The Middle East Digest provides text and audio from the Daily Press Briefing. For the full briefings, please visit daily press briefings.
From the Daily Press Briefing of June 1, 2010
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. And sorry, we’ve been calling a lot of audibles at the line of scrimmage today. The meeting with Foreign Minister Davutoglu was planned for one hour. It went about two hours and 15 minutes, including a filing break. The foreign minister at one point conferred with his prime minister by phone so – in anticipation of a phone call that will happen between the President and Prime Minister Erdogan sometime in the next few minutes. That, in turn, caused us to miss the ceremony with the now Ambassador to the OSCE Ian Kelly. He was sworn in by Jack Lew. But I understand he’ll have some pictures with Secretary Clinton later this afternoon. And then that led into the bilateral with the Romanian foreign minister.
But before we start, I want to pay tribute to Nick Kralev. It is our last – his last day at the – covering the beat here at the State Department. Nick, best wishes with your upcoming book project.
QUESTION: Thank you, P.J., and thanks for your work and all your help in the last year and a half.
MR. CROWLEY: But I can report the Secretary had a very detailed, in-depth discussion with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. The first portion of the meeting was on the immediate situation with respect to the flotilla. The second half of the meeting regarded the situation with respect to Iran. I’ll go into detail on that, I’m sure, through your questions.
And you saw a short time ago the Secretary reported on her meeting with Romanian Foreign Minister Baconschi, talked about missile defense, talked about the Visa Waiver Program, and regional issues.
Prior to these meetings, the Secretary had a brief call today with President Karzai – first opportunity to talk since the successful trip to Washington of a couple of weeks ago. The Secretary wished President Karzai good luck with the upcoming consultative peace jirga and they also talked about the other events happening in the future. There’s a major meeting of the SRAP from more than 30 questions – 30 countries happening next week in Madrid. Richard Holbrooke will lead the U.S. delegation to that meeting and she continued to focus on the planning that will go on at the SRAP meeting in Madrid on June 7 as it leads into the Kabul conference later in the summer.
I think the White House has announced that George Mitchell will lead a delegation to the Palestinian investment conference tomorrow through Friday. But George is meeting with the Secretary as we speak and will depart later on this afternoon and expects to have meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders over the next couple of days.
And I think we have released a statement by the Secretary a short time ago regarding the certification of the Iraqi election results. I’ll just quote in part. The Secretary said that with the election results officially certified, we call on Iraq’s political leaders to move forward without delay to form an inclusive and representative government that will work on behalf of the Iraqi people.
So with that, Matt.
QUESTION: P.J., I’m wondering if you can give us a bit of – a little bit of flavor of what the conversation between the Secretary and the Turkish foreign minister was. He had some pretty strong things to say this morning. His boss has had some pretty strong things to say as well. Is it safe to assume that – I mean, he came out and said that he wanted the United States to condemn this act. Neither the Secretary nor the spokesman at the White House would do that. Is it fair to say that there’s still not a meeting of the minds on this between the U.S. and Turks?
MR. CROWLEY: Actually, not at all. It was a – obviously, very in-depth discussion lasting far longer than had been originally scheduled. And throughout the meeting, both the Secretary and Foreign Minister Davutoglu more than once said, look, we are here as allies and we have a shared interest in working through what are very tragic circumstances that have created significant emotions in the region. The foreign minister talked about Turkey’s immediate concern, which is the return of their citizens and Turkish citizens who were tragically killed in this episode. And the Secretary fully understood that. In fact, we have our own concerns and are providing consular assistance today to roughly 11 American citizens who were part of the flotilla.
And so in our conversations that we’ve had subsequently with Israeli officials, we have again stressed the importance of moving ahead and releasing citizens from a wide range of countries, not just Turkey, even as Israel goes through and begins its own investigation of what happened.
