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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary of State
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
January 29, 2010


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton in Paris; had a bilateral meeting with French Foreign Minister Kouchner; earlier in the day, met with French President Sarkozy and French diplomatic advisor Levitte;
    • Secretary gave a speech on European security
    • Assistant Secretary Campbell scheduled to be in Tokyo and Seoul next week
    • Clear skies in Peru have resulted in several successful evacuation flights; all American citizens to be off the mountain by the end of the day
  • NORTH KOREA
    • North Korean government informed U.S. that it is holding a (second) American citizen; allegedly entered North Korea from China on January 25; U.S. working through protecting power (Sweden) in Pyongyang to seek consular access
  • IRAN
    • Not true that sanctions have been prepared or drafted; U.S. working to develop our ideas on how to proceed on the pressure track…but process will take some time to develop
    • Concerning Senate vote on Iran sanctions, the goal remains to change Iran's decision making on its nuclear program, to keep the international coalition unified, and to maintain the President's flexibility going forward; will continue to work with Congress to ensure that these goals are attained
    • The Geneva Proposal on sending low-enriched uranium abroad for processing and then use in the Tehran research reactor "remains on the table."
  • AFHGANISTAN
    • U.S. supports concept of reintegration of the Taliban; supports an Afghan mechanism for reconciling competing views; begin to peel away the foot soldiers who are not ideologically committed; who accept the constitution, renounce violence, and publically break with extremists groups; the goal is to build up the capacity of the Afghan government to vie for its own security
    • US welcomed the support and participation in the London conference of Saudi Arabia and UAE
  • HAITI
    • U.S. has moved 13,427 American citizens out of Haiti; processed 31 orphans for parole yesterday;
    • No confirmed cases of child trafficking within Haiti or outside the country since the earthquake
    • 2009 DOS Trafficking in Person's report estimated between 90,000 and 300,000 restaveks exploited; who may end up in situations of domestic servitude; also concerned about pedophiles seeking to adopt
    • U.S. has a process in place of identifying children for adoption, working with agencies and faith-based organizations, to identify adoptive parents, to work with the Government of Haiti to clear them through the process, so that they can be granted parole and transported to the U.S.
    • The goal is making sure that the children are properly cared for and that the process works to put them in the right homes - to enjoy a brighter future
  • TAIWAN
    • The Defense Department, under the Foreign Military Sales program, notified Congress today of the Administration's intent to sell various defensive systems to Taiwan; the action is consistent with the U.S. "one-China" policy based on the three joint communiqués in the Taiwan Relations Act
    • The U.S. did not consult with the Chinese Government; the U.S. did notify China before the action
  • YEMEN
    • U.S. has no hard evidence that Iran was behind the Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack Saudi territories; US is working with GOY to deal with multiple conflicts within its border


TRANSCRIPT:

1:03 p.m. EST

MR. CROWLEY: Almost on time. Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Secretary Clinton, I believe – let’s see – is, as we speak, in a bilateral meeting with French Foreign Minister Kouchner, where we would expect that issues ranging from Haiti, the situation in Guinea, and Somalia will be discussed. She will be meeting with the press here shortly and then having a dinner with Foreign Minister Kouchner before returning to the United States.

Earlier today, she met with French President Sarkozy. They talked about the successful Afghanistan conference yesterday, talked about the current situation with respect to international concerns about Iran. Obviously, given France’s ties to Haiti as well, they talked about the current situation there. And she also met with French diplomatic advisor Levitte.

And obviously, you all heard her speech today on European security where she advanced a number of principles, including dedication to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, a recognition that security in Europe must be indivisible, reinforced our unwavering devotion to the collective defense and security of NATO allies, and our commitment to practicing transparency in our dealings with Europe, our belief that people everywhere have a right to live free from the fear of nuclear destruction and the recognition that true security entails not only peaceful relations among states, but opportunities and rights for the individuals who live within them.

An issue that you talked about yesterday: We have been informed by the North Korean Government that is holding an American citizen who allegedly entered North Korea from China on January 25th. And we are working through the Swedish Embassy, our protecting power in Pyongyang, to seek consular access to this citizen. And there’s no higher priority than the welfare of our citizens anywhere in the world.

