12:47 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: First of all, let me apologize for the lengthy delay. We were obtaining some additional guidance on a particular subject, not the one that you’re most interested in. I wanted to at least have the ability to come out here and answer some of your questions.
Let me start with the – what is on most of your minds. As we announced last night, Secretary Clinton was preparing to depart the State Department for a meeting at the White House and fell in the basement as she was walking towards her car, and she suffered a fracture of her right elbow. She was treated at The George Washington University Hospital before heading home late last night. She will undergo surgery to repair the elbow sometime in the upcoming week on a date and time still to be set.
As a result, she has no public appointments today. What that means is in terms of her open schedule today, she did not attend the World Refugee event this morning and will not be attending the AFSA awards ceremony here later today. She is deeply appreciative of the professional and kind medical team at the hospital and thanks the many well-wishers that have already been calling her from around the country and the world, including President Obama, who was one of the first to call her late last night.
And with that, I’ll take your questions.
QUESTION: In the building today – is she in the building today?
MR. CROWLEY: She is at home resting comfortably, or uncomfortably. She is working from home. She has already taken some calls and I’m sure, learning – starting to learn the limits of movement, how well you can text with --
QUESTION: P.J. --
MR. CROWLEY: -- one arm in a sling.
QUESTION: What time did this happen?
MR. CROWLEY: The fall occurred at about 5:00 p.m. yesterday. She was – she and Richard Holbrooke were together and heading for a meeting at the White House. Richard Holbrooke proceeded to attend that meeting. She came back to her office where she was examined, and they determined it was appropriate to take her to the hospital and have the – have it formally x-rayed.
QUESTION: So if this happened at 5 o’clock, why did it take until 12:55 to put out something about it?
MR. CROWLEY: I think the statement happened earlier than that, but let’s run through it. The incident happened about 5 o’clock, she came back to her office, eventually she proceeded down the street to George Washington Hospital, she got back to her house at roughly 10 o’clock, she took a call from the President shortly thereafter. I know we started to work on a statement sometime in the next hour and put it out as quickly as we could.
QUESTION: Sorry, it wasn’t 12:55. It was 11:55.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Yeah, well, that’s still six hours.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. Well, it’s still – I mean, obviously, we knew she had fallen.
QUESTION: Seven – it was seven.
MR. CROWLEY: We thought it appropriate to get complete facts before we informed the public and the media.
QUESTION: Can you tell us why the statement was in Cheryl Mills’s name?
MR. CROWLEY: Cheryl Mills is a very close confidant and counselor to the Secretary and we thought that was the most appropriate person to comment on her injury.
QUESTION: Because the Secretary is going to be having surgery over the next week, is it likely that she will cancel her attendance in Trieste and Corfu? Has a decision been taken on that yet?
MR. CROWLEY: It has not. It’s a fair question. Obviously, we need to get the surgery scheduled and performed, and then we’ll assess or be in a better position to answer that question and kind of assess any impact.
QUESTION: Was it a very bad break? What kind of a break was it, just out of interest.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sure it was painful. I think – I mean, it’s – I’m not a physician, so it’s hard for me to characterize it. I don’t think it was a severe break, which is why I think she will have the surgery in the coming days. But how it affects her – I mean, you all know Hillary Clinton. She’s already probably plotting how to get back to the office as quickly as possible, and we’re just going to assess this on a day-to-day basis.
QUESTION: But was the --
QUESTION: It was one fracture, it wasn’t a compound fracture?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer – obviously, some of this might not be totally known until you get into surgery, but my impression is it was a fairly simple, straightforward fracture.
QUESTION: That will be at GW, her surgery?
MR. CROWLEY: It hasn’t been scheduled yet. We’ll let you know when it’s scheduled.
QUESTION: How did she fall?
MR. CROWLEY: She fell.
QUESTION: What, did she trip over something?
MR. CROWLEY: I can see the conspiracy theories are starting already. We await the movie and the dramatization. She fell.
QUESTION: By herself?
MR. CROWLEY: And we were asking this question earlier. I mean, there was actually a formal procedure. Given that the boss fell in the building, I’m sure this action will be thoroughly investigated.
QUESTION: Well, was it in the garage or in the basement?
