Press Releases: Background Briefing Secretary Kerry's Trip to India and Pakistan

MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us. Just as a reminder on the ground rules here, this is a background call for attribution to senior State Department officials previewing the Secretary’s trip to India and then to Pakistan. We will not send the transcript of the backgrounder out until we land in Pakistan, and so the portions of this that discuss Pakistan are embargoed until we land because we won’t announce we’re going until then, but the India portions you can use beforehand.
I had one other travel component just to mention to all of you: After Secretary Kerry’s visit to India, he and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif will travel to Geneva, Switzerland on January 14th to have a bilateral meeting to provide guidance to their negotiating teams before their next round of discussions which begin on January 15th. Secretary Kerry will then travel to Sofia, Bulgaria on January 15th to discuss security cooperation, energy diversification, and the bilateral trade and investment relationship. He will also highlight the importance of rule of law and helping Bulgaria to realize its full potential as a vibrant European democracy.
With that, I’m going to turn it over to Senior State Department Official Number Two to talk about the Secretary’s trip to India.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Good morning, everyone. I wanted to just give you a little bit of an overview of the Secretary’s trip to India, where he will lead the U.S. delegation for the Vibrant Gujarat Investment Summit that is being hosted by the prime minister of India in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The trip will be the Secretary’s second trip in the past six months to India, and really is a testament to the trajectory of the U.S.-India relationship and the high level of engagement, as well as the very high priority we place on the economic partnership between our two countries as well.
The Secretary has three key focus areas on this trip. The first is on the U.S.-India economic partnership, to be able to emphasize the vast opportunity for American private sector to be able to partner with India and with Indian firms in achieving the economic goals and objectives that the prime minister has laid out for India’s economic transformation, the cutting edge technology that India – that U.S. firms bring to the table, and our focus on creating the kind of enabling environment that can attract U.S. investment to India as well. Additionally, this will be an opportunity for the Secretary to engage with the prime minister and members of the Indian cabinet on advancing the goals and objectives of the President’s upcoming trip for the Republic Day celebration.
And finally, the Secretary will be able to use the opportunity to meet with both officials of the Indian Government and other regional leaders to talk about very important developments in the region. As such, he will also have a meeting with the prime minister of Bhutan. This will be the first and most senior engagement and interaction with the Government of Bhutan of any U.S. Government official. The Secretary will be the first member of the U.S. Cabinet to meet with a Bhutanese Government official, so we’re looking forward to that.
We will also have an opportunity for the Secretary to visit the new plant that Ford has built in Gujarat which will be inaugurated in the near future, as well as a visit by the Secretary to the Gandhi Ashram, the Sabarmati Ashram, in Ahmedabad, and an opportunity to interact with members of civil society.
With that, I will pause on this and wait for questions afterwards.
MODERATOR: Great. Oh, Senior State Department Official Number Three, and they’ll talk about the Secretary’s trip to Pakistan.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Thanks very much. So, yes, the Secretary will then go on to Islamabad arriving on Monday afternoon for what will be a 24-hour visit, and his – the principal focus will be a convening of the next ministerial of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, which last met a year ago at the ministerial level in Washington. And so we’re exactly on schedule to what we committed to doing at that point. This will be the fifth ministerial-level strategic dialogue, the second one since it was revitalized on the Secretary’s first trip as Secretary to Islamabad in July 2013. He’ll be chairing it for the U.S. side, and Pakistani National Security Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz for the Pakistani side.
I think it’s important to note that obviously, the Secretary will be visiting Pakistan less than a month after the absolutely horrific attack in Peshawar by the TTP on the school there, which has continued to rightly galvanize the Pakistani Government, Pakistani society in terms of responding resolutely and effectively to the threat posed by terrorists. So in that context, the Secretary’s engagement will be very critical to advancing our shared fight against militant extremism, and a fight that the Pakistanis are clearly extremely engaged in, as evidenced by the North Waziristan operation they’ve been conducting over the last six months with substantial military operations.
The Strategic Dialogue itself demonstrates, as many of you have seen in past ministerial engagements, the long-term, broad-based nature of the bilateral relationship based on shared interests and in support of very practical and candid exchanges across the full range of our two governments on how to move the relationship steadily forward. It supports the development of stronger, more effective Pakistani institutions of governance, and stability in Pakistan and the region more broadly. And it allows for the U.S. to address issues critical to our national security in a comprehensive manner with Pakistani counterparts.
