to optionsXpress customer orders and hedged the positions created by those trades.

According to the SEC’s order, a CBOE examiner conveyed to Stern in early 2009 that OX Trading was required to have an annual audit based on its CBOE membership status. Despite CBOE’s request, Stern refused to pay for an audit and subsequently terminated OX Trading’s CBOE membership on March 2, 2009. Nonetheless, OX Trading continued to conduct the same trading through a customer portfolio margin account at optionsXpress. Stern did not inform the CBOE that OX Trading would continue its operations as a customer of optionsXpress. He later attempted to furnish the fabricated and backdated letter to SEC investigators in a phony attempt to prove otherwise.

According to the SEC’s order, after Stern was contacted by the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets, Stern filed a form with the SEC on Aug. 18, 2009, to deregister OX Trading as a broker-dealer. The deregistration became effective on Oct. 17, 2009. According to an internal e-mail sent by Stern, OX Trading “stalled as long as we could” in deregistering. OX Trading continued to trade through the customer portfolio margin account at optionsXpress.

The SEC’s Division of Enforcement alleges that CBOE identified the OX Trading customer account during an exam of optionsXpress in late 2009. CBOE requested an explanation about why OX Trading was not registered with the SEC as a broker-dealer. In an internal e-mail about CBOE’s request, Stern stated, “I am happy to spin this however it needs to be.” Stern then sent CBOE a letter containing numerous factual inaccuracies and no legal opinion or analysis about OX Trading’s registration status. CBOE sent Stern another letter in June 2010 informing him that it believed OX Trading was functioning as a dealer and needed to either cease operations or obtain a written opinion from the SEC confirming that OX Trading was not required to register. OX Trading did neither.

According to the SEC’s order, OX Trading eventually acquired a CBOE trading permit and registered again with the SEC effective Nov. 16, 2010.

As alleged in the SEC’s order, OX Trading violated Sections 15(a) and 15(b)(8) of the Exchange Act, and Stern and optionsXpress caused and willfully aided and abetted OX Trading’s violations.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Deborah Tarasevich, Jill Henderson, and Paul Kim. Market Surveillance Specialist Brian Shute and Market Abuse Trading Specialist Ainsley Fuhr provided assistance with the investigation. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Frederick Block.


History is Key Factor in Plant Disease Virulence
April 18, 2012
The virulence of plant-borne diseases depends on not just the particular strain of a pathogen, but on where the pathogen has been before landing in its host, according to new research results.
Scientists from the University of California System and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) published the results today in the journal PLoS ONE.

The study demonstrates that the pattern of gene regulation--how a cell determines which genes it will encode into its structure and how it will encode them--rather than gene make-up alone affects how aggressively a microbe will behave in a plant host.
The pattern of gene regulation is formed by past environments, or by an original host plant from which the pathogen is transmitted.

"If confirmed, this finding could add a key new dimension to how we look at microbes because their history is going to matter--and their history may be hard to reconstruct," said Matteo Garbelotto, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Berkeley and co-author of the paper.

Epigenetic factors--for example, gene regulation mechanisms controlled by diet or exposure to extreme environments--are well-known to affect the susceptibility of humans to some diseases.

The new study is the first to show a similar process for plant pathogens.
"Sudden oak death, for example, is one of many pathogens that seemingly came out of nowhere to ravage the forests of California," said Sam Scheiner, a director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) program, which funded the research.

"This study shows that such sudden emergence can happen through rapid evolution, and may provide clues for predicting future epidemics."

The EEID program is a joint effort of NSF and the National Institutes of Health. At NSF, it is supported by the Directorates for Biological Sciences and Geosciences.
Garbelotto said that other scientists hypothesized that gene regulation has an effect on plant pathogens, based on the evolutionary rates of portions of the genome that are known to have an effect on gene regulation.

"Our work provides the concrete evidence those hypotheses were correct," he said.
Researchers showed that genetically identical strains of the sudden oak death pathogen isolated from different plant hosts were strikingly different in their virulence and their ability to proliferate.

They also demonstrated that these traits were maintained long after they had been isolated from their hosts.

"We found that an identical strain placed in two different plant hosts will undergo distinct changes that will persistently affect the strain's virulence and fitness," said Takao Kasuga, a molecular geneticist with the USDA ARS and the lead author of the paper.
The implications for disease control are significant.

Scientists say that it may not be enough to know what strain of pathogens they are dealing with in order to make treatment decisions; it also may be necessary to know how the pathogen's genes are being regulated.

