1:10 p.m. ESTMR. CROWLEY:
Good afternoon, and welcome to the Department of State. I’ve got several announcements before taking your questions. First of all,
Secretary Clinton has arrived in Singapore, where she will participate in the coming days in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meetings. The APEC ministerial meetings will be focused on strengthening the multilateral trading system, progress on regional economic integration, and strategies to foster inclusive and sustainable growth in APEC member economies.
Then she’ll move on to the Philippines and return to Singapore for the U.S.-ASEAN summit meeting where she’ll join President Obama and focus on encouraging regional peace and security, strengthening economic cooperation, and cooperating on regional and global issues such as economic development, environmental protection, and nonproliferation.
Secondly, as – President Obama and Secretary Clinton, after careful consideration and extensive consultation among our allies and partners, we have told the – we’ve told North Korea that we are prepared for Ambassador Bosworth and a small interagency team to visit Pyongyang at an appropriate time not yet determined. Ambassador Bosworth’s discussions in Pyongyang will take place in the context of the Six-Party Talks. From our standpoint, the purpose will be to facilitate an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks and to secure North Korea’s reaffirmation of the September 2005 joint statement of the Six-Party Talks, including verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.
Following up on the President’s meeting last evening with Prime Minister Netanyahu, this morning, George Mitchell had further discussions with the Defense Minister Ehud Barak. They just finished a short time ago. And this is on top of meetings he had yesterday with Israeli advisors Mike Hertzog and Yitzhak Molcho.
And finally, before taking your questions, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Craig Kelly has arrived in Tegucigalpa today to continue working with the parties and the verification commission. He’ll be there today and tomorrow, focused on trying to move the process forward towards a free and fair election and the seating of a new government in Honduras at the end of this month.
And with that, Bob.QUESTION:
Would the Kelly visit include a delivery of a direct message from President Obama about the situation?MR. CROWLEY:
If he has – if he’s carrying such a message, we’ll let him deliver that first before talking about it.QUESTION:
And when is that coming up?MR. CROWLEY:
But certainly, we – it’s important for us to continue to support the OAS process and to push for full implementation of the San Jose and Tegucigalpa accords which provide a pathway to a free and fair election. And the outcome, which if handled properly, can be supported both within Honduras and within the region. And obviously, we continue – we’ll continue to kind of push both sides to live up to the agreement that they reached recently, and to continue to move forward towards the election on November 29.QUESTION:
And I’m sure you’re aware of the protesters out front who are saying that this is a sham election.MR. CROWLEY:
Yes, I heard them myself. (Laughter.)QUESTION:
Has anyone from the State Department met with the representatives of the protestors or taken a letter from them, or what is your --MR. CROWLEY:
Not to my knowledge.QUESTION:
Or any response to the protestors saying it’s a sham election?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, first of all, on that point, we have been earnestly pushing to get a resolution of this issue so that you could have, in fact, a free and fair election on November 29 that both the United States, Honduras, the region could stand behind, support, and lead to the installation of a new government that the people of Honduras can support and can heal this divide that has --QUESTION:
Why is --MR. CROWLEY:
-- that Honduras has suffered through over several months. We understand that this is a very emotional issue and – which is why we’ve been so integrally involved; not only Craig Kelly, but Tom Shannon, others, our support for the OAS process going back a number of months, because we recognize that the only path out of this is through an electoral process that – where we’re – the people of Honduras get to speak and you have a new government that can go about the work of serving the needs of its people.
Why does restoring Zelaya to power a couple of weeks before the election make it more likely credible?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I think what’s first and foremost important is that you get to a new election on November 29 that the people of Honduras can participate in, that is free and fair, that’s effectively monitored by the international community. We, the United States, are prepared to help in that effort. But there is an accord, there is an agreement. As part of that agreement, the existing institutions within Honduras will determine how to implement that accord. We certainly encourage and continue to encourage.
One of the reasons Craig Kelly is there is to push both sides to take the steps that they promised to take. One of those steps, working with the congress, is what to do about the existing government. But we will continue to show our support for the verification commission and continue to encourage both sides to live up to their responsibilities. Now, part of that is to establish a unified government that can work through the transition until the election takes place and a new government is put in place.
