1:24 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Before taking your questions, a couple of announcements, but first, I want to introduce our newest press officer here at the Department of State, Michael Tran. Michael, take a bow. He comes to us from Bratislava, and I’m sure that you will work him over in due course.
First of all, the United States is deeply concerned by the formal indictment on charges of inciting subversion of the well-known Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo on December 10th, which was, ironically, International Human Rights Day. According to all publicly available evidence, the basis of his prosecution is that he has signed and supported Charter 08, which calls for respect for human rights, universal human rights, and democratic reform. Mr. Liu has already spent a year in detention while authorities carried out the investigation of his case.
We call on the Government of China to release him immediately and to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens to peacefully express their political views and desires for universally recognized fundamental freedoms. And clearly, this is an area that the Secretary stressed yesterday in her Human Rights speech about the importance of universal standards and holding people and governments accountable.
The Secretary this afternoon will meet with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic here at the State Department. This is the first bilateral meeting between Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Jeremic. On the agenda for the meeting, there are a number of issues, including Kosovo, efforts to promote stability in Bosnia, Serbia’s cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, or ICTY, regional cooperation and bilateral military-to-military and other ties.
The United States believes Serbia has the opportunity to play a constructive leadership role in the Western Balkans and we look forward to continuing to build upon the positive momentum resulting from Vice President Biden’s May trip to Belgrade.
And finally, before taking your questions, yesterday we sent to Congress our first report on Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation which summarizes our assistance strategy for Pakistan. The objectives of our assistance are to improve the Government of Pakistan’s capacity to address the country’s most critical infrastructure needs with an initial focus on energy and agriculture to help the Pakistani Government improve economic opportunities in areas most vulnerable to extremism, including the Northwest Frontier provinces and FATA regions, to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to pursue economic and political reforms that have reinforced stability and as – consistent with best practices over time, we will be looking to channel more of this assistance directly through a broad range of Government of Pakistan institutions as well as local nongovernmental institutions. The report also highlights that we will be working with the Government of Pakistan to address some of its most vexing macroeconomic and social policies, including the need for better revenue collection.
With that, I’ll take your questions. Matt.
QUESTION: Yeah. On your – I’m curious about your first statement, why you chose to lead off with that. It was like pulling teeth to get stuff out of you guys on this guy last week. I mean, I asked about it on Friday, I was told I would get an answer on Friday, never got one. I asked again yesterday. Ian didn’t have the guidance. Mark had to go get it, bring it in here, he read it at the very end of the briefing. Why start out today with this? Was that not – was what you said yesterday not strong enough?
MR. CROWLEY: I saw the statement and thought it was useful to open the briefing with it.
QUESTION: Was there a complaint from some corner that --
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: So why --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, it’s --
QUESTION: Why are the floodgates on this open now --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no, Matt, I wouldn’t call it floodgates. But in light – I mean, the – our highlight in this statement is fully consistent with what the Secretary said in her --
QUESTION: I’m not suggesting it’s not consistent. I’m just curious as to why you’re making – you know, why all of a sudden, from being – from appearing to be a relatively low priority, it’s now number one?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, you’re raising the – kind of a canard here. I mean, the Secretary’s speech yesterday --
QUESTION: Which I mentioned and asked you the question --
MR. CROWLEY: -- was a graphic demonstration of the importance that we attach to human rights, and our calling upon the Government of China and expressing our concern about this particular case is fully consistent with the --
QUESTION: Fair enough. But the Secretary --
MR. CROWLEY: -- policies and vision that the Secretary outlined yesterday.
QUESTION: The Secretary had already finished her speech when I had asked the question yesterday, so I’m curious if there was a problem with what was said yesterday.
MR. CROWLEY: There was not a problem.
QUESTION: All right. Can we go to the – Pakistan? One, on the assistance, can you be more specific on – about what the report says? And secondly, are there any updates on the detainees?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there was – it was a report to Congress. As to what – how much of that report the Congress will make available to public, we’ll defer to them.
QUESTION: The second part of the question.
MR. CROWLEY: And – which was?
QUESTION: I don’t know. There seem to be five Americans in prison in Pakistan. You might know something about it?
MR. CROWLEY: That case is still being investigated. We’re still working very closely with the Government of Pakistan. I have no update to tell you on that.
QUESTION: Are you aware of these reports that the father of one of them has been released?