This study shows that gene regulation may be the result of the environments the strain inhabited before being identified.
Garbelotto uses a parallel example of a well-known human pathogen: particular strains of the H1N1 flu virus have been identified as highly virulent, so a diagnosis of one of these strains indicates to doctors that they should treat that flu aggressively.
"But, hypothetically, if you caught one of these aggressive strains of H1N1 from a guy that went to, for example, Paris, it could be 10 times more dangerous. You may never know from whom you got it, and it's even less likely that you'll be able to learn where your infector visited before passing the germ on to you."

In plants, Garbelotto said, tracking a pathogen's history may prove even more difficult.
Correct information could give scientists a new weapon to use against virulent strains of diseases like sudden oak death, which can devastate forests and the ecosystems that depend on them.

The researchers also identified two groups of genes that are capable of affecting virulence and whose expression patterns are indicative of the previous host species they inhabited.
Understanding the regulation of these genes may provide scientists with future approaches to control a disease, such as manipulating gene expression to artificially reduce the aggressiveness of plant pathogens.

While Garbelotto stresses that more study is needed, he says if the paper's findings are confirmed, it could influence not just treatment but policy as well.
"Most countries impose regulations on microbes based on their genetic make up--which ones can and can't cross state and international lines and how they must be transported," he said.

"Our findings suggest that when making regulatory policy, we may also need to identify gene expression levels and take into account the history of a microbe."
Co-authors of the paper include Melina Kozanitas and Daniel Huberli, also of UC Berkeley; Mai Bui of the USDA ARS; and David Rizzo, a plant pathologist at University of California, Davis.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Victoria Nuland
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 20, 2012

1:06 p.m. EDT
MS. NULAND: Happy Friday, everybody. I am sorry to be late. We had a lot more material than I expected and a more jetlagged me than I expected. Welcome, first and foremost, to American University students in the International Communications Program. We recently got a chance to talk over at AU. Happy to have you.

We have a couple things at the top before we get started. A nice, thin crowd. Looks like a lot of people have taken Friday off. Excellent.

QUESTION: We’re working on our figures here.

MS. NULAND: You’re working on our figures?

QUESTION: Our figures. Yes.


QUESTION: Okay. (Laughter.)

MS. NULAND: Never mind. (Laughter.) I notice that – so only one of you is working on your figure, or both of you? (Laughter.) I couldn’t help myself. (Laughter.) All right.
First, let me just advise that at the Syria Human Rights Forum in Geneva, Switzerland today, the U.S. Department of State and AID announced an additional $8 million in funding for those suffering from violence in Syria, bringing our total humanitarian assistance for Syria to nearly $33 million. And we will have a Fact Sheet later in the day or Monday on the totality of our humanitarian assistance to date.
Also I know that Mark briefed one of the days this week about our efforts in the walk-up to May 3rd UNESCO World Press Freedom Day that we are, every day between now and May 3rd, highlighting an individual human rights case on website.

Today’s case is the case of Dhondup Wangchen, who is a Tibetan filmmaker who was detained by Chinese authorities on March 8th on charges related to the production of his 25-minute documentary film titled, “Leaving Fear Behind.” He was reportedly beaten, deprived of food and sleep during his interrogation, and held incommunicado for a full year. You can see his full story on our website.
Let’s go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: Can we start with that Syrian aid? What is this money going toward? And then maybe afterwards you can explain what of that 33 million has gotten into Syria, how you get it in there, what challenges you’re facing.

MS. NULAND: Right. Well, Brad, let me say, first off, that when we release this Fact Sheet, which will update the one that we have currently on our website, it’ll be a little bit clearer with more details, including all of the organizations that we fund.

But just to remind that all of the U.S. humanitarian assistance goes through UN humanitarian organizations or NGOs. It funds food, medicine, shelter for those refugees and IDPs who we can get to, particularly those who are currently in Turkey, in Jordan, et cetera. But we’ll give you the whole rundown when you see the sheet; and if it’s still not clear, we’ll arrange a briefing.

QUESTION: So is this 33 million – this is separate from any communications, medical, and non-lethal aid?
MS. NULAND: Correct. Correct. There are two pots of support. The first is the humanitarian assistance that the Secretary has been talking about. The interesting thing was when we first started to think about humanitarian assistance for Syria, the question was: Could we get to the people in need? And we have very much been able to get to the people in need, both those who have already escaped Syria, but the international humanitarian organizations, to the extent that they have been able to operate in Syria, have already run through a lot of their money, which is why we keep giving more, because they continue to appeal for more. There is also a severe food shortage in parts of Syria, as we’ve talked about before, so we’re also supporting their effort to get high-nutritional items into Syria through the Red Crescent, et cetera.

QUESTION: And is there a monetary value on the non-lethal side?

