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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary of State
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 17, 2009


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Nondiscrimination
    • Secretary Clinton's Upcoming Meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman
    • Secretary Clinton Will Meet with National Italian-American Foundation
    • Special Envoy Mitchell Travel to Paris June 25
    • Secretary Clinton's Address to U.S.-India Business Council / U.S.-India 3.0
  • IRAN
    • Concerns over Election / Guardian Council Review
    • Iranian Government should Address Concerns in Credible Way
    • Journalists' Ability to Cover Election / Protestors / New Media
    • Possible Discussions at G-8 Meeting with Afghanistan and Pakistan on Iran
    • IAEA Comments on Iran's Nuclear Ambitions
  • MISCELLANEOUS
    • Guantanamo Detainees / Discussions with Spain / Ambassador Fried's Travel
  • NORTH KOREA
    • North Korean Provocative Behavior / UN Security Council Resolution
    • Update on Detained American Journalists
  • BRAZIL
    • Wanted Fugitive Claudia Hoerig
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Israeli Settlements
    • Senator Mitchell's Upcoming Discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu
    • Former President Carter's Meeting with Hamas


TRANSCRIPT:

1:43 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Welcome back to a busy day at the Department of State. Charles, how are you?

My colleague, Ian Kelly, has been busy today with the Secretary and the speech and will be attending the bilateral shortly with Foreign Minister Lieberman, so I decided I would come down and join you today.

A couple of announcements: I think the White House has released a fact sheet a little while ago on the presidential memorandum on federal benefits and nondiscrimination. The President will sign a memorandum this afternoon, follows a review by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Secretary of State regarding what benefits may be extended to the same-sex partners of federal employees in the Civil Service and the Foreign Service within the confines of existing federal laws and statutes.

And the Secretary is very supportive of this and obviously played a leading role in the review, and we at the State Department, as with other federal agencies, will aggressively implement the directive when the President signs it. And I think we’ll have more to say after the President has taken that action.

QUESTION: On that – or do you want to finish your --

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll finish first. Thank you.

And as is mentioned, we’ll have a meeting – a readout following the meeting with the Secretary and Foreign Minister Lieberman. They will review a broad range of issues, including our commitment to Middle East peace and our commitment to a two-state solution. Also this afternoon, the Secretary will meet with the National Italian American Foundation about implementing projects to respond to the needs of the University of L'aquila in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake on April 6.

Senator Mitchell, who joined you yesterday, will be traveling to Paris, France on June 25. He will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu to continue the discussions we’ve been having with a wide range of Israeli officials, including the foreign minister this afternoon.

And finally, just to mention, the Secretary did deliver a short time ago a keynote speech at the U.S.-India Business Council. In her remarks, she said that the U.S. and India are at the beginning of a new era in bilateral relations. She called it “U.S.-India 3.0”. She further articulated this Administration’s vision for expanded U.S.-India ties, particularly in the areas of global security, human development, economic activity, and science and technology. And obviously, the speech follows a visit to India by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns last week. And while there, of course, he announced that Secretary Clinton will visit India in July.

QUESTION: I think that’s 3-point-0.

MR. CROWLEY: Three-point-0.

QUESTION: Not 3-dot-0.

MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry. I stand corrected.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about the – just quickly on the benefits issue?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Is there anything more or less that will be granted by this memorandum than was in the draft text of the message that the Secretary prepared some weeks ago?

MR. CROWLEY: It’s a very good question. I don’t know the answer. I think if there is a great interest, we’ll be happy, once the memorandum is signed – perhaps tomorrow, we’ll bring down some people to go through it in detail and how it impacts the Foreign Service.

QUESTION: But you’re not aware if there’s anything --

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know exact – precisely what the President will sign this afternoon.

QUESTION: New topic?

QUESTION: But is – this decision will affect only the Department of State or all federal --

MR. CROWLEY: This will affect all federal agencies. But obviously, the authorities for the Department of State are in a different law that governs the Foreign Service employees than do civilians and other agencies.