MR. CROWLEY: I am aware of the report. I don’t have a particular comment.
QUESTION: And has there been any further consular visits?
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge, after the first one.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on the five?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if they had not done anything wrong, then why Pakistan is deporting them? They are U.S. citizens. So you must be asking Pakistan, “Why are you deporting our citizens when they have not done anything wrong?” They’re not --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we’re investigating the case. I don’t – there have been no charges proffered, but that – but as to how they got themselves to Pakistan, what they were intent on doing there and so forth, that is still something that is being investigated.
QUESTION: P.J., Senator Mitchell has met today the Lebanese president. Do you have any readout on this meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: With the president of Lebanon?
MR. CROWLEY: He did meet today – the Secretary met with the president of Lebanon last night for close to an hour. And obviously, yesterday, the President met with President Sulayman, and as did Vice President Biden. Obviously, it reflects the important role and position that Lebanon plays within the region.
In the Secretary’s meeting with the president, they talked about the peace process. They talked about – in all of its dimensions, not just with respect to Palestine, but with respect to other tracks as well, a variety of other regional issues. I think Senator Mitchell – I don’t have a particular readout of his discussion this morning, but I can assume that it involved a more granular discussion about the status of the peace process.
QUESTION: Is he going back to the region soon? Two weeks ago, he said that he –
MR. CROWLEY: Senator Mitchell?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not expect that Senator Mitchell will travel between now and the end of the year. I think he will travel early in 2010.
QUESTION: P.J., could you give us a little bit more information, if you have it, on the American being held in Cuba? And also, I’d be interested in the Cuban democracy program, and the use of giving out cell phones, laptops, communications equipment. What exactly do they give out and what’s the purpose?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me keep those two issues separate. It – regarding the U.S. citizen, he remains in custody. We have on multiple times – occasions, both on December 8th, December 11, December 12, we have asked for consular access. We have been assured that it will be granted. It has not been granted at this point. And since we haven’t met with him, we don’t have a privacy waiver, so it’s difficult for us to get into any more specifics on that case.
Regarding our work on civil society in Cuba, it obviously is important. The United States policy is to encourage improved human rights conditions. That includes respect for fundamental freedoms, democratic reforms in Cuba, the ability of Cuban citizens to participate freely in civic life and to promote the free flow of information both into and out of that country.
Again, going back to what the Secretary said yesterday in her speech, it is about promoting the ability of people to organize, to communicate around the world. And when you do have countries like Cuba or countries like China that are afraid of that flow of information, in fact, it is inconsistent with the global trends that are going to propel the 21st century.
QUESTION: Do they define specifically what kind of communications equipment can be given to people?
MR. CROWLEY: Does Cuba?
QUESTION: No. Do we? I should say the United States.
MR. CROWLEY: I think our – part of our programs are centered on providing and helping groups provide a capability to network and to communicate.
QUESTION: In other words, I guess what I’m asking is we’re talking about cell phones, computers, et cetera. Would it include things like GPS or would it include things like satellite phones?
MR. CROWLEY: I think it is the ability to communicate globally.
QUESTION: An American detained, arrested in Burma who is in a jail now is on a hunger strike. Do you have any update on that? Has the ambassador been able to get access to him?
MR. CROWLEY: In what country?
QUESTION: In Burma.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I do not have any information on that. I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: It’s already been taken, I think, yesterday, no?
MR. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. CROWLEY: No.
MR. CROWLEY: But we – those kinds of reports keep cropping up. We do not have a military role in this conflict.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
QUESTION: A quick question on Sri Lanka. (Inaudible) former army chief of Sri Lanka and he said that there was live human genocide by the government of Sri Lanka. Hundreds of – or or even thousands of people who wanted to surrender, they were ordered to kill live. Anything that you may have or any action? Because there was some kind of investigation maybe by the UN. But what role do you think you –
MR. CROWLEY: We certainly are aware of the UN investigation. We’ve been fully supportive of that. I think a report has been submitted. I mean, we continue to stress to the Government of Sri Lanka the importance of ending human rights abuses, including media intimidation, investigating and holding accountable those who are responsible for past abuses, pursuing meaningful steps towards dialogue and cooperation with Tamil and other minority communities.
Assistant Secretary Blake was in Sri Lanka in recent days. And among the other things he was talking about was to continue to encourage Sir Lanka in terms of the return of displaced persons back to their homes.