QUESTION: Well, yeah, but you still haven’t condemned this. Was the conversation at all heated? Why was there the need for the foreign minister to make a phone call to his – to the prime minister?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, that was simply about the sequence of events. You’ve got the foreign minister has met – since he met with Secretary Clinton, he has also met with the National Security Council Advisor General Jones and working through and teeing up having those meetings prior to a call. So it was just a matter of rescheduling the President’s call and making sure that the – we had preliminary meetings with the Secretary and the National Security Advisor first.
QUESTION: Did their conversation enter into the Gaza situation, deeper into that situation? And I assume that there are disagreements there on the role of Hamas. Did they broach these subjects?
MR. CROWLEY: No, they weren’t discussed. Clearly, there – the foreign minister went through some background from a Turkish standpoint and the preparations that they had made and discussions they had had with Israeli Government officials prior to the launching of the flotilla. But this was primarily focused on understanding where we are now and what should be done in the short and intermediate term.
QUESTION: Did the Turks agree with the idea of an Israeli probe of what happened or did they push more for foreign participation, international participation?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, the Secretary conveyed to Foreign Minister Davutoglu primarily what she conveyed in her press availability that you heard a short time ago, that we support the Security Council’s call for a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation. We support an Israeli investigation and – but we’re open to different ways of ensuring a credible investigation, including international participation.
Now, Turkey will have its own judgment as to any investigation it might undertake, since this was a Turkish ship among other international --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, and Foreign Minister Davutoglu did say, and we fully understand, that this is not just an incident that involves Turkey and Israel. A number of countries, including the United States, obviously had citizens and flagged vessels as part of this flotilla.
QUESTION: On the investigation --
QUESTION: Can I --
MR. CROWLEY: One at a time.
QUESTION: Can I follow on something Matt said and some – and one of the ways you’ve answered the – where we go from here, or the meeting upstairs with the foreign minister? First of all with the foreign minister, did he ask her assistance, Secretary Clinton’s assistance, in talking to the Israelis about freeing the ship or freeing Turkish citizens or getting them released?
And secondly, you mentioned 11 Americans. I’m led to believe there were at least 14 that are still there. Perhaps there are different categories.
MR. CROWLEY: There have been some American citizens who have already departed Israel. I would just simply say I think we provided consular services for 11 today.
QUESTION: Still in detention? They are – those – the 11 are still in detention?
MR. CROWLEY: I think those 11 are still being held, yes.
QUESTION: On the investigation --
MR. CROWLEY: All right, hold on. Again, one at a time.
QUESTION: The other part of the question about did the foreign minister ask Secretary Clinton’s assistance in talking to the Israelis on Turkey’s behalf?
MR. CROWLEY: The – well, the Turkish Government has been in touch with the Israeli Government. I think they have a couple of aircraft that have already arrived at Ben Gurion and they are understandably anxious to bring those who are killed, injured, but other Turkish citizens, back to Turkey. He stressed that a couple – a number of times. The Secretary indicated that we would convey Turkey’s desires to Israel and we have done that.
QUESTION: What would participation look like in an investigation – can I (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Because you said impartial and transparent and so on investigation, then an Israel investigation. Are those two separate things or are we supporting – or are you supporting just an Israeli investigation?
MR. CROWLEY: We believe that Israel is in the best position to conduct an investigation of what transpired. And as we’ve said, we want to make sure it is prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent.
QUESTION: How would you determine that?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the fox watching the henhouse here. I mean, you’ve said there’s 11 Americans involved in this. What other --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I said there – no, let me clarify. I said that we’ve provided consular services to 11 Americans today.
QUESTION: Okay. A foreign military boarded a ship in international waters, assaulted its passengers, handcuffed and beat some of those passengers, many of them humanitarian activists, and you’re saying you’re not prepared to send U.S. investigators. I mean, this is clearly a case of the fox watching the henhouse.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, you’re making some presumptions in those – in your question.
QUESTION: What’s the presumption? You said there’s 11 --
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no, you characterized what happened on the ship. We are still trying to ascertain precisely what happened on that ship.
