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tv   [untitled]    April 10, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm EDT

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>> okay. >> madam ambassador, if you could. so i'm going to list them quickly. so consequences to unesco -- i know we have 22% of their regular budget. so that's a significant stick if we wanted to use it. also, do you know anything about the presence of russian troops in damascus? i read a piece the other day that the russians had landed in damascus. is there any truth to that? and if so, what were they doing there and what were their intentions? also, what are the -- if you can speak in public session about what the status is of negotiations between iran and the five plus one with regards to iran's nuclear program. where is that status? also, it's been said that the swift program -- are you familiar with that? the society for worldwide interbank financial telecommunications, which has just said that they're not going to work with iran in passing
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money back and forth from iran to its customers, they're going to shut that down, that that will have a significant impact on iran. do you know anything about that, and can you comment on that? i have a zillion more questions. that's probably enough for now. >> let me see how many i can get to before the red light -- >> oh. and the status of the israeli-palestinian negotiations. [ laughter ] time's up, right? thank you, madam chairman. >> thank you, especially for your kind comments about my service. let me begin with unesco. you say how do we ensure there are consequences for unesco. unesco the organization that is carrying out holocaust education and girls' education and literacy training and other anti-extremist programs are, as you know, a collection of international civil servants doing this work on the ground. they're not the ones that we intend to punish. it's the member states individually who belong to
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unesco and belong to the general assembly and everywhere else that cast these votes. so we need to make that distinction. and that's part of the problem with the way our current legislation or law is drafted. it doesn't make a distinction. it's a very blunt instrument that ends up boomeranging against u.s. interests. it's not in our interests for these critical programs to go without 22% of u.s. funding. it simply isn't. if it were, we wouldn't have funded them in the first place and you wouldn't have been generous in your support of them. now, how do we punish individual member states? if that's our objective. we can discuss that. each of them, as you know, is individual, and we can discuss and consider how to ensure there are consequences there. i think that's difficult to do. there are many votes that are taken in u.n. agencies on individual issues with different countries that we disagree with. but let me say a couple things quickly. you know, the same states that
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we may be very frustrated with in terms of their vote on unesco may be the very same states that are voting correctly, as over 130 countries did, on syria, for example. or that voted overwhelmingly to condemn the iranian-backed plot to kill the saudi ambassador here in washington. so for every vote that we would deplore there may be several that we would welcome. and so how you calibrate that in our relationship in dealing with individual member states is tricky. but we don't need to punish the entity and we don't need to punish ourselves. and we have talked about ways to make sure there are consequences for the palestinians. russian troops. i've seen the press reports. i've also seen very clear-cut denials from moscow about these reports. i have not seen any information to corroborate these reports. that's all i can say on that. with respect to iran and the p-5
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plus one, as you know, the iranians have said they're prepared to return to the negotiating table. kathy ashton on behalf of the p-5 plus one has said the p-5 plus one is ready to come back to the table. they're negotiating the timing and modalities. and so the expectation is that should happen before too long. and finally, on swift, i'm not the expert. and i certainly wouldn't want to get into a matter of technical interest that the treasury department is more expert on, but obviously, this is a positive step. it is one in a series of positive steps that have increased the pressure on the iranian banking and financial system in a way that i think is having real impact, real negative impact. >> thank you, madam ambassador. thank you, madam chairman. >> mr. dan. >> thank you, madam chairman. madam ambassador, good to be with you. just following up on representative cole's comments, i was one of the few folks on my side of the aisle to support the administration's retroactive
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action in libya on the house floor. i thought it was the correct thing to do. obviously, i had some questions about how we conducted the operation but i thought it was the right thing to do. but in that situation we had u.n. support obviously, nato support, arab league support. and that's important. but with respect to syria we don't have u.n. support quite clearly. and it seems to me that as long as the russians and chinese have a seat at the security council table they're going to veto anything that comes up on syria that's meaningful. i guess the real question is if we really want to -- if we really want to make an impact on the iranians, certainly undermining the assad regime is very important. and at what point do we show the same resolve to the friends of syria that the russians have shown to the assad regime? it's quite clear to me that the friends of the syrian regime are
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quite clear and resolute in their support, but those of us who are very concerned about what's been going on with mr. assad, we seem to be flailing about for a policy. we offer humanitarian assistance. but at what point do we consider supporting the rebels militarily? i'm not saying boots on the ground. i'm not even talking about no-fly zone impositions. but doing something to support the opposition. >> well, i appreciate the opportunity to address syria. this is an issue of utmost priority and concern. and clearly we are as appalled and disgusted with what is happening in syria as anybody else. the reality, though, is that each of these circumstances, syria, libya, yemen, egypt, tunisia, are different in very important respects. not just in the ways you described, that there isn't an international consensus, that