QUESTION: The House is considering legislation to impose sanction on energy companies doing business with Iran. Does the Administration support that legislation? Is it seen as kind of a roadmap for where they might head in –
MR. CROWLEY: We are in dialogue with the Hill on that particular legislation and the standards that it outlines. Probably, we’ll do that discussion quietly, rather than from the podium.
QUESTION: Well, you don’t – the Administration asked the Senate to hold off until next – till next month, next year, on it. But you don’t seem to have done the same thing with the House. Do you not have a problem with the House version?
MR. CROWLEY: We are in touch with both houses of Congress on the specifics in --
QUESTION: Well, they’re going to vote in like an hour or so.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: So do you not have a problem with the House version?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. No. We are in contact with the House leadership on legislation that is working its way there. We’re in contact with the Senate on legislation that’s working in there, and we’re also conscious that eventually something may emerge from the Congress on this issue. We have a robust dialogue going on with the Hill on – to help them understand where we’re heading in terms of policy and how this legislation and some of the specifics inside – various versions may or may not, we think, help our policy.
QUESTION: Well, isn’t it – can we assume that since the House is going ahead with its vote, you don’t have a problem with this – with the bill?
MR. CROWLEY: You should not make that assumption.
QUESTION: Well, then have you asked them to – not to vote today?
MR. CROWLEY: I – again, as I just said, we are in discussions with the Hill about --
QUESTION: Well, that’s fine. But it’s a pretty straightforward question.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I mean, are we --
QUESTION: Do you have a problem --
MR. CROWLEY: -- talking to the Hill about the legislation that they are --
QUESTION: Do you have a problem with the House legislation or not, because you seem to have --
MR. CROWLEY: We have --
QUESTION: -- you seem to – you have asked for revisions from the Senate --
MR. CROWLEY: We have expressed our views to the House and the Senate on their prospective legislation regarding this issue, and we’ll continue those discussions.
QUESTION: P.J., there have been some suggestions that China is unwilling to take part in the P-5+1 meeting, at least a direct meeting of the political directors. Does that kind of throw the Administration’s timetable off in terms of coming to some sort of a judgment by the end of the year about the utility of diplomacy vis-à-vis Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I wouldn’t say it disrupts our timetable. We – as the President and the Secretary have made clear, we have assessed on an ongoing basis our discussions – not only our limited discussions with Iran, but also our consultations with the participants in the P-5+1 process. The President has said at around this time we will – and we have been assessing where we are. We have continued to express our concerns about the inability or the unwillingness of Iran to respond in a meaningful way to the concerns that we have about their nuclear programs. Obviously, a sense of urgency is a part of this and not only in terms of resolving the facility in Qom, the Iranian comments regarding additional facilities, this revelation this week about nuclear triggers and so forth, all adds up to the fact that Iran has yet to really come to the IAEA, come to the international community and address our concerns in a meaningful way.
As we have made clear at the end of the year, if the situation remains as it is, there will be ramifications for that. Under Secretary Bill Burns was in the region last week consulting with a variety of governments on this subject. We bring it up in many discussions that we’ve had. For example, last night in the meeting with the President of Lebanon, Lebanon is coming on to the Security Council at the first of the year. And the Secretary brought up the issue of Iran and the fact that we will be focusing on this issue in international fora, come the first of the year. So it is something that’s obviously a concern to us, and we continue to consult in a variety of ways.
I don’t think there’ll be a P-5+1 meeting this week. I think there will be consultations before the holiday break.
QUESTION: You said Bill Burns --
QUESTION: Does China not share the urgency --
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: -- you feel about it?
MR. CROWLEY: We – I would say that all the members of the P-5+1, from the strong statements that we have put forward in recent weeks and months, share concern about this – about Iran. I don’t think anyone wants to see a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. That said, we continue to talk to all of the P-5+1 members and those who might play a role in this going forward about how we feel about this issue. Clear – it’s safe to say, they’re – it’s not so much concern about the issue itself. There might be differing views still about the appropriate tactics to use going forward, and we’ll continue our discussions in a variety of ways with countries inside the P-5+1 as well as a broader range of countries.
QUESTION: Right. When you said that Burns was in the region, what – you meant China?
MR. CROWLEY: He was in China last week, yes.
QUESTION: What – was he anywhere else?
MR. CROWLEY: He was in Indonesia.
