1:41 p.m. EST
The Government of Canada is hosting a preparatory conference in Montreal on January 25th. The meeting is not itself a donors conference regarding Haiti, but rather a preparatory meeting for an eventual donors conference. There’s not yet a date for the donors conference, but Secretary Clinton committed to her counterpart in Canada over the weekend that she plans to attend this meeting.
Special Envoy George Mitchell arrived in Beirut today. He will meet today with the foreign minister and have dinner with Prime Minister Hariri. Tomorrow, he meets with President Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, and UN Special Representative for Lebanon Michael Williams. Later tomorrow, he travels to Damascus for meetings with President Asad and Foreign Minister Mualem. And then later tomorrow night, he travels to Israel where he will have meetings later in the week with Israelis and Palestinians, including Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. Obviously, his trip is part of our ongoing efforts to encourage both sides to return to negotiations as soon as possible to secure a lasting, comprehensive peace in the region.
Over the weekend, there were a couple of important elections around the world. We congratulate the Ukrainian people on the conduct of their January 17 presidential elections which the OSCE deemed to have been high quality, showing significant progress over previous elections. This is another significant demonstration of the development of democracy in Ukraine. The U.S. looks forward to free and fair runoff elections on February 7 and working with whomever the Ukrainians choose as their next president.
We also congratulate President-elect Sebastian Pinera on his election and we congratulate the Chilean people for another exemplary election process which illustrated, again, Chile’s enormous respect for democracy. And we look forward to continuing our strong bipartisan – I’m sorry, our strong bilateral partnership which will continue under President-elect Pinera’s government.
I’m sure you’ve got a number of questions on Haiti. The – our broad priorities for today are to continue to bolster security for in-country transportation and the distribution of emergency supplies. And we can see with each passing day that we are expanding the distribution network in and around Port-au-Prince. We continue to flow medical equipment and supplies into the country, along with food and water and material for shelter and eventual settlement support of affected populations. We continue to look at – very closely at the supplies of fuel and the condition in terms of sanitation and hygiene within the country. At the same time, the significant U.S. and international search-and-rescue teams continue to conduct activities throughout Port-au-Prince. We’re very gratified that to date, there have been 72 individuals that have been rescued, including 40 by the U.S. teams.
And as a testament of the generosity or ongoing generosity of the American people, in terms of the fundraising effort that we helped launch on behalf of the American Red Cross, that effort where people text “Haiti” to 90999, we now have more than 2 million contributors and have raised so far $23 million.
QUESTION: On Mitchell – I’m sorry I didn’t catch everything you said about Mitchell travel. That was from earlier. Could you just repeat that?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm. He is in Beirut today.
MR. CROWLEY: He’ll be in Damascus tomorrow.
QUESTION: And who did you say he was meeting in Damascus?
MR. CROWLEY: President Asad --
QUESTION: That’s what I thought you said, okay.
MR. CROWLEY: -- and Foreign Minister Mualem and then continues on to Israel, where he’ll meet later in the week with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.
QUESTION: On this, P.J, can I ask – obviously, his portfolio is the Middle East peace process and any negotiations that might start between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but do you expect him to stick to that general issue with the Syrians? Or do you think he might broach other subjects like perhaps terrorism, perhaps Iraq?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we obviously have as a goal comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and Syria is – would be vital to achieving that objective. At the same time, whenever you have a high-level U.S. official in Damascus, it would be the opportunity to reflect on the current state of the U.S.-Syrian relationship. So it is primarily to continue our discussions on how we might make progress on the other tracks of the peace process in addition to the Israeli-Palestinian track, but I suspect that there will be other subjects discussed.
QUESTION: Can you give us numbers on the number of dead and missing Americans so far?
MR. CROWLEY: Missing Americans is much more difficult, but in terms of the current number, we still have roughly 27 confirmed U.S. fatalities.
QUESTION: Roughly 27?
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible) we have 27. I mean, there are some that – we have an additional number that are presumed dead, but we have – we’re still looking for specific confirmations.
QUESTION: Around 27?
MR. CROWLEY: Twenty-seven confirmed.
QUESTION: And how many are you looking – we heard 24 yesterday unconfirmed. Is that --
MR. CROWLEY: Something along those lines. I’m just – let me – I’ll see if I have this number here. I don’t see it in my book.
QUESTION: And P.J., that includes the --
QUESTION: And how --
QUESTION: Sorry, that includes the one official – U.S. fatality?
MR. CROWLEY: Actually, thank you, Arshad. We have the one U.S. Government official fatality and 27 private, and so a total of 28 so far.
QUESTION: And missing?
QUESTION: And missing?