QUESTION: Do you know who the citizen is?

MR. CROWLEY: We do not know.

QUESTION: Have they given you a name?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Informed by the North Korean in what manner?

MR. CROWLEY: We were informed through the New York channel.

QUESTION: Through the New York channel.

QUESTION: Today?

MR. CROWLEY: Yesterday.

QUESTION: And did they give you any information about the circumstances of what --

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: -- the location of where it happened or --

MR. CROWLEY: We are seeking, obviously, access to this individual where he can actually explain and find out exactly what has taken place.

A couple of things: Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell is scheduled to be in Tokyo next week on February 1-2, and in Seoul on 3 – on February 3rd and 4th where he will have discussions with senior Japanese officials and senior Korean officials on a range of issues. We have clear skies in Peru today, so we’ve had more – successful evacuation flights, and we are actually hopeful that by the end of the day, all American citizens will be off the mountain and in safe hands, given that situation. But we have evacuated more than 200 American citizens thus far.

And with that, I’ll take your questions. Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: P.J., is it correct that United States has prepared the draft of the sanctions towards Iran and is ready to distribute it to the United Nations?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that’s correct. Obviously, this week, we had a number of very productive conversations in Europe with various countries that share our concerns about the situation in Iran. We are working to develop our ideas on how to proceed on this pressure track and – but this is a process I think that will take some time to develop.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on the North Koreans?

QUESTION: Can we just stick with Iran a second?

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Any reaction to the Senate vote on Iran sanctions, please?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, Congress understands our objectives and we look forward to continuing to work with them. As this legislation goes through conference, I think we note that the unanimous consent on Senate Bill 2799 reflects a shared frustration with Iran’s lack of engagement. Our goals remain to change Iran’s decision making on its nuclear program, to keep our international coalition together so that Iran sees clearly the unity it faces, and to maintain the President’s flexibility going forward. So we hope to work with Congress to ensure that measures eventually adopted do not penalize countries that are working with us to advance these shared goals.

QUESTION: And earlier, the State Department – am I not correct – had urged the Senate to hold back? Are you now urging them to pause before they move forward with the conference?

MR. CROWLEY: No. I mean, I think obviously, in both the House and Senate, you’ve had very strong statements of concern about Iran. We share those concerns. And we expect to work constructively with conferees as they work on the final version of this legislation.

QUESTION: I have a question for you on the UN deciding to remove five Taliban members from its official sanctions list, and I’m wondering – I – what is the U.S. view on that? And is there any concern that the American public would be skeptical of this sort of legitimization of Taliban, given the close association they’ve had with the 9/11 attacks all these years?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think the Secretary has spoken to this in the last couple of days. We actually support and discussed yesterday during the Afghanistan conference the concept of reintegration, and we are very gratified that there has been a fund put together. And I think Japan, for example, has made a significant contribution to that. So this is fully consistent with our strategy of trying to build up capacity within the Afghan Government and provide it resources so that we can begin to peel away the foot soldiers who we think we are not ideologically committed to this. It may well be something simple, like the Taliban for the moment is paying better than the Afghan Government.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: I understand that. And we’ll do this process, and we think over time, we can put additional pressure on the leadership of the Taliban. It is a – the Taliban is a – kind of a mixed grouping of disparate elements, and we think that there can be an opportunity through a political process, one that is Afghan led, to try to see who among these leaders are willing to make a fundamental change in their approach, and we will – we’ll support this.

President Karzai’s announcement of a grand peace jirga as a traditional Afghan mechanism for reconciling competing views – we think that’s important. But in this process, we have some concerns that we’ve put forward. And we think that as this moves forward, it should be based on the concepts that anyone who wants to reconcile and play a more constructive role in Afghanistan’s future must accept the constitution, renounce violence, and publicly break with extremist groups such as al-Qaida.

QUESTION: Who initiated this at the UN, and who decides actually what, U.S. or --

MR. CROWLEY: Who – Goyul, who decides?

QUESTION: To takes the actions at the UN?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, there is a process by which, as we gain more information, as we see adjustments on the ground, adjustments can be made to the list of those who we have concerns about, who have been associated with terrorism and extremist elements in the past. So there is a process in the UN that can make adjustments as appropriate.

