Background Briefing on the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan
Senior Department Official
July 8, 2012
MODERATOR: All right. We are in Tokyo at the conclusion of the Tokyo conference, and here to talk to you a little about the core group meeting today is [Senior State Department Official], hereafter known as Senior State Department Official. Go ahead, [Senior State Department Official].
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thanks a lot again. I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I’d like to actually just talk about the core group in a minute, but to step back if I could, sort of talk a little bit about the day today because I think two things are really important. Now, first, and again this is – I recognize maybe perhaps more of an interest to me than it is to you, but this idea that we’ve sort of come now to the 8th of July in Tokyo after a series of events really that started in Istanbul last year – Istanbul, Bonn, Chicago, Tokyo – I hope that you’ll be able to think about them a little bit as a whole. The job we were given by Secretary Clinton you’ll recall in her speech at the Asia Society in February of last year was to see if we couldn’t create a diplomatic surge to meet the military and civilian surges that were already going on. And we were committed to try to do so in a way that created a regional context for Afghanistan.
We’re talking about an Afghanistan secure, stable, and prosperous inside of a secure, stable, and prosperous region. And so we thought about Istanbul as the place where the neighbors and the near neighbors of Afghanistan got together to sort of start take responsibility in a regional way for Afghanistan, and then on then to the conference in Bonn which talked about a transformational decade for Afghanistan and really endorsed what the region had said: Yes, this is the vision going forward. Went on to Chicago then, and I think among the most important issues in Chicago was to kind of follow-up the security piece of what was called for in Bonn.
So Bonn had lots of pieces but one was security, one was economic development foreign direct investment in private sector. And then Chicago was about doing the security part of Bonn. And then today in Tokyo what we tried to do is then meet the economic development, private sector, foreign direct investment part of what was called for in Bonn.
So for us – for me anyway – it completes a sequence where we have now a regional structure in place, where we have the transformational decade, where we’ve made the security commitments, and now the economic and development commitments to follow through on our transformational decade. The only other thing that I would want to highlight today is I hope when you have a chance or have had a chance to look at the declaration that was put out today by the Tokyo conference, I think what’s interesting about it is the mutual accountability framework as the annex that’s referred to a number of times in the document.
But you all have been following these kinds of issues for a very long time, and I’d say that the mutual accountability framework is about as specific as we can get. It talks about the requirements of the Afghan Government back to the international community, the international community to Afghanistan. And we hope that document will be a foundation now to sort of judge how everybody’s doing, going forward. So again, as you report this or think about it, I hope that you’d consider the mutual accountability framework as something important. It’s pretty specific and I think quite interesting.
In terms of the core group, the other we’ve tried to accomplish today was to try to bring together the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States. As you know, the core group was established a year or so ago – I think in April it was when the senior leaders of Pakistan at that time went up to Kabul, talked about Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation. One of the outcomes was, they called for a core group of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States, to meet and talk about reconciliation. That group I think met six or seven times at my level over the past year, year and a half. We hoped at some time we’d be able to put it together at some higher level, and we achieved that today.
And so three things I’d draw to your attention for today: One is the fact that it took place, and we were able to bring the core group together at a ministerial level. Secondly, from my perspective in listening to the conversation, I got to thinking that over time we, the United States, play a role of a facilitator here for this conversation, and that I could see that over time perhaps we’d play less and less of a role. And this is really a conversation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. So I thought that was interesting and sort of my observation is that ought to be something we can try over time. Secondly, we did, at the core group meeting in Islamabad a few weeks ago, tried to announce – set up some specific efforts that the group would make, such as to make sure that everyone’s following the United Nations’ 1988 process on travel of people who are listed, and other sort of coordination mechanisms. And then thirdly --
MODERATOR: Who are listed on the international sanctions list.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Sanctioned under the 1988 list. And then thirdly, we did issue a statement today and I thought the fact that Pakistan and Afghanistan were prepared to make a similar – a call today together to the armed opposition to lay down their weapons, to get into negotiation, had its utility. And we tried to kind of lay out a vision for what the future would be like and then call people (inaudible) to that vision. So --
MODERATOR: Do you want to do a little bit on this first meeting after the GLOCs between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Khar?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I can only do a little in the sense that the Secretary – we wanted to have the meeting today in advance of the core group meeting so that we kind of could lay out for Pakistanis as we had for the Afghans about what we were trying to accomplish at the core group.
Secretary decided to do it one on one to sort of show the kind of intensity of kind of her engagement in this. You can imagine that all the checklist of items were discussed, but they were together for about an hour and they did it just the two of them.
MODERATOR: Questions? Arshad.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, please. Arshad.