MR. CROWLEY: Missing – I mean, we have – we still continue our efforts to try to determine the status of the roughly 45,000 American citizens. Most of them are dual citizens of the United States and Haiti. I think it’s safe to say that we have several thousand instances where people have provided information to us, and we’ve worked through a number of these cases that we were able to resolve. We have been able to evacuate 4,500 American citizens so far, so – but there are still substantial numbers of people for whom – either they have not contacted the Embassy, but we don’t have any information on their status at the present time.
QUESTION: And to follow up on adoptions, how are you doing in – serving in that? There have been large outcries from Americans who just don’t know where their child is. And what --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, this has been one of our higher priorities since the earthquake occurred. We have a task force within Consular Affairs that is working specifically on the issue of adoptions, and obviously, tragically, we now have a number of people – a number of children who may well have lost their parents and other loved ones. Through the course of the past few days, we have been able to process and provide visas to 24 children who have moved back to the United States. Overnight, there was an additional movement of 53 or 54. I’ve heard both numbers. Now, in the plane that came back, it landed, I think, this morning in Pittsburgh, there are a number of those children who will stay in the United States, and there are some children on the plane who will continue on to other countries.
So in terms of – but that gives you an idea. But we’re working very closely with the Haitian Government. Obviously, as the earthquake hit, there were a number of children that were in the process of being adopted. Some of these cases were virtually completed and that represents those whom – for whom we have completed the process, received permission from the Haitian Government, and been able to bring to the United States. There are a number of cases that are pretty close to complete and we’re working with the Haitian Government and want to see those children moved to safety as rapidly as possible.
And obviously, we are working on a daily basis, on a continual basis with the orphanages and the Haitian Government, and this is something that is very important to try to move as many of these children as possible to --
QUESTION: Will there be anything considered like a Pedro Pan like they did in Cuba in the ‘60s? Because a lot of these children are in medical need, desperate medical need.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Is there any consideration of doing something like that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, and you heard from the Department of Homeland Security an announcement – in the last 24 hours, we’re granting humanitarian paroles so that children – and there already has been a movement of children to the United States, those that in particular are in need of medical care. So we are bending over backwards to try to protect and to – as many children as possible in Haiti and move those that we can to get medical attention or on to their adoptive parents.
QUESTION: On a related issue --
QUESTION: P.J., you said that there is --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure, all right.
QUESTION: You said that they’re – the – you said that they’re expanding distribution in Port-au-Prince. But there are continuing reports from the ground that the distribution of aid simply isn’t getting out, that there – it may be getting on the ground, but it’s not getting to people in Port-au-Prince and other areas. What is holding it up?
MR. CROWLEY: I actually don’t think that your characterization is true. If the – the issue remains the limited infrastructure that is inhibiting us from bringing more and more food, water, shelter into the country. But the assistance that is getting to the airport is flowing out to the people of Haiti. The challenge is that we are not yet at the level where we can sustain a population of 3 million people.
But we – every day, we’re making progress. Obviously, over the last 24 hours, you’ve had the arrival of the Marine amphibious group. That provides you several capabilities: one, another platform from which we can have helicopter flights into Port-au-Prince. With the Marines come manpower and vehicles, humvees so that now we can extend our reach into more sections of the city and the outlying areas. The helicopter lift is vitally important to that because we know that the population in Haiti is moving. And so we want to try to stay up with that flow. We’re looking and have been experimenting over the last couple of days at finding ways to be able to airdrop more supplies, particularly to the outlying areas, to help feed and provide water to as many people as possible.
So this is just an ongoing effort. As the Secretary said when she was in Haiti on Saturday, our objective is to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today. And we are making that progress, but obviously we’re not at a point yet where we think we are at a sustainment level.
We are also bringing in lots of various kinds of water, collection and production and distribution capability, so that not only – we’re not relying solely on bottled water; we’re relying on ways in which we can provide substantial quantities of water to more of the population.
QUESTION: And just to be precise --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: -- who exactly makes the determination for where this aid goes? Is that USAID or is it the UN overall? Who’s doing --
MR. CROWLEY: And the Government of Haiti, working collaboratively. As the Secretary talked to President Preval on Saturday, there was a joint communiqué that was released on Sunday, but it outlined – and we have put together additional mechanisms so that there is a coordination center in – at the airport so that collectively, we can identify, early in the day, where do we think the highest priorities are; the greatest need, where they might exist.
We have established – we being the UN, the United States, the Government of Haiti – four hubs around Haiti, and then from that, a couple hundred distribution points so that you’re just trying to expand this network every day so that more and more people are receiving assistance. We’re doing it not only in terms of direct deliveries; we’re turning it – we’re doing it in terms of working through NGOs and we’re finding other ways to – such as the air drops being done on a measured scale because there are – there is a risk that comes with air drops if the area is not secure.