QUESTION: Then will you send investigators from the United States to do an impartial --
MR. CROWLEY: As the Secretary indicated, we completely support what was described in the presidential statement last night in the UN and we are open to determine if there are opportunities for international participation in that investigation.
QUESTION: Would that include sending the FBI?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not prepared to say what role the United States would have at this point.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: P.J., this building has made it a point to criticize and to condemn human rights practices worldwide. These ships had aid, medical equipment including wheelchairs, building equipment. How essential is it right now that this equipment get to the Palestinians? How important is it that there – that these materials are now sort of confiscated and not within the hands of those who desperately need it? Is this useful right now?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, I can’t say right now what the status of the material that was on the ship – certainly, again in the presidential statement, there was an encouragement, which we absolutely support, that that material be provided to the people of Gaza. As the Secretary said again today, we have pressed the Israelis to expand the amount of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, and we will continue to work with the Israelis every day to try to make that happen.
QUESTION: It’s my understanding that before this flotilla was launched, there was some communication by the Israeli Government with the U.S. ambassador there about the possibility that U.S. citizens would be aboard some of these ships. And the Israelis have made no secret about what they were planning to do. They even put together a press pool to observe this. So I’m wondering, did the United States offer any words of caution to Israel before it undertook this attempt to stop these ships? Was there any kind of communication at any level, ambassador or from this building, to the Israeli Government saying you need to be careful and watch how you handle this situation?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. I believe the answer is yes, but I’m not in a position to characterize what our communication was prior to the launching of the flotilla.
QUESTION: Okay. And then further on that, what is the U.S. Government saying to Israel now about this? Because there is going to be another attempt, I think as early as tomorrow, to bring a ship into Gaza. Is the United States offering any words of caution to Israel that if you’re going to try to stop it this time, do it differently?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the Secretary had the opportunity to learn from the Israeli Government yesterday; Minister of Defense Barak called in to provide the Israeli perspective on this. And the Secretary, during that conversation, did express concern about the – obviously, the loss of life, the injury, the impact that that’s had on emotions in the region. And she did, at that point, express that for the United States, for Israel, for other countries, we should be extremely cautious in both what we say and what we do in coming days in light of what’s transpired.
QUESTION: So what you’re saying is that the message from the United States Government is that Israel should not use these same tactics the next time they encounter ships like this heading towards Gaza.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as to what Israel does, we are obviously very aware that there is one or more ships that are still heading towards Gaza. This is a very serious incident that’s occurred. The loss of life is tragic. The Secretary expressed our condolences to the Turks for their loss of life on board these ships. I think – don’t think anyone wants to see a repeat of what happened yesterday.
QUESTION: And could you just clarify a point of international law for me? Because the Israeli Government says that it’s well within their rights to do what they did yesterday. They cite the Paragraph 62-A of the San Remo Manual, whereas the Turkish foreign minister this morning was quite emphatic that this took place in international waters and Israel had no right to board these ships. What is the opinion of the United States Government on this --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, not being an international lawyer, I’m not going to that from the podium. Clearly, that will be something that will be investigated, and I’m sure debated, as we go forward.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- understanding that Israel was acting in self-defense?
MR. CROWLEY: We certainly --
QUESTION: Although --
MR. CROWLEY: -- understand that Israel has a right to self-defense. Given the situation in Gaza, it has been subject to rocket attacks in the past. There is a state of hostility between Israel and Hamas. But as to particular questions of international law, I’ll defer. That will be – clearly be something that will be thoroughly debated and investigated.
QUESTION: You sound like you’re saying that Israel had the right to defend itself here because of Palestinian rockets.
MR. CROWLEY: Israel has a right to self-defense, to be sure. That said, there is also a clear humanitarian need to provide material to the people of Gaza to help them subsist and rebuild, and we recognize that as well.