I think many of you probably recall various iterations of the working groups under the strategic dialogue, but there are five bilateral working groups that represent the full range of the relationship: economic and finance, law enforcement and counterterrorism, energy defense and strategic stability, and nonproliferation. Each of these groups has met at least once over the course of the last year and actually just a kind of a logistical coincidence, the law enforcement and counterterrorism working group will be meeting on Monday just prior to the Secretary’s arrival chaired by Ambassador Kaidanow.
In addition to convening the strategic dialogue, the Secretary will meet bilaterally with Prime Minister Sharif, with National Security Advisor Aziz, with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif, and we’re very happy that CENTCOM Commander General Austin will travel to Pakistan to join the Secretary’s meetings, because it’s exactly that type of joint civilian-military coordination that provides the most substantive and critical discussions.
I’d say I’ll leave questions on the specifics of the issues to be raised for Q&A or to unfold while we’re there, but I’d just kind of highlight three broad areas that will obviously be a core focus of this visit and then turn it over to Q&A.
The first, obviously, is the intensifying conversation on Pakistani counterterrorism operations in north Waziristan and elsewhere following the Peshawar incident. There – these PAKMIL operations over the last six months in north Waziristan have significantly disrupted militant activities in tribal areas and resulted in important seizures of weapons and IED materials. And this operation is the latest and most extensive phase of Pakistan’s efforts to counter – to extend greater government control throughout its territories.
We’ll be very clear, as we have on previous occasions, that the Pakistani fight against militarism has to root out all militant groups in Pakistan. We obviously have had very good cooperation in the fight against al-Qaida, including some pretty recent actions against individuals involved in the 2009 plot which targeted the New York subway system. But part of the Secretary’s core message will be to ensure that actions are met with a real and sustained effort to constrain the ability of the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, the Afghan Taliban, and other militants who pose a threat to regional stability and to direct U.S. interests.
General Raheel, when he was here just recently in Washington, and Prime Minister Sharif have both said frequently, both publicly and privately, that it’s very clear that Pakistan will go after all forms of militancy. We obviously applaud that commitment and think it’s vital to Pakistan’s interests, and ours, and the region’s, and very important to the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship that all these militant groups not be allowed to in any way continue a foothold in Pakistan.
A second and related focus of the trip will be the relationship and the very – I think this moment of opportunity in the Afghanistan and Pakistan relationship for opportunities to gain in security, in trade, in economic ties, and the shared commitment of the Afghan and Pakistani leadership that each country has to ensure that its territory is not used by militants to attack the others, and with that common understanding that there’s a basis for much greater cooperation. We saw evidence of that cooperation in the immediate aftermath of the Peshawar attack, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to support improved Afghan-Pakistani relations, including on pretty sensitive issues like reconciliation. And I know that Secretary Kerry will be looking to hear from the Pakistanis how they intend to take that conversation forward.
And then third and lastly, the Secretary will obviously discuss the broader regional environment with Pakistan. We’ve been extremely concerned by reports of violence along the working boundary and line of control. The Secretary’s visit is not intended to advance any new initiatives in this regard between India and Pakistan, but the relationship is an extremely important one to peace, stability, and security of South Asia, and as has long been the case, the U.S. believes India and Pakistan, not to mention the region, stand to benefit from practical cooperation and encourage both sides to resume dialogue aimed at reducing tensions.
So let me leave it that and turn it over to Q&A.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Operator, we’re ready for the question and answer session.
OPERATOR: Thank you. And ladies and gentlemen, if you’d like to ask a question, please press * then 1 on your telephone keypad. You’ll hear a tone indicating you’ve been placed in queue, and you may remove yourself from the queue at any time by pressing the # key. Our first question will come from Arshad Mohammed with Reuters. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Good morning. Two things, please. One, is the Secretary’s January 14th meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif in Geneva reportable now and attributable to senior State Department official, or was that meant to be a for-planning-only matter?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yes, it is for reporting now, and I will say it on the record during the briefing, but I just wanted you all to have it first.
QUESTION: Great. Thank you. Second, this is, I guess, primarily for [Senior State Department Official Two]. There does not appear to have been a lot of obvious progress between the United States and India on the sort of core economic trade, commercial issues since the advent of the Modi administration. In particular, as I understand it, American nuclear firms are still unsatisfied with the ideas that have been circulating about some kind of an indemnification – insurance indemnification fund in India as a way to address the liability issues. And they seem to want a statutory or legislative solution to try to amend the Indian liability law rather than this kind of workaround.