But we think that, certainly as part of our counterinsurgency strategy and consistent with what the Afghan Government is trying to do, that ultimately, we need to have a political process along – that has been – works in parallel with the military action that we’re taking with our allies and with the Afghan Government to try to ultimately defeat this insurgency.

QUESTION: I mean, who initiated? Which country put the package before the UN, or at the UN?

MR. CROWLEY: I – that’s a good question. I don’t know.

QUESTION: My initial question had to do also with the idea of the American public accepting this sort of reconciliation with people who were associated with 9/11.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I – that – you’re inferring that the people that we – that are likely to reconcile would include those who played direct or indirect roles in 9/11. I think that’s a challengeable assumption. The Taliban is made up of a mix of groups, a mix of tribal elements that have different motivations. Some of them feel in their own minds that they are fighting for the future of Afghanistan. Obviously, there are those like Mullah Omar, who were in power during the 1990s, chose to associate themselves and to give safe haven to al-Qaida and bin Ladin and those who were directly responsible for 9/11.

As Secretary Clinton made clear in various interviews today, we don’t see Mullah Omar as being among those who can be reconciled. But there are various elements, and in Afghan tradition, there are shifting alliances, depending on what is happening on the ground. Many of these want to be associated with the ultimate winner in the struggle, and that is expressly why we continue to work with the Afghan Government, build up its capacity to vie for its own security, build up its capacity to deliver services to the Afghan people. In doing so, we think that’s – confidence in and support for the Afghan Government will rise and that will, over time, turn the tide against the insurgency.

Kirit.

QUESTION: Haiti – can we go?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you have a numbers update for us? And I have another question.

MR. CROWLEY: The numbers, they haven’t really changed significantly. As of 7:00 a.m. this morning, we have moved 13,427 Americans out of Haiti. The number of confirmed and suspected fatalities has not changed. We processed 31 –

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. We processed 31 orphans for parole yesterday, and actually we hope that there’ll be a fairly significant movement of orphans out of Haiti in the next 24 hours.

QUESTION: So they’re processed and then not moved, and then the movement from whatever’s been building up all week is going to happen when, you said? Today?

MR. CROWLEY: We hope that’ll actually happen, today or tomorrow.

QUESTION: Where are they going? It’s all in one –

MR. CROWLEY: Those are good questions to ask our colleagues down south.

QUESTION: Okay. And then to follow up on that, yesterday you talked about some of the concerns that the State Department has about trafficking and you didn’t really have many specifics on examples. Do you have any clarity today on any case that might involve trafficking to the U.S., to other countries, and what specifically you were talking about?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. Well, we do not have any confirmed cases of child trafficking within Haiti or outside of the country that we’re aware of since the earthquake.

But if you look back at our Trafficking in Persons report back in June of last year, we estimated that there were between 90,000 and 300,000 restaveks exploited within Haiti, as well as an additional 3,000 restaveks. These are children that go – that are, in essence, supported by wealthier families, but we have concerns that they end up finding themselves in situations of domestic servitude. An estimated 3,000 restaveks trafficked to the Dominican Republic. So mindful of the concerns that we had in Haiti, based on our experience before the earthquake, that’s the reason why we have put in place these additional measures in light of the earthquake, in light of the impact that the earthquake has had on Haitian society.

QUESTION: Okay. So that’s not the same as yesterday, which was kind of concerns that there’d be – that there are active attempts – that you said you’re aware of active attempts to take people out.

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I mean, we – but we are also aware that in the attempts to identify and move children to safety, we are also concerned, and we have seen a couple of cases where we have concerns about pedophiles who are representing themselves as in a position to adopt children.

QUESTION: Do you have any specifics on those instances that you could --

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Can we stick with that? Another question about orphans, please.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Can we just look forward and I’m wondering whether you could say, as a general policy, whether the United States will seek or allow more Haitian orphans into the United States in coming months.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have a process that is underway and we think is working quite well. It’s working in concert with the Haitian Government to identify those children who are eligible for adoption and making sure that there are no family members that are in a position to care for these children. And then as they work through the process – it’s a process where we identify them for adoption, clearly working with agencies and faith-based organizations, identify adoptive parents who are ready to take them, and then work with the Haitian Government to clear them through the process so that they can be granted parole and transported to the United States.