MR. CROWLEY: It was in the basement.
QUESTION: But not the garage?
MR. CROWLEY: Whether it was in the basement – she was en route to her car. Actually, precisely where it happened, I do not know.
QUESTION: The elevator comes down and then there’s a basement until she gets to that part of the garage?
MR. CROWLEY: Right, it’s something – I think she was out of the elevator and then there – she walks a distance to her car, and somewhere on that line, she fell.
QUESTION: Did she (inaudible)?
QUESTION: So the meeting that she and Holbrooke were going to was on Afghanistan and Pakistan? I thought she might have been going to one on Iran with a number of experts.
MR. CROWLEY: I do not know the nature of the meeting, but Richard proceeded to the meeting.
QUESTION: Had she planned then to be at the White House for this – for the President’s signing of the memo on benefits?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know. I don’t think that was on her schedule.
QUESTION: Is she on any medication, any pain killers, antibiotics?
MR. CROWLEY: What medical treatment she’ll be under – obviously under medical care for the coming days, but she is up, she remains the Secretary of State, and she is working from home.
QUESTION: At what point will you make a decision on Trieste? That’s after surgery?
MR. CROWLEY: I think so, yes. I mean, first of all, we have to get the surgery scheduled. And then once she comes through surgery, we will have – be in a better position to answer those questions.
QUESTION: I mean, she – I mean, Trieste is scheduled for the middle of next week, so --
MR. CROWLEY: That’s right.
QUESTION: I mean, you know, I know you were saying, like – knowing Secretary Clinton, she wants to get back to work as soon as possible. But I mean, are you going to err on the side of caution in terms of her health and her long-term use of her arm, rather than like, just making sure that she can get to the meeting? I mean --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, she’s actually – she’s not the first cabinet secretary of the Obama Administration to suffer an injury.
QUESTION: Yes, I know that.
MR. CROWLEY: I suspect Secretary Gates will be calling her to say, here’s how you dress with one arm. He went through a surgery on --
QUESTION: No, but I mean to travel overseas, like the day after – I mean, I think she’s --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. These are all fair questions. I think we just have to take it day to day. She’s already working from home. And I would expect once she comes through surgery, we’ll have a sense of what the impact, if any, will be.
QUESTION: Who did she make the calls to at home? To whom did she make the calls from home?
MR. CROWLEY: I think she’s been receiving calls. I don’t have a list. But obviously, her husband and daughter returned to Washington last night to be with her. I suspect her husband this morning is trying to teach her how to write left-handed.
QUESTION: Two quick things. Sorry, just to follow up on Elise’s question about the medications, I think it was a fair question just because of whether any pain killers would distort her judgment or anything like that. Is there --
MR. CROWLEY: She remains the Secretary of State, and I think she is fully capable of making the decisions that need to be made.
QUESTION: Well, I guess it would depend what kind of pain killers then, would it? I mean, some of them are pretty --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I have no doubt that a fractured elbow --
QUESTION: It’s painful.
MR. CROWLEY: -- can hurt. But again, she remains the Secretary of State. She’s working from home. She’s actively engaged as we speak and doing what needs to be done.
QUESTION: Just to clarify, you said former President Clinton and daughter Chelsea are here now?
MR. CROWLEY: They are here now. They arrived back in Washington last night.
QUESTION: Can we change the subject? Can we change the subject?
QUESTION: No foreign travel for the next two weeks?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: No foreign travel for her, for the next two weeks?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, she has a busy summer schedule for travel, and we just have to wait and see if there’s any impact. We just don’t know yet.
QUESTION: If I can go back to what Matt mentioned about the memo – the benefits memo that the President signed yesterday. As you know, there were many reports a couple weeks ago about what the Secretary’s prepared to do for the Foreign Service members and the Civil Service members. None of that was official because I understand that she wanted the White House to pronounce itself on that. Can you tell us, beyond what the President announced last night, will there be benefits to Foreign Service and Civil Service members that will benefit the partners of same sex --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, in fact, this afternoon we will be putting out a statement by Secretary Clinton that makes clear that we will be aggressively implementing the memorandum signed by the President last night. We will implement this policy, changing our Foreign Affairs Manual, our standard regulations to allow same-sex domestic partners of the Department’s Foreign Service employees to qualify as family members for a variety of benefits and allowances.