And secondly, American manufacturers, more broadly, still complain a great deal about the local content requirements, local ownership requirements, technology transfer requirements, and the enormous difficulty of getting, particularly with pharmaceutical companies, patents enforced in India. Are you making – and I guess the third area would be defense sales. Are you making any progress on those three areas, and do you expect any progress – tangible, public progress on those three areas, either during the Secretary’s trip or during the President’s trip, or are those much more long-term things?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Arshad, thanks a lot. Those are very good questions, and I have something for you on each of the areas that you raised. First of all, let me say that the Secretary will have an opportunity to interact both with the U.S. business delegation that is going to be at the Vibrant Gujarat Investors’ Summit and also have a roundtable discussion with Indian CEOs – some of the major CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in India, and to exactly discuss these areas of what are some of the constraints and inhibitions on advancing the economic partnership.
We do think that we’re seeing some progress. There are some tricky issues, which I think the government is working its way through. Local content is an issue that we’re very engaged on, particularly because it inhibits the very areas where the Government of India is seeking partnership – for example, on clean technology and on advancing India’s solar mission, which is a very high priority for the prime minister and an area where we want to be able to partner much more robustly and can bring significant technology and resources to the table. And so those are conversations that I know that the Secretary is very much looking forward to advancing in his bilateral meetings, both with the prime minister and members of the cabinet.
And additionally, with respect to the conversations on civil nuclear cooperation, as you recall, coming from the prime minister’s visit in the fall, we announced and established a contact group to convene and to work through these issues. They have had not one but now two meetings and are looking for a potential third conversation. I think that they are narrowing the areas and there’s a very, very active set of conversations. So while it’s too early to tell whether we will be able to work through the major issues, particularly in the area of liability, I know that both sides are pursuing this with vigor, with some creativity and flexibility, with the idea that they would like to get to a solution on this.
And then finally in the area of defense cooperation, I think that this is an area where we’re seeing tremendous promise, both in terms of defense sales and also in terms of – through the DTTI, the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative, trying to make progress in the areas of co-development and co-production.
Again, these are all conversations that are being had. There’s a great deal of desire on both sides to be able to have the President’s visit be an opportunity to be able to see some significant achievements in this area. I – it’s too early to tell whether we’re going to be able to get there, but that is certainly the focus on both sides.
MODERATOR: Thank you. We’re ready for the next question.
OPERATOR: Thank you. That will come from Matt Lee with AP. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Hi, I just have one very short logistical question, and that has to do with the transcript of this. Although you’re not going to be releasing it before we get to Pakistan, are we going to be able to have a copy today?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Sure. We will make sure you have a copy. We just – we’re not blasting it out to the big list before then. As soon as we have an internal transcript, we’ll give it to all of you.
QUESTION: Okay. And then the meeting with Zarif is on Wednesday, correct?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, we’re traveling there on Wednesday. Yes, I believe that’s correct, Matt. We’re still finalizing the timing, and obviously we get there in the evening, so the meeting will likely be the next day, but we’ll get more specifics on that for you as we get a little bit closer.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you. That’s all I have.
OPERATOR: Thank you, then. We’ll go next to Jo Biddle with AFP. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hello, thanks very much, guys. I want to talk about Bhutan, actually, which was a nice little surprise you snuck in there. Can you just update us on the background of this? I believe the United States and Bhutan don’t have any diplomatic relations. Is that correct? And was I correct in hearing that there has been no meeting between any U.S. Government official with any Bhutanese official, or was that just the prime minister, ever? Could you just update us on the background of that? Thank you.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Sure. So what I would say is we don’t have an embassy presence in Bhutan, but we do have diplomatic relations. And our ambassador in New Delhi is accredited to Bhutan, and so we certainly enjoy a diplomatic relationship, and one which we seek to strengthen and grow. [i]
With respect to prior engagement, I will say at the assistant secretary level, both with myself and my predecessors, we have had engagement with the Government of Bhutan, but never at any higher level above assistant secretary or our accredited ambassador. This will certainly be the first cabinet-level interaction with the prime minister or any other senior official, including in prior years with the king – we have not had at a cabinet level, and the interactions of the Secretary will be the first to have that opportunity.