QUESTION: So – on Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: The foreign ministry is saying – accusing you all of intolerable interference in their election and the aftermath. I’m wondering what your response is to that.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are aware that the Swiss ambassador was called in today, and a number of countries in recent days – their diplomatic representatives were called in. So I suspect we are in good company. But as the President has said, we are not interfering with the debate that Iranians are having about their election and its aftermath. This is a debate about Iranians and about Iran’s future.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: But while you say you’re not interfering, there are a number of countries – Israel, some European countries, and even some members of Congress – that are looking to the United States to take more of a stand not in favor of, but supporting the kind of democratic process in Iran and the protestors who feel that the election was stolen. And so they’re looking for the U.S. to, you know, say what it says it’s been doing all along, which is support the Iranian people, not – not the government.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think you’ve had a number of compelling statements by the President, by the Secretary of State since the election making clear that there are questions that the Iranian people have about what has transpired both during this election and its aftermath. There are people out on the streets in Iran today and of recent days. They are voicing the questions, concerns that they have, and we believe that the Iranian Government should listen to those concerns, should address the aspirations that their people have.

I mean, this is a democratic process, obviously, within a somewhat constrained system. But clearly, there is a robust debate. It went on during the campaign. It’s been going on since the election has been held. And it’s up to the Government of Iran to resolve these questions and these concerns that the Iranian people have and that the world has in a credible way, in a transparent way, and in a peaceful way.

QUESTION: Are you waiting until the kind of review and the – not recount, but whatever the election process is in Iran that the Guardian Council is engaged in right --

MR. CROWLEY: The Iranian Government has indicated that it’s going to --

QUESTION: So are you waiting until that’s over before you make any further comment about whether you feel the election was free and fair or not?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t know that we can stand here and say that the election was free and fair. Obviously, the election – during the election, we did not have the opportunity to have international monitors so we could make that judgment. As the President has said repeatedly, there are serious concerns about what is going on and it’s up to the Iranian Government to address these in a credible way. And we will be watching closely as they go through this in the coming days, but they have made public pledges that they will review this, they will look at the election, and we’ll be watching carefully as they do it.

QUESTION: Well, P.J., in your mind, what is – you said the Iranian Government should address this in a credible way. How are you defining that? I mean, what – to you, what would be a credible examination of the election?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, ultimately, this is about how the Iranian Government addresses the concerns that are being voiced as we speak by their own people. Their own people have questions as to whether this election was credible, whether the results actually represent the will of the Iranian people here. That is our interest here. It’s not for us to dictate what Iran should do. It is what Iran has to do to address the concerns, the needs, and the aspirations of its own people.

QUESTION: What was the message to the Swiss?

MR. CROWLEY: I haven’t got a specific readout. My understanding is it was a general comment about what they perceive to be interference.

QUESTION: But if the U.S. --

QUESTION: But from who? Because the Swiss are proud of their tradition of neutrality in all matters.

MR. CROWLEY: My impression is that the Swiss ambassador, as our protective power, was called in because he had – they had concerns about the United States.

QUESTION: But there was nothing specific about --

MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: You mentioned robust debate. Is it something that you support? Is it something good, and do you think it shows the emergence of new opposition in Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, as to what this represents, we’re obviously watching it closely. And the process of dealing with the aftermath of the election continues. It’s not about us. I mean, this is what the President has made clear. It is about Iran. It’s about the debate that’s going on in the country. And the government has to listen to the voices of the people. They have to look at the aspirations that they have. I think the Iranian people are frustrated that Iran is isolated from the rest of the world. And if Iran wants to emerge and have a more normal relationship with the United States, there are – or the world, there are steps that they can take. And we have voiced our concerns about Iran more broadly, its behavior, how it functions in the region, its support of terrorism. We have questions about its nuclear ambitions. So this is all part and parcel of the same thing. We’re looking to see how Iran addresses questions that its own people have about what it’s doing, and we ourselves have questions of Iran about what it’s doing more broadly.

QUESTION: But do you welcome this debate? Do you welcome what’s going on?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as the President said yesterday, we believe there’s a universal principle of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, of transparent legal processes. These are rights that we believe all people of the world should enjoy. And we are encouraged by the debate that we see going on in Iran. But again, it is a debate by Iranians about the future of Iran.