This statement we’ll put out has a long list of the changes that we expect to make. Obviously, part of this will evolve working with foreign governments to provide same-sex domestic partners to the extent possible with diplomatic visas, privileges, immunities, and authorization to work in the local economy.
And actually anticipating your interest, at the conclusion of this briefing, we’ll have a couple of officials here to walk you through some details on background.
QUESTION: P.J., maybe they can address this, but maybe you can, too. There are certain countries where homosexuality is illegal.
MR. CROWLEY: And as I just said, we recognize that in implementing this policy, we will have to negotiate certain religious immunities with other governments --
QUESTION: Well, how do you --
MR. CROWLEY: -- and we will do so.
QUESTION: Yeah. How do – well, I mean, that’s a negotiation that goes nowhere in a country where it is against the law.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, put it this way – I mean, these things are subject to reciprocal arrangements, and this will be one of the tasks that are before us as we implement what the President has signed with the enthusiastic support of the Secretary.
QUESTION: Well, what if a foreign country refuses to accept a diplomat, an ambassador per se, based on --
MR. CROWLEY: Again – well, and this will be – obviously, this will be something that we will – we recognize that will need to be negotiated, and that will go into our judgments in terms of how we assign our employees around the world.
QUESTION: Well, isn’t that – go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, Secretary Clinton was one of the first kind of people of the Administration to talk about this and pledge to make this happen. So did she – was President Obama all along going to do this, or did she try to influence him in some way to extend federal wide? I mean, was – when she said that she was going to reserve doing anything to have the White House weigh in, did she – was it then that she went the President and said, you should extend this to all members or was --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, if I recall, the Secretary stated her support for this initiative in her first town hall with State Department employees. Obviously, this had to be worked through the government, since it affects not only the State Department but other federal agencies. And she is an enthusiastic supporter of what the President announced yesterday.
QUESTION: But what I’m saying was, was there already a process under way within which the State Department was working or did Secretary Clinton initiate, you know, by requesting to the President or whoever, that this become a government-wide process?
MR. CROWLEY: I think that this is an issue that the Secretary feels very strongly about. And obviously, that went into the President’s thinking in terms of not only to do this for the State Department, but to do this throughout the government.
QUESTION: But P.J., there was the impression that actually what she was proposing went much further than what the President did. I wonder whether she feels that the memorandum that – signed yesterday didn’t go quite far enough, because the proposals were very serious and --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, clearly, as the President said in his announcement yesterday, he’s able to take this action based on existing authorities and those include authorities for Foreign Service officers. These are the kind of details I think the experts can go into after the briefing.
QUESTION: In view of the Israeli position that they will continue to build settlements, or natural growth as they call it, is the U.S. going to take any more steps to pressure Israel to comply with its wishes?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we said yesterday, George Mitchell will meet next week in Paris with the prime minister to continue this discussion. Our position is clear: There should be a stop to all settlements; there should be action by both the Israelis and the Palestinians to heed their obligations under the Roadmap. As George Mitchell said a couple of days ago briefing here, we recognize that this is a negotiation, and part of this is to actually get into a negotiation where we can take the positions that are currently held by all sides and work towards an agreement that everyone can live with, and then seek to execute.
QUESTION: The problem here is that it seems to be that the negotiation that’s going on is between the United States and Israel. And in fact, the point of this whole thing is to get a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Isn’t this whole debate just sidetracking the real goal here?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the real goal is a two-state solution and --
QUESTION: Well, I mean, the U.S. and Israel can – you know, can go back and forth however they want. But you know, the U.S. and Israel are friends and allies and there isn’t a – there is no need for a peace deal between – the need here is for a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians, not for an agreement between the U.S. and Israel over settlements. Is that correct?
MR. CROWLEY: Well -- which is why the Obama Administration when it came into office, one of its first priorities was to reengage at a very high level involving the President, the Secretary, and appointing a special envoy. As George Mitchell said, we do feel there’s a sense of urgency here. The Israeli-Palestinian situation is central to a broader peace process, which is central to peace in the Middle East.