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the russians and chinese have blocked action, that the arab league hasn't requested this kind of support, but they're different in terms of the dynamics on the ground. they're different in terms of the cohesion and the effectiveness of the opposition. you know, in libya you had an opposition that from the earliest days controlled a degree of territory from which it could push out. that's not the case in syria. and so our interest is and remains in seeing this government go, seeing assad go, and a democratic transition emerge as soon as possible. but the best way to get there in our judgment is not in this instance through the use of military force or even at this stage arming an opposition whose leadership and cohesion we know very little bit about. >> i'm not talking about us engaging militarily. i'm just simply saying at what point do we support rebels militarily? i mean, it just seems to me that the alternative is to watch them all be slaughtered. >> sir, that's indeed the question i'm trying to address. and the answer is that we
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believe that the best approach is threefold -- one, to increase the pressure on the assad regime. and we have put strong sanctions. we have seen others do the same. the region. and we need to tighten that noose, point one. yes, indeed, we do care about the humanitarian situation, and we are seeking greater access and providing humanitarian assistance, but, third, we're trying to support the opposition, to unify and cohere both internally and externally. at this stage there is quite a distance to go in that regard and we think the best solution remains a politically negotiated solution rather than further militarizing the situation through the insertion of military aid to the opposition, an opposition, which, frankly, we still know very little about. >> we made some of the arguments with respect to the libyan opposition, too. we didn't know a lot -- >> and we didn't provide them with arms. >> i want to move over to the unesco question quickly
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following up on mr. rothman's comments about consequences. i guess there are all sorts of consequences here. but what are the consequences if we go back on our word? this subcommittee was pretty clear that if the palestinians went to the u.n., unesco, that there would be consequences. we said it, we meant it. and i thought that there have to be consequences. but what's the consequence to us, to all of us if we go back on our word? >> i appreciate the question. first of all, there are consequences, as we've just discussed, for the palestinians, which in our judgment is where the consequences ought to lie. the consequences shouldn't be on us or against us, the united states. that's self-defeating. that wasn't the intent of the legislation. and we now have a situation where in unesco and potentially other agencies a law that was intended to deter is having -- is failing to deter and then boomeranging on us. i don't think it's going back on our word or giving the
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palestinians a bye to take remedial action that protects u.s. interests while at the same time maintaining the legislative actions you've already taken that will in fact have consequences for the palestinians. >> thank you. mr. schiff. >> thank you, madam chair. and welcome, ambassador. it's great to see you. appreciate your superb job. i want to follow up on mr. dent's questions. i share his frustration, i think that of many americans, when we hear the syrian opposition say why has the world forsaken us? and i know we are trying. but it's appalling to see the kind of bloodshed that's going on there. and i've been very gratified to see the strong words that you have spoken against what russia and china have done, particularly russia. recently there have been some statements by the russian foreign minister that they might
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be amenable to something that kofi annan is working out recently. the chinese have indicated they might not veto another resolution. do you see any meaningful movement on the part of either country? and if there's still time after that question, i'd love to get your thoughts on the situation in north korea. i was surprised, frankly, that kim jong un agreed as early in his tenure to resume discussions, but then of course very disappointed with the announcement of these satellite launches. does that completely scuttle the opportunity for discussion? do you see any new window with the invitation for iaea inspections? and how do you assess that situation? >> thank you very much, mr. schiff. russia and china in the security
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council. their behavior to protect the assad regime has been reprehensible. and i think, frankly, they have heard that message from the entire international community, not just the united states and our western partners. the entire arab world and the majority of members of the united nations. soon after the second double veto the general assembly took up more or less the same resolution that was blocked in the security council. it was adopted by an overwhelming majority, over 130 countries voted in favor. a very small handful, i think about eight countries, voted no. and they include russia and china and venezuela and zimbabwe and north korea and iran and syria. it was company that one would -- it's very unique company that
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russia and china typically don't like to find themselves in. that has been followed by continued strong action out of the human rights council and repeated international unity with the glaring exception of russia and china on issues related to syria. i think the combination of that kind of isolation has given them, particularly the chinese perhaps to a greater extent than the russians, some pause. they are both embarked on public relations efforts, particularly in the arab world, to try to mitigate the consequences of their actions. and i do think that should -- that the appointment of kofi annan and the efforts that he's trying to make provide a potential, underscore potential, point of convergence among the
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members of the security council. so we're discussing this week not a new resolution but a strong what we would call presidential statement to lend support to kofi annan's efforts. it will be interesting to see whether russia and china having supported kofi annan's appointment are able to agree on a statement. it would be the first unified statement out of the council of any substance since last august in support of what kofi annan is trying to accomplish. that will give us some indication potentially of where they're going on this. but i do think that with each successive effort to stand up to protect assad in the context of his atrocities it does cost russia and china in important ways that are not lost on them. let me turn, if my time permits, to dprk. the north korean announcement on