QUESTION: What is your reaction to the fact that foreign journalists have been told not to go outside to cover these protests without permits? And doesn't that impact the ability of the State Department to gather information since, as you’ve said before, you’re relying a lot on these reports?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, as we’ve said even in recent days, we are certainly – one of the hallmarks of U.S. democracy, given that we are one of the more enduring democracies in the world, is the fact that we have a vibrant press. It’s why all of you are here. And certainly, we support that through a variety of means. There should be broad availability of information. A vibrant press is one way in which governments can be held to account. We believe that governments that are accountable ultimately will govern in a more responsible way.

QUESTION: But as far as your ability --

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, certainly, yeah, the United States has long advocated that freedom of the press and has long criticized a number of countries that have chosen to intimidate press, to close down free and independent media. And obviously, we would have – we have concerns about treatment of the media in Iran during this situation.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on your point that the Iranian authorities should address these questions in a credible way, it sounds like you’re saying that there should be an independent investigation and that the investigation, I think, by the Guardian Council may not be a credible way of addressing these concerns.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, ultimately, the measure of this is how the Iranian people view their government and view this election, and whether they see the government as being legitimate. This is not about the United States. This is about a debate that has been generated inside Iran. That debate is continuing as we speak. And it’s for the Government of Iran to satisfy the questions and the concerns that clearly their people have.

QUESTION: But the Guardian Council is not part of the government. It’s actually linked to the religious leadership. It’s not part of the government and it’s not elected by the people or, you know, people have no links to it whatsoever. So what --

MR. CROWLEY: And as we’ve said, that this is a process that is ongoing. The Iranian Government has made statements about how they will deal with the aftermath of the election. And we, the United States, and the world overall will be watching closely as they go through this.

QUESTION: Do you think that the Iranians are going to show their – that they’re upset about U.S. contacting Twitter over, you know, asking them to keep open for – delay their upgrade?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the conversation that a State Department employee had with Twitter on Monday evening is consistent with our support for freedom of expression. That call occurred three days after the election, so it’s hard to see that this can be construed as interference. In fact, Twitter is a tool that allows all Iranians to communicate. It isn’t about just one group or another. In fact, there are reports, I think, in the media, that the government itself uses Twitter.

QUESTION: Can you explain why you made the decision to go on the record about this with The New York Times after the spokesman from the podium adamantly refused to go into details about this?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the briefing yesterday generated new stories, and towards the end of the day we responded to those news outlets that contacted us.

QUESTION: So there wasn’t any concern about going – there was a concern expressed on the record here yesterday that --

MR. CROWLEY: I think we adapted once we understood that there was media fascination with this issue.

QUESTION: We’ve heard repeatedly that there have been back-channel talks to bring the two sides closer together for the start of talks. Now, has that --

MR. CROWLEY: Which two sides? Are we shifting gears?

QUESTION: Iran and the U.S.

MR. CROWLEY: Oh, Iran and the U.S.. Okay.

QUESTION: Yes. Is that still going on? And do you have anything new on the 4th of July invitations to Iranian --

MR. CROWLEY: I do not have a status report on the 4th of July. I’m assuming that invitations are going out consistent with our direction to various posts, but I don’t have a roster of who has accepted at this point.

I mean, on your other point, President Obama, Secretary Clinton, we have made clear over the five months of the Obama Administration that we are prepared to have a dialogue with Iran in a variety of settings, both bilateral, if Iran chooses, multilateral, to both – to address the concerns that we have, but also to explore potentially areas of shared interests. And we are, in fact, waiting for Iran to respond specifically to an invitation that was extended to join the P-5+1 talks with the United States playing a more active role than it has in the past, and we await that response.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MR. CROWLEY: Same one?

QUESTION: On Iran. Can you address the issue of – in terms of engaging with Iran going forward, whether it would make any difference whether it’s a continuation of Ahmadinejad or whether it might be (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: I think as the President has said, his decision to extend a hand to Iran out of mutual interest and mutual respect was not predicated upon a particular electoral result. But clearly, you have to make sure that you have the proper conditions for that potential engagement to take place. That’s why what’s going on here is important. But the President’s decision to offer to engage Iran directly is based on our national interest. It is based on the concerns that we have and we feel we need to address. The most urgent of those is to clarify Iran’s nuclear ambitions, to try to encourage Iran to come back into compliance with its responsibilities under the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Additional Protocol. So that’s one of the reasons why we’re hopeful that once Iran gets through the election process, regardless of the eventual outcome, that we will begin to find a way to address the other concerns that we have and the international community has specifically about Iran’s nuclear program.

