Thursday, September 01, 2011

September 1, 2011, My Qs and As with State Dpt. Spox. Mark Toner

QUESTION: You mentioned that the sanctions on the Syrian regime is increased – increasing. Turkey so far has – Turkey has not taken any steps on the sanctions piece of it. What’s your assessment? I know that Clinton – Secretary Clinton had a meeting today with Davutoglu.
MR. TONER: She did meet with Davutolgu, yes, in Paris (inaudible).
QUESTION: Is there anything that you can update us whether Turkey is moving on this direction? If not, then why?
MR. TONER: Well, frankly, if you want to – I mean, this is a question better directed to the Government of Turkey.
QUESTION: Right. Correct.
MR. TONER: I can only speak about what we’re trying to do in terms of applying pressure and speak also to the fact that we want to see other countries and other organizations, if you will, like the EU and the Arab League, take additional steps. The EU has obviously been a strong partner in doing so, but she did meet with – indeed, met with Foreign Minister Davutoglu earlier today in Paris. Certainly they did discuss – I don't have a full readout of their bilat, but obviously they discussed Libya and the way forward there, but I’m certain that they also addressed the ongoing challenge of Syria.
QUESTION: This time around in Paris, this conference, Friends of Libya conference, is kind of a theater version of the, I believe, Contact Group conference. Why do you think the number of the countries this time around is too many or many more than the previous Contact Group meetings?
MR. TONER: There’s a, as I said, a turning of the page, a moving forward. This Contact Group has grown each time it’s met, and there’s clearly a sense, both within Libya obviously – anyone who has read press reports from there can see that – but also outside of Libya that the country has turned the page and is now moving towards a post-Qadhafi era, even though he does remain at large.
QUESTION: And many experts actually argue that it’s because of the Libyan oil and natural resources that the people – the countries are competing to get access. Do you –
MR. TONER: I can only speak for the U.S. Government, and we are there to listen to the Transitional National Council’s needs and to figure out ways that we can be supportive in what is clearly a Libyan-led process and a Libyan – it’s – from the very beginning, this has been a Libyan-led struggle. They’ve shown remarkable courage. And I would say one reason so many countries are there is to pay tribute to that courage. They see the events of the last week certainly, the very dramatic events, as a sign that this country has made a remarkable evolution in a relatively short time, but that it’s paid a tremendous price for it.

QUESTION: One more. Palmer report, UN report on the flotilla, is about to be released tomorrow, and it’s already leaked in New York Times as far as I understand. Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu yesterday gave a warning, ultimatum, that either Israel is going to apologize or is going to be some sanctions that are going to face from Turkey. Going forward, it looks like this relationship is going down. What would you suggest either side, or do you have any view on this?
MR. TONER: Well, you – the beginning of your question, in fact, holds my answer, which is that the report has not been released yet. I know – I can’t speak to any leaked copies of it or what those leaked copies may or may not say. I would just say that we continue to believe that this is a – this can be a constructive mechanism to help bring these two countries back to closer relations. But beyond that, I’m not going to comment.

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