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked a little bit about it. I think at the moment, we’re not prepared to break it down monetarily for a whole bunch of reasons, or to say more about it besides what the Secretary and Secretary Panetta and others have already said, that it’s primarily communications support, it is logistical support. And the reason for that is the one that we’ve stated before: We don’t want to endanger those who it goes to; we don’t want to make it easier to disrupt for those who don’t want to see it go in.

QUESTION: Well, fine, regarding the details of how it gets in and who it goes to. But why won’t you provide just kind of a ballpark figure so that we know the scale of this assistance?

MS. NULAND: Well, it’s been growing over time, and frankly, we are working with Congress as well on the totality of the program. So why don’t I pledge to get back to you a little bit next week as we can scope it a little bit better for you. Okay?
QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On the aid question, the humanitarian aid, I’m wondering if you have any sense of how much of the aid that you’re providing through these various UN and NGO organizations is actually getting into Syria itself. Is there a percentage that you are able to identify, like say 30 or 40 percent of it is actually reaching Syrians in Syria?

MS. NULAND: I think we do have those numbers handy, and I think they are going to be represented in this material that we’re going to put forward.


MS. NULAND: And if not, we will seek to do it. But I think it’s somewhere in the ballpark of half, I think.

MS. NULAND: But we’ll get you more.

QUESTION: Toria, you’re saying that not all this aid goes through the United Nations, correct? You’re saying some goes through some sort of NGOs?

MS. NULAND: Most of it goes through UN organizations. You’ll see it when we give you the outline.


MS. NULAND: It’s very – the factsheet very carefully outlines what’s through ICRC, what’s through the World Food Program, et cetera.

QUESTION: And is it all in cash or in money or is it in material?

MS. NULAND: It goes in a number of ways. Either we provide financial support to UN funds that purchase things that we agree on, or there is often excess supply that we give.

QUESTION: And finally on this issue regarding the aid, how do you vet – how do you – what kind of vetting process are the NGOs subject to? How do you know that they are not going to take this aid and sort of turn it around somehow, illicitly provide arms?

MS. NULAND: When you see the list, you will recognize every single name on there as a major international – internationally recognized organization. We’re not giving this to Uncle Joe who’s playing around.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton also, I believe, talk about the option of a humanitarian corridor. Is this one of the option how some of the aid will be delivered in Syria?

MS. NULAND: Secretary Clinton has not talked about that in particular. I think another foreign minister talked about that yesterday.

QUESTION: So that – it’s not -- so it’s not another option – this creating humanitarian corridor?

MS. NULAND: Our humanitarian support is either being, as I said, given to those who have already left Syria, or it is getting in through organizations that have been able to work in Syria.

QUESTION: After – week after the truce, today shelling is going on in Homs and it has been going on. And according to SANA regime – news agency – it’s about 18 regime soldiers also got killed in the south of Syria.
My question is: How do you assess today, a week later, how the ceasefire is holding up?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Secretary spoke to this quite clearly in Brussels on Wednesday, again in Paris yesterday. And the situation has not improved since she expressed our grave concerns about the ongoing violence, and made clear that we put the onus of the burden on the Assad regime to silence its guns, which clearly it has not done in Homs, in Idlib, and in other parts of Syria.


QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on the monitors, if I may.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Please.

QUESTION: The monitors now – today, there has been only, what, six monitors so far?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have today’s count. I think there were about six yesterday. The expectation was that over the next few days, the full advance team, which was about 25, would get in. And as you know, there is work ongoing in New York about getting in the full complement of 250-300.

QUESTION: So what is the holdup, because there is, if one listens to the Russian writers, for instance, they are putting the blame so to speak on the UN that is not dispatching the monitors quick enough.

MS. NULAND: Well, with regard to the 20-25 who have to get in, as you remember, this came up quite suddenly. They’re having to find and recruit monitors from other UN missions. They are working on that. I frankly can’t speak to the delta between those who’ve gotten in and the rest of the advanced team. I would send you to New York on that.
But with regard to the full team, as you know, there has to be another – here he is – another UN Security Council resolution. So they’re talking about that in New York.

QUESTION: And on that subject --


QUESTION: -- I mean, there have been – Ambassador Rice yesterday noted that several Security Council members have reservations given the lack of full compliance by the Assad – with the various points of the Annan plan. But would the U.S. be ready to back such a resolution given that the Assad regime has not fully fulfilled its obligations there?

MS. NULAND: Well, we are working with our colleagues on the Security Council today on an appropriate resolution. You heard the Secretary yesterday in Paris make clear that we want to see monitors be able to get in, but they’ve got to be able to do so in the permissive conditions that Assad signed up to when he signed up to the Kofi plan. And we have extreme concerns about the situation on the ground now, and we also have to ensure that as and when the full group gets in, they’ve got to have freedom of movement, freedom of communication, freedom of access, freedom of reporting. It’s got to be a true independent, international monitoring effort under UN auspices and not regime controlled. So – and it also has to be able to monitor not simply the silencing of the guns, but all aspects of the six-point plan, the pull back, the situation with political prisoners, it’s got to be able to interview anybody it wants.