Do you have an issue in --MR. CROWLEY:
Let’s – go ahead. QUESTION:
The – today’s meeting at the OAS, most of the countries, they say they are not going to recognize electoral results, also the Group of Rio. How do you see the way out for Zelaya? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I don’t think we see a way out for Zelaya per se. We obviously – he has an interest and we have over several months wanted to see the return and restoration of constitutional order. It’s not about any one person. It’s about a return of democratic processes and democratic government in Honduras. It’s an important aspect to us of continuing to support democracy within the hemisphere.
As to what will – obviously, the accords that both sides agreed to recently through the intervention of the United States and under the leadership of Tom Shannon, they have set forth a path to a new election. We need to see both sides working to – on that path, taking affirmative steps so that you can produce a free and fair election that’s effectively monitored, that produces a credible result for the Honduran people.
As to what will happen on November 29, I think it’s important to put these steps and these processes in place so that you can have confidence in the electoral process and the result. But obviously, on November 29 when the election takes place, we’ll be able to evaluate what happened and then what the consequences are. QUESTION:
But the electoral process continues to moving forward, yes? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, we want to see the electoral process move forward. We want to see this be done in a way that ensures a free and fair election. We are prepared to support this effort, along with other countries within the OAS and – but obviously, we’re coming up on two to three weeks before that election. A lot of work has to be done between now and then. QUESTION:
I have a second one or a third one on Colombia and Venezuela, the raising tensions. MR. CROWLEY:
We’ll come back to that. QUESTION:
In your statement on North Korea, if I heard you correctly, you said you – that one of the purposes is to have North Korea reaffirm what it signed in ’05. MR. CROWLEY:
Is that a precondition to resuming the Six-Party Talks? What if they just said let’s go back to the Six-Party Talks and just go -- MR. CROWLEY:
And? (Laughter.) QUESTION:
Is that okay or would that be all right if they just said, we’re ready to go back to Beijing, or do they need to reaffirm what they signed? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, we believe that the only path forward for North Korea is to rejoin the Six-Party Talks. In rejoining the Six-Party Talks, our purpose is obviously to get them to take the affirmative steps that they previously agreed to in 2005 for the peaceful denuclearization of the North Korean – of the Korean Peninsula. We are not going to reward North Korea simply for returning to the Six-Party Talks. We will be looking to see if they are prepared to take the kinds of affirmative steps that they had previously agreed to.
I think it’s also worthwhile to take a step back. And I mean, this is – we are very clear-eyed about this. North Korea has a history of coming back to negotiations and expecting to be rewarded just for simply coming back for discussions. We’re not here to talk for talk’s sake, we’re here to see specific results by North Korea. But this is the result of very patient but very deliberate action by the United States, by the State Department, going back to the beginning of the Obama Administration.
We’ve made a point of intensively collaborating with our partners in the region from the Secretary, to the Deputy Secretary, to Steve Bosworth, Phil Goldberg, others, to Kurt Campbell. We’ve been in the region on a near-continual basis over several months in response to the provocations that North Korea had earlier this year in terms of missile tests and the nuclear test. We built a strong unified front within the Security Council. We saw passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1874.
And through multiple trips to the region, Ambassador Goldberg has been intensively working with countries in the region for implementation of 1874. And we have to believe that North Korea has felt some of that pressure. So you’ve seen a shift in their strategy, the so-called charm offensive that they have engaged in for the past couple of months.
But clearly, we are very realistic about our expectations, and we come to this meeting prepared to engage North Korea within the context of the Six-Party process. But obviously, the bottom line here is that North Korea has to take affirmative steps towards denuclearization. That remains our core objective in our policy towards North Korea. QUESTION:
And all of that said, you didn’t answer the question whether it’s -- MR. CROWLEY:
But it was a fine answer. (Laughter.) All right.QUESTION:
Whether their reaffirmation of the 2005 agreement they signed is a precondition to going back to the Six-Party Talks.MR. CROWLEY:
In the careful consideration that we’ve given to accepting this offer of a meeting, we have made clear to North Korea, and we believe that North Korea understands, what the purpose of the meeting is. I mean, the Six-Party process is not an objective in and of itself. It is what we believe to be the best means to an end, which is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. So the return of North Korea to a Six-Party process is not an end in itself. It’s a means to an end.