QUESTION: In this incident, you see its right to self-defense being applied?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m – as we’ve said, we regret the tragic loss of life here. We’ve called for a prompt, credible, transparent investigation. We are still trying to determine what happened on that ship. I’m not going to prejudge the investigation from here.
QUESTION: Doesn’t this provide the Obama Administration an opening? It said early on its first months in office that it wanted to repair its relations with the Arab and Muslim world. This crisis has proven, many believe, that Israel is acting as a strategic liability. The U.S. has ways of ending the crisis in Gaza, the starving of the 1.6 million of the civilian population. They have assets, humanitarian assets, ships. Would the U.S. consider breaking with coordinating with Israel some sort of siege to let humanitarian goods and medical services into the strip?
MR. CROWLEY: We – as I just said – I can repeat what I just said. We clearly have supported the expansion of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. As the Secretary and others have said, the situation in Gaza is unsustainable. We want to see how we can provide greater assistance to the people of Gaza --
QUESTION: What is the assistance you give now?
MR. CROWLEY: -- but – let me finish – but clearly, while protecting Israel’s legitimate right of self-defense.
QUESTION: What is the assistance you’re giving now? There was 900 million pledged last year. What’s happened to it?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll be happy to take that question.
QUESTION: Can I change topics for a second?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sure not yet.
QUESTION: Can I just clarify a few things? You mentioned the 11 that you have provided consular access to. Can you give us the total number of Americans you believe were involved in the incident? There’s been ranges up to 20 and down to lower than that.
MR. CROWLEY: Let me see what our latest information is.
MR. CROWLEY: Because I don’t – I wasn’t – I’ve heard like 14.
QUESTION: Right. I’ve heard that one, yeah.
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think we had contact to all of them. There were some people who have manifested on these vessels, we haven’t found them yet, so I’m not sure we’ve arrived at a --
QUESTION: Okay. And I have --
MR. CROWLEY: -- firm number of those involved.
QUESTION: I have a few more questions --
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: -- if I can ask my colleagues’ indulgence on. How many Americans injured? Do you have a list of those yet?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m only aware of one that received minor injuries and was treated yesterday at an Israeli hospital.
QUESTION: One you said, okay.
MR. CROWLEY: One.
QUESTION: Has – have you heard anything from the Palestinians about their unwillingness to take part in further indirect peace talks – in the proximity talks?
MR. CROWLEY: As far as I know, and I talked to George Mitchell a few minutes ago, he’s planning to leave for the region later this afternoon and he has meetings planned as early as tomorrow with Palestinian officials.
QUESTION: Hold on, hold on a second. I’ve got a couple more.
MR. CROWLEY: All right.
QUESTION: Just on the blockade, can you clarify the U.S. position? Do you think it should be lifted or do you think there’s a legitimate Israeli reason for it?
MR. CROWLEY: We believe there are – certainly, Israel has a right to be concerned about the nature of materials that is moving into Gaza. At the same time, we’ve long called for an expansion of humanitarian goods to the people of Gaza to help improve their situation on the ground.
QUESTION: Does that include the blockade?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to get into issues of the blockade.
QUESTION: All right. And then my last question was – I don’t think you’ve sufficiently answered why the – why an Israeli investigation could be at all independent and transparent. Why exactly – why would you call, of all things, for an Israeli investigation of --
MR. CROWLEY: I think the term used in the presidential statement was “impartial” and we support that investigation and believe that Israel is in the best position to lead that investigation.
QUESTION: How can a party to the investigation be impartial if it’s an investigation of itself? Why are they in the best position? Can you explain that?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m --
QUESTION: Well, I mean, just in --
QUESTION: I was going to ask the same question. It does not make sense.
MR. CROWLEY: We support the --
QUESTION: Especially judging from the --
MR. CROWLEY: We – look, we support the statement from the UN release last night and that characterizes our position.
QUESTION: But why do you think Israel would be impartial in this investigation? If you judge by their media comments, they’ve already prejudged, which is something you say you don’t want to do.