QUESTION: Indonesia. And he went --
MR. CROWLEY: I think those --
QUESTION: When you say region, which --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry. He was in the Asian Pacific region last week, talked to China on this issue and others, and then went on to Indonesia.
QUESTION: And when you mentioned the revelation this week about nuclear triggers, can you be more specific about that?
MR. CROWLEY: I will not discuss intelligence matters.
QUESTION: Well, you did. You brought it up.
MR. CROWLEY: Wait, no. All right, hang on. All right. As I just said, obviously there’s been a public report about an issue related to the – to Iran’ s nuclear program and safe to say that we – the United States Government will be investigating those reports.
QUESTION: Well, yeah. But you brought it up without any prompting at all.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. And I just rounded off the answer.
QUESTION: Okay. But do you want to talk about what you think about --
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: -- this report? Well, then why --
MR. CROWLEY: It was a fine --
QUESTION: Well, you opened the door.
MR. CROWLEY: Matt, Matt, it was a fine piece of journalism. Enough said.
Yes, go on. Move on.
QUESTION: Thank you. I would like to ask about the U.S. base realignment issue in Japan, so-called Futenma issue. The Japanese – the Government of Japan officially made a decision today that not – will not to make a decision sometime and will continue to consider where to relocate. And what is the government’s response of that?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I will defer to the Government of Japan to describe its position. We have been in consultations with the Government of Japan on this issue since the new government came into office. I think we had discussions today with Japanese officials and our Ambassador in Tokyo. We will continue to discuss this issue with the Government of Japan going forward.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, Japanese Government is saying that they might decide by next year, May or June, but U.S. officials are saying that they want answer as soon as possible. And also, at the same time, there may be talk of moving those into Guam. Is there any --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there is an agreement that the United States reached with the previous Japanese government. We still think that roadmap is the best way forward and we’ll continue to consult closely with the Government of Japan as it works its way through this issue.
QUESTION: And also, are you in touch with the regional countries? It might affect them also to move.
MR. CROWLEY: I think that the – our presence of military forces in Okinawa is a manifestation of primarily our U.S.-Japanese bilateral relationship and alliance. Obviously, it does have regional ramifications, but I think that most people continue to appreciate the robust U.S. presence in the region.
QUESTION: Can I just – on this whole thing, is it not a little bit frustrating that it’s taking the Japanese – the new Japanese Government so long to --
MR. CROWLEY: We will continue to work with them. We understand that these are complex issues for them. They’re getting up to speed on a range of issues. I don’t think it --
QUESTION: Well, don’t you think they’ve had enough time to get up to speed on this considering – I mean, Campbell’s been over there how many times?
MR. CROWLEY: A couple.
QUESTION: Yeah. And they’ve had people here. So what’s --
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll continue to work with them.
QUESTION: So you’re prepared to draw this out – you’re prepared to let them drag this out indefinitely?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – I mean, we have a roadmap. We’re continuing to plan based on that roadmap, but we’ll continue to have our high-level consultations with the Japanese in the coming weeks and months.
QUESTION: Are you sure you want to use the word “roadmap?” In other contexts – (laughter) – that roadmap really leads to nowhere. So is that what you’re prepared --
MR. CROWLEY: If it leads to Guam. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, I’m serious. P.J., I’m serious.
MR. CROWLEY: Matt --
QUESTION: How long are you prepared to let the Japanese drag this out?
MR. CROWLEY: We recognize that our presence in Okinawa has an impact on the people of that island and is of significant importance and interest to the Japanese people. We’ll continue to work with the Japanese Government.
QUESTION: But that doesn’t answer the question. How long are you prepared to let them drag this out?
MR. CROWLEY: Matt --
QUESTION: What? It’s a simple question.
MR. CROWLEY: Let the record show that the spokesman shrugged. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: So you don’t know?
MR. CROWLEY: Huh?
QUESTION: You don’t know? This could go on indefinitely and that doesn’t bother the Administration?
MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t characterize this as an indefinite conversation. The Japanese Government has indicated to us that they’d like a little more time to work through these issues and we’re happy to oblige.
QUESTION: Can you give us an update on the strategic arms talks? There was a report out of Moscow that there may be a deal signed on the sidelines of Copenhagen.
