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December 1 State Department Briefing

By The State Department, The State Department - December 1, 2009

1:29 p.m. EST

MR. KELLY: Okay. Well, welcome. I think, as you all know, the Secretary is going to accompany the President up to West Point tonight for the speech by the President to talk about his strategy toward Afghanistan. The Secretary will have about seven hours of hearings tomorrow beginning with the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9:00, and then that will be followed in the afternoon by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She’ll be joined by Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen at both of those briefings.

On Thursday, the same three will participate in a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That starts at 9:00. There will also be a hearing in the afternoon of the House Armed Services Committee, but Deputy Secretary Lew will participate in that one. Secretary Clinton tomorrow goes to – I’m sorry, not tomorrow, Thursday – goes Thursday to Brussels for meetings on December 4th.

There will be a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of foreign ministers at NATO Headquarters on the agenda. There will also be a meeting of NATO foreign ministers with non-NATO ISAF contributing nations, and a NATO-Russia Council working lunch. She, of course, will also meet with the NATO Secretary General Rasmussen as well as with the newly appointed Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, and Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere and EU leaders.

And that’s all I have at the top, and I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Can you – what is – presumably, almost all these people, or at least the leaders of these countries of foreign ministers she’s – excuse me, foreign ministers she’s going to be seeing have already been briefed about what the President plans to say tonight. What exactly is she going to be doing there?

MR. KELLY: Well, as you know, this is an international effort, and this is an opportunity for foreign ministers or their representatives from all of the ISAF contributing countries, and I think that’s 40-some countries in one place, so this is a real opportunity for the foreign ministers to – 43 nations are in ISAF. So this is a real opportunity for all the foreign ministers to get together and coordinate and talk about the strategy going forward. There’s also going to be a force generation conference of the same nations on Monday that will be – I think that will be at the military representative level.

So a lot of things are coming together, and it just highlights that this is a – this is not just a U.S. effort. It’s an international effort, and we all share common goals, and we see a common threat of – in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Yeah, but what is she going to be telling them?

MR. KELLY: Well, it’s not just a matter of her telling them. It’s an opportunity for everybody to share approaches, to discuss how they can coordinate to make our efforts a lot more effective. They – it’s a – it’ll be a wonderful forum for them to talk about trying to avoid duplication of efforts and trying to leverage where countries have certain capabilities and certain advantages. And this is not just a – of course, it’s not just a military effort too. This is a meeting of foreign ministers, so they’ll be talking about developmental efforts and diplomatic efforts as well.

QUESTION: Does Holbrooke have any role in this?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know if we’re talking about Holbrooke’s plans at present, but he does – I know he plans to participate in the Brussels meetings. I don’t have his whole schedule, but there will be also meetings with his special representative colleagues in Brussels.

QUESTION: All right, and one more. Is this issue coming up at all at the OSCE?

MR. KELLY: This issue of Afghanistan? Not that I’m aware of. I mean, I think OSCE does have some role in certain training efforts, especially counternarcotics training efforts, and I think border guards as well. But those are --

QUESTION: Well, you better read up on that. (Laughter.)

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