1:21 p.m. ESTMR. CROWLEY:
I don’t know, should we give the front row a chance to catch up, or this is the opportunity for the back row to take charge? (Laughter.)
Good afternoon, and welcome to the Department of State. Just a few announcements before taking your questions. This afternoon, Secretary Clinton will host a bilateral with His Excellency Kanat Saudabayev, Secretary of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE. And of course, with the advice and consent of the United States Senate, our friend and colleague, Ian Kelly, will have a chance to interact significantly with Minister Saudabayev in the coming months.
Thank you. Short notice. QUESTION:
There are more coming, though. (Laughter.)MR. CROWLEY:
Did we sneak in here? I don’t think so. Maybe we fooled them and showed up, more or less, on time.
The United States today announces it is making a contribution of $40 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East. Of this contribution, $30 million will support the UNRWA’s core services in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the West Bank and Gaza. An additional $10 million will support UN – the UNRWA’s emergency appeal for the West Bank and Gaza, including emergency food assistance and job creation programs. In 2009, the United States provided over $267 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency.
And finally, before taking your questions, we certainly wish a safe journey to Tai Shan as he departs the United States for
China. He is a dual citizen, U.S. born of Chinese parents. He’ll always have a close link to the United States and to school children across our country. But he is a tangible and furry manifestation of cooperation between the United States and China.QUESTION:
Wow. So that’s what you’ve got going for you? You’re got a panda? (Laughter.) You can’t get them on Iran, you can’t get them on anything else --MR. CROWLEY:
-- and you have to give back the panda.MR. CROWLEY:
I knew that was going to get Grumpy’s attention. (Laughter.)QUESTION:
Can you talk about this deal with
Romania that’s been done --MR. CROWLEY:
-- on missile defense?MR. CROWLEY:
And are there other agreements in the works with other countries?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, yes, and yes. This is, I think, a first step in terms of the revised architecture that the United States – the President announced last September. And Romania has agreed to host a Standard Missile-3 interceptor as part of the Administration’s new missile defense plan – we call it the Phased Adaptive Approach – to protect U.S. forward-deployed troops and our NATO allies against current and emerging ballistic missile threats from Iran.
The decision by Romania to host the SM-3 is a reflection of our strategy to make sure that as this architecture develops and grows it will protect all of Europe. The choice of Romania extends the missile defense into southern Europe, and we expect this – in this phase, this will be online by 2015.
We will have – we are in further discussions with other countries as the architecture evolves. For example, Poland agreed last October, in principle, to host the northern land-based SM-3 missile site. And I think that development is still under consideration and discussion with Poland.QUESTION:
Are you getting any reactions from the
Russians on this latest development? And then what about Iran? Is this a message to Iran?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, it is precisely what we have always said, which is we’re going to protect our interests and those of our allies. We see this emerging threat coming. As we said, our revised approach is, in fact, tailored to address the emerging threat coming to the region from Iran. And regarding Russia, as we have made clear over and over again, this is not a capability that is directed at Russia.
Is this system going to be based on American vessels in the Black Sea? Is that how it works?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, the PAA, the Phased Adaptive Approach, includes land based and sea based. That’s the value of shifting to the upgraded Standard Missile because it can be based on both ships and land. So this particular announcement today involves a land-based component, but there will be sea-based components as well.