I think another development today is the Coast Guard and the Navy continue to work on how we might be able to utilize port facilities. We are bringing in ships that can offload supplies without benefit of a pier. So once we have that, that will significantly expand the flow of material into Haiti. We also have established an operation in the Dominican Republic, in Santo Domingo, and are bringing more and more supplies overland from the DR to Haiti.
QUESTION: Yeah. Can we go back – you mentioned children and working to get injured children to the U.S. What about adults who are injured severely and who need transport to the U.S.? One, do they require visas? Is there any consideration being given to waiving that requirement if it is such? And we – there have been reports that severely injured adults have been refused or denied transfer to the U.S. for further medical help. Is that the case as you understand it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, we are trying as best we can to bring more and more medical capability directly to Haiti – not only helping Haiti repair the existing hospitals – there are a number of field hospitals that we’ve established not only in the United States, but the international community as well. So we are trying to increase the medical infrastructure in Haiti so we can provide, in some cases, lifesaving and important medical assistance where these people are.
On a case-by-case basis, where people have urgent medical needs that cannot be met within country, we’re looking at these on a case-by-case basis. I can’t really give you any numbers as to how many times we’ve done that, but this is something that we will continue to work as aggressively as we can.
QUESTION: And as you work on a case-by-case basis, do they require a visa? Does a Haitian severely injured require a visa to evacuate them to the US?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, it would require some sort of permission from the United States to travel, whether it was a visa, whether it would be a humanitarian parole. And working closely with DHS, we’re identifying these cases and trying, where we can, to move them as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: P.J. --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. Bob.
QUESTION: -- piggybacking your point about the air drops --
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- the Secretary herself had said the other day that she wondered why, from the very beginning, they weren’t doing air drops. And she said the reason she was given was similar to the one you cited about security risks. What’s changed that makes it a more acceptable risk now that we --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, now that she – I mean, you have the MEU there with 2,000 Marines. You’ve got components of the 82nd Airborne that are still – they might be, for the most part, off shore but still available to us. As you increase your manpower and your mobility, you’re able to go out and secure the drop zone so that as you’re able to bring in this food, water, shelter, you’ve got a mechanism in place on the ground where it can be securely delivered to people.
So, I mean, your networks and your colleagues on the ground have shown those examples where food has been dropped and there’s been a crush of people, understandably so, to be able to race to get to this material. We want to make sure that we’re delivering material in a way that doesn’t cause – create further injury. And so as we’re able to increase our manpower and expand the size of the network, then more and more, this becomes a viable option.
The other aspect, though, is – the value of air drops is because in some of those outlying areas where we still might not have all the roads cleared, it allows you to be able to provide some assistance in the outlying areas where people may be gravitating towards. So it also is something that we are looking at every day as we look at what’s the current situation on the ground, what’s the current need in different parts of the city and the outlying areas, and adapting our approach as we go along.
QUESTION: Are you saying this is being done only in areas that – where it has been secured in advance?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I’d probably be best to defer. You’re having a series of briefings and most of the operational information now is moving from here, and rightfully so, right down to Port-au-Prince. So in terms of specifically how it’s being done, I’ll defer to my colleagues on the ground in Port-au-Prince. But that remains something that we are looking at, and we continue to develop those operations as we think they make sense.
QUESTION: What did the State Department have to do to get those Haitian orphans on the flight last night – the Governor Rendell flight? Did they have all the paperwork they needed before they left Haiti?
MR. CROWLEY: In some cases, these were cases that were virtually complete. In other cases, working with the governor and his staff and the task force, not only here but on the ground in Port-au-Prince, we were able to process additional paperwork last night to be able to make that – the size of the group ending up at 53 or 54.
QUESTION: But they all had – did they have the visas and passports or just visas? What did they have to get?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it might depend, because on that flight last night, you had people whose ultimate destination, children whose ultimate destiny was the United States, and you had others who came to the United States this morning but now are moving on to other countries. So the paperwork would vary depending on whether they’re an adoptive child, whether they’re an orphan, or whether they continuing on to a third country. But in all cases, we obviously need to be able to provide them the appropriate documents so that they are able to enter the United States.
QUESTION: And they had all that before leaving Haiti?
MR. CROWLEY: They had all that before leaving, but they did not – but that – thanks to our good work of the task force, we were able – in some cases, some of these children were ready to go, and in many cases they weren’t, but we worked that through the day yesterday so that we could put as many children on that flight last night as possible.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: P.J., you’ll remember the Secretary being very frustrated a while back that there wasn’t a USAID administrator in place. And the USAID Administrator was sworn in literally days before this tragedy struck. Is there any way that that lack of an administrator, or coming in at a very – at the last moment before this had any effect on the way that this operation is being carried out?