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friday that they intend to do a satellite launch at some point in april was highly provocative. it's absolutely in violation should they do it of their obligations under security council violations. it violates in our view the february 29 agreement that was reached. the good news is that all of the key players, including all of the players in the six parties including russia and china have made very clear their opposition to this and their view that it would be a violation of north korea's obligations under international law. should they go through with it, it would certainly make any progress on the agreement that was reached very difficult and would underscore that what they say and what they do tend to be quite divergent. in the meantime, we are consulting with our partners in
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the region. we are working to underscore that it would be wise for the north koreans not to pursue this announced intent to launch a satellite. >> thank you. mr. austria. >> thank you, madam chairman. excuse me. ambassador, thank you for being here. i appreciate it very much. i have three questions i want to ask all three and -- >> i'll try my best. >> i feel it's important to bring up on unesco, and i think it's been pointed out that -- international recognition. successful with unesco. but i think that, you know, the position i think that many of us are looking at is that the immediate halt in the u.s. funding sent a powerful message to all other u.n. bodies as well as the palestinians that the u.s. is serious about its intent
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for negotiated peace. i agree with you unesco does good work. the concern is that resuming that funding at this time would send the wrong message to the palestinians at this particular time. and i appreciate your willingness to work with this committee in trying to come up with how to deal with a waiver -- thank you. i'm sorry. >> i could hear you. >> okay. as long as you were able to hear me. a waiver in which the president has put in his budget and which you've described because i think it's important, again, sending that message right now is a concern we have with the unesco. let me also -- and this is kind of jumping over to israel. while we greatly appreciate, and i personally appreciate your ongoing efforts to defend israel at the united nations, nonetheless, i think israel continues to be singled out
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constantly well beyond any sense prove portion. and israel seems to be treated differently at the u.n. than any other country. and let me zero in on two areas. because of the strong u.s. leadership israel was granted a seat in the western europe and others group, w.e.o.g., in new others group, weog, in new york. for that effort i thank you. we appreciate that. but unfortunately, israel was not a number of the weog in geneva, and therefore is effectively banned from many if not most u.n. organizations and agencies. my question is what is the u.s. doing to ensure that israel is granted full membership rights throughout the u.n. system? and then if there's time if you can give us a briefing on hezbollah rearming and what's going on in that part of the region. >> i'm sorry. i didn't hear -- >> what can be done with
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hezbollah and what the u.n. and the u.s. is doing to help prevent the flow of arms going that direction because it seems as though there's been a blind eye, so to speak, with the flow of arms toward hezbollah. and if you could clarify that, i'd appreciate that very much. >> okay. thank you. let me begin by coming back to unesco. >> yes. >> we need to ensure that the legislative and policy tools that we have and use meet the desired effect and hit their intended target. the intended target is in this instance not unesco the programs. not the united states vote and leadership, which has already frankly suffered in unesco as a result of our withholding of funding. and we've created a void in which china and qatar and others have come behind us with money to fund programs that we were funding, filling the gap and turning them in a direction that serves their interests. the target is to change the
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palestinians' calculation. and the palestinians aren't frankly dissuaded by something that doesn't impact them. in a way, if we wanted to be really cynical, if you're the palestinians you get membership and you get a diminished u.s. role in an organization where we're otherwise there, present, standing up for our interests, defending israel, and doing things that we think is important. so the legislation is in effect inadvertently a two-fer for that course of action. >> but would you agree that when we halted that u.s. funding it sent a powerful message to the palestinians as well? >> the message to the palestinians was not stop your march through the u.n. agencies. the message to the palestinians unfortunately, and i realize this is not the intent, was if you get into these u.n. agencies not only do they get a vote but we get diminished influence. so i don't believe that it is working in the way it was
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intended. i don't believe it is deterring the palestinians or frankly other member states from making a decision that they base on a broader range of policy issues and their own calculations of national interests. it is only having the unfortunate and unintended consequence of dealing us out of organizations in which we have an important interest. and that's why the administration is of the view that we need to relook at this, we need to ensure that we are using the tools at our disposal in a targeted way at the intended target. and that's the difference between the 1990 and 1994 legislation that is problematic and what's done in the context of the legislation you that all adopted at the end of last year. >> thank you, madam chairwoman. thank you for your service. i always admire people who are willing to serve our country. and you obviously are doing that. so we thank you for that. i will, however, tell you, and i mean this with the greatest
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respect, that my jaw has been consistently dropping today as i've heard some statements. you mentioned, for example, circumstances when we discredit the u.n. do you not understand that we discredit ourselves when we don't follow up on our commitments? for example, you also mentioned that the determinates -- that unesco knew about what the policy was of the united states and yet they still voted how they voted in the case of israel, so therefore we should in essence get rid of that deterrent. again, should we not -- does it not hurt our national interest, do you not see it, how it hurts our national interests when we back away from our pre-existing stated positions, when they violate those positions and we just walk away from them and look for other alternatives? you don't think that discredits our credibility? >> first of all, what we would be reversing is legislation that was enacted --