QUESTION: And can I just ask – you said you wanted to strengthen relations. Is there anything particular, specific that you wanted to talk to the Bhutanese about? What’s the main issues in your relationship?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We have a very good cooperation with them. Particularly I know that they have expressed an interest to deepen our people-to-people ties, their educational ties, and we’re looking for ways that we can do that. The prime minister of Bhutan, in fact, is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and is quite keen to provide additional opportunities for Bhutanese to be able to study in the United States, and we certainly want to look for ways that we can deepen that cooperation.
The other area that is an important area is energy and regional energy cooperation, and Bhutan plays an important role here. And so we want to look and see if there are ways that we can support their efforts there.
MODERATOR: Great. Are we ready for our next question?
OPERATOR: Thank you. That will come from Carol Morello with The Washington Post. Go ahead please.
QUESTION: Hi, guys. Thanks for doing this. Do the events unfolding in Paris, have they altered or in any way impacted the agenda or the approach the Secretary will take? Or do you really see no connection other than in the broadest terms – particularly in Pakistan, I’m thinking?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I’m just going to make one quick comment on the India side and then turn to my colleague, which is just to say I think what it does is heighten and further underscore the importance of working with partners and neighbors in the region and beyond around these issues that affect all of us. And I think that it has – certainly, the events unfolding Paris have grabbed the attention and focus of all of the counterparts in the region, and so I imagine that will be the basis on which we talk about it.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Yeah, I would say as well, nothing will actually change it but it does continue to amplify our concerns and the conversations in both Afghanistan, Pakistan, and across the region, on advancing a shared fight against militant extremism. And we have seen statements against, obviously, the attacks in Paris from both the Afghan and Pakistani Governments, but beyond something like that, it’s a broader conversation on countering extremism and counterterrorism and one that just continues to redouble our commitment that we all have to be equally engaged in this.
MODERATOR: Great. Well, we’re ready for the next question.
OPERATOR: Thank you. That will come from Michael Gordon with The New York Times. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, I have just a quick logistical question and then a substantive question. Just, [Senior State Department Official One], on the Zarif meeting I take it as – I took you to say it’s Thursday likely? Is that correct?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: It’s Wednesday.
QUESTION: It’s Wednesday?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: So we would arrive Tuesday evening, Wednesday is the 14th – we arrive Tuesday evening.
QUESTION: All right.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: So it’s one – the time hasn’t been set exactly yet, so we’ll determine that in the next couple of days.
QUESTION: So it’s Wednesday, okay. Here’s my question and it pertains to Pakistan, so for Official Number Two. The presence of General Austin and recent events suggests that there could be some concrete discussions about how to better coordinate in dealing with threats that operate across borders, like the Pakistani Taliban that could involve U.S. and Afghan forces on the Afghan side and Pakistani forces on their side. Will new and stepped up efforts to deal with the Pakistani Taliban on both sides of the border be part of these discussions?
And similarly, the United States, as you know, has long had concerns and long had frustrations with the – Pakistan’s reluctance to crack down in a serious way on the Haqqani Network, which has been operating against American and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Does (inaudible) plan to press Pakistan on doing more on the Haqqani Network, and if so, why should his appeal be more effective than in the past?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: With regard to General Austin’s presence, I wouldn’t read too much into it. I mean, there’s significant precedence for this over the course of our strategic dialogues. I mean, the whole point of having a strategic dialogue is that they cross over diplomatic, military, intel channels that provide opportunities for really comprehensive and honest discussions at the highest levels. So in many of our prior strategic dialogues, we’ve had exactly this sort of civilian/military engagement. And so we were happy that General Austin was able to join us for that.
But given that, discussions about the broad range of cross border issues, on counterterrorism issues, on, as I laid out, the fact that both Afghanistan, Pakistan, as well as the kind of counterterrorism and the elimination of safe havens from both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border is obviously going to be a continued part of our discussion, as it has been for many years. And seeking a further crackdown on the Haqqani Network has, as you note, has long been a kind of hallmark of our discussions. It’s obviously no secret that the U.S. has pushed Pakistan to do far more on counterterrorism. But I also think that the Government of Pakistan deserves credit for moving pretty decisively both after Peshawar and in the actions it has undertaken in North Waziristan. And so as part of General Raheel’s discussions when he was in Washington as well as the upcoming visit when we’ll be in Pakistan we’ll be talking about the elimination and not distinguishing between any terrorist groups. And I think they increasingly see what comes from the common nexus of extremism and terrorism, whether that is TTP or al-Qaida or Haqqani or LET. And that will be a core part of our discussions.