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s been a tremendously positive effect. She is thrilled that Dr. Raj Shah is on board. Thankfully, he was on board when this tragedy took place. And it is – he has energized USAID. He has led them ably over the past week as the senior U.S. official designated by President Obama. He has a familiarity with Haiti. But every day, Raj has been pushing to try to do as much as possible for the benefit of our citizens and Haitian citizens. So we’re – I think the Secretary is enormously grateful that we were able to have Raj in place before this started.
QUESTION: Could I ask you just one more?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: We’re getting a lot of comments from --
MR. CROWLEY: But, I mean, let me – but to your point, I mean, the significant limiting factor in terms of our ability to move forward is, in reality, the infrastructure in Haiti. And we are working on these things every day to try to expand the channels of assistance. And once we’re able to build our ability to operate the ports, you’re going to see an enormous increase in the flow. But to the credit of the United States military, we started the operation with maybe 20 or so flights a day; they’re now up well over a hundred. And so the use of the airport has expanded significantly in recent days.
So – but it is the collaboration, the military working closely with USAID, and USAID drawing from the strengths of other agencies of government, from HHS on the health side, FEMA to provide additional search-and-rescue capability. This has been, I think, quite an effective operation. There are those who are suggesting that it should have been entirely a military organization; it should have been entirely civilian organization. The fact is working closely with the Haitian Government, working effectively as a whole-of-government team, the military, civilians working side by side. I think this has been an extraordinary effort over the past week led by Dr. Shah.
QUESTION: Just one last question, because we get so many comments from people in the field about how things are working on the ground, but a little bit broader. Is there any way that when the United States makes decisions about what it wants to on the ground, it has to consult, of course, it’s getting with the government, with the Haitian Government, with the UN, et cetera. But is there any way that in waiting or doing things at the behest of that government that the U.S. didn’t move quickly enough? In other words, the government really wasn’t up and functioning very well. Is there a possibility that the U.S. waited for the Haitian Government to say what it wanted and valuable time was lost?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think actually it was the opposite. I don’t think you can question the speed through which we have done what we’ve done. It’s been nothing short of remarkable, giving – given the inherent limiting factors that we were confronting in trying to help the poorest country in our hemisphere recover from this.
So I don’t think speed is really the issue. The issue here, as you pointed out, Jill, in one of your earlier questions, is how fast can we get to a level of sustainment where we can stabilize this population? That remains a significant challenge. Every day we increase the amount of aid being delivered to more people. But we are not, quite honestly, at the 3 million mark yet. We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet. But within a couple of hours of the earthquake, we were in touch with the Haitian ambassador the United States. And on behalf of his country, he gave us a very simple message: We welcome your support, and provide us everything you can possibly provide us.
And we’ve taken that charge. We’ve moved forward. But one of the purposes of the Secretary’s trip to Port-au-Prince on Saturday was to make sure that we were fully coordinated and to make sure that we had common understanding between the United States and Haiti and the international community on what was expected of us and mechanisms so that together we could advance as effectively as possible, and we have done that. And so, I don’t think – but I don’t think that anyone can question the speed, and I don’t think anyone can question the fact that we’ve put on the ground enormous capabilities that work – they’re very mindful. There are some things that can repeat themselves from one disaster to another, but a disaster in Haiti is remarkably different than a disaster in Indonesia, which is remarkably different from a disaster in New Orleans.
QUESTION: Well --
MR. CROWLEY: And we have tried to adapt our operations based on the realities that exist on the ground in Haiti today, and based on a common understanding from the Haitian Government, the United States Government, the UN, and the international community, what can we do most effectively today to serve the needs of the Haitian people.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) P.J. I mean, you talked a lot about this whole-of-government approach, and that every agency from the U.S. Government is working on this particular crisis. And so what some disaster experts say is that agencies of the United States don’t necessarily – the way they work and the way they think for a U.S. disaster or a U.S. emergency isn’t the same as a kind of international disaster where some of the things that need to be focused on are not being focused on. For instance, the search and rescue – obviously, that’s a priority of the Haitian Government, but the amount of --
MR. CROWLEY: It was also a priority of the United States Government.
QUESTION: Well, I’m not saying that it’s not, but what some disaster experts are saying, while search and rescue is important, it’s more important to stave off a second wave where you can actually lose more lives if you don’t prevent the second wave of disaster, of disease, of starvation, of lack of clean water and sanitation, than you could by saving in the search and rescue. And so do you think that this whole-of-government, of U.S. approach, is equipped to deal with an international emergency?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, several things. First of all, in any disaster, the first priority is urban search and rescue and to try and save as many lives as possible in that critical period of time in the first 72 hours or so. And we know we’re past that 72-hour period and the teams are still there on the ground and still have active search-and-rescue operations underway.