So what we’re looking for as we conduct this discussion is: first, to bring them back into the process; and then second, to seek a reaffirmation of their commitment under the 2005 joint statement, which, in fact, calls for affirmative steps that they would take. So what are we focused on? We’re focused on getting to North Korea making that commitment, taking those steps, and moving down a different path.QUESTION:
Just to follow up -- MR. CROWLEY:
All right. Let me try it again. (Laughter.) I’m not sure -- QUESTION:
It’s closer. It’s closer.QUESTION:
Just to follow up, since APEC meeting will be taking – in the region, President and Secretary and all those leaders will be there. This issue has been going on for many, many years as far as North Korea issue is concerned, nuclear missile tests and all that. And regional countries are in doubt that if anything will be done because it’s been a long time, like Japan and other regional countries are really threatened by this issue.
Now, which side of China is now on, the U.S. side or North Korea side? Because they are close ally and they supply almost everything to North Korea.MR. CROWLEY:
Well, Goyal, I would say that in the heart of your question is – there’s a common interest here. And I think that there is, in fact, unprecedented unanimity among not only the members of the Six-Party process, but also others in the region. This was a significant topic of discussion when the Secretary was in the region during the summer participating in the ASEAN Regional Forum.
Everyone is concerned about the situation in North Korea. Everyone is concerned about the prospect of a nuclear arms race in the region, which will help no one. Everyone wants to see North Korea take a more constructive path and – in the region. And I think this is, in fact, what has brought North Korea to the position where they are prepared to have a discussion, and we hope that they are prepared to take the kinds of affirmative steps that we have called for and the international community has called for.
But the onus is obviously on North Korea. They will have to make this fundamental choice as to whether they are prepared to give up their nuclear program and move in a more constructive direction. We hope so, but we are approaching this meeting very cautiously, with a very clear-eyed view of the past.QUESTION:
And this issue – I’m sorry. This issue will come again during APEC and also President’s and Secretary’s visit to China?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, as to the specifics of when the meeting will take place, we’re still in discussion with North Korea working out the logistics. I would not expect this meeting to take place while the President is in – and the Secretary are in the region.QUESTION:
And do you have an approximate date for us? Is it going to be early December?MR. CROWLEY:
I would say as an expectation, sometime between now and the end of the year. QUESTION:
North Korea again. North Korea demand peace treaty with the United States for them give up the nuclear weapons?MR. CROWLEY:
I think it’s very important that – again, put this meeting in context. This meeting is about returning North Korea to the Six-Party process and getting a commitment from them to take the kinds of affirmative steps that were called for in the 2005 joint statement. This is not the beginning of a bilateral dialogue. That is separate from the Six-Party process.
Now, as we’ve said many, many times, if North Korea takes the kind of steps that they’ve committed to in the past, other possibilities open up. But first and foremost, the purpose of this meeting is to get them back into the Six-Party process and move them down a path towards denuclearization. Other things can happen after that, but that’s what we’re focused on right now.QUESTION:
So you are not going to have a bilateral meet – negotiation?MR. CROWLEY:
The bilateral – the meeting that we have agreed to have is within the context of the Six-Party process. It is not a bilateral meeting per se. It’s not a separate track. It’s inside the Six-Party process. It’s to encourage them to come back to the Six-Party process and take the kinds of steps that they previously committed to.QUESTION:
So would you tell me more about the meeting of the – in the context of Six-Party Talks?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, we want to see – we believe, as we’ve said many, many times, that the Six-Party process is the most effective mechanism to resolve the issues that we have with North Korea, and the region has with North Korea, and to focus on getting North Korea to give up its nuclear program.QUESTION:
But I think you mentioned that you are going to have a discussion with North Korea in the context of Six-Party Talks this time.MR. CROWLEY:
Right. So -- MR. CROWLEY:
I’ll – let me try it again.QUESTION:
Ambassador Bosworth, at some point to be determined, will travel with a small interagency team to Pyongyang. The purpose of this meeting is to encourage North Korea to return to the Six-Party process, to recommit to the 2005 joint statement, and to take the kind of affirmative and irreversible steps called for in that statement towards denuclearization, peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That is the sole purpose of this meeting. QUESTION:
Do you believe North Korea for sure will come back to Six-Party Talks? MR. CROWLEY:
We believe that North Korea understands the purpose of the meeting. What they’re prepared to do, let’s have the meeting.QUESTION:
What does the North Korea demand for them return to the Six-Party Talks? What does North Korea demand for them return to Six-Party Talks?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I mean, I’ll leave it to North Korea to describe what they are prepared to do, but our purpose in agreeing to the meeting is very clear.