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>> our position. >> -- many years ago in a very different time in very different circumstances. legislation refers to the plo, which no longer is relevant. now, that doesn't mean that the goal is not one we share and want to pursue, which is to deter and dissuade the palestinians from making a further march -- >> and unesco. and deterring unesco as well. and the u.n. and the world health -- world health organization and others as well. >> but let's be clear what it means to deter unesco and the world health organization. it's not deterring a body sitting in geneva. it's deterring the decisions of 192 other member states. individually. and there is not one single blunt instrument that has that cumulative effect. it just doesn't work that way. >> so therefore, we disregard our policy? >> no, what we do --
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>> that's your approach? >> -- is devise policies that serve our interests. we don't stick to policies that are many years old that are no longer working as intended and are in fact self-defeating. instead, we customize the tools for the time. i think your legislation, adopted in december, did that. and that puts pressure and targeted pressure on the palestinians. we can sit here and talk, and i'm happy to do, about what do we do about the other 192 u.n. member states and how do we influence their decisions on this. that's what we do every day in terms of our diplomacy. but that's not the same as shooting a single scattershot at an institution like the world health organization or like unesco, which is an aggregation of programs and activities that serve our interests. >> madam ambassador, that's assuming that there are no other alternatives in this world. and there are other
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alternatives. in other words, i firmly believe that this attitude, whether it was the reset attitude with russia months after they have invaded our ally georgia -- and by the way, that has proven to be a dismal disaster. whether it's in the russians' attitude toward georgia, toward syria, to the u.n. dismal disaster. and i just have to quote even one of your tweets regarding that russian vote in the u.n. where you were pretty offended, and i think rightfully so. that was after the reset. now, as opposed to on the contrary not just stepping up pressure to unesco because of their attitude toward israel -- by the way, this is the same unesco that recently voted in their human rights committee to keep -- to keep syria in it. as opposed to stepping up pressure. now we're going to back up and back off from a pre-existing
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position of the united states. and that position has been -- and i will tell you, and i agree with it, that we're going to stand up for israel. we're going to stand up against organizations who have an anti-israeli tendency, whether it's unesco, whether it's the u.n., whether it's anybody else, and it seems that this administration consistently is backing down, backing up, and unfortunately, madam ambassador, the results, which is what matter, have been dismal. whether it's the reset with russia. whether it's their attitude. whether it's china. whether it's north korea now, by the way, which was mentioned. and clearly with israel, even though there are statements made, but statements don't make results saying, you know, how strong this administration is standing up for israel. the reality is that the facts do not bear that out. and i think it's frankly putting us at great risk and putting our
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allies at great risk. >> well, if i have time still to respond -- >> you do. >> -- i'd like to say, first of all, i completely reject the notion that this administration is not every day all day standing up for our ally israel in terms of the strongest security relationship this country has ever had, in terms of day in and day out what we do in the united nations and all of its agencies to defend and promote israel, including its inclusion in additional groups. we have managed to work to get israel included in groups that it was excluded from in new york and geneva over the course of the last three years. the juice cans group for the fifth committee, for the second committee, for various things. with u.s. support israel has been able to join the boards of unicef and undp for the first time. with u.s. support israel is playing a much more prominent role throughout the united nations system. and it has been very generous in crediting u.s. assistance and support in helping it get to that place. i will not take a seat -- a back seat to anybody on u.s. support for and defense of israel in the united nations. and when it comes to unesco,
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look only at what israel is doing in its own interests. it is still voluntarily funding programs that it thinks are important. while we are not. >> ambassador, i have one question. we'll make another round, but you'll need to be concise in this to get to everyone. we're hearing reports that iraq may be facilitating arms shipments to syria to support the opposition, and so it's very disheartening. i would say what is the u.n. doing to investigate those allegations? and if they're found to be true and iraq really is in violation of its international obligations, what steps can we expect the u.n. to take? >> thank you, madam chairwoman. we have also heard such reports. they are of concern. we are certainly working assiduously to -- in
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communication with the iraqis and others to ensure that any shipments are not -- that they undertake their obligations to ensure that any shipments that may be transiting their territory are not in violation of u.n. sanctions. understand that the sanctions they would be violating are the iran sanctions. there are unfortunately no arms embargo against syria. much as we would like it to be otherwise. the iran sanctions, however, do prohibit iran from exporting weapons beyond its borders. the united nations has a robust effort to monitor and enforce existing sanctions, especially against iran. we will review those sanctions as we do quarterly again tomorrow in the security council. and we -- that sanctions committee has a panel of experts that investigates and reports on violations of all sorts. so for example, the iranians were caught violating the sanctions regime with a weapons


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