We did – so we did this based on the reality of what we understood about Haiti, because we do know Haiti exceedingly well. And I’m not sure in getting from 20 flights a day to where we hope to get to 200 flights a day – I’m not sure where a first wave and a second wave work into this. From the very outset, we were – while we were focusing on getting the airport up and running and getting search-and-rescue teams here, we were also flowing medical disaster teams, also flowing food and water. So we didn’t wait and do just one thing; we were doing several things simultaneously. But we recognize, given the inherent limitation of the infrastructure that there, it’s not so much waves, it’s really capacity.
And what we have done, but it’s taken a while, is over seven days been able to expand the capacity, the flow, and the networks so that more and more assistance is coming into Haiti. It’s one of the reasons why the carrier is important, because it brought with it significant supplies, but it brought with it helicopters which allowed us a second channel of assistance.
Now with the (inaudible) there, that gives us a third channel of assistance. Now we have the ports that we are gradually starting to bring up a very limited flow of containers through the ports, and that gives us a fourth channel of assistance. And then working very closely with the Dominican Republic that has wanted to be very helpful, we have the flow of material on land from the base at San Isidro, that gives us a fifth channel of assistance. And we are now working to where, even though we are still focused on rescue, we’re looking at what do we have to do to sustain this population, and it’s not too early to think of what do we have to do to start to rebuild Haiti going forward.
All of these things are working simultaneously. But those that want to suggest that there’s a better way have to recognize that we have to deal with – we have been dealing for a week with the reality that exists in Haiti and trying to work through figurative and literal obstacles – clearing roads, expanding the network, looking at a variety of ways in which we can deliver assistance to the Haitian people.
QUESTION: Who is running the Office of Foreign Assistance? Is it the USAID? Is it the director of FEMA at this point?
MR. CROWLEY: The – FEMA is supporting DART, part of the USAID. So, FEMA’s not – FEMA is in a support role providing a different capacity.
QUESTION: Well, isn’t the direct --
MR. CROWLEY: For example, the Miami-Dade search-and-rescue team was provided to USAID by FEMA.
QUESTION: Well, but isn’t the director of FEMA or someone in a high position in FEMA actually running right now the USAID Office of Foreign Assistance?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know.
QUESTION: Can you take the question?
MR. CROWLEY: You might ask that question of DHS as well, since they own FEMA. But I mean -- I’ll --
QUESTION: Well, it’s a USAID, is it State --
MR. CROWLEY: For example, who’s running this operation? It’s Dr. Raj Shah who’s in charge of USAID. It’s Dr. Raj Shah. Now, you have, again, under whole-of-government that you somehow questioned a minute ago, are we bringing experts in from other parts of government to contribute their expertise to this? We are. Are there FEMA people that – I mean, there are DHS people that have been seconded to USAID to supplement our capacity in various places as we’ve moved many of our assets down range. I mean, obviously, for the Secretary, one of her long-range objectives for USAID, is actually to grow the capacity that exists inside USAID. It is a shell of what it used to be. And she wants to expand the – those who are working directly under Administrator Shah as we go forward.
So to the extent that we are bringing in expertise from across government, bringing in expertise that might exist within the private sector or the nongovernmental sector, sure we’re doing that. So is it logical that that might be the case where you’ve got a FEMA person integrated into USAID because they have relevant expertise that exists within the U.S. Government, I think that’s an effective use of the talent that exists within the United States Government.
QUESTION: But FEMA is a federal emergency management agency, and is --
MR. CROWLEY: With extraordinary experience --
QUESTION: I’m not saying that.
MR. CROWLEY: -- when it comes to disasters.
QUESTION: Okay, but that’s – I’m not saying that they don’t have experience on disasters. But – these are – this is an international disaster with specific needs for the population that – a federal emergency, we don’t have those type of issues.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. Elise, you can – I don’t get your point. In other words, if you’ve got somebody who’s an expert in water or hygiene or food delivery, whether they previously delivered that during a hurricane in Florida and now are delivering similar assistance to the people of Haiti --
QUESTION: You don’t think there’re different considerations for Haiti than there are for assistance in Florida?
MR. CROWLEY: Are there differing considerations?
MR. CROWLEY: But at the end of this – I mean, what – I mean, we’re doing the other – you’re taking military logisticians who are used to providing supplies to troops in Afghanistan and Haiti – or Afghanistan and Iraq, and now they’re delivering valuable resources to the people of Haiti. I mean, you have a core expertise, and we are, in fact, drawing people who have expertise from across government. As we go forward, I’m sure that we’ll be drawing on our experts in agriculture from the Department of Agriculture to kind of resurrect the agricultural sector in Haiti.