So as we work in New York to make clear what it will take to get this mission in, we are also making clear that the burden is on the Assad regime to live up to its promises and allow it in. But what we’ve also seen is in those parts of the country where the monitors, the few monitors who’ve already gotten in – have been able to get in – they’ve been met with joyous crowds. They’ve provided space for more peaceful demonstration. So that’s the goal that we’re looking for here.

QUESTION: Okay. But just to sort of shrink it down, it sounds as though what you’re saying – correct me if I’m wrong – is that the U.S. wouldn’t be able to support this resolution if the situation in Syria remains as it is right now.

MS. NULAND: Brad, there were – Andy, they’re working now on a resolution which is going to spell out exactly how this needs to happen and the terms, even as the international community puts more pressure on Assad to make the conditions appropriate for the monitors under the scheme that he agreed to when he agreed to the Annan plan.
Okay? Please. Still on Syria? Yeah.

QUESTION: How was the experience of our six monitors have had in Syria? What’s your assessment? Did they have full freedom and all the other conditions you have been describing?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m going to refer you to the report that was given by Kofi Annan’s deputy in New York yesterday. I think it’s a mixed picture. He made clear in that report that where they have been able to get out and about, they’ve been met with enormous crowds, they’ve been met with enormous support from people looking to express themselves peacefully to their government. But there are only a few of them there, and the terms are still being negotiated with the government.

QUESTION: So next Friends of Syria meeting will be in Washington, and is – the date is clear, yeah?
MS. NULAND: No, the meeting in Washington is the next meeting of the sanctions group, the sub-group on sanctions. My understanding is the next Friends of the Syrian People meeting has not yet been set either in time or space.
Please. Still on Syria?

QUESTION: Yeah. On Syria.


QUESTION: The Moroccan colonel who’s leading the UN team there now has been quoted that he’s not going to take his team out on Fridays. He doesn’t want to be used politically. There’s a quote to that effect. And I’m just wondering, since it seems that one of the purposes of the observer mission is to allow people to protest, and that’s a big day they want to protest, what would the U.S. think of that?

And also, I wanted to ask you one other question on this idea of freedom of movement. Some people are saying that for the U.S. to be so focused on this absolute freedom of movement in Syria while it’s about to vote for a resolution on Western Sahara, which basically acknowledges that the Moroccan Government has been limiting and surveilling the peacekeepers in Western Sahara, is somehow inconsistent. And I wonder if you have an explanation of the different approaches.

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, I haven’t seen the comments of the Moroccan lead. As I said, all of the modalities for these peacekeepers are being reviewed based on the experience of the initial group, and they have to be worked out through a new Security Council resolution, and obviously, we have to see how it goes on the ground.

With regard to Morocco versus Syria, the situation is different, the history is different. In the case of Syria, what we have seen all over the country is an effort at peaceful protest that has been met with regime violence. And so we need to ensure that we are not just covering – able to cover some parts of the country or some affected populations; that if this is going to be a true monitoring mission, the mission is going to have the ability to make its own decisions about where it can – where it needs to monitor, where it – and how it needs to be able to move around the country.

QUESTION: Just one follow-up.

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask this about this idea of a resolution. It’s said now – I’ve already – I’ve heard that Russia has actually now introduced a resolution for the 300 peacekeepers, sort of jumped the gun or beaten you to – and that France is saying it’s going to introduce one for 500. And I just wondered, can you confirm the Russian draft has been circulated? And between the two, which one would the U.S. prefer?

MS. NULAND: I understood from my colleagues in New York, at U.S. Mission to the United Nations, that they were all now working off a single draft, but I’m going to send you up to them for the work that’s ongoing up there.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Did something just happen where they’ve been jumped to peacekeepers from monitors?

MS. NULAND: No, monitors.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MS. NULAND: Monitors, monitors, monitors, observers.

QUESTION: Can I – I apologize if you covered this already. I missed most of it, but I did hear your intriguing reference to Uncle Joe. Maybe Uncle Vanya would have been a better choice, no, given your background? No?