MR. CROWLEY: I – again, I – I don’t agree with your – you’re leaping ahead here before --
QUESTION: Well, the --
MR. CROWLEY: -- the investigation has barely begun.
QUESTION: You say Israel is best positioned. You have just said a few minutes ago --
MR. CROWLEY: Right.
QUESTION: -- that Israel is best positioned. And you haven’t answered his question about why that’s so when they’re part of this. And how can that be?
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: Just – well, hold on. Just to clarify a point. I mean, just a moment ago you said the question of whether or not this was an – under international law or not, was something to be addressed as part of an investigation. But the Israeli Government has already said its actions are permissible under their interpretation of international law. So how can they conduct an investigation that would examine the question of whether or not this took place --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ll just repeat what I just said. We believe that Israel is in the best position to carry out this investigation. As the Secretary said a short time ago, we are open to ideas on how there might be broader participation.
QUESTION: We’re just asking you to explain your logic. We’re not – we just want to know why you think they’re best positioned. Can’t you explain that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, these were Israeli forces that carried out this action and we think that that means that they’re in the best position to investigate whether – what the instructions were given to those forces, how they viewed the situation as they approached the flotilla, and what transpired on board that ship.
QUESTION: Will Abbas still come as scheduled?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, President Abbas is – will be here next week and will visit with the President on June 19th.
QUESTION: So the fact that Mr. Netanyahu is no longer meeting with the President today, that is not putting off the calendar?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as the – the President and the prime minister talked multiple times yesterday and they agreed that they would reschedule their meeting as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Do you or the Turks or anyone else that you’ve talked to have any ideas about potential international participation in the investigation?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, we’re going to have these kinds of conversations in the coming days --
QUESTION: Well, I’m just asking if – but have they – have they happened already?
MR. CROWLEY: What – has what happened?
QUESTION: Have ideas been thrown out about how there could be international participation --
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: -- in the investigation?
MR. CROWLEY: Not yet.
QUESTION: So this is just – so the Security Council statement is based on air? If there haven’t been ideas tossed around or people haven’t suggested different ways that there could be an international component to the investigation, how are you supporting it?
MR. CROWLEY: All right, let me clarify. We are – we will look at how – I mean, obviously, Turkey has a vital interest in this. Other countries have a vital interest in this. There are – a number of citizens and ships from multiple countries that were involved in this. And we will work within the Council and more broadly to see how an international element can be introduced into this investigation.
QUESTION: Right. Well, just let me – let’s just look at a different example. Look at the South Korean ship incident, where you had numerous countries involved in that, with the South Koreans obviously taking the lead, but you were involved as well. I mean, is that something that – is that something that --
MR. CROWLEY: We were invited to participate because we have a particular expertise that --
QUESTION: So it’s up to Israel to invite people, whoever they want, to join their investigation?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, I’ve just said we will help think through how to make this as credible and transparent, impartial, and prompt as possible.
QUESTION: But you believe though, right now, that Israel is capable of doing all – meeting all those criteria on its own?
MR. CROWLEY: As a --
QUESTION: On its own.
MR. CROWLEY: As a vibrant democracy accountable to its people, we have every confidence that Israel is fully capable of investigating this.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, I think that was the answer to the question --
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: -- that people were asking before. If that’s what you believe, then that’s – that’s fine.
QUESTION: But does a vibrant democracy arrest journalists, handcuff and beat them? Just that allegation in itself should absolve Israel from doing its own investigation.
QUESTION: I was wondering – the Israelis have said that they believe the aid group was connected to terrorist groups – al-Qaida. Do you agree? Does the State Department – can you confirm that? Is there any truth to it?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve got – I don’t know. I don’t know on what basis – I’ve heard that said. I’m not sure on what basis --
QUESTION: Can you take that question? I mean, it’s – because they cite – one of the groups that they say they’re connected to-- is a group that in 2008 the United States put on the state – on the terrorism list.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: So you should have some knowledge or understanding about it.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, part of this goes into the aspect of – again, this should be part of the investigation in terms of who was on that ship, how was it organized. These vessels assembled somewhere between the coast of Turkey and Israeli waters, and so it might have been organized under one group’s auspices, but we’re very conscious of the fact that there were a number of people representing a variety of different NGOs on that ship.