So, I mean, we are using the same fundamental approach in this case as we are doing in other instances such as Afghanistan, which is we have experts within government. And I know, for example, there are some, such as General Honore’, who thinks that that you seem to channel assistance through one mechanism, and his preferred mechanism is the United States military. We’re not doing it that way. We have significant expertise across the government, not just in the State Department, not just in USAID, not just in the Department of Defense. We’re drawing from valuable resources from the Department of Homeland Security, from HHS. Going forward, we’ll need Treasury experts to help us with how to rebuild the Haitian economy, how to get the banks reopened again. Why do we think that, somehow, there is one set formula and we’re only going to draw by that formula? It doesn’t make any sense.
QUESTION: P.J, can you comment on the security (inaudible) just so Pentagon announced there will be another runway open. Is that – can we see that as a response to --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know that that’s --
QUESTION: -- True?
MR. CROWLEY: There’s one runway at the airport.
QUESTION: Yeah. They say there will be another – which, I just saw it on my Blackberry.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, to the extent that you can improve the capacity of that airport, that has been, as we’ve talked about today, a limiting factor. But, I mean, our – humanitarian operations is a core mission of the military. It’s something that we have done many times in the past. Most people remember, whether it’s earthquake assistance in Pakistan or tsunami assistance in Indonesia, they have a proud history of doing this. So the real thing they have to focus on is what are we doing and why are we doing this? We’re not doing this to take over Haiti. We are doing this because you have three million people in dire need of assistance, and that’s what American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marine, and civilians, have done for many, many decades.
Yes. Go ahead. Sure.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment the weekend terrorist strike by the Taliban inside Kabul, where 12 people were killed there?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the Taliban have obviously claimed responsibility for this latest attack and we condemn these in the strongest possible terms. I think it only will increase our determination to work with the Afghan Government and with our NATO allies and others to try to help Afghanistan in every way possible mitigate and ultimately defeat this insurgent adversary.
QUESTION: Do you see indeed the strikes and ability increasing, ability, capability of Taliban to strike, such strikes?
MR. CROWLEY: I – we – obviously, this was an attack perpetrated by a relatively small number of individuals. I think we look at – the Afghan security forces performed very admirably in responding to and ultimately dealing with the perpetrators of this. So I think you have to look – I mean, there are going to be attacks. We understand that we are facing a determined insurgency. The timing of the attack was probably not a coincidence in terms of the early stages of the Karzai administration. But it’s why we are there, it is why we are working very closely with the Afghan Government. It’s why we are going to continue to build the capacity of the Afghan Government, build the capability of the Afghan security forces so they can do what they did yesterday and ultimately extend the security of the nation.
QUESTION: It is one year that the Administration, this Administration’s one year tomorrow. How do you view the situation there in Afghanistan and Pakistan? You have two reviews over there.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are – as the President --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) right direction? Or it’s – there have been more strikes --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it is – it’s a challenging situation. By the same token, you’ve seen progress. You’ve – the Karzai government is putting its – gradually putting its government in place. President Karzai is having to work with his parliament, just like President Obama works with his Congress. We are committed to expand the capacity of the government at the national level and also work to improve the delivery of services at the local level. So we’re – we think we are on the right path, we have the right strategy, we’re adding resources to the fight. And we are confident that this is the right strategy.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Haiti, actually?
MR. CROWLEY: Let’s go to Iran first.
QUESTION: Turns out that the Iranians had submitted some days ago their formal response to the LEU proposal in which they described a sort of counterproposal. What is the Department’s comment on that Iranian --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure that they’ve delivered a formal response, but it is clearly an inadequate response. And --
QUESTION: What do you mean it wasn’t a formal response?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not – I asked the question; I’m not sure that whatever they’ve done, perhaps today, is any different than what they’ve done previously. We don’t think it’s an adequate response. We believe that we’ve put on the table a fair, reasoned, approach. And Iran has not addressed the concerns of the international community on its – answered the questions that have been raised about its nuclear program. We had a very useful meeting in New York on Saturday within the P-5+1 process, and we will continue to discuss with our partners and a range of countries appropriate next steps and options that might exist going forward. So we do not view Iran’s gestures as being adequate.
QUESTION: Why do you say it was a useful meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: It was a useful meeting.
QUESTION: But we don’t see any signs of usefulness from our perspective.
MR. CROWLEY: How so?