Is the U.S. – is the Administration thinking now, planning for the eventual possible failure of the Annan mission and what would happen next, or – and at the same time, is it encouraging other members of the Friends of Syria, like the ones who were represented at the meeting yesterday with the Secretary, to do that, i.e. plan for the possible failure of this mission?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think if you look at what the Secretary had to say, first in Brussels, where she called this a crucial turning point, and then again in Paris yesterday, where she talked first about our hopes and expectations for the monitors but then also about increased pressure, obviously, we’re planning for both scenarios. We’re planning for a scenario where the monitors will be able to get in and do their job and will be able to push and encourage increasing space for peaceful protests, for political transition, and for Assad to live up to his – all the rest of the obligations under the six-point plan.

But she made very clear yesterday in her Paris discussion with the colleagues at the ad hoc meeting that, even as we plan for the best, we also have to be prepared, if this is not successful, to increase the pressure. She talked quite explicitly about what that could look like, specifically a new UN Security Council resolution under Chapter 7, which would increase sanctions, increase travel restrictions, increase financial squeezing, an arms embargo, these kinds of things, and other measures that we would be looking to push forward.

QUESTION: Right. Well, given the fact that – I mean, or not the fact, but the 99 percent possibility which – that that will be vetoed, that that kind of a resolution won’t go through, what are those other things? Do they include kicking more Syrian diplomats out? Do they – what else do they include?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m not going to get ahead of the precise sanctions, but I will tell you that in the context of the meeting that this ad hoc group had yesterday and the many consultations on Syria that the Secretary had while she was at NATO headquarters, both bilaterally in the dinner among NATO allies as well as her bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, she has been ventilating a variety of ideas, some of which were reflected in her intervention about what we’re going to have to do if Assad does not live up to his commitments.

QUESTION: Has – do you know, has she raised, rhetorically perhaps, the question of how can we continue to do nothing but supply humanitarian aid while one side is – while one side to – one party to this conflict is using nothing but brutal violence? How – has she raised that? Has she said that the United States is reconsidering its year-long opposition to military assistance?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you saw in her statement yesterday, she again reiterated our commitment to providing nonlethal support to civilian groups who are trying to prepare for a transition, trying to express their interest and their rights in a transition. There are other countries in the Friends of Syria Group who have other ideas about how to support and help the opposition. As she said --

QUESTION: No, that’s (inaudible) talking about. Has she told them that the United States is reconsidering everything regarding its policy towards Syria? Has she used – has she talked about the obduracy of the Assad regime?

MS. NULAND: Well, you can see what she had to say about the obduracy of the Assad regime in her statement yesterday, which was put out for all of you to look at. With regard to military assistance, our policy with regard to our own posture has not changed.

QUESTION: No, no. But as she said that you’re – that it’s being reconsidered. Has she told people that the United States is reconsidering --


QUESTION: -- everything?


QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: How much pressure has she put – has she levied, as it were, against others in the
Administration, when you consider that the Pentagon has been actively looking at the White House’s request for possible ways of providing military assistance or intervention in Syria?

MS. NULAND: Ros, I’m definitely not going to talk about internal Administration deliberations. I think Secretary Panetta talked to where we are with regard to the responsibilities of his building quite clearly yesterday on the Hill.

QUESTION: Toria, did you say – when is the sanctions meeting is taking place in Washington?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have the date, but we’ll get it for you, Said.

QUESTION: Are these issues to be discussed there? What kind of – you talked about more – tightening the sanctions more --

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: -- the financial aspect and so on.

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: Do you have very specific ideas on what you will do in case it fails, as has been suggested?

MS. NULAND: We do. We’ve talked about this a little bit, Said, in the context of the Friends of the Syrian People meeting that we had in Istanbul, where this group was established. The group, as you know, met in Paris earlier this week. It’ll meet in Washington next.

We’re talking about a variety of things – first of all, tighter, more precise implementation of those sanctions that are already on the books; closing the loopholes; helping countries to really monitor and know what’s going on – similar to work we’ve done with regard to North Korea sanctions, Iran sanctions around the world; but also consulting among ourselves about other pressure points that we haven’t considered that might increase the pressure, as I said, on the Assad regime, on the people around him, whether they are military leaders, whether they are business folks, et cetera, to try to get their attention.

QUESTION: The Embassy is Damascus posted a photo on the Facebook page this morning.

MS. NULAND: The – our U.S. Embassy?

QUESTION: Yes. And I was wondering if you had any more information. There wasn’t a blurb, but I’m
guessing it’s one of the declassified aerial photos that they’ve put up before.
MS. NULAND: This was something on Ambassador Ford’s website?
QUESTION: Right, on Facebook.

MS. NULAND: I haven’t seen it. But as you know, we’ve been putting a regular stream of aerial photography up on his website to make the case that although the Assad regime continues to claim that all the violence is the result of terrorists and bandits, you can very clearly see from this imagery that these are regime forces using very heavy weapons on civilians.