MR. CROWLEY: There has been a lot of conjecture. I mean, all I can tell you is the teams remain hard at work. They have made progress. I think we think we’re getting very close to an agreement. Whether we can cross the finish line sooner, later – I think obviously, our focus is on getting the right agreement that meets our concerns and our interests, and obviously, those of Russia as well. Our goal is to get this done by the end of the year, and we’ll just continue to work to see – evaluate those on a day-to-day basis. I mean, obviously, the hard work continues by our intrepid team in Geneva.
QUESTION: The Secretary had a big op-ed about climate change in Copenhagen. Are you going to announce anything about her participation there and --
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: -- if so – no?
MR. CROWLEY: Not at this time.
QUESTION: Well, what if she were to go – no, what is her – what’s the main thing they want to accomplish there? What’s the message?
MR. CROWLEY: What’s the message?
QUESTION: Yeah, at Copenhagen. I mean --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, you’re --
QUESTION: Because she pointed out – well, I’ll --
MR. CROWLEY: Thanks for the plug. I mean, the Secretary had an op-ed in today’s International Herald Tribune and she set forth our two primary objectives. One is strong – an agreement that produces strong national actions and a resolve to implement them, and secondly, creates a system that enables full transparency and creates confidence that national actions are, in fact, being implemented.
QUESTION: Yes, I read that. But --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- there’s one thing that should be pointed out, which is that most of the growth in carbon emissions will be coming from developing nations. So that’s --
MR. CROWLEY: That’s absolutely right.
QUESTION: Right. That’s what you said and I memorized that. So --
MR. CROWLEY: Happens to be true.
QUESTION: So it presents --
QUESTION: India and China.
QUESTION: -- it presents a diplomatic challenge to convince these countries that it’s in their interest to do this as opposed to grow their economies. How does the U.S., how would the Secretary make that case?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the President is going to Copenhagen at the end of the week. He will help make that case. The Secretary has been directly involved in this issue as well. Todd Stern, our Special Envoy, is leading the delegation in Copenhagen as we speak. And clearly, from our standpoint, because we recognize both our responsibility as a leading major economy, we have and are responsible for significant emissions and have an obligation to be a part of the solution. It perhaps is taking a different approach than the previous administration. And as the President has set forward – even as we work with Congress on legislation on this issue, he has put forward a target of roughly – of approximately 17 percent cut by 2020.
But we also recognize, and clearly part of the discussion that’s going on in Copenhagen as we speak, is to make sure that there is meaningful participation and meaningful political commitments from other countries. You mentioned a couple. There are a variety of countries. But clearly, the developing and developed world both have to come together and commit themselves to solve this problem. And we hope, coming out of Copenhagen, there will be a lot of momentum, a binding political agreement that will necessitate further negotiation that will ultimately lead to a treaty.
QUESTION: But P.J., just a quick follow-up, the eyes of the world will be on India and China in Copenhagen, and – because that’s where they’re saying global climate will come from these two countries, the solution to our problems. When Indian officials were here during prime minister’s visit, what did you tell them what you want from India and what India should do? And the Indian prime minister along with President Obama will be in Copenhagen.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, he will. Well, I mean, we – it is an important element of our strategic dialogue. We’ve had multiple conversations with Indian officials, with Chinese officials on the Indian side, both during the Secretary’s trip to India earlier this year, during Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Washington, and on the Chinese side as well, going back to the Secretary’s trip to China earlier this year, the President’s trip to China, and their discussions that we had here under the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
I mean, this is a part of what the Secretary has said all along. To solve these global challenges, you will need to have meaningful participation and leadership by the United States, but we cannot solve this particular challenge without meaningful participation and leadership by emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil, other countries.
QUESTION: The later technology to solve this problem – is U.S. prepared or the Western countries prepared to give the technology?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I don’t want to – I mean, there’s an ongoing negotiation. It’s hard to do a play by play from Washington on what’s happening in Copenhagen. But clearly, technology has to be a major part of the solution, and we think it actually makes the – what we’re proposing a strong economic case, in that the creation of new industries, green jobs, sharing of technology – we think this is an economic plus rather than being an economic minus.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: Today, Ambassador Bosworth has returned to here – to Washington and maybe will meet with Secretary Clinton this afternoon?
MR. CROWLEY: Ambassador Bosworth may be landing from his trip as we speak. He has a meeting this afternoon with Secretary Clinton to report on his visit in Pyongyang and his consultations following Pyongyang, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he makes a visit here tomorrow.