QUESTION: So the Secretary said that the United States was – is going to try to build into the aid that it has pledged incentives for Afghanistan to enact reforms and fight corruption. Can you tell us what those incentives are or what disincentives there might be if the money won’t come if things don’t improve on corruption? And then secondly, listening to the Secretary at the news conference with Foreign Minister Gemba, it’s not clear to me that the solving the land routes issue is going to do much of anything to secure more direct Pakistani activity on counterterrorism. What is your impression of that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay. Both fair questions. First, let me talk about the question on incentives. Again, that’s why I would refer you to the mutual accountability framework and one of the things that we tried very hard to build was this idea that certain percentages – 5, 10, and then increasing numbers – of U.S. assistance ought to be connected to meeting the obligations in the mutual accountability framework, not just in terms of corruption, but good governance and a whole list of things in that area.
And so this is really the first time we’ve been able to get everybody to agree that there ought to be these percentages – the percentages ought to keep growing. So I think that was – it’s a step forward. And if you tie the percentages to the specificity of the mutual accountability framework, I think it answers your question.
In terms of counterterrorism, my answer is we’ll see. The thing that was for sure is that in many ways the fact that the GLOCs were closed was getting in the way kind of a lot of conversation with Pakistan. Now that the GLOCs are open, we have an opportunity, it seems to me, to go back into kind of business with them, and counterterrorism is one of those areas. So we’ll see.
QUESTION: I have two questions. Just the first on the funding, I think several – well, many people expected that it would go further beyond 2015, I was just wondering what was the thinking beyond really only going one year past the 2014 mark? Does it really set it as long-term as maybe one might have expected? And then secondly, I understand there was something of a kerfuffle related to the Italians who put some stronger language on the women’s rights and there was some back and forth on that. What are your concerns? Why was there some Afghan pushed back on that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, on the first, I’d say two things. One is that, I think the Japanese concluded that if they could have people talk about sort of commitment – 2015 to 2017, actually is what they were talking about – that given sort of structures in governments, the length of governments, that that was, for many countries, that was as far out as they could look. But I thought it was interesting, I think the Swedes today made a commitment for the whole transformation decade. So I think certain countries made their own decisions. The Swedes I think they went in for the whole 10 years and other countries did as well.
So everybody’s got their system, and we have our own system, too. We have Congress and we have to seek annual appropriations. The Secretary was pretty clear in her intervention, and as we said all along, that we were going to look for and seek funding at or near the levels that we’ve sought for the past 10 decades. Other people’s systems work --
MODERATOR: Ten years.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Ten years – past decade.
MODERATOR: You said the past 10 decades.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Not 10 decades. (Laughter.) Sorry, I am a little tired.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m sorry, yes that’s right, there you go. That’s right – I’ll be a hero at the Treasury Department. So everybody’s got their own system and I think the Japanese just thought that’s what they could do. But – the Swedes and I think somebody else – but anyway, the Swedes I know for sure went in for the whole 10 years because they were able to do so.
In terms of the other question, there was just an effort by I think every country around the table to make sure that the document is a declaration itself and the mutual accountability framework was as strong as possible on women’s issues and these – there’s a negotiation about all of these things, but there was absolutely unified view all around the table that the women’s issues were important that ought to be mentioned as much as possible, as strongly as possible. And you could ask him, but I was struck by, in the last session of – the closing session of the conference – both Foreign Minister Rassoul and the Finance Ministers (inaudible) said, “We’ve got your message on a whole list of things, but certainly women’s rights was part of that.”
QUESTION: So these were Afghanistan and --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Both. Both Afghanistan. Rassoul is the Foreign Minister and Zakhilwal the Finance Minister.
MODERATOR: I would just add to that that President Karzai was very, very strong on this whole complex of issues and that the gains women have made in Afghanistan are a litmus test of the country’s development and it can’t be allowed to roll back when he met with the Secretary yesterday in Kabul.
QUESTION: So --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Let me see – I have just one other thing and that’s one of the reasons that we did – that the Secretary this afternoon met with civil society groups, so we could make that point again and make it in public.
QUESTION: So that accountability framework implies for the whole $16 billion, right?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Correct. Correct.
QUESTION: So, I mean in plain language, the – from 5 to 20 percent is conditioned on what the Afghans do in meeting anticorruption measures?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: And meeting the requirements of the mutual accountability framework.
QUESTION: Which is – and it’s up to 20 percent of the $16 billion?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, let’s see. I don’t want to --
MODERATOR: Dan briefed us on the plane and he said that, whereas we had started at 10 percent, it’s basically up to 20 percent and that was one of the gains.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s in here.
MODERATOR: It’s in the annex.
QUESTION: Well, so the question I really want to ask about is --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, it’s paragraph 13 of the annex.
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) – the Haqqanis. Did you – did the Secretary press the Foreign Minister of Pakistan that more had to be done about the Haqqanis this afternoon?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: As she always does, sure.
QUESTION: As she always does. So what was the new twist in here? Since they haven’t spoken about it for six months, what else did you have to say about it besides the usual?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I mean, the usual is that we want them to do more – we want them to increase the pressure on the Haqqanis.
QUESTION: And what was the response?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Their response is that they intend to do more.