QUESTION: And that it wouldn't make any difference which person is actually in the political leadership?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, the decision of who leads Iran in the future is a decision for the Iranian people, as the Secretary of State said this weekend. We want to be sure – our interest is making sure that whatever result finally occurs represents the will of the Iranian people.

QUESTION: The Secretary is – next week is going to participate in a ministerial meeting of the G-8 in Italy, and there was a meeting on Afghanistan scheduled around this meeting with the participation of Iran. Do you still expect is going to participate?

MR. CROWLEY: That is a question that we have. There are – this meeting in Trieste coming up, which we haven’t yet announced but will be announcing in the coming days, has a variety of components. One of those is an international meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan is one of those potential areas where Iran and the United States have shared interest in a stable Afghanistan. But we’ll be waiting to see who, if anyone, decides to attend that meeting.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Iran? One more Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: All right.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the report that the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency told the BBC that Iran, quote, “definitely wants the technology to enable it to have nuclear weapons if they decide to do so”?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, that’s one of the reasons why we’re strongly in favor of getting together the P-5+1. It’s the reason why the Obama Administration decided to play a more active role in that forum. We are hopeful that Iran will come to that meeting prepared to address the questions that we have about the – about its nuclear aspirations.

Clearly, as the President has said, Iran has rights under the Nonproliferation Treaty, but with those rights come responsibilities. They are currently out of compliance with their obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Standard Protocol – and the Additional Protocol. And we would love to have a conversation where we’re able to address those concerns, clarify what Iran is intending, bring it back into compliance with the IAEA, and then use that as a – as perhaps an opportunity to then pursue other issues.

QUESTION: Are we done with Iran? On Guantanamo, there’s a Spanish newspaper report out today that Spain is prepared to take in three to five, and then later reports of four, Guantanamo detainees, either – they mentioned Tunisians and Syrians. Is that true? There are also reports that Dan Fried is in Spain today presenting them with a list of (inaudible).

MR. CROWLEY: Ambassador Fried was in Spain yesterday. I believe he is en route to other destinations. He is traveling in Europe all this week. We appreciate the Government of Spain’s willingness to discuss these important issues and support the President’s objective of closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. We will continue to work with our Spanish counterparts to determine how Spain can be of assistance. I expect those conversations to continue. But as to any future announcements, we’ll wait till they conclude.

QUESTION: So you don’t confirm the number of four detainees?

MR. CROWLEY: I will confirm that Ambassador Fried was in Spain yesterday, had conversations with the Spanish Government on the issue of Guantanamo, and those – these contacts will continue.

QUESTION: Where else is he going?

QUESTION: Italy?

MR. CROWLEY: I believe he’s on his way to Hungary as we speak.

QUESTION: And Italy?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t have his full agenda, but he’s going to making multiple stops in Europe during the course of this week.

QUESTION: And can you confirm that Italy accepted to take three Guantanamo detainees?

MR. CROWLEY: I believe that was announced at the White House when the prime minister was there that they have agreed to take three, but there are still details to work out.

QUESTION: On North Korea? North Korea seems to be ready to test-fire long-range intercontinental ballistic missile soon. Do you have anything, update, information on that?

MR. CROWLEY: I really can’t – I can’t tell you what North Korea is going to do. I think we have made clear what North Korea should do. In recent days, obviously, we’ve had a significant resolution passed. It – we are now aggressively implementing the arrangements under the UN Security Council resolution. We continue to be – to call on North Korea to come back to a negotiating process, come back to their commitments that they made in 2005. And as the President said in his meeting with the president of South Korea yesterday, we remain committed as U.S. policy, together with others, our other partners in the Six-Party process, to a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

QUESTION: Do you know why North Koreans, they are launching so many missiles continuing? What do you think North Korean intention is?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think anyone in the United States Government has a great crystal ball in why North Korea does what it does. It’s obviously – its behavior is provocative. It represents a threat to the region. We have grave concerns about the behavior of North Korea. We want to see North Korea come back and play a more constructive role. We think there’s a path available to North Korea, but whether they choose to follow the right path, we’ll have to wait and see.