QUESTION: Is this the first direct report to her? Is this the first direct report to her? And what’s the next step?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, when Ambassador Bosworth and his team came back to Seoul, they reported to the Secretary right away and to the interagency prior to beginning their consultations in South Korea, Tokyo, Beijing, and Moscow.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Japan basement issue? Actually, the Government of Japan is considering to find a new location of Futenma basement, and it is totally different from the (inaudible). And my question is: Can the U.S. --
MR. CROWLEY: Or the planet.
QUESTION: Can the U.S. Government accept that?
MR. CROWLEY: There is an existing plan and it – we think it is the best way forward, but as I said earlier, we will continue to discuss this with the Government of Japan.
QUESTION: Yeah. All of us know that the roadmap is the best plan, but actually, the Government of Japan is considering the new location. So my question is --
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that. And we will continue to discuss the issue with the Government of Japan.
MR. CROWLEY: Sudan?
QUESTION: Yeah. There’s a group of people up on the Hill – well, not – just people, elected representatives who are not too happy with the Administration, in particular with the special envoy saying that the U.S. is losing its leadership on the issue, is waning and that you’re not doing enough, calling for more active and immediate involvement by the Secretary and the President. What do you have to say to criticism like that?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m just curious if they been paying attention.
QUESTION: I don’t know. This is Congressman Wolf in particular.
MR. CROWLEY: I’d be curious if he’s been paying attention.
QUESTION: And (inaudible).
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, coming – we had a thorough review of our Sudan policy. It was announced in this room a couple of months ago after approval by the President. But even before the review was finalized, Special Envoy Scott Gration, has been in the region countless times. He is there as we speak working on North-South issues, working on Darfur. We have not – we never waited for the strategy to begin to recognize that – that not only is there ongoing violence in Sudan, the kind of political tension that has reared its ugly head here recently, but looking forward that there are significant developments and decisions that Sudan has to make, North and South. This process could end up producing a new country, one that may or may not currently have the capacity to govern themselves.
So we have been squarely focused since the beginning of the Obama Administration on both – on the challenge that Sudan represents. And Scott Gration has been working very, very hard not only in terms of our bilateral discussions with officials in Sudan, but in terms of garnering greater involvement in the region, around the world. So the idea that we have not been focused on Sudan is flat wrong.
QUESTION: Well, let me --
MR. CROWLEY: We’ve been focused on Sudan. And the reason why the Secretary sent Scott Gration back to the region last night, was expressly because if the current political process derails, you’ve got enormous potential for further violence in Sudan. But even if the current process stays on track through the referenda that Sudan has in 2010 and 2011, we still have an enormous amount of work to do going forward to help Sudan make the right kind of decision and then help North and South work through these difficult issues.
QUESTION: I may not have been clear enough about what the criticism was. It was not that you’re not paying attention to Sudan. It’s that your focus is wrong and that you’re not putting enough pressure on Khartoum, Bashir, and the National Congress Party. I mean, you can pay all the attention in the world that you want to it, but if you’re not – but the criticism is that your attention is misplaced, that your focus is wrong – and the focus is misguided and that the policy review ended up – you ended up with a bad policy after the policy review.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I mean, we’re faced with a difficult challenge. Let’s not underestimate how hard this is going to be even if it works well. This is a difficult process. The United States has been involved for a number of years, through multiple administrations in terms of helping the groups, North and South, navigate through this terrain.
There is a political process ongoing. We want to see the people of Sudan, North and South, have the opportunity to make informed decisions as to how their futures will unfold, what kind of political structures will be involved.
Scott Gration was up on the Hill last night – last week, testifying on this issue. I mean, we can have a discussion about this tactic or that tactic, but I think the track record shows that we have devoted an enormous amount of attention, not just Scott Gration from here, Susan Rice at the UN, and we continue to work.
I mean, if you’re going to reach ultimately a political solution, you have no choice but to engage officials in Khartoum. We’ve chosen not to engage President Bashir for obvious reasons. But Scott Gration, while he’s in the region this week, will be talk – touching base with the full range of people who will be involved in the difficult decisions that Sudan will make over the next couple of years.
MR. CROWLEY: I think the Thai officials are still investigating that airplane and its cargo. I think we recognize that they will – and anticipate that they will report to the sanctions committee and the security – and the UN on what their findings are.
QUESTION: Just a quick one on India. India on Sunday tested a nuclear-capable missile. And if U.S. knew in advance or if U.S. was informed of --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:01 p.m.)
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