QUESTION: Could you take the question?
MR. CROWLEY: What’s – so I just want to understand the question. Is – what is our assessment of the IHH?
MR. CROWLEY: All right. We’ll take that question.
QUESTION: Will Turkey do its own investigation if the Israelis are doing their – if, I mean --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, that’s a matter to address to address to the Government of Turkey.
QUESTION: The prime minister said this morning that Turkey was not going to move forward with plans to try mediating a restart in the Israel-Syria indirect talks. I’m wondering if that came up in the meeting with the Secretary. And more broadly, is there concern in the State Department that this is really going to torpedo any effort to get the kind of regional support for peace moves that you’ve been working for for the past year and a half?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we certainly hope not. As the Secretary reiterated today and at various statements that we put out yesterday, we think that this incident underscores why we are trying to push ahead with a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, because ultimately, that is the only way that you avoid these kinds of situations in the future. So we are – that’s why George Mitchell is going back to the region tonight and we want to see the proximity talks continue and lead to direct negotiations.
Now, during the course of the meeting, Foreign Minister Davutoglu reflected on the deep and rich history that Turkey has with Israel. Turkey has been one of Israel’s closest friends in the region for 60 years. But as to what happens in light of this incident, I think that remains to be seen. But to the extent that Israel can address Turkey’s very legitimate concerns about getting its citizens returned – and I suppose Turkey will be judging the nature of the Israeli investigation into this incident. And on that basis, different countries will determine what the implications are.
QUESTION: As you wait for the Israeli investigation, how much weight will you give to the statements of American citizens who were there, who were on those boats? Some of them have even released statements to the press denying Israeli allegations that they used white weapons and that everything they had was basically made out of plastic.
MR. CROWLEY: Again, that’s why we have been very cautious in our statements until we have a better perspective on what actually happened on that ship and why we have called for a prompt, thorough, impartial, transparent investigation.
QUESTION: P.J., the foreign minister this morning told some journalists that the one thing that they really want from the United States is condemnation of this action by the United States. Did that come up? Did he ask Secretary Clinton to do that? Was there any – if so, was there any answer by the Secretary?
MR. CROWLEY: It did not come up. He did not make that demand specifically in the meeting. And the Secretary reiterated during the meeting what she said afterwards, which is we have to have a careful, thoughtful approach to this going forward.
QUESTION: Did he make any demands or ask for anything for the United States directly to do?
MR. CROWLEY: We’ve already covered that. He indicated that Turkey’s immediate focus was on the – on their citizens and the return of those who have been killed, injured, and others on board the ship. And we have conveyed Turkey’s concern to the Israeli Government.
QUESTION: What coordination has the State Department had with the Egyptian Government? I saw that the Rafah crossing was supposed to be opened rather soon, at least temporarily.
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t – at a high – I don’t know how high a level. I think we’ve been in touch with a variety of capitals since yesterday to compare notes and to express our concern about moving forward in a cautious way. I don’t know whether Egypt indicated to us in advance what they are prepared to do.
QUESTION: Has Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit been rescheduled?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: When will he come?
QUESTION: P.J. --
MR. CROWLEY: Right. The meeting that was supposed to be held today will be rescheduled. I don’t know that there’s a new date yet.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) in a conference call today said he thanked the United States profusely for the actions it took behind the scenes at the Security Council to – quote, unquote – “water down the resolution.” What happened behind the scenes in the Security Council on – what did the United States do to help out the Israelis?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think it was a thorough debate over many hours. As with the case with statements that come out of the Security Council (inaudible) -- statement, words have meaning and we worked closely with a number of countries to make sure that going forward that there was significant action calling for an investigation, but making sure that any actions do not further inflame emotions in the region.
