Press Secretary Jay Carney, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko, and Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Poneman, held this press conference on March 14, 2011. They discussed the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear security in Japan and protests in the Middle East, particularly Bahrain and Libya.
"Q Jay, I saw the statement this morning about Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and the other GCC countries, but if this is the case that you have Saudi Arabia sending its forces into Bahrain, isn't that a gross violation of the sovereignty of another country?
MR. CARNEY: Well, we're aware of those reports and that other GCC countries are considering doing that. We urge all of our GCC partners to show restraint and to respect the rights of the people of Bahrain, and to act in a way that supports dialogue instead of undermining it. The important factor here is that our overall principles apply to Bahrain and all the countries in the region, which is that we urge restraint. We urge nonviolence in response to nonviolent protesters; the respect for the universal rights of people in the region to gather peacefully, to voice their opinions, to have their grievances heard by their governments, and to have greater participation in the political process.
We have long believed and the President has expressed for a long time now that stability in the region will be brought about by dialogue and political reform. And it is counterproductive to that goal to in any way repress the expression of those desires that the people of Bahrain, in this case, and other countries, have.
Q Jay, that's a very diplomatic way of saying that the U.S. is unhappy about what's going on. But if another country, if Iran had decided to go into another country because they felt it was the right thing to do, what would the United States be saying? And I know it's a hypothetical, but this appears to be pretty serious.
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I think you have to understand what -- I mean, we've seen the reports that you're talking about. This is not an invasion of a country.
Q Right, but there are security forces.
MR. CARNEY: It is -- correct. And we urge the government of Bahrain, as we have repeatedly, as well as other GCC countries to exercise restraint, and not to meet the nonviolent protests of people legitimately expressing their concerns and asking to have their voices heard with any kind of physical violence. So we -- that -- we call on, again, the government of Bahrain as well as other countries in the region that -- to hear this message.
Q Did you get any advance warning that this was going to happen, the Saudis moving in?
MR. CARNEY: I don't have anything on that for you, Steve. As far as --
Q As far as you know -- okay.
MR. CARNEY: I don't know. I don't have anything for you on that.
Q Are we calling on the Saudis to leave?
MR. CARNEY: We are calling on the Saudis, the other members of the GCC countries, as well as the Bahraini government, to show restraint; and that we believe that political dialogue is the way to address the unrest that has occurred in the region, in Bahrain and in other countries, and not to in any way suppress it."