QUESTION: Well, you had a lower-level Chinese official --
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And --
MR. CROWLEY: We had (inaudible) --
QUESTION: -- you’ve been talking a lot about --
MR. CROWLEY: We had --
QUESTION: -- moving towards sanctions, and I don’t see any --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think there – we have a shared view. There was a statement put out on Saturday that recommits the P-5+1 that we continue to have concerns. We continue to see the Iranian response as inadequate. We continue our conversations in terms of options that are available to us, both in terms of the Security Council going forward but also steps that can be taken in a coordinated way, on a national basis. We’re developing options on the pressure track. At the same time, the door is open for further dialogue with Iran, but so far, they haven’t been willing to engage us seriously. So we thought it was a constructive meeting and we’ll continue this process.
QUESTION: China needs more persuading?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that we bridged different views that the United States and others and China have about the issue of sanctions. These are longstanding concerns and we’ll continue to talk to China about them.
QUESTION: Can you just give us a little more detail on what exact steps you talked about in a coordinated way on a national basis on this pressure track?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – there are existing sanctions --
MR. CROWLEY: -- and there are other options that countries individually can take.
QUESTION: So what specifically did you – was discussed on Saturday?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are developing a list – a set of options and we’re not going to discuss them here.
QUESTION: Well, wait a minute. Is – one more follow-up on that. I mean, if you’re now – you guys have talked for some time about – including the Secretary – about working with likeminded states. But if that’s what you’re talking about at the P-5+1, it suggests to me that you don’t have high hopes for another UN Security Council resolution that would provide the imprimatur of the international community for sanctions.
MR. CROWLEY: I think – we are moving on both tracks. We believe we are making progress. And when we have – when the process has gone down the road a bit further, I think you’ll see some actions emerge. But we are considering what to do next. We’re consulting closely.
QUESTION: Can I --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, you’re describing – let’s see, I’ll do a baseball metaphor – you’re describing the final out – you’re projecting final outcome when we’re only in the middle innings.
QUESTION: Just to change the subject, one small one, to go back to the Middle East?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: The Palestinian news agency Wafa today, I believe, quotes President Abbas as saying that – okay, well, if Israel isn’t going to engage in a complete and total freeze on settlements, then the United States ought to lay out the parameters for the endgame so that we can perhaps get back into talks. Sounds like he’s moving off the dime a little bit in terms of a willingness to consider returning to talks with the Israelis absent a complete and total freeze. Are you heartened by those? Have you seen them and are you heartened by those comments?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we look forward to having a direct conversation with President Abbas later this week.
QUESTION: Had you seen the comments?
MR. CROWLEY: I personally have not, no.
QUESTION: I have two questions – last questions on Haiti. First of all, could you talk a little bit about the radio messages from VOA and others that were delivered to --
MR. CROWLEY: Nice shout-out, David.
QUESTION: -- that David Gollust was broadcasting into – (laughter) – into Haiti? Just about why you thought that they were – about Haitians should stay in Haiti and not take the risks to come to the United States? If you could talk a little bit about why you thought that was necessary, and are you also broadcasting to Haitians about where to get aid?
And then secondly, can you talk a little bit about the priorities of what types of planes are getting in? Because as you – I’m sure you’ve seen the statement from Doctors Without Borders last night that said that a lot of the medical supplies are not getting in that they need. And we’ve also heard from some other doctors that they’re not – that there are plenty of doctors on the ground ready to help, but there’s a real shortage of medical supplies getting out to the people.
So can you talk about – a little bit about the priority of getting food and water versus medical supplies out?
MR. CROWLEY: All of those are priorities, as I listed at the top of the briefing. Getting – distributing medical supplies is among our highest priorities. We are trying to work on a system where any aircraft has to apply in advance before taking off. They’re slotted in. There have been a small number of diversions. I think if you look at the overall scope of the operation, it’s been remarkable that the diversions have been a relatively small number.
But these can happen for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is you have an airplane that lands and is projected to be able to offload its cargo and be on its way in a certain timeframe, and for some reason, the airplane takes longer to offload, the airplane breaks. But because you have a limited capacity or limited ramp space at the airport, then all of a sudden, it has a cascading effect. And in that case, if there’s a delay, in some cases, airplanes are orbiting and they have sufficient fuel. In some cases, they are diverted and then they have to get back in line again.
I know it’s frustrating for particular organizations, but I think if you look at this at the 20,000-foot level, it’s been remarkable how we’ve been able to get as much assistance into a very limited airport as we have. And we will continue to work these issues and to make the operation as efficient as possible. But on a daily basis, it’s likely that a handful of flights are going to be diverted not because we’re trying to prevent any particular type of assistance from getting in, but just because we’re having to work through very challenging logistical and transportation conditions.