QUESTION: Yeah. But aren’t you concerned that the Israelis or Prime Minister Netanyahu himself may be just – you know, he’s succeeded in delaying the whole idea of restarting negotiations. But --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure I necessarily agree there. I mean, I --
QUESTION: But Israelis officials say that there’s an accommodation being worked out between the U.S. and Israel over settlements. And is it the responsibility that the U.S. make an accommodation with Israel? I mean, isn’t that something you should be facilitating between the two parties?
MR. CROWLEY: Our interest is to facilitate the parties to restart a negotiation that leads to a comprehensive agreement. Again, as George Mitchell said, we want to get back into a formal negotiation. And we are working hard right now to create the conditions that would allow that to happen. We recognize that positions held by Israel today and positions held by the Palestinians today may be at odds.
QUESTION: So you’re saying --
MR. CROWLEY: What we’re saying is that – all we’re asking Israel to do, all we’re asking the Palestinians to do, is live up to the obligations that they themselves have committed to under the Roadmap.
QUESTION: Can I switch to Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: You may.
QUESTION: There was a report in The New York Times today that said Secretary Clinton believes the Administration should be taking a stronger stance on the protestors in Iran and that the Administration should be coming out more strongly in favor of their activities on the streets.
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think there’s any daylight between the position of the President and the position of the Secretary of State.
QUESTION: Well, the public --
MR. CROWLEY: The President has talked this week compellingly about the debate that’s going on in Iran, and the Secretary has said virtually the same thing.
QUESTION: Does she think he should be putting more support – public support towards the protestors or the protestors?
MR. CROWLEY: I think clearly we are watching what is unfolding here. This is not a static situation. And what is clear is our interest here within – about the election itself. This is really about the Iranians and the relationship between the Iranian people and the Iranian Government. As I said yesterday, this is not about the United States.
Now, what is clear also is why we are focused on Iran. It’s why the President made the outreach that he did when he came into office, why we are hopeful when this process is done that we can begin to engage, not as a favor to Iran, but because it is in our interest, and we believe there is the potential for shared interests between the United States, Iran, and the rest of the international community on the nuclear issue, on the issue of terrorism, on the future of Iran in the region.
QUESTION: But Amnesty International is saying that many of the opposition leaders or – that were leading the protest have disappeared and perhaps been detained. Do you know anything about this? And I mean, why isn’t there more – as you have, not – in countries around the world, called for the release of political prisoners, why aren’t you speaking out more forcefully about that?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we are trying to assess the situation on a day-to-day basis. Clearly, as we’ve said, there are things we can glean from the various sources that we have. It is a murky situation. As you yourselves have noted, it’s very difficult to report what’s going on in Iran right now. We have made very strong statements, consistently so, about our interest in having freedom of expression, freedom of assembly. This is an election. This is a debate. It has to be resolved peacefully. The government should resolve this in a transparent process. And clearly, they should both listen to the voices that are speaking out and make sure that the result is one that the Iranian people can live with and can support.
QUESTION: And release political prisoners?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, we have a long track record in terms of opposing any prisoners who are put in jail on political grounds.
QUESTION: But – so why aren’t you opposing it now, though?
MR. CROWLEY: I just don’t have facts here. But to the extent there may well be people who are involved in the political process, they should be allowed to do what they need to do, to say what they should say, to help resolve this in a peaceful way.
QUESTION: The Bush Administration came under quite a bit of criticism over --
MR. CROWLEY: You think?
QUESTION: -- well, over the Iran Democracy Fund and that it made the situation much more difficult for Iranians on the ground once the U.S. started pumping money into the Democracy Fund. What are you doing in terms of funding democracy projects in Iran at the moment? Is that something that you’re looking at? And are you weighing what the benefits would be for that, because it would appear that you had put people in more jeopardy if you start pushing democracy projects?
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s fair to say in the five months since the Administration has come into office, we’ve been reviewing and evaluating all elements of our policies towards Iran. We’ve been checking in with other countries who have the same interest that we do in resolving the concerns that we have about Iran. I don’t think that we’ve reached any conclusions yet. We’re waiting to see exactly what happens, and we’ve expected all along that Iran would have to get through this election before we understood exactly what Iran was prepared to do, and then we would respond accordingly.