Just to ask it a different way, in the past, the Secretary and others have said that the U.S. would only accept its invitation if they agreed to return to the Six-Party Talks. So what has changed? I mean, can you give us a sense of how and when that change – did you receive some assurance that they would return?MR. CROWLEY:
I’m not sure I would describe it that way. We are prepared – and again, going back, we’ve had extended, intensive, multiple conversations with our partners and allies within the Six-Party process. And we’ve had these meetings while there have been a variety of statements out of North Korea about what they might or might not be prepared to do.
But North Korea indicated to us some time ago that they were willing to have a meeting, and after careful consideration and consultations with the other parties in the Six-Party process, we believe that this meeting can be useful. And the sole intention of the meeting is to encourage North Korea to come back to the Six-Party process. We’re not going to predict what North Korea is going to do, but we’re willing to have this discussion in the context of the Six-Party process to see if they’re willing to come back and willing to take the kinds of steps that we’ve talked about.QUESTION:
Have they indicated that to you at all? MR. CROWLEY:
Have they indicated?QUESTION:
That they were willing?MR. CROWLEY:
We think they understand fully what we see as the primary purpose of the meeting.QUESTION:
Can you compare this issue with the Iranian issue? Because these are the two issues really going on.MR. CROWLEY:
Compare them in what sense?QUESTION:
Both are not (inaudible) taking steps that you are telling – same thing to the Iranians, same thing telling to North Koreans.MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I mean, I -- QUESTION:
And both are nuclear – going after nuclear.MR. CROWLEY:
I would say North Korea presents a unique challenge. Iran presents a unique challenge. I wouldn’t think that lessons from one necessarily carry over to the other. Obviously, we are willing to engage North Korea, we are willing to engage Iran, because of our broad concern about proliferation issues around the world.
It is taking the vision that President Obama laid out in his Prague speech early this year that Secretary Clinton added to in her recent speech at USIP, and simply saying that we want to avoid an arms race in Asia, we want to avoid an arms race in the Middle East, we want to see the world writ large begin to reduce the importance that we give to nuclear weapons, to start to move more affirmatively and ultimately towards a world in which there are no nuclear weapons. So this is putting into concrete form the vision that President Obama laid out early this year.
New topic?MR. CROWLEY:
Same issue, sorry. MR. CROWLEY:
Okay, I’ll come back. QUESTION:
Can you tell us when this was formally told to North Korea, and if it was told before today, what the meeting -- MR. CROWLEY:
It was told before today.QUESTION:
Then what was the – what do you think – do you have any comment on this skirmish between the North Korean and South Korean navies?MR. CROWLEY:
I’ll defer to – I mean, these kinds of incidents have happened in the past. I’ll defer to South Korea on these issues.
You said you weren’t going to reward North Korea for coming back to the Six-Party Talks, and North Korea is, like you said, already aware of what you want them to do. So how are you going to encourage them to come back to the Six-Party Talks without giving them anything? MR. CROWLEY:
(Laughter.) I’m not sure I understand the question. QUESTION:
What’s the --MR. CROWLEY:
The purpose of the meeting is to say if you have any hope of a different relationship with the world, a different relationship with the region, a different relationship with the United States, then this is what you have to do.QUESTION:
But you have told that to them previously, right?MR. CROWLEY:
Sure, which is why – I mean, we’re – we come into this with a clear understanding and a realistic view of what North Korea has done in the past. They’ve been on the cusp of taking affirmative action along these lines before, and they’ve chosen the wrong path before. But obviously, this is very, very important to regional security, it’s very, very important to our national interest, which is why we continue this effort and we’ll continue to encourage North Korea to move in a different direction than it has.