QUESTION: P.J., can I go to the second half of this meeting and to --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: -- your other strong area of agreement with the Turks? What was the upshot of the conversation on the Iran sanctions resolution, and will the Turks support it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as to whether – what Turkey will do when the resolution comes to a vote in the Security Council, I’ll defer to the Government of Turkey to make its own judgment. Foreign Minister Davutoglu gave the Secretary some background in terms of what happened in Tehran. The Secretary went through our outstanding concerns regarding Iran’s behavior, obviously made more compelling by the most recent IAEA report that highlights the fact that Iran is hiding equipment, failing to cooperate fully with the IAEA, continues its enrichment activity. And the Secretary again made a compelling case that we have two tracks, but our judgment is that Iran will not move appreciably unless it is subject to additional international pressure.
QUESTION: Was he swayed by her compelling case?
QUESTION: Or maybe it wasn’t so compelling to him.
MR. CROWLEY: Look, Turkey will make up its own judgment. Our work is continuing on the various elements of the resolution, including work on the annexes, and we expect this work to be done in the next few days.
QUESTION: Just to follow on that, you said – because it was very clear in the conversation that the foreign minister was having with reporters today that they’re not going to – they see no reasons to support sanctions at this time, that the TRR deal is an opening that he feels the P-5+1 should take. And so it sounded pretty clear that if you were to go forward in the next few days that you would get a no vote from Turkey, if not Brazil. And are you prepared to go that – are you prepared to risk coming out of there with a resolution that has three no votes, which you’ve never had on a resolution involving Iran before?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I won’t prejudge what happens in the coming days. The Secretary made clear that we are continuing to work within the Security Council on a draft resolution. We are prepared to bring it forward in the next few days. Turkey will make up its own mind as to how to evaluate this.
During the course of the meeting, the foreign minister made clear what we understood beforehand, which is Turkey’s view of sanctions as a tool. We see this in a different way. But ultimately, Turkey, as with the other members of the Council, will determine how they want to vote on the prospective resolution.
QUESTION: P.J., just to follow on that. In other words, you’re – it’s better to have some sort of resolution passed now even with no votes than to wait to get general international consensus and have a resolution passed with only yes votes?
MR. CROWLEY: It is the position of the United States that Iran is unlikely to change its current stance with respect to the IAEA absent of some additional international pressure.
QUESTION: And isn’t it just a – and isn’t it – aren’t you driven somewhat here by timing, because if you don’t get a resolution passed by the middle of June, it would be difficult to get a resolution passed by the European Union before they go on their August recess? I mean --
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: -- isn’t that a large part of what you’re pressing for --
MR. CROWLEY: We don’t have a specific timetable. The President has indicated he would like to see this action taken by the end of spring. We’re now June 1st. The end of spring is approaching. (Laughter.) Filing break. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Did the subject of the President’s letters to Brazil and Turkey come up in the meeting? And beyond that, was there discussion of – there seems to be a miscommunication or at least on the surface a miscommunication about what – how much the U.S. understood of what Turkey and Brazil through they were doing --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think there was a miscommunication at all. The issue that was discussed at some length during the meeting was not so much what was in the TRR proposal, but what Iran has chosen to do and continue to do outside of the TRR proposal – I think from our standpoint, the statements by Foreign Minister Mottaki both in New York and also back in Tehran that the TRR deal, in essence, doesn’t matter. Iran is prepared to continue to enrich, which means that Iran is stating that it is prepared to continue to function outside of its international obligations, its responsibilities to the IAEA, and its responsibilities under multiple UN Security Council resolutions.