MODERATOR: We’re ready for the next question.
OPERATOR: All right. Thank you. That will come from Pam Dawkins with Voice of America. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. Two questions for official number two on India. First of all, with Vibrant Gujarat, should we anticipate that the Secretary will have any deliverables at this summit, any announcements of new business or investment initiatives, partnerships between the U.S. and India?
And then secondly, a follow-up question concerning the meeting with the prime minister of Bhutan. You mentioned it was the first cabinet-level interaction, so my question is: Why now? Is there anything significant about the timing of having this meeting now, especially considering the Secretary has been in the region on prior visits?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Great. On – with respect to announcements, we’re not anticipating any major announcements. I know that U.S. business have been very robustly engaged and have been part of many different opportunities that are being generated as the Indian Government and the Indian prime minister unveil their economic agenda. I think the United States is going to be a key player and a key partner in that transformation and rejuvenation of the Indian economy, and that this is a win-win for both countries and for both peoples.
With respect to the timing of the meeting on Bhutan, I would say it’s somewhat serendipitous in the sense that the Prime Minister of Bhutan is going to be a guest at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, and we saw this as an ideal opportunity to be able to have this interaction. And I know that the Secretary is very much looking forward to it.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: And Pam, just to add, I mean, obviously as Senior Official Number Two mentioned during the opening, part of his engagement there will be with CEOs, American CEOs. And certainly, part of that is laying the groundwork for continued investment in India, and obviously, that will be a big focus of the President’s trip coming up in just a couple of weeks.
And as was also mentioned, the Secretary will be visiting a plant that will soon open, a Ford plant that will soon open there, which is obviously a very significant U.S. investment in our relationship with India. So there’s a lot that’s continuing to happen, and that will be part of the discussion there.
Next question?
OFFICIAL: That will come from Nicole Gaouette with Bloomberg News. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for doing the call. My colleagues have pretty ably covered the waterfront, but I did want to ask if I could get your sense on, your comment on where things stand with India and the WTO.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Sure, I’d be happy to answer that. And as you know, there was a fairly intense period over the fall with USTR and with the Government of India in working through the issues that had constrained the implementation of the Bali accord, particularly on the trade facilitation agreement. And that had seen a breakthrough late last year which allowed the Bali accord to move forward and the TFA implementation to take place, so I think that has been a very positive development. Mike Froman, our trade representative, had a very successful trade policy forum last fall also with India, and so we see that the environment is a much better one between the United States and India, and India’s interaction within the WTO is also in a much better place.
We will continue to seek opportunities to discuss and find convergence on the vast array of issues between our two very large and complex economies. And so one of the areas that we continue to focus on is looking to see how we can create better frameworks for interaction and engagement. And to that end, I think you will note that one of the things that we have said that we would welcome is to move forward on trying to negotiate a bilateral investment treaty between our two countries. And I know that that’s going to be another area that we continue to look to advance as we move forward.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: And I’ll actually just add something, not on India but just because the economic connectivity is obviously a kind of theme of this trip and it obviously is something that Secretary Kerry will emphasize in Pakistan as well about the two countries, the U.S. and Pakistan’s growing economic ties. It’s an issue he’s been long involved in as an architect of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation which authorized enhanced economic, civilian, and people-to-people cooperation between the two countries. Trade between U.S. and Pakistan is already $5 billion. The U.S. is already Pakistan’s largest trading partner, but there’s room to grow. And that will be a theme of the Strategic Dialogue and the Economic and Finance Working Group.
And under Kerry-Lugar-Berman, whose legislation recently expired but the efforts still continue and the civilian assistance continues, the countries have expanded cooperation in economic growth, in energy, in regional ties and stability, education and health – the kind of pillars that we put in place for the disbursement of Kerry-Lugar-Berman, which has disbursed over $4 billion since 2009 and done – had such accomplishments as funding 1,400 additional megawatts to Pakistan’s grid, about enough energy for 15 million people and a pretty sizeable share of Pakistan’s electricity gap, building or rehabilitating about a thousand kilometers of roads, including all four access roads between Afghanistan and Pakistan, creating almost 20 partnerships between U.S. and Pakistani universities, maintaining the largest funding for the Fulbright Program in the world. So there’s a lot of achievement here as well, which will be a key part of the Strategic Dialogue discussion.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And let me just add a footnote here, which is that because the economic partnership – going back to India for a minute – is such an important aspect of the U.S.-India relationship, the Secretary’s also going to be accompanied by Cathy Novelli on this trip, our Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment. And she will not only be on – at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit with the Secretary, but she’ll be staying on and heading to New Delhi afterwards and have continuing meetings and conversations on the array of issues between our two countries and opportunities for advancing the issues.