QUESTION: After reading Secretary Clinton’s statements and meetings in Paris, some argued that U.S. doesn’t have Plan B after the Annan – his plan – if the Annan plan fails. And most of the people actually agreed with this assessment, and you hear this from other – across the capitals that the U.S. basically doesn’t have Plan B when people come and ask if these Annan plan fails, what’s going to happen.
MS. NULAND: I think --

QUESTION: Can you tell us confidently that U.S. has Plan B right now if this Annan plan fails soon?

MS. NULAND: I think that’s where we started with this Syria conversation. Plan A is for the Annan plan and the monitors to be successful. Plan B is increasing, unrelenting pressure from all quarters.
Please. Still Syria?

QUESTION: No. It’s not Syria. It’s a new topic.

MS. NULAND: Hold on a sec. Andy, did you have Syria? No? Okay, go ahead.



QUESTION: Do you have any further details on the six Americans who were killed in Bamako in the car crash today – three service members, three civilians?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have it at all. So let me take that. Let me take that.

QUESTION: Okay. There was a statement from AFRICOM that three service members and three civilians were killed in a car crash. And then a follow-up to that --


QUESTION: -- after you take it. Since you’ve suspended military aid in Mali, the statement says that the service members were there helping the Embassy. If you could just give more information as to what they were doing.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I mean, they may well have been Marine security guards for our mission. But let me – frankly, I haven’t seen the AFRICOM statement, and we’ll see if we have anything further to say. I would guess that AFRICOM’s probably closest to this situation, but we’ll see what we have.
Please, Andy.

QUESTION: Another topic. On these reported connections between China and this North Korean missile program, Secretary Panetta yesterday in testimony said that it appeared that there had been Chinese help in certain elements of the North Korean program. We mentioned this with Mark yesterday, but I’m wondering if you can tell us if you’ve raised this with the Chinese. I mean, have these – do these concerns amount to something that you would actually talk to Beijing about?

MS. NULAND: We have. We have raised these alleged assistance of the Chinese Government as part of our ongoing discussions on North Korea.

QUESTION: And have you – have they provided you with any clarification, or what’s been their response?
MS. NULAND: I think we are continuing to talk about the full range of issues with regard to North Korea, including these.

QUESTION: North Korea, too?

MS. NULAND: Yes, please.

QUESTION: North Korea has mentioned yesterday in Pyongyang, North Korea will have – conduct another missile launch soon. What is your comment if there were another missile launch?

MS. NULAND: Well, you know where we are on this; that it is a very bad idea, that it is a violation of international law, that it is a provocation, and that it’s the wrong way to go.
I want to call your attention to the interview that the Secretary had on – Wednesday or Thursday? What’s today? Friday. Wednesday with Wolf Blitzer of CNN, and he asked her what her message would be to the new Korean leader. And she gives a very full answer about her hopes that he will change course and that he will really begin caring for his people, opening the country, and reforming it in a way that would allow us to reintegrate North Korea into the family of nations, and that he has a choice to make.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) about UNESCO? You mentioned that today was UNESCO World Press Day and you spoke about it in a positive term. Does that mean that the United States now – everything is okay between the U.S. and UNESCO?

MS. NULAND: Well, you know --

QUESTION: Is there no longer about – no more bad feelings?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve never had bad feelings. We’ve had, as a matter of U.S. law, the requirement to suspend U.S. assistance to UNESCO. This is a situation we very much regret. It’s a situation we wanted to avoid, but we had no choice.

QUESTION: On Bahrain, some British leaders today said that Grand Prix over the weekend should be canceled. What’s your assessment? Do you think Bahrain is safe this weekend for such a big organization?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything in particular with regard to the travel situation in Bahrain. I would look – suggest that you look on our website where we post our various travel notifications. I will say that we are concerned by the increase in violence in Bahrain, especially leading up to the Formula One race which starts today and goes on through the 22nd. We condemn violence in all of its forms. These are unproductive, unhelpful acts in building the kind of meaningful trust and reconciliation that is needed in Bahrain, and we’re calling for, again, Bahraini Government respect for universal human rights and demonstrators’ restraint in ensuring that they are peaceful.

QUESTION: On the actual event, you don’t think there’s any problems with it going forward and all this international participation in a country that still has kind of serious unresolved questions related to violence, possible human rights violations, et cetera?

MS. NULAND: Well, with regard to the safety and security of the race itself and people’s participation, to my understanding, we have not expressed any new or additional concerns.

QUESTION: I’m asking --

MS. NULAND: With regard to individuals’ decisions whether or not to travel to Bahrain, that’s obviously an individual decision to make.


QUESTION: In light of the controversy over whether Bahrain is doing enough to comply with the terms of
the independent commission’s report, should it have gone ahead with the F1 race this weekend?