North Korea, U.S. decided to keep North Korea off the State Sponsors of Terrorism list because it does not meet the criteria to be designated again. But recent U.S. terrorist reports and other anti-terrorism reports insisting that North Korea has been continuously support terrorist group in Middle East like Hezbollah and Hamas by selling arms. So if that’s true, does that mean that North Korea satisfied the criteria to be designated as a sponsor of terrorism?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, without accepting the premise behind your question, let me say that the President has submitted a report to Congress examining if North Korea meets the statutory criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, as required in the Defense Authorization Act of FY2010. And after careful review, the report states that the DPRK does not meet the statutory criteria to again be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. But obviously, this is something that we will continue to carefully evaluate going forward.QUESTION:
Didn’t that come out last night?MR. CROWLEY:
Haiti question?MR. CROWLEY:
Last – yesterday afternoon, the Secretary said that the U.S. Government was in talks with the Haitian Government about what she called the disposition of the case involving the detained Americans. Can you give us any more information about what sorts of contacts are underway and what sorts of alternate dispositions might be envisioned in this case?MR. CROWLEY:
I mean, I wouldn't read too much into that. Through our ambassador, we have been in touch with Haitian judicial officials just to help understand how they were going to act in this particular case. As far as I know, the judge continues to question these suspects. We have continued to provide consular services to the American citizens. I believe that they have hired local representation. So – but I would put this in the context of asking for clarifications about what their procedure would be, what the timeline and capacity to be able to pursue this case. I wouldn't read too much into it in terms of, first and foremost, this will be a judgment based by the Haitian Government on Haitian law. If Haiti decides to consult with the United States in terms of other legal avenues, obviously, there are legal procedures for us to do that.QUESTION:
Is it standard practice for the government to have this kind of communication with another government involving a criminal case?MR. CROWLEY:
I think it – I would put it in the category of given the unusual circumstance that we find ourselves in, Haiti trying to function as a government under such circumstances and amid great tragedy, I would put it in the category of just asking them and clarifying exactly how they were going to proceed in this particular case. QUESTION:
Just so we’re clear about this, P.J., when Cheryl – when Counselor Mills was asked about this on Tuesday, she said something to the effect that – and the words are in the transcript if I don’t have them here – but that the United States had discussed getting consular access to the detainees but, “We haven’t had any broader conversations about their prosecution or their case or something like that.” And the Secretary’s comment about the disposition of the case, in legal terms, I believe that phrase means the final settlement of a matter. So did something change between Tuesday and Wednesday or was “disposition of the case” perhaps not the – quite the right thing to say?MR. CROWLEY:
I wouldn't lend the same interpretation – the Secretary is a fine lawyer. By the same token, I wouldn't lend the same interpretation to her remarks. In other words, obviously, we consult with the Government of Haiti on a wide range of issues every day. We have been closely monitoring this case. We have been interacting with Haitian officials during the course of this case. But – and if the Haitian Government wants to pursue other legal avenues regarding this case, of course, we will be happy to have that kind of follow-up discussion. But right now, the matter rests within the Haitian judicial system. We respect that and we will continue to have discussions with the Haitian Government as this case proceeds. But there – I just would caution – you might infer that some things out of either the Secretary’s comments or Counselor Mills’s comments. I wouldn't read too much into it.QUESTION:
So just so we’re clear, you are not seeking to interfere in any way, shape, or form in how the Haitian Government may choose to investigate, prosecute, pursue, or drop this matter?MR. CROWLEY:
There are a number of options that are available to the Haitian Government as this case moves forward. But as to the precise matter of its evaluation of the facts in this case, this will rely on the judge to make that determination. QUESTION:
On the –
Afghanistan, the U.S. gave support to President Karzai’s idea of trying to reintegrate some of the Taliban. He’s gone to Saudi Arabia, he talked with King Abdullah, he’s going to try and get King Abdullah to get on the case. And he seems also to be intent on making some political headway among the Pashtun in the south as a result of this. Now, some people are saying that he wants to not only integrate the people, having them go back to the village, but also bring them in politically, some of the people who renounce A.Q. who may be Taliban, may be Wahhabi, could also play a role in a government.
What would – what’s exactly the U.S. position? What is the nature of the support? Is it like a cautious watching? Or how far would we go with this reintegrating the Taliban or former Taliban into the Afghan structure?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I think we support reintegration as an effective tool within our counterinsurgency strategy and that of Afghanistan. We do not think that many of the foot soldiers that are currently involved on the battlefield are necessarily ideologically driven.
And to the extent, through a combination of initiatives, that we can convince them to play a more constructive role in Afghanistan, and equip the Afghan Government to provide peaceful alternatives for these individuals, and should they choose to move in a different direction, help with protection from retribution from the Taliban, we think this is a wise strategy. It is an Afghan-led strategy, and, obviously, President Karzai is requesting assistance of the United States and others as he pursues this effort.
So we are completely supportive of – as we indicated last week, during the conference in London. QUESTION:
Can I ask you about the START treaty?MR. CROWLEY:
Yesterday, the Russian side announced that the work on the treaty is almost done and it’s prepared for signing, presumably in Prague, in spring. Do you have any confirmation or reaction on the U.S. side about that?MR. CROWLEY:
I think we are optimistic that with the START negotiations having reconvened this week in Geneva, that it can be – the remaining issues can be resolved and negotiations completed rather quickly. With that said, I wouldn’t put a particular timeline on it. I think when it’s done and when – we can both reflect that this is a treaty that is in Russia’s interests and the United States interests, then we’ll try to figure out how to --QUESTION:
No time, no place?MR. CROWLEY:
(