QUESTION: How was the decision made to let Governor Rendell’s plane come in versus a plane that had medical equipment that could have saved lives and that was diverted? I mean, how do you make that call?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the operation down south only because obviously, to land, you have to have permission. And to have permission, you have to apply, and that airplane was permitted to land.
QUESTION: Okay. Could you talk about the messages, the radio messages?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are trying to find a variety of ways to communicate to the Haitian people, and in some cases, we’re looking to see if the Haitian media are coming back up and running. We’ve been doing aggressive outreach to the diaspora here in the United States because they have the ability to communicate back to Haiti as well. We’ve been looking at ways in which we can use tools that exist with the United States Government to communicate with the people of Haiti.
Here at the State Department, and maybe we’ll have someone come down and brief you, we’ve started working with the wireless providers in Haiti. They’re gradually bringing their capability back up again. And we’re working to be able to have a texting program. We’ve got a lot of volunteers who are manning a network so that people can text from Haiti and say “I’m here and I need water,” “I’m here and I need medical care,” “I’m here and I’m wondering where do I go to get – where’s the nearest distribution point so I can get food, water or whatever I need.” You had some instances where people have been texting “I’m pinned under the rubble here at this particular location,” so mindful of that – there’s cell phone technology in Haiti, we’re looking at ways in which we can exploit that cell phone technology to make sure that we are providing important information to the people of Haiti.
QUESTION: But P.J., these are messages that the ambassador – apparently the Haitian ambassador recorded, telling people, “Don’t even think about trying to come to the United States because you’ll be turned back.” Now, what I guess we’d like to hear from you is an explanation for that because that could be perceived as pretty cruel under certain circumstances to tell people, “Don’t even think about fleeing your villages to come to the United States.”
MR. CROWLEY: Well, and when the – when we made the decision --
QUESTION: Now, why is it necessary?
MR. CROWLEY: -- regarding extending temporary protective status to Haitians who are here, we have made clear and we are communicating to the Haitian people, you’re – we will bring assistance to you. And we are doing that, for – given these conditions, for them to attempt a perilous journey across the water to try to get to the United States or to try to get to one of the surrounding countries, we think is a substantial risk. Every time you’ve had this kind of movement from Haiti in the past, there’s been significant loss of life at sea.
So we are trying to communicate and make sure that they understand – we understand you’re in a dire situation; we are bringing assistance to you – food, water, medical care. We’re going to expand our ability to help provide shelter. We’re going to look for everything we possibly can in the next days and weeks to stabilize the population in Haiti. And then we will begin the process of rebuilding.
And I know when Secretary Clinton talked to President Preval and Prime Minister Bellerive on Saturday, Haiti is going to need all of its energy, all of its drive, all of its ingenuity to help rebuild from this tragedy. So rather than seeing yet another brain drain from Haiti, we’re also encouraging them – stay even though the conditions are horrible, and we’ll get the situation stabilized as quickly as possible, but then we will rely on you, the people of Haiti, to rise from this tragedy and to help the country rebuild.
QUESTION: P.J., on Google, has that demarche been issued and can you tell us what it says?
MR. CROWLEY: Kurt made clear that he had – he said what he said. I’m not going to go further.
QUESTION: No, but I mean, you told us on Friday it was going to be issued.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m – yes.
QUESTION: A different subject?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
MR. CROWLEY: No, no update.
QUESTION: And then can I ask one more question about it? I mean, first, I want to – could you tell us about – are there efforts has been made from U.S. State Department to acquire information about him? And second, last time when two U.S. reporters were detained in North Korea, North Korea Government allowed consular access after two weeks of their detention, but this time, you are still seeking consular access after almost a month, so --
MR. CROWLEY: That’s right.
QUESTION: -- is North Korea trying to connect this case to the political situation?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a fine question to ask the Government of North Korea. As we would do of any citizen, we want to have consular access to him through our protective power in Pyongyang, and we continue to encourage the Government of North Korea to allow us that access.
QUESTION: I have a question on Guinea. Recently, Johnnie Carson visited Morocco where he met with his – along with his French counterpart Pierre Parent, with the interim president in Morocco. And in the aftermath of this visit, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding (inaudible) in Burkina Faso. How satisfactory for the United States is this agreement? And what’s your appreciation of the role played by Morocco in facilitating negotiation between the parties?
MR. CROWLEY: Actually, we are encouraged. I believe very soon, if not today, you’re going to have – I think Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia is bringing back the deputy head of the junta to formally begin the transition process towards an election in the coming months. We are – so we are encouraged that there are now steps being taken that follow through on the agreement that was reached. We’re very grateful to the Government of Morocco and to the Government of Burkina Faso for their efforts. And we will continue to be directly engaged with officials in Conakry as they work to implement the agreement and to restore civilian government to that country.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:34 p.m.)
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