QUESTION: Is there any update on the journalists? Any more contact with the Swedes?

MR. CROWLEY: We continue – through the Swedish ambassador, we continue to ask for consular access. We have not had that since June 1st.

QUESTION: Do you understand where they are? Are they still in Pyongyang? Have they been moved at all?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not prepared to discuss where they are. I don’t know.

QUESTION: What can you say about the U.S. intentions to propose the names of DPRK Government officials to be subject to the sanctions – proposed to the Sanctions Committee up at the --

MR. CROWLEY: I think we are still – now that we have the resolution, we are still working through the sanctions process. I believe we will have additional entities that will be added to the existing list of sanctioned organizations. I don’t have that detail in front of me.

QUESTION: When you say entities, you mean – you include names of officials?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll be happy to take that question. I mean, obviously, the – our sanctions activity will be geared primarily at addressing our concern about the potential proliferation activity by North Korea. We will be dealing with those entities that are a part of their military complex. We are also looking at sanctions that can put pressure on the regime itself. How that unfolds, whether it’s sanctions against individuals, sanctions or entities, I think that those details are still being worked.

QUESTION: A different topic?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: This is about a Brazilian-born woman who was living in Ohio, Claudia Hoerig. She was indicted for her husband’s murder, she fled to Brazil. What’s being done to get Brazil to extradite her to stand trial?

MR. CROWLEY: This case is a high priority for the United States. We have raised Miss Hoerig’s case on numerous occasions with the Government of Brazil, and it’s an ongoing law enforcement matter, and I’ll leave it there.

QUESTION: P.J., I just have a policy question regarding this 1979 document produced by the State Department’s legal advisor to (inaudible) response to Congress finding that Israeli settlements were, quote, “inconsistent with international law.” And that has not been – as I understand it, not changed or revised since then, since 30 years ago. Does the State Department maintain this view, or is the policy likely to be revised?

MR. CROWLEY: That question was raised yesterday with our Special Envoy Senator Mitchell, and I will defer to what he said yesterday.

QUESTION: Just following up on some of the stuff that we talked about with Senator Mitchell yesterday, do you know if – has the U.S. been supporting the idea of only allowing – of asking for help on new tenders in the – for settlements and letting the stuff that’s already in process go? Do you know?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll hide behind another fine element of Senator Mitchell’s briefing yesterday, which is not necessarily advisable to negotiate in the press. The United States’ position on settlements is clear. We believe that both parties should live up to their obligations under the 2003 Roadmap. And for the issue of settlements, it means a stop to all settlements. And I think the President, the Secretary, Senator Mitchell have all addressed that in their various meetings with the Israelis. I don’t think we have anything to add.

QUESTION: So that’s old and new? Like, it’s – those are already in the process and any new ones? You’re saying everything?

MR. CROWLEY: I think stopping settlements means stopping settlements. And I think Senator Mitchell said that very clearly yesterday, as have the President and the Secretary of State in their meetings with Israeli officials. I’m sure settlements will be an issue that’ll come up in the Secretary’s conversation with Foreign Minister Lieberman.

QUESTION: And when Mitchell goes to Paris, settlements will be a big topic --

MR. CROWLEY: I think, obviously, it will be the first opportunity for Senator Mitchell to follow up with the prime minister in the aftermath of the speech, as the senator said yesterday. The speech represented a step forward. As he indicated, there’s now a shared objective of a two-state solution. And I think the senator will just be following up with the prime minister and seeing where we go from here.

QUESTION: Senator Mitchell will attend the meeting of the Secretary and the foreign minister today? Or he’s going to – he’s been – he left?

MR. CROWLEY: If he’s here, I would imagine he would be attending.

QUESTION: Okay. And I have another question about Middle East. The ex-President Carter met with Hamas officials yesterday. Do you have any comment? Is it helpful or is it –

MR. CROWLEY: President Carter, a distinguished American, is a private citizen, and the meetings were private.