MS. NULAND: That’s obviously a decision for the Bahraini Government to make. You know that we have expressed our support for a large number of measures that the Bahraini Government has taken to implement the independent commission’s investigation, but we’ve also been quite clear about the work that remains to be done.

QUESTION: Well, isn’t it also a decision for the Formula One people?

MS. NULAND: Absolutely. Absolutely.

QUESTION: Right. So – but you’re – what you’re saying is that you didn’t get in touch with them to register an opinion one way or another?

MS. NULAND: We did not. We did not.

QUESTION: Then you’re not aware of any – if there are American drivers or crew participating in this race, you’re not aware of any warning or alert or advice that was given especially to them?

MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, we did not issue anything specific with regard to the Formula One.

QUESTION: Assistant Secretary Campbell returned from his Asian trip – tour yesterday, and I’m
wondering if you have a readout of his meetings there or if he’s debriefed you at all.

MS. NULAND: I haven’t actually seen Assistant Secretary Campbell today, so let us get us – get you a debrief on his trip. Usually, he speaks to the press on each stop. Did he not do that this time?

QUESTION: Usually, he does. Yeah.

MS. NULAND: All right.

QUESTION: Off and on.

MS. NULAND: Okay. Well, we will see what we can get you.


QUESTION: Can we go to other travelers?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: David Hale?


QUESTION: Did he have meetings today? Where is he?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. He remains in the region. He remains engaged with the parties. That’s funny; I don’t have dates here. I think today he met with Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molho. Yeah. And he’s also going to have dinner with UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry this evening. And tomorrow, he will see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and he will see Prime Minister Fayyad.

Thereafter, he’s going to go on next week to Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Those consultations will be primarily to exchange views about the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing institution-building efforts and to encourage everybody to continue to --

QUESTION: And the fact that that they have no money?

MS. NULAND: -- support that. Right.

QUESTION: So, what, in Jordan as well? I mean, the Jordanians still have the money --

MS. NULAND: He’s going to be briefing in – as you know, the Jordanians, under the leadership of the king and Foreign Minister Judeh have been very much involved in the peace process.

QUESTION: Right. So can – is – are you guys trying to restart the Jordan talks or is it, at this point, any talks anywhere would be welcome?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, any talks anywhere would be welcome, as after the January rounds, the Jordanian role continued in terms of the discussions that they have, that the foreign minister has, that the king has with the parties. So they are continuing to use their good offices. They are continuing to make clear that if the parties want to come back to Amman, they would welcome that. But as the Quartet said – what, was it a week ago – we favor any contacts. And there have been – there has been a contact by letter, there may be other kinds of written communication, and these are the kinds of things that David Hale is trying to encourage, as are the Jordanians.

QUESTION: Do you know – have you weighed in on what you think about the Palestinian letter?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to get into what David Hale’s message is one way or the other. We are trying to use any kind of contact that these parties are able to have, including their work together on stabilization and institution building in the Palestinian Authority as a way to keep the process going, to encourage them to get back to direct dialogue.

QUESTION: No, I wasn’t asking what his message was. I’m just wondering if you have – I’m not asking even what – if you have, what you have said. I’m just asking, have you proffered an opinion as to what the Palestinians proposed in the letter?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m confident that one of the subjects of the discussion has been the letter – before, during, and after – but I’m not going to get --

QUESTION: So is that a yes?

MS. NULAND: That is a yes.

QUESTION: Do you have a – you have a – okay.
MS. NULAND: But I’m not going to get into the substance of it.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. I mean, we had proximity talks, direct talks, sub-proximity talks in Jordan and so on. Why doesn’t the State Department or the United States of America take the initiative and have – actually call for direct talks, bring in the parties, and go on from where they stopped? Why not?

MS. NULAND: Well, the parties were together in Jordan, and we were very much supportive of that effort. We were talking to both sides, we were being debriefed by both sides, and we continue to encourage that and we continue to be open to any role that the parties think will be helpful. But at the end of the day, they’ve got to sit with each other and they got to work this through.

QUESTION: So, I mean, why do you need the good offices of Jordanians, for instance? I mean, what is the United States doing to actually get this thing in motion?

MS. NULAND: Besides having our envoy in the region for three weeks? Besides having a Quartet meeting at the ministerial level three weeks ago? Obviously, we can continue to facilitate support, et cetera, but these parties have to make the hard decisions, as you know, Said.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. He’s in the region, and he’s going to be there for three weeks?

MS. NULAND: Yeah, he will. He’s there now. He’s then doing this tour next week, and then he’s going to go back and see the Israelis and Palestinians after he’s been in Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Whether it’s three weeks or two and a half, it’s --

QUESTION: Not much of a spring break.