QUESTION: And are you seeking the advice of Iranian Americans in how to moderate your response to the situation on the ground or what the best approach would be?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, put it this way: I think let’s lift it above Iran. Since coming into office, Secretary Clinton has been focused on how you support democracy appropriately around the world. And it’s not going to be a cookie-cutter approach. She is most interested in making sure that however we support democracy in the world, however we support human rights around the world, we should do it with understanding fully the context within which of these programs and this initiatives might take place. But we obviously want to see human rights advance. We want to see democracy advance in the world. And we’re working actively in a number of fronts, not only with respect to Iran, respect to a country like Burma, how can you work most effectively on the ground in those countries to improve political processes and to open them up to fuller participation, to make sure there is a robust debate in these countries, and to make sure that through this process you have more responsible government and you’re able to hold those governments to account.
QUESTION: P.J., you said --
QUESTION: P.J., to your knowledge, has any administration ever adopted a cookie-cutter approach to world crises?
MR. CROWLEY: I think --
QUESTION: And if not, which I suspect – if that’s not true, what’s the point of saying that?
MR. CROWLEY: Put it this way: I think the previous administration was very good in preaching democracy, and it was not necessarily very good when it came to the actual execution of those programs. I think Secretary Clinton wants to make sure that whatever we do around the world, first and foremost, is appropriate for that country and is effective --
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: -- and advances the process.
QUESTION: At the beginning of the week, the Department spokesman said that he was getting a lot of the information on Iran from traditional media outlets because you have a lack of presence on the ground. And now --
MR. CROWLEY: Did you say traditional or untraditional?
QUESTION: Traditional --
MR. CROWLEY: Traditional.
QUESTION: -- media outlets, CNN, MSNBC, et cetera.
MR. CROWLEY: Oh, that’s staid. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: And now you’ve admitted that a lot of this is coming from the new media. And I’m wondering, do you think you’re getting an accurate enough picture to understand if this moves from a street protest to an actual political movement? Will you know when that tipping point occurs with the information you’re getting right now?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s a fair question. I think we have to acknowledge that what we see in Iran is a bit of a grainy picture. We have some means of understanding what is happening there, but certainly, given the nature of Iranian society today, do we have a full picture? I don’t think so. Clearly, we just went through an election period. Normally, in other countries, you would have international election monitors; you’d be able to both see firsthand what’s going on, be able to document actions that those involved in the political process would take, and how the government would respond to that. So we are obviously looking at this from a distance. This is a reflection of the fact that we’ve had difficult and strained relations with Iran going back 30 years.
Now, that said, there are diplomats on the ground in Iraq1. They’re able to see things. There are journalists on the ground. Within the restrictions that Iran have put in place, they’re able to see things. It’s one of the reasons why we thought it important to take advantage of those technologies which are available to us so that we can at least understand and tap into the conversation and the debate that is clearly happening in Iran. But clearly, our ability to see into a country like Iran is more limited than it is in others.
QUESTION: And just to follow on that --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: If a determination is made that a tipping point has been reached and that it is turning into an actual political movement, would that have any impact on your position of neutrality?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, as we’ve said, as the President has said throughout this, the resolution of this ultimately has to be made by Iranians, and it needs to be done for the benefit of all Iranians. So this is not something that we are going to oppose any final solution here.
This is for the government having an election, needs to listen to the voices of its people, and need to make sure that whatever result occurs eventually, however this is resolved, has to be done credibly, it has to be done in a way that the Iranian people can believe in, and believe in their government. And obviously, you’ve had an election and now you’re in this post-election period and this is continuing, and it’s likely to continue for several days.
QUESTION: Would you think the developments in Iran will have any impact on Afghanistan, your war against terror in Afghanistan?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we hope that Afghanistan is one of those areas where there is a common interest. The United States has an interest in a stable Afghanistan. Iran has that same interest. Going back to the Bonn process in 2001, there was effective cooperation between the United States and Iran in a process and an effort that produced the Karzai government. And so we will be waiting to see that once we get through this period, that it’s one of those areas where we’ll see what Iran is prepared to do.
