Washington, DC — Excerpt from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:
QUESTION: Can I ask on Mali?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yesterday we talked a bit about this, and you said that you believed that you'd worked through some of the issues with the French and that you expected some action in the UN Security Council sometime this week on Mali. I believe that Ambassador Rice was a little bit scathing about the French-African Union plan. She called it crap, so I believe, according to reports. I just wonder what is - I don't want you to comment on what Ambassador Rice may or may not have said. I wonder what is the problem for the Americans with the plan that is on the table so far for intervention in Mali. And how do you see it - how would you like to see it amended and how do you see this being resolved?
MS. NULAND: Well, let me say that I'll make some general comments, but in terms of the precise status of the discussion on drafts, et cetera, I'm going to send you up to USUN because they're in the middle of it now with partners, including the French.
But let me start by saying all of us on the Security Council, U.S. and France notably included, share a sense of urgency about this. We share the same goal of the UN Security Council supporting the bringing of more security to northern Mali. We agree that it's urgent. We need to ensure that the way that we do this is actually going to have the results that we desire. So we need to have a draft that is going to hold up and is going to produce on the ground in Mali. And we're very much in consultations with our partners. We're working it through with the French now, as allies do. And I'm going to send you to USUN for more detail.
QUESTION: What are the main weaknesses or holes that you see? What doesn't stand up as yet?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, we want to ensure that once we get to UN Security Council action, that we're going to end up with a force that can do what it's mandated to do, can really provide security on the ground, can meet the needs, can help Malian forces go north, that there is a concept of operation that makes sense and can be effective, that they can perform the training role, et cetera. So these things have to be worked through carefully.
QUESTION: Can I ask two things on it? One, does the Administration think that the French proposal is crap?
MS. NULAND: That - I believe, but you can talk to USUN - I think that's an apocryphal report.
QUESTION: So, no? The answer is no, you don't think it's crap --
MS. NULAND: No. We --
QUESTION: -- or bad, or anything else, any other word? You don't think it's a bad idea?
MS. NULAND: Essentially, where we are is that there are some Council members who think - who want to do this in one bite. We think we should do this in two bites. That's what we're trying to work through.
QUESTION: And the two bites is - the first bit is the training and then the second bite is the actual getting people up into the north where they can actually do something. Is that correct?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can you explain to me how that demonstrates your sense of urgency? This thing isn't going to - I mean, they're not going to get up there under your idea. They're not going to get up there for another six to eight months, maybe even a year. How does that show urgency?
MS. NULAND: You're making assertions about how this would go that I don't think are proven out by the state of the consultations right now.
We want to make sure --
QUESTION: So sooner --
MS. NULAND: We want to make sure that we get this right and really provide the support, but I'm not going to get into the details of what's in different drafts, okay?
QUESTION: All right. Can I just go further north? This is another --
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: -- very deep one. Have you seen this --
MS. NULAND: Anything else on Mali?
QUESTION: Yes, please. Since we talked yesterday, they have a new prime minister. Does that appointment satisfy your concerns about military involvement?
MS. NULAND: Well, let me say you know that yesterday, obviously, we condemned the improper action taken by the junta in forcing Prime Minister Diarra to resign. We called on the transitional president to either reinstate him or appoint somebody new. He's now appointed Django Sissoko, who is somebody that we know and we respect, and we want to see him now form a government that can provide political leadership going towards an election in the spring or as soon as we can get there.
Obviously, we continue to have concerns about what Sanogo is up to, and we think that he and his forces need to be marginalized so that we can have real security both in Bamako and moving north.