MS. NULAND: He’s taking a lot of shirts. Yeah.

QUESTION: I’m sorry? So he’s – after he does the Gulf, he’s going back to Israel and the Palestinian --
MS. NULAND: Correct.

QUESTION: And then is he coming back, or then is he – or is it no?

MS. NULAND: It always is – he basically calls it as he sees it, wherever he can be most helpful.

QUESTION: Sure, a couple questions. One is about Heglig, where it’s – the South Sudanese army has said that it’s pulling out of this disputed town that it went into. Sudan is claiming that they threw them out, and I guess President Kiir has said that he’s pulling back voluntarily based on calls from a variety of parties, including the U.S. What’s the U.S. understanding? Are they leaving? And are they leaving voluntarily, or have they been ejected?

MS. NULAND: Well, let me start with pronunciation. My guys are saying Heglig. You think Heglig?

QUESTION: That’s how the Sudanese are saying it.

MS. NULAND: Interesting. And is there a difference between the way the South Sudanese and --

QUESTION: There’s actually a whole ‘nother town for the South – a whole ‘nother name that the South Sudanese give it, which begins with a P. But --

MS. NULAND: All right. Heglig. Guys, Heglig.

QUESTION: Sorry. Heglig. Either way.

MS. NULAND: All right. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. NULAND: It sounded – yeah.

QUESTION: That’s how the Sudanese --

MS. NULAND: Interesting.

QUESTION: -- ambassador says Heglig.

MS. NULAND: Well, we welcome the announcement from South Sudan that they will withdraw their forces from Heglig. We urge them to completely and fully withdraw all Sudanese forces from Heglig. In parallel, we’re also calling on the Government of Sudan, as we have regularly, to halt their own cross-border attacks, particularly the provocative aerial bombardments that – so that we can get back to a place where these two sides are working together and using mechanisms like the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism to work through their issues.

As you know, our special envoy, Princeton Lyman, has been there all week. I think he briefed some of you yesterday by telephone. He had a very productive series of meetings in Juba and in Khartoum. And yesterday he made clear that it’s not just the United States; it’s the entire international community that’s working together to get this violence ended.

QUESTION: Is he going to stay in the region, do you know? I mean, he mentioned a couple of – an AU and an Arab League meetings which are going to be about this issue early next week. Do you think, is he going to stick around for those?

MS. NULAND: It wasn’t clear to me if he’s coming home and going back, or whether somebody else is representing us at those other meetings. We’ll get some more for you next week.

QUESTION: Yeah, so (inaudible) that the situation may not be now on the verge of war, as the ambassador had suggested or implied in his conversation yesterday with reporters?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think as he made clear yesterday, he’s been trying to walk both sides back from the brink, as has the African Union. And the concern was that this Heglig situation was very much a flash point that could sort of explode into a much larger conflagration. So there again, it is good news that we have an announcement from the South that they’re going to pull back. They now have to implement that, and the North has got to – and Sudan has got to stop what it’s doing as well.

QUESTION: What about the situations in Abyei and South Kordofan and in Blue Nile? Have there been any steps of progress made in those areas? Because those have been some of his concerns earlier in the year.
MS. NULAND: Well, again, the problem is that whenever there is violence anywhere, it makes it more difficult for these parties to do what they need to do to finalize arrangements anywhere else. So Abyei, Blue Nile, et cetera, always suffer when there’s violence and they can’t get back to basic work to implement the CPA, et cetera. So we had had some progress in Abyei, but I think everything’s sort of on hold while this situation gets settled, is my understanding.

All right, everybody. One last one in the back? Yeah.

QUESTION: I hope I didn’t introduce the wrong pronunciation of this Heglig. I’ll check it out, but --

MS. NULAND: Well, now I’m in it with you guys. We’re going to find out.

QUESTION: Yeah. No, this is something totally different.


QUESTION: Today the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in. He came to D.C. , and among the things that he said is that he wants people to tweet @BarackObama to have him go the Rio + 20 summit in June. So I wanted to know, one, what your thinking is both about the President going and about the summit. There was a finance ministers meeting at the IMF – or the World Bank on this topic, except Geithner didn’t – Secretary Geithner didn’t go. Somebody else went. But what is – what’s the U.S. position on Rio + 20, and will the President go?

MS. NULAND: Well, you know that we’re strongly supportive of the Rio + 20 efforts, With regard to whether the President’s going to go, I’m going to send you to the White House on that one. And I had not seen Ban Ki-moon’s tweets, but I think it’s interesting.

QUESTION: He tweets at people.

MS. NULAND: He tweets at people. Tweets at people. I barely know how to do that. Thank you. All right. Happy weekend, everyone.