There is this G-8 ministerial meeting coming up next week. On the margins of that will be a significant international meeting focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran has been invited to attend that meeting, and we’ll see who they send.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the latest terrorist attack in Athens, Greece?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of it. I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: If we’re done with Iran, I’ve got something else.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: There appears to be a significant division within the Administration when it comes to Darfur and whether or not there’s a genocide occurring there. Yesterday, we heard from Scott Gration who said that he had been seeing the remnants of genocide and implying that the worst violence is behind the region. But just on Monday, Ambassador Rice described the violence as genocide. Could you clarify for us exactly where the Administration stands on that?
MR. CROWLEY: I think there is no question that genocide has taken place in Darfur. We continue to characterize the circumstances in Darfur as genocide. What the President continues to demand is that we resolve this humanitarian disaster. And the special envoy is doing just that. Scott Gration, who briefed you yesterday, he has spent a lot of time on the ground in Sudan. I think, as he acknowledged yesterday, there is less violence as a result of coordinated government actions than has existed in the past. And our goal in Sudan is to save lives, facilitate a lasting peace, and promote stability and security in the region.
QUESTION: So he misspoke yesterday when – because you were saying that you believe that the conditions on the ground are – you said circumstances described as genocide, but yesterday, he did not say that. He said it was in the past.
MR. CROWLEY: I would say that clearly, going back to first, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and up to the present day involving the President, the Secretary, others, we have made clear – clearly, a genocide happened in Darfur. And we can say just as clearly that the situation in Darfur remains dire, and we’re working as hard as we can to bring – as Scott said yesterday, to restore the humanitarian capacity to help deal with that situation.
There’s room in the Administration for a debate about the interpretation of the facts that go into that judgment, but it doesn’t change our policy now, which is to focus on working as hard as we can to improve the situation in Darfur and focus on the other elements of the crisis in Sudan, as Scott outlined yesterday.
QUESTION: So taking that altogether, could you just say definitively, yes or no, whether there is --
QUESTION: Is it still taking place?
QUESTION: Is there a genocide right now?
QUESTION: Is it still taking place right now, or not?
MR. CROWLEY: I can repeat what I just said. We continue to characterize the circumstances in Darfur as genocide.
QUESTION: The Sudanese Government has been pretty ecstatic about the comments that General Gration made yesterday. You’ve got a foreign – the foreign ministry saying there was no genocide at all from the beginning, there was no genocide at all, it was very good that this has been stated clearly, referring to what General Gration said. They are --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t find that response to be particularly credible.
QUESTION: They are misinformed, then? Their ecstasy is misplaced?
MR. CROWLEY: I think, as General Gration pointed out yesterday, you have urgent and multiple challenges going on in Sudan at the same time. We recognize that in dealing with all of these challenges, we will have to deal with the Sudanese Government in some way, and we hope that the Sudanese Government will, in turn, constructively work with the United States and the international community to help resolve not only what’s happening in Darfur, but the challenges that happen in other parts of the country.
QUESTION: What – it’s the same thing. Do you want to move on?
QUESTION: Same thing.
QUESTION: Go ahead.
QUESTION: What is the situation with aid groups at the moment in Sudan? It seems quite unclear. There are quite a few aid organizations who say that, you know, Gration’s comments gave the impression that everything was fairly hunky-dory at the moment.
MR. CROWLEY: Oh, I think that’s an unfair characterization. General Gration, as I recall, spoke about the fact that from the point where the Government of Sudan irresponsibly kicked out a number of NGOs, we have worked hard and are in the process of restoring humanitarian capacity to the country. And I think he outlined very specifically that in some areas, we’re back to a hundred percent; in some areas, we’re working to get back to where we were; and more importantly, we’re working to see how we can expand that capacity even further.
So I read very carefully General Gration’s comments yesterday, and I think it’s a mischaracterization to say just because things are not less worse than they might have been a few years ago, I don’t think anyone would describe the situation in Sudan as just – it’s urgent, it’s dire, and the people of Sudan deserve better.
QUESTION: This meeting next week that he’s – that General Gration spoke about --
MR. CROWLEY: The CPA meeting?
QUESTION: Yeah. Do you expect Darfur to play any kind of a – will that be on the agenda at all? The Sudanese seem to think it will be.