And so the Secretary made that point, which is we deeply appreciate what Turkey did and continues to do in terms of seeking a diplomatic solution. We think that the diplomatic track and the pressure track work in tandem. And given Iran’s demonstrated behavior, given its unwillingness to live up to its international obligations, the United States has made its own mind – reached a judgment that the best way to get Iran to change course is through additional sanctions that we are working on within the Security Council.
Ultimately, Turkey and other countries will have to make their own judgment based on where – what Iran has said and what Iran continues to do. The very strong report put out by Director General Amano in the last couple of days continues to underscore in our mind that Iran is not prepared to meet its international obligations. And as we’ve all along, we believe that should have consequences.
QUESTION: But did the foreign minister say that he felt that he had gotten a consistent message from the U.S. Government regarding this TRR proposal, in and of itself?
MR. CROWLEY: The facts of the TRR proposal are not in dispute. We are looking not just at the TRR proposal, but at the full weight of effort or, in the case of Iran, lack of effort. And it is our judgment that the TRR proposal and Iran’s response overall, not just the TRR proposal but more broadly, has not built the confidence that we had hoped for. So we don’t see any significant change in Iran’s behavior. We see what’s on paper in terms of the joint declaration. But at the same time, the Iranian actions and words, their ongoing commitment to continue to enrich, which is in violation of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement, in violation – contravention of UN Security Council resolutions, that is the basis upon which we believe the sanctions resolution should go forward.
QUESTION: Just more broadly, because, I mean, here it is a year later – a year after the so-called Green Revolution, and the whole basis on which the American government went forward was to demonstrate how increasingly isolated Iran is in the eyes of the international community. And yet here it is now, a year later, months and months of negotiations, and you run the – have the possibility where two major members of the Security Council, up and coming countries such as Brazil and Turkey, are not in agreement with you, are defending the Iranian Government, feel that – argue that the Iranian Government has tried to reach out and work cooperatively. And how did you get to this situation? I mean --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me take issue, Glenn, with the supposition behind your question. During the course of the meeting today, the foreign minister reiterated that Turkey has the very same concerns that the United States has. Turkey, which obviously is a neighbor – a direct neighbor of Iran – will be among the first to feel the effects of Iran with a nuclear weapon. Turkey – he reiterated that Turkey, just like the United States, will not tolerate a nuclear-capable Iran.
We are discussing what is the best way forward based on a shared strategic view. And we will continue to talk to Turkey in the coming days, and Turkey will have to make a judgment when the Security Council resolution is put forward to a vote.
QUESTION: Do you think the effort to bring about robust sanctions against Iran are complicated by the raid on the ship?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Obviously, Turkey would also be among the first to feel the effects if you pursue sanctions against Iran. The foreign minister talked at length about that this morning. Did he ask the Secretary for any assurances about that or are you offering him any?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have talked at length to Turkey as we have worked through the details of the Security Council resolution. And we certainly fully understand that Turkey’s economy has – is linked to Iran’s. And I think we – we think we’ve taken that into account in terms of crafting a resolution that the international community can support.
QUESTION: On the topic of al-Masri, are we sure he’s dead this time? And the second question is: How big an impact does that have on al-Qaida?
MR. CROWLEY: Any time the senior al-Qaida leader is killed or captured, it delivers a blow to those who seek to undermine the Afghan Government or the Pakistan Government or to do harm to the Afghan people or our international forces in the area. I can’t say stand – sitting here whether we have definitive proof that he’s dead. We’ve seen the reports that he is, and we hope it’s true.
QUESTION: One more, the Russian adoptions. The next round of talks is supposed to be in Washington next week. Can you confirm that? And the Russians say it’s now in the U.S. court to provide some --
MR. CROWLEY: Let me take the question, Kirit, as to – you’re right, we had – the next meeting is here. Let me just lock in on whether that is next week and what the issues are.
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t speak to that meeting. I would say, obviously, we are equally concerned with the attack that Turkey has suffered in the last few days from the PKK. And this is a subject that I believe that Iraq and Turkey are involved in high-level discussions about.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.