Yes. You said Senator Mitchell had talks with the prime minister today and Israeli --MR. CROWLEY:
No, I didn’t say that. Just to clarify, the President had a meeting with the prime minister last night. Senator Mitchell had meetings with Israeli advisors Mike Hertzog and Yitzhak Molcho yesterday. He had a meeting this morning with the Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.QUESTION:
I’m sorry. Is he starting a new phase now of talks? Will he be traveling to the Middle East? What’s next?MR. CROWLEY:
I wouldn’t call it a new phase. We’re kind of in the same phase. But obviously, the prime minister and many representatives in the Israeli Government here on a private visit, but we’ve taken advantage of their presence here in Washington to continue the conversations that Secretary Clinton had with Israeli and Palestinian officials on her trip last week.
And I would expect – I don’t have anything to announce here, but obviously, going forward, we will continue our regular interaction with both Israeli officials, Palestinian officials, and other leaders in the region. We continue to encourage the parties to take positive steps. We continue to encourage the parties to get into negotiations as soon as possible. But we recognize that there are gaps that still exist and we continue to work to clarify and close those gaps. QUESTION:
I have two little questions. The first is that the White House said yesterday that while President Obama is in Singapore, he’ll be attending a meeting but not speaking with the prime minister of Burma, that they’ll be in the same meeting but there’s no contact envisioned. Is there any contact envisioned between the Secretary and any Burmese officials when she’s in Singapore, anything you can tell us?MR. CROWLEY:
I wouldn’t expect contact at that level. Kurt Campbell has been in the region. He obviously, along with Scot Marciel, have been to Burma for meetings in recent days. We haven’t set a date yet for further dialogue with the Burmese. But clearly, it’s one of the reasons we place a great importance in institutions such as APEC or institutions such as ASEAN because it does bring a broad array of countries into the region. And not only the United States, but others can have the kind of interaction with officials in Burma that we think is important.
But we have, as we’ve said in announcing our – the results of our review on Burma, we’ve taken a different course. We have chosen to engage Burma. We are expecting Burma to take affirmative steps in response. We would like to see Burma more affirmatively engage their ethnic communities. We’d like to see Burma open up their political processes for – and allow greater interaction within the country, including greater interaction between Aung San Suu Kyi and other – and her followers. What they’ll do, we don’t know, but we’re going to continue this conversation.
So yes, but I wouldn’t expect that this will rise to the level of the Secretary. QUESTION:
Is Secretary going to meet anybody over there, Burmese leaders?MR. CROWLEY:
He just asked that question. (Laughter.)QUESTION:
No, I mean – no, you said President -- MR. CROWLEY:
I would not expect – I would not expect the Secretary -- QUESTION:
But you were saying President – no, you said President, but as --MR. CROWLEY:
No, no, I – no, to his follow-up question, I would not expect any interaction between the President, the Secretary, and Burmese officials. QUESTION:
Hugo Chavez apparently yesterday ordered his military to readiness to thwart any attack from Colombia and accused the United States of trying to provoke a war. Does that concern you?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, we are very much aware of recent tensions along the Venezuela and Colombia border. I certainly don’t think this is about the United States, but we certainly would encourage dialogue between Venezuela and Colombia and – a peaceful resolution of the situation along their border.QUESTION:
When do you expect that the new secretary for the
Western Hemisphere will be sworn in, Arturo Valenzuela?MR. CROWLEY:
My very, very good friend Arturo Valenzuela will be sworn in this afternoon as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. And a great American, Tom Shannon, will continue to focus on – as the Ambassador-designate for Brazil. Tom was up on the Hill for further meetings with the Senate. And we certainly continue to encourage the Senate to act on his confirmation as soon as possible.QUESTION:
Considering all the tension that’s going on in Latin America – talking about Honduras, talking about Venezuela and Colombia that was just mentioned – do you expect that the Secretary will go south during the next months, considering that Obama mentioned in Trinidad-Tobago that the U.S. is going to give more attention to Latin America? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, the Secretary has been intensively involved in issues in the hemisphere this year, whether it is promoting democracy, whether it pertains to Cuba, whether it pertains to Honduras, promoting freedom of expression and freedom of the press on a variety of countries including Venezuela. I would fully expect in the coming months that the Secretary will return to the region. We have nothing to announce at this point.