So tragically, will we see more of these cases in the future? I expect that we will. But obviously, that is up to the process that is already established.

QUESTION: And based on your statements and those by Secretary Clinton and representatives of the Department and Homeland Security and HHS, et cetera, what would you tell Americans about pushing forward with seeking adoption of Haitian children?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, these are private judgments that are made by individual American families. There was a process that was existed – that existed before the earthquake. And we – through our Embassy in Port-au-Prince, we’re working diligently to help identify children for adoption and to help unite them with loving families here in the United States. That process is going to continue. But we want to be sure that it’s one that’s effective, that is focused on the safety and security of the children, and it will be as rapid as it can be, but we want to make sure that ultimately – our paramount importance is making sure that the children are properly cared for and that the process works to put them in the right homes and – so they can enjoy a brighter future.

QUESTION: And just one more, please.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: But would you encourage more Americans, considering the need, to move forward and possibly seek to adopt --

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it’s not up to us to encourage that. It is a reality that there are wonderful people here in the United States who have been focused on Haiti, who have been focused on trying to bring children who are orphans here to the United States. We, the United States government, have long supported this. But we have to be respectful of the process. We have to be respectful of the Government of Haiti, because these are their children. These are the children of Haiti.

So we know that the tragedy in Haiti with the earthquake will create more orphans. And if that’s the case, and if there are American families who step forward, we will support them after the earthquake just as we supported them before the earthquake.

QUESTION: Can we just go back to North Korea for a minute?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: From what was communicated, is it clear that this is a second person, one separate from Mr. Park?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: And does the United States actually know the – I’m not saying to release it, but the United States actually know the identity of the person?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: So they didn’t tell you?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Is that the way they normally do it?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, again – (laughter) --

QUESTION: That’s the second time. I was having a moment.

MR. CROWLEY: -- you continue to try to get me to explain what’s happening in North Korea, and I can’t. We do not know the identity of the citizen, but that is obviously why we have already taken steps, working through our protecting power, the Swedes, to seek access so that we can determine who it is and the circumstances under which he came to be in North Korea.

QUESTION: Do you know sort of bare bones stuff, like what gender and what age, things like that?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Can I change the topic?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Have you notified Congress yet of the Taiwan arms sales?

MR. CROWLEY: The Department of Defense, under the Foreign Military Sales program, notified Congress today of the Administration’s intent to sell various defensive systems to Taiwan. And you can find the details on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency website. But the notification includes UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, Patriot Advance Capability Missiles, technical support for Taiwan’s command and control communications computers intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance system – the C4ISR – two Osprey-Class mine-hunting ships, and Harpoon telemetry missiles.

This is a clear demonstration of the commitment that this Administration has to provide Taiwan the defensive weapons it needs and as provided for in the Taiwan Relations Act. And we think that this action is consistent with the U.S. “one-China” policy based on the three joint communiqués in the Taiwan Relations Act and contributes to maintaining security and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

QUESTION: China --

QUESTION: You didn’t mention F-16s.

MR. CROWLEY: I did not.

QUESTION: China opposes any consultation with the Chinese Government?

MR. CROWLEY: The Chinese Government has long opposed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

QUESTION: Were there consultations with the Chinese out of the --

MR. CROWLEY: No. We did not consult with China before taking this action. We did notify the PRC before this action, just as we notified Taiwan before the notification was sent forward.

QUESTION: And the decision not to go ahead with the F-16s, was that based on concerns about the Chinese reaction?

MR. CROWLEY: No. This was based on our evaluation of the defensive needs of Taiwan.

QUESTION: A dollar figure on that package?

MR. CROWLEY: I do not have a dollar figure on this package.

QUESTION: A question on Afghanistan, please?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: In connection with the London conference, one – World Bank and IMF, they have announced that $1.6 billion will be debt relief for Afghanistan, and also EastWest Institute has put out a report that without Gulf states, you cannot have peace and stability in Afghanistan. So are you concerned with those Gulf states and now in connection with this London conference and beyond?