MODERATOR: Okay. We have time for two more questions.
OPERATOR: Okay. The next will be a follow-up from Arshad Mohammed with Reuters. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Thanks so much for taking the follow-up. This is for senior Administration official – or senior State Department official number three. There was a lengthy and quite detailed report in a Pakistani newspaper called the Tribune yesterday, alleging that there is significant double-counting under Kerry-Lugar-Berman, and specifically that the United States Government has included in the 7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar-Berman five-year target monies that were, in fact, appropriated and spent before that legislation became law. Is there any truth to that? Is there any double-counting here? Are you counting any money that was, in fact, put forward before the KLB became law?
And then secondly, can you shed any greater light on whether the U.S. Government has conveyed to Pakistan anything about whether it may receive a waiver of the statutory requirements regarding its actions against LET? I’m not asking if there has been a waiver and I’m not asking if anything’s been notified to Congress. I’m asking whether you’ve communicated anything to the Pakistanis about whether or not they may get such a waiver in the future.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Yeah. I’m glad you asked the question, because obviously, there’s been a significant amount of confusion on the – kind of the broader assistance issues. I haven’t seen the article on double-counting, although I had heard about it, so I haven’t seen the specific allegations. But we’re very careful not to double-count in any way, and you can certainly speak further with USAID and others about kind of exactly how we do count.
But to try to clear up a few misperceptions, first of all, Kerry-Lugar-Berman was passed in 2009 – summer of 2009. There’s a five-year authorization authorizing up to $1.5 billion a year for five years, but not appropriating that. So as you all know, that doesn’t ensure in any way that that money will actually be appropriated. And so there was a confusion from the beginning, I think, in Pakistan and elsewhere, that that money was already there, that it was already allocated for specific projects, that it would start flowing immediately. It was passed in summer – late summer, kind of August, September of 2009. But before – but by the time those funds actually got appropriated, you were already kind of almost a full year after. So in Pakistan, we still had money in the pipeline from the 2007, 2008 fiscal years, and we were still using that. And I think in many people’s minds, it all became rebranded as Kerry-Lugar-Berman, our entire civilian assistance program, even though technically, the Kerry-Lugar-Berman funding didn’t kick in until – the money wasn’t actually on the ground until a little bit later.
Similarly, the authorization has now concluded, but we still have fiscal year funding in the pipeline, and we are continuing to request significant amounts in line with the kind of responsible trajectory, glide path that we have always talked about, that we will continue to seek and disburse in the coming years. And so whether that’s known as Kerry-Lugar-Berman, even though the technical Kerry-Lugar-Berman authorization has expired – you will have to see – but I think most people now refer to our civilian assistance program in Pakistan broadly as Kerry-Lugar-Berman.
And as we’ve kind of talked about before, there has been a number of key achievements with this funding in the five sectors that we outlined as our key pillars. First and foremost, in energy production, given the kind of existential energy needs in Pakistan; second on infrastructure, including roads; third on incentivizing economic growth, particularly in urban areas with some very innovative projects like the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative, which seeds small and medium SMEs, and is now being used as a model, kind of, throughout the rest of the world. And then in education programs, including our Fulbright and higher-ed programs and health programs, including funding some new wards at the Jinnah Medical – the post-graduate medical center and a few others. So there’s been some significant achievements with this.
Now in terms of certifications, as you all know, I mean, Congress has the right and frequently – there has to be certification requirements for U.S. assistance covering a broad range of criteria. We’ve had them for – under Kerry-Lugar-Berman, and they’ve become increasingly specific in terms of what those certifications have to be made for, as well as under CFOA, and there are sometimes overlapping, sometimes similar certifications. So in the past, we’ve at times certified and at times exercised waivers of certification requirement for our own national security purposes. In terms of any next significant disbursement, we will have to make a decision about whether we can certify at that point given the requirements that will then be part of it – in part, Kerry-Lugar-Berman has now concluded, so there are no longer the Kerry-Lugar-Berman certification requirements, but under the CFOA requirements. And whenever we next appropriate funding for particular projects and seek to disburse, we’ll grapple with that, but we have not made those decisions yet. There’s nothing imminently in the pipeline, and at the appropriate time we’ll engage and consult with the Pakistanis on this as well.
