Special Briefing. Senior State Department Official (Bayerischer Hof; Munich, Germany; February 4, 2012)
Senior State Department Official
February 4, 2012
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The Secretary had two bilateral meetings this morning, first with Ukraine President Yanukovych. Subjects included energy security, particularly some of the work that U.S. and Ukrainian firms are doing together to diversify sources of supply, looking at shale gas, looking at LNG, working on pipelines. They also discussed Ukraine’s European integration aspirations in that connection and more broadly. The Secretary made clear our concern about selective prosecutions of political opposition members, particularly the case of Yulia Tymoshenko and her health and the conditions of her confinement. They also talked about the Ukraine’s work with the IMF.
The Secretary also had a relatively long bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov. I think it was scheduled for half an hour and went about 45 minutes – that’s about right – about two-thirds of the meeting taken up with discussion of the pending UN Security Council resolution on Syria. The Secretary and the foreign minister had a very vigorous discussion. They both agreed that the situation on the ground is urgent, given the violence. The Secretary made clear that we feel, that the United States feels strongly that the UN Security Council should vote today. The Russians – or Foreign Minister Lavrov did not dispute the urgency of the situation, and the action now moves to New York as they wake up.
QUESTION: What does that mean, a very vigorous discussion?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: What I said, very vigorous discussion. They also talked about –
QUESTION: Did they make any progress?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Let me finish the brief and then we’ll go to questions, okay?
They also talked about missile defense, our ongoing consultations on the possibility of U.S.-Russian and NATO-Russian collaboration in the area of missile defense, continued support for talks in the Tauscher-Ryabkov channel. They also talked about our work together to support stability and security in Afghanistan, a little bit about the upcoming G-8 ministerial in preparation for the G-8 summit in Chicago. Secretary on adoptions expressed our hope that the Russian Duma will ratify the agreement. And then they talked a little bit about the work of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Commission.
That’s what I got for you.
QUESTION: Just one – where is the upcoming ministerial?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There’ll be a G-8 ministerial in the U.S. because we’re the host.
QUESTION: Right. Where is it?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We haven’t actually decided yet.
QUESTION: Can I make a recommendation?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Hawaii, I’m going to guess.
QUESTION: No, no, no, no, like South Beach or New Orleans.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’ll tell the Secretary that’s what you were thinking, Matt.
QUESTION: New Orleans is a good one.
QUESTION: Right around Jazz Fest.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: (Laughter.) Exactly. Okay.
QUESTION: On the – so on the resolution, does that mean that – when you say “We’re not going to New York,” does that mean you’re going to push a vote regardless of what the Russians are going to do? You’ll force a veto if they have – if their concerns haven’t been met?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m not going to predict what’s going to happen in New York except that we think that it’s important to vote today.
QUESTION: But can you even – I mean, can you say what – what does that mean? I mean, Lavrov said in his brief that they had two problems – two specific problems that they’ve submitted amendments; did – is that correct? They think it was all of those amendments to their satisfaction, maybe not the U.S.?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m not going to get into any details –
QUESTION: But he said that. He said – SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- on the discussion of the resolution. I understand what he said. I’m not going to get into the substance of their discussion on this – of this. It’s not helpful to getting where we want to go.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say, then, that at the end of their meeting, the differences were not resolved?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s fair to say that we will – we’ve got to now go to New York.
QUESTION: Well, what does that mean? Does that mean you go to New York to try and negotiate with the Russians there, or do you go to New York just to push a vote today?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: New York is going to have to have – I think I’ve said what I want to say on this subject.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) haven’t said anything.
QUESTION: Can you tell us whether or not the issue was resolved? I mean, if it wasn’t resolved, fine; you live to fight another day. She told us downstairs we’re – after the meeting and during the photo op with the Armenian, said, “We’re still working on it.” To me, that implies it’s not done. In fact, your going to New York implies that you want –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, obviously, we’re still working on it.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have said that –
QUESTION: So –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I wouldn’t have come out and said –
QUESTION: So do you have any kind of an agreement on it?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: This has to be taken up in New York now.
QUESTION: But it doesn’t get any higher, at least, unless you go – I mean, New York is not elevating the level of discussion seniority-wise, so –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I understand that. I understand. Do you have anything else?
QUESTION: I mean, can you not give any indication of whether she feels – she clearly – I don’t think she feels like she made progress, because, as I said, she made progress. She said, “We’re working on it.”
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, she said to you after the meeting, “We’re working on it”?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think that’s accurate, obviously.
QUESTION: So you did make progress?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m not going to characterize how far we’ve gotten or not gotten because none of it matters till we see what happens in New York.
QUESTION: And do you – are you still hoping for a yes vote from the Russians?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Absolutely, that’s what we want, is the strongest possible consensus on this resolution.
QUESTION: So – but so we’re clear, you’re still hoping for a yes vote?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We are.
Anything – anybody care about anything else or should we go –
QUESTION: Well, what did the Ukrainians say back about Tymoshenko?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Without getting too deeply into characterizing another country’s position, the president outlined the various legal reform steps that they are taking, and made clear that these could have implications for the Tymoshenko case. The Secretary made clear that this was a matter not just of legal reform but of all of us wanting to support Ukraine’s European integration and to improve Ukraine’s image and reputation.
QUESTION: Well, does that – when you said it could have implications for the Tymoshenko case, that they think that those implications would be positive in terms of what the U.S. and others want from them?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: He talked about needing to reform the legal code, et cetera. These are points that he’s made publicly before.
QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official], what was the Secretary’s message to Lavrov on missile defense?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Her message to him on missile defense was: Let’s keep working in the Ryabkov-Tauscher channel to come to some kind of a cooperative understanding about how we can work together on missile defense.
QUESTION: Did she have any reaction to his comments just prior to the meeting that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel (inaudible) Russian?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There was no disagreement in that room that we need to keep working on this.