QUESTION: So they recognize that the Haqqanis are in their territory?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think one of the important things here is – what we’ve been saying to them is go back to your parliament’s declaration. What’s that parliament declaration say? Parliament declaration says no foreign fighters. Nobody should attack other countries from our territory. We shouldn’t be the base for terrorist, sects, and other people, the argument is, “So, your parliament has said this. That’s your policy, so find ways to live up to it.”
QUESTION: I got lost.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Please.
QUESTION: On the mutual accountability and the 5 to 20 percent, how are you actually going to monitor compliance?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Again, it’s in there. There’s a whole thing on the joint JCMB – the whatever it says – the joint – the JCMB. There’s a whole series of compliance frameworks there.
QUESTION: And then, also back on the issue of women’s rights in Afghanistan, I was struck by the Secretary’s speech and how strongly she had defended that and with your comments just now. Are you very worried that women’s rights are being rolled back in Afghanistan right now?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We’re just trying to set a – I think everyone’s trying to set a standard. And the standard is that as you go forward here with all the things they – with all their requirements, that women’s rights remain one of the fundamental interests of all of the countries – certainly represented there today. And I’d say the people who spoke for Afghanistan as well.
QUESTION: Did you say at risk?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Risk. I mean, there seems to be – there was a recent --
QUESTION: Marital (inaudible.)
QUESTION: Yes. Yes. That would suggest that there was some – perhaps a roll back to these rights.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I certainly think in areas where the insurgents are, what do you see? You see women’s rights being rolled back. And the other thing is, I think it’s important, as you report this – as people head towards 2014, there’s still a very large amount of anxiety inside of Afghanistan that the international community’s just going to depart. And so one of the reasons to keep reinforcing not just the message on women’s rights, but one of the reasons we signed a strategic partnership agreement with them, one of the reasons that there’s a commitment for the transformation decade, one of the reasons that people are looking forward is to try to inject into the psyche and debate inside of Afghanistan that 2014 is not the end of international engagement there.
MODERATOR: Let’s take --
QUESTION: There’s – on to Pakistan --
MODERATOR: Let’s – can I just let people that haven’t had a chance at all? Thank you.
QUESTION: So we can read the mutual accountability framework. Can you back it up a little bit for us and tell us how you identified where the most corruption was and how you focused and crafted that wording? Where along the line was the corruption that you decided you could effect by wording things the way you did?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean, it says what it says – I don’t know how to answer your question.
QUESTION: No, I’m not asking what it says. I’m saying, how was it – the process of deciding where along the line you’re finding the most corruption. Where is the problem of corruption right now among the transmission --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think as the Afghans said this afternoon, and I think as President Karzai said in the opening session, that corruption is in their society and they need to take care of it. And so one of the reasons there are indicators in the mutual accountability framework is for precisely that reason, is so that people can judge against them.
QUESTION: But that’s (inaudible) --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I mean we took – in a number of these areas of the mutual accountability framework, you take the indicators that you can, you try to make the best – you say, well, here if these things were done, we’d make some progress. So that’s what they indicated --
MODERATOR: If I could just – most of this is based on the analysis that the World Bank makes and they’ve been sort of the baseline, as they are in all countries, for standards of corruption et cetera and the best techniques for attacking it.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) percentages.
MODERATOR: We’ve got one more here.
QUESTION: The Japanese say there’s going to be no mechanical cut off of aid despite the percentages, and the percentages seem to only be geared towards the Afghan reconstruction trust fund. How confident are you that, in fact, these are real meaningful goals that have teeth, and that if they’re not met, in fact money will be shut off?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think that the tenor of the conversation today was that mutual accountability is mutual accountability, which is to say that the international community has made these commitments to Afghanistan, Afghanistan has made commitments back, and people have to keep them. And again, I thought that the Finance Minister at the end of the day today said, “Look, we understand this is really hard on your politics. Your taxpayers want to know if they’re getting their money’s worth. It’s our job now to meet our requirements. So that’s what we’re going to do.”
QUESTION: Can we ask one about the money, because I think this an important issue? The Secretary’s language, that you’re going to seek from Congress an amount, add from here what you thought over the last 10 years, to me has a sort of tremendous ambiguity to it, because I went and looked at the CRS’s calculation, and it goes from $970 million to a peak of about $4 billion in 2010 and then down to about 2.3 for FY2012. And it’s sort of like my kid saying, I’m going to try to achieve grades at or near the level that I’ve achieved over the last decade and that range length from say a “D” to an “A+”. And so it’s not clear to me if the kid’s going to try to get a “B” or if at or near the “D” is good enough to meet the standards set in this language.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right.
QUESTION: So I understand you guys are loathe to give a specific dollar figure because you’ve got to deal with Congress, but I also understand that one has no real idea. It seems to me it could be anywhere at or near the low end of that or the high end of it.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. I’m not going to go any farther than that. We’re just going to have to see.
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