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I would go back to General Gration’s briefing yesterday. I think he identified a number of challenges that Sudan is facing, but he also mentioned the fact that in many ways they are interlinked to resolve – you have to focus attention and energy on all of them if you’re going to be able to resolve all of them.
But I think the focus is primarily on the challenge of North-South and the future of Sudan itself. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the issue of Darfur is there as well.
QUESTION: Who’s coming from Sudan for that? Who’s representing both sides?
MR. CROWLEY: We can get you those names. I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: On India, a question on India?
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom yesterday in a statement said that the Indian Government has denied visa to its members who were planning to go to India this month on July – June 12 to study religious freedom in that country and said the State Department was supporting calls to India. So what’s your statement or what’s the view on it? Is it the State Department denying visa to --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know. If we have anything, I’ll let you know.
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Apparently, Iraq is forming a committee to assess its prisons situation there and the dire conditions of some of its prisoners. Being that the U.S. is releasing to Iraq custody some of the prisoners there, is the U.S. involved in any of the evaluation of its prison systems?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, tell you what, in about a half hour’s time, we’re going to have the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Chris Hill, here at this very podium. Why don’t you ask him that question?
QUESTION: P.J., at the end of the meeting between presidents Hu and Medvedev, they made a statement expressing their extreme concern about the situation in North Korea and insisting also there be a diplomatic solution to that. Is the U.S. encouraged by the fact that in this meeting between these two presidents North Korea also has become a major issue, maybe much more important than it had been in an earlier stage? And are there any plans for bringing together the five parties in some way to discuss where to go next in terms of dealing with the situation?
MR. CROWLEY: I would say that, first and foremost, it was the very close collaboration among the five parties, if you will, that helped produce the resolution in the UN that we are now working hard to implement. And I think that collaboration going forward will certainly continue. It is encouraging that all of these nations – China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States – are sending the same message to North Korea. I would expect that collaboration to continue.
And when we have the next high-level meeting on that, we’ll let you know.
QUESTION: Can we stay on North Korea?
QUESTION: I’m sorry.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: North Korea. There’s a report I’m wondering if you know anything about, about North Korea starting to close out its foreign bank accounts for North Koreans, taking – withdrawing large amounts of cash from foreign banks. Do you – it was in a South Korean newspaper. Do you know anything about this? Have you --
MR. CROWLEY: I do not. However, clearly, one of the tools that we will be looking at and trying to develop in the coming days is trying to find ways to put additional financial pressure on North Korea. We’ve had that – we’ve used that tool successfully in the past. So it wouldn’t surprise me if North Korea, aware that now it faces increasing sanctions, is taking action in response.
QUESTION: Is Stuart Levey – because he was on the – the Under Secretary at Treasury was on that Steinberg delegation to the region?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, he was.
QUESTION: Are you designing the same kind of regime that you had against – the sanctions or regime that you had against Iran on financial banks and things like that? I mean, I know it’s probably a little different.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think, first and foremost, we’re looking – there is a process in New York where we’re looking at how to best implement the council resolution. I think we’ve provided a response to the question raised yesterday in terms of how we’re reviewing. And we’re still in the process of going through --
QUESTION: But that’s – wouldn’t that be separate, though?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I was going to say, just the separate entities and individuals that are responsible here. But we have the ability to both work on a multilateral basis and a bilateral basis, and we’ll be continuing to do everything we can to really put pressure on their military capability, try to restrict their ability to export arms around the world and the technologies that we are most concerned about. And whatever we can find in the way of opportunities to apply additional financial pressure, I think that’s what Stuart is doing.
QUESTION: So the answer is yes, then, you’re --
MR. CROWLEY: We have had --
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) Iran-type of sanctions regime?
MR. CROWLEY: -- successful – we have successfully used financial tools in the past to put – to get North Korea’s attention, and we’ll continue to do that.
QUESTION: A Japanese newspaper reported overnight – a news agency paper, I think, reported overnight that the next long-range missile that North Korea launches is likely to be headed toward – in the direction of Hawaii. It did say that it probably wouldn’t hit the main islands because it would be out of range. But do you have any further information on what indications you’re getting about the North Korean plans for this missile launch, and do you have any more specific concerns about the potential of a missile launch?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, they’ve – we’ve seen this movie. We’re not sure there should be a sequel. I think all we would know at this point is if the North Koreans fire off another missile, it will be a mistake.