QUESTION: Do you know of any threat to former President Carter’s life? There were some reports in the Israeli press about a possible assassination attempt.

MR. CROWLEY: He – there were some reports, but we’re gratified that he left safely.

QUESTION: But is it something helpful or is it the opposite? It is really something that affect the U.S. position on Hamas?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think – I mean, we’re not going to characterize the meetings of President Carter and those he talked to. As – again, as George Mitchell said yesterday that there is an opportunity for Hamas to join a formal negotiating process if they choose. But to do so, obviously, they have to meet the democratic principles that have been laid out by the Quartet.

QUESTION: Sorry. Just to go back, you said that you saw the reports of a potential assassination attempt on President – former President Carter. Are those reports credible?

MR. CROWLEY: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Are those reports credible? I mean, is that --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m not in a position – I’m not going to characterize them. We were aware of some reports and I’m sure we took appropriate security steps. But obviously, President Carter was there for a few hours and returned safely.

QUESTION: Just to close the loop on that, the report said that Hamas ordered the attack.

MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m not in a position to characterize them. You asked a fair question, which was, were we aware of reports, and the answer is yes.

QUESTION: P.J. --

QUESTION: Media reports that you’re talking about, right, that’s what you’re --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not – to the extent was there information of a potential threat? There was.

QUESTION: Was the State Department involved in his security?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a fair question. I’ll take that question.

QUESTION: P.J., the previous administration was quite outspoken about its opposition to President Carter meeting Hamas and others. In fact, former Secretary Rice said that she – that David Welch, when he was the then-Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, had counseled President Carter not to meet with these people. Did this Administration do this – have any contact with President Carter beforehand?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, President Carter is a distinguished American. He is a global citizen. He is a strong advocate for peace around the world. He has dedicated his post-presidency to conflict resolution. But the meetings were his own.

QUESTION: Generally, the Administration, no matter who it is, has consultations and meetings with members of Congress, former distinguished ex-presidents – or two of them I can think of –who are active now internationally. Are you saying that there was no contact between this Department or the Administration and former President Carter before he went to –

MR. CROWLEY: I – if I’m not mistaken in some press coverage I heard, I read of his visit that he said he would file a report.

QUESTION: No, no, no, prior to.

MR. CROWLEY: No, I don’t know if there were any contacts with him.

QUESTION: Then is it possible to find out? And then if there was contact, which I suspect there probably was, if the Administration took a position on whether he should meet these --

MR. CROWLEY: Without commenting on the specific issue, it’s not unusual when presidents travel around the world. They can check in. I don’t know if he did in this particular case. I’ll – we’ll ask the question.

QUESTION: And can you find out if the Administration took a position on whether he should or should not meet with members of Hamas because --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again – but President Carter, as a private citizen, can meet with whoever he chooses.

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. CROWLEY: That said, as Senator Mitchell said yesterday, we would welcome the participation of any party that will meet the requirements for a democratic dialogue as set forth by the Quartet. So President Carter can meet with whoever he chooses. Our focus is, as George Mitchell said yesterday, on trying to get to a negotiating process. And we’re willing to negotiate with anyone who meets the conditions that are laid out by the Quartet and --

QUESTION: P.J., that’s not – that’s – but that’s not my question. I understand what your position is. That was the position of the previous administration as well.

MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.

QUESTION: But the previous administration had a big problem with Carter running around and meeting these people. They also had a big problem when Nancy Pelosi went to Damascus to meet with Assad. So what’s – what is this Administration’s – I think it’s a legitimate question.

MR. CROWLEY: Then. Now. Then. Now. Well, put it this way --

QUESTION: So you’re – so what you’re implying is that this Administration does not have a problem in the same way that the Bush Administration did with people running around conducting freelance diplomacy.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I am not aware that any specific concerns have been addressed about President Carter’s recent travel.

QUESTION: All right. I have one last one. It’s kind of minor. Can – what, if anything, can you tell us about the Secretary’s dinner last night?

MR. CROWLEY: I wasn’t there. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: That’s fair. You don’t know anything about it?

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: Dennis Ross – do you have anything to announce?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:16 p.m.)

DPB # 100

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