MR. CROWLEY: Not at all. There were a number of regional states at the Afghanistan conference because states like Saudi Arabia, states like the United Arab Emirates have had a long history of relations with and interest in Afghanistan. We welcome their participation. We welcome their support. And we had very, very extensive dealings with them as they, like we, identify Afghanistan’s future needs and look for ways to support the Karzai Government, help it do what it needs to do on behalf of its people.

Samir.

QUESTION: Speaking of the Gulf states, the Saudi foreign minister spoke in a press conference in London yesterday, confirming in a strong way that Iran was behind the Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack Saudi territories. And in response to U.S. saying that you don’t have evidence that Iran is involved with the rebels, they’re saying there are evidence and photos about the presence of Iranians with these rebels in north Yemen.

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it’s hard to know specifically who was behind the conflict. I think, we – as we indicated, we welcome the announcement of a ceasefire. We obviously are working closely with the Government of Yemen to deal with multiple conflicts within its border. We think that if this can be resolved, it allows the Government of Yemen to focus increased attention on the threat from al-Qaida that we think threatens Yemen, the region, and others including the United States. So – and I know that Saudi Arabia, among other countries, has a significant stake in stability and peace in Yemen, and we’ll work constructively with that government going forward.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Iran for a moment?

MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Iran’s foreign minister told Reuters in an interview in Davos that the Geneva proposal on sending its low-enriched uranium abroad for processing and then use in the Tehran research reactor was still possible, that it – quote – “still can be on the table.” From the Administration’s point of view, is that deal now dead?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Is it – or is it – so it’s still on the table?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s still on the table. I mean, go back to the fall when we first advanced this as a confidence-building measure to work cooperatively with Iran, with the international community, to provide Iran with the fuel that it needed for the research reactor. The first response from Iran was a positive one. The second response from Iran, regrettably, was negative. But we still think that is a fair opportunity for Iran. We think it’s good for Iran and it would help begin to address some of our concerns about certain elements of its nuclear program. And as far as I know, the offer is still on the table if Iran – and the offer is there for Iran to say yes.

QUESTION: And just to be clear, so that nobody’s expectations get raised about this, to your knowledge, is there any active discussion with the Iranians by the United States or any of its P-5+1 partners about that offer?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, there have been some discussions on mechanism through which that deal could be implemented. But as far as I know, it is Tehran that has said no, or Tehran that has tried to renegotiate the offer. And as Secretary Clinton and others have said, we have no plans to amend it.

QUESTION: And – but to your knowledge, there haven’t been any discussions about this lately, correct?

MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: And then, last thing, have you seen any indications from the Iranians that they have any interest in actually returning to the deal as it was originally agreed?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, to the extent that the Iranian foreign minister leaves open the possibility for further discussions on this, he knows the address of the IAEA, and it is the appropriate forum under – through which further discussions could be – could move forward.

QUESTION: P.J., Kurdistan’s Regional Government president was here. He met with President Obama, Vice President, also the Secretary. PKK is still a problem there, and Turkey – Turkey’s also concerned. So was there any discussion as far as concern from Turkey on PKK and terrorism?

MR. CROWLEY: The discussion was really focused on developments inside Iraq. On – Secretary Clinton encouraged President Barzani to continue to work constructively with the central government, looking ahead to the elections that’ll occur in Iraq in early March, encouraged him to continue to find – to resolve tensions over issues between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraq, encouraged Iraq to move forward to resolve – open questions such as responsibilities of the regional government, the borders of the regional government, the hydrocarbon law. So it was largely focused on the future of Iraq, not other issues.

QUESTION: One more, quickly? On Dalai Lama’s now – between China and Dalai Lama and Tibet, what’s going on, because his representatives were in China again this week? And are we expecting now Dalai Lama’s visit to the U.S. finally after last --

MR. CROWLEY: On that, Goyal, I’ll defer to the White House to make that announcement.

QUESTION: On a different note, there was a statement purported to be from Usama bin Ladin that was a bit nontraditional, addressing issues such as climate change, talking about the – his view on the dollar. I guess he was quite bearish on it. (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: There go the markets.

QUESTION: What do you think? I mean, is he trying to be a statesman in addition to his usual role?

MR. CROWLEY: So we’ve gone from being the Great Satan to the Great Emitter. You know, he’s working hard to stay relevant. That’s all I can say.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:33 p.m.)

DPB # 15

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