QUESTION: Well – but does it really – I mean, obviously, you don’t want to see a missile go up. There’s a danger that it could hit someone or something or one of the neighboring countries. But --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, I mean, their --
QUESTION: No, but --
MR. CROWLEY: Their aim has not exactly been their strong suit so far.
QUESTION: No, but does it really matter at this point, like how you – does it really affect, like, your diplomatic course? I mean, another missile here, another missile --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think --
MR. CROWLEY: Elise, it’s a very good point. I think the laws of gravity being what they are, what goes up must come down, I think that’s why we are concerned about the North Korean provocations that at some point they might, in fact, do something intentionally or unintentionally that sparks a larger crisis is expressly why we have repeatedly condemned the actions that they’ve taken as being irresponsible, provocative, but also dangerous.
QUESTION: Is there any update on the journalists?
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you have – can you tell us anything about what their record has been on previous long-range missile launches in terms of the direction they tend to – tend to take?
MR. CROWLEY: If my recollection is right, they have succeeded in hitting water. Beyond that, I don’t know. I mean, this is – they have very little to brag about in terms of their missile launches thus far.
QUESTION: Journalist case.
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Does the United States have any other options to press North Korea to release these two --
MR. CROWLEY: I would flip that around.
QUESTION: -- American journalists --
MR. CROWLEY: I think that we have achieved this very strong resolution. We’re going to --
QUESTION: She’s asking about the journalists.
MR. CROWLEY: Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I misunderstood.
QUESTION: I said two journalists.
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we continue to work that. And the real option is for North Korea to release them on humanitarian grounds. We continue our efforts primarily through our protective power in North Korea communicating to North Korea. We have our own means of communicating to North Korea, and we have done so and continue to do so.
QUESTION: Why former President Jimmy Carter may be going to envoy to North Korea?
MR. CROWLEY: And I’ve got nothing to announce on that.
QUESTION: Is the State Department still considering putting North Korea back on the list of terror – countries that support terrorism?
MR. CROWLEY: It is something that is available to us. Obviously, there are specific criteria that would be required for us to do that.
QUESTION: What about the Trading with the Enemies Act? Would you also be considering to put them back on that? Because you removed them about the same time --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we have various options at our disposal. But again, there are very specific legal aspects that accompany both of those considerations, but we continue to review all our options.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Wait. Do you recognize --
MR. CROWLEY: David, go ahead.
QUESTION: Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
QUESTION: There was an attack on members of the transitional government in Somalia earlier today, and I’m just wondering whether you think that it reflects the notion that this government is on very tenuous circumstances there now.
MR. CROWLEY: David, we’re aware that the Transitional Government Minister of National Security Omar Hashi was killed midday today by a vehicle suicide bomb as he exited a hotel in Beletweyne, Somalia. He was in the Hiraan Region to rally sub-clan support for the TFG.
Our ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Ranneberger, has already passed condolences to Prime Minister Sharmarke and President Sheikha Sharif.
We’re aware there’s been no claim of responsibility. Obviously, we’re monitoring the situation in Somalia very closely. There is really a battle being waged between the Transitional Government and al-Shabab. It is a situation – we are doing what we can to support the TFG.
QUESTION: One more on Zimbabwe. Amnesty International put out a statement today in which they said that the new Zimbabwean Government is not doing enough to curb human rights abuses. Do you have any comment on that report in particular?
And then secondly, following the meetings with Morgan Tsvangarai last week, is there any indication at all that you might be reconsidering your current stand on substantial aid packages to Zimbabwe?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, as you know, we did provide some assistance during Prime Minister Tsvangarai’s visit last week. I think we agreed, first of all, that much remains to be done to improve respect for human rights and the rule of law. And we are channeling our assistance to the people of Zimbabwe directly. We were attempting to assist reform-minded elements of the government in fostering genuine change in Zimbabwe.
QUESTION: On Burma. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been invited by the Burmese military junta to visit the country early next month. What will be the U.S. expectations from such a visit?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the Secretary General.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)