QUESTION: And you have not communicated to the Pakistanis any plans regarding a prospective decision about that issue when it is eventually joined?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: There’s – yeah, part of this has to go to – there’s – the funding for ’14, which was appropriated, we’ve communicated that we would have to do this at some point but that we haven’t done it with regard to whatever the next disbursal will be.
QUESTION: I’m sorry, I don’t understand that.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: So we’ve – we’ve certified – here, wait, let me turn it over to our assistance expert.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL FOUR: So we’ve certified for FY ’14 – or we – I’m sorry, we’ve waived for FY – waived certification for FY ’14, but we haven’t yet notified the funding. So what’s happening with Pakistan right now is that we are coordinating on the priorities for how we will notify that funding to Congress. No money has been spent in FY – of the FY ’14 assistance.
QUESTION: And —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL FOUR: This all – all of this comes back to the very complicated process and confusion in communicating that – those private conversations publicly.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: But the waiver for ’14 was —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Pre —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Well pre-notification.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL FOUR: Yeah, that was —
MODERATOR: Okay, we have time for one more question. I just wanted to add one more piece of the schedule that I can – now have. En route to India, Secretary Kerry will stop in Munich, Germany on January 10th to meet with the Sultan of Oman to express his gratitude for their longstanding and strong relationship, and as I’ve – has previously been announced, from there he’ll continue on, of course, to the India portion of the trip.
Last question?
OPERATOR: Thank you. That will come from Matt Lee with AP. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Sorry, this is another logistical question. I just want to make sure that I understand the rules on this. Everything other than the Pakistan stuff is usable right now?
MODERATOR: Correct, and we know this is confusing. We just wanted to make sure we were able to preview all of this for all of you. But everything else in terms of the additions to the schedule, the India portion, things that are not related to the Pakistan trip – and you guys all have judgment to judge what is and isn’t – is usable now.
QUESTION: Okay. And then just – I want to just make sure I understand. On the Bhutan thing, this is the highest – first of all, what day is that? Sorry, I was distracted by the (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That meeting will take place on the 11th of January.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: So Sunday.
QUESTION: Okay. And it will be in Ahmedabad. And also, the – and it is the – no one has ever met with the prime minister of Bhutan before?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No one of cabinet rank has ever met with a senior Bhutanese official. I will note that I had the opportunity to meet with the prime minister during the SAARC summit, but no one above the rank of assistant secretary or our accredited ambassador has met with any senior Bhutanese officials, and the Secretary will be the first cabinet —
QUESTION: Am I correct in thinking that they – that India runs Bhutan’s foreign policy?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I would say that there is a very close relationship between Bhutan and India, and —
QUESTION: Are they – they are a member of the UN, correct, as an independent sovereign country?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: They are indeed.
QUESTION: Okay. So they have a foreign minister?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: They do, and I have met with their foreign minister.
QUESTION: Okay, great. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone.
QUESTION: Oh, sorry, [Senior State Department Official One] —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: — but the meeting in Munich is going to be, what, at the airport?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: It won’t be at the airport. It’s a private meeting. They have a longstanding relationship, as you know. I don’t expect it to be policy-focused. They’ll obviously discuss a range of issues out there, but it’s not at the airport. We can get you more details on the location, perhaps tomorrow.
QUESTION: And what is it – what’s the topic again?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Look, I think they’ll talk about a range of issues of mutual interest. Obviously, they may talk about the nuclear talks in – with Iran, they’ll talk about issues in the Middle East, but this is more of a personal visit than a policy visit, so I would look at it from those – through that prism.
QUESTION: Okay. All right, thanks a lot.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thank you, everyone.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Thanks.

[i] The United States and Bhutan maintain warm, informal relations via the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and Bhutan’s Mission to the United Nations in New York. Bhutan does not have diplomatic relations with any of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, including the United States. Secretary Kerry’s meeting with Bhutanese Prime Minister Tobgay will mark the first bilateral meeting between a U.S. Secretary of State and a Bhutanese official. Previously, the highest ranking State Department official to engage with Bhutan was at the Undersecretary of State level. In the past, United States officials have met with both the Fourth and Fifth King of Bhutan.

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