I know that one country that she would love to visit is Brazil, and we look forward to that visit. But obviously, we want to make sure that there is an ambassador – (laughter) – there to greet her when she arrives. So the Secretary has been very deeply engaged in making sure that she can get her regional team in place. We are delighted that Arturo Valenzuela will be joining us today, and we hope to see Tom Shannon confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Brazil and onsite as quickly as possible. QUESTION:
Two questions on India. Thanks. I don’t know how much anybody aware in this building that there is a tension going on between India and China, and as far as this visit, and APEC meetings or visit to China, anybody is going to discuss as far as India and China and all those tension? And prime minister of India is coming here and now the President and the Secretary is visiting to China? Anything will come up?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, not necessarily, Goyal, accepting the precise premise of your question, obviously, as you look at the Asia Pacific region, two significant powers in the region, with China on the one hand, India on the other hand, the President and the Secretary will be deeply engaged in discussions in the region. They will have discussions with Chinese leaders. The President and Secretary look forward to welcoming the prime minister for an official visit later this month. But it reflects the importance that we attach to both countries not only in terms of regional issues, but global issues. And we think they are emerging global powers, and we – that’s why we have focused a great energy and attention on developing strong relationships with both. QUESTION:
What is the U.S. position on the executions in China related to Xinjiang? And have you communicated directly with the Chinese Government about the U.S. position on this? MR. CROWLEY:
I cannot say how we have communicated with them, but we continue to urge China to handle all detentions and judicial processes relating to the Urumqi violence in a transparent manner. We have also urged China to ensure that the legal rights of all Chinese citizens are respected in accordance with international standards of due process. And our Embassy officials in Beijing – I mean, I just answered your question – our Embassy officials in Beijing have discussed this issue directly with the Chinese Government. QUESTION:
And so do your Embassy officials in Beijing feel from their monitoring – because I know they do monitor what’s happened in Urumqi, and I know that they monitor the trials related to Urumqi – do they feel that the executions were justified or that the trials were done fairly? MR. CROWLEY:
I’ll take that question. I don’t know to what extent we had observers. We have concerns about these proceedings, but I can’t say whether we had observers in the courtroom or not.
We’re checking out some reports that perhaps somebody from
Ambassador Holbrooke’s office is in Beijing, a team, and if – I’m just wondering if you can confirm that. And if so, can you tell us what they’re doing there? And is there anything specific about aid to Afghanistan? MR. CROWLEY:
I can confirm that there is a team from Ambassador Holbrooke’s office in Beijing for discussions with Chinese officials on both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Obviously, the – when the Secretary was in Pakistan, we were looking at how these countries fit in a broader regional context. And China has an interest in what happens in both countries, and I think we’re there to help explain what our policies are and seek their input on the way forward. QUESTION:
Just noting that the Japanese announced – I think it was $5 billion in aid to Afghanistan just before the President’s arrival later this week. Is there any expectation or any hope on the U.S. side that the Chinese might end up contributing similar –MR. CROWLEY:
I’ll leave it to China to announce if they have – if they plan to provide any particular support to Afghanistan. And we are obviously grateful to the Japanese Government. They’ve been a significant supporter, and this is a manifestation of their continued efforts. QUESTION:
I'm sorry, one more. Do you have any comment on the – I mean, you sent out an advisory yesterday about Colombia, about worsening violence in Colombia, and there was a clash between the FARC and the army that resulted in some fatalities. Do you have any comment about the current situation in Colombia, given that it was supposed to be getting better?MR. CROWLEY:
(The briefing was concluded at 1:46 p.m.)