Monday, June 16, 2008

Fulbright Follow-up

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, can I ask you about Fulbrights? I’m Ethan Bronner --


QUESTION: -- from The New York Times.

SECRETARY RICE: New York Times, right.

QUESTION: How are you? Three of the seven, we were told on Friday or on Thursday, maybe on Wednesday, that they were not getting out. They sent you a letter on Saturday --

SECRETARY RICE: Mm-hmm, yeah.

QUESTION: -- they sent me a copy of. And I was told by numerous Israeli authorities that they are big security risks, these three guys, but they won’t tell me what the security risk that they pose is. Do you feel that it’s right that they not go out? What have you talked to them about?

SECRETARY RICE: We – I’ve received the letter. We’re engaging Israeli authorities about it now. And it continues to be my belief that these – that all of the Fulbrights should be able to take up their fellowships. Look, I – we will talk to the Israeli authorities, but obviously, you know, we have procedures of vetting people for visas. And so we will continue to work with the Israelis, but it is – unless something comes forward that I don’t yet understand, it’s my view that these people ought to be able to take up their fellowships.

QUESTION: Because they did go through some kind of security procedure from the American perspective, didn’t they? There was a vetting form that was filled out for each of them?

SECRETARY RICE: Obviously, if we’re going to issue visas to people, we go through processes. And I just want to repeat, I consider it extremely important for these young people to be able to take up their fellowships. And unless there is something that I have not yet seen, and I don’t – you know, I don’t rule out that there may be some reason that we’ve not yet seen. But unless I see some other reason, I – we’re going to continue to work to try to get them help, because I would hope they can take their fellowships.

QUESTION: And then when I spoke with the Israelis, they said that they were sharing with you their concerns. Have they done that?

SECRETARY RICE: I’ve – the Ambassador’s been working on this. I have not talked to the Israelis myself directly about it, except to say that I consider it to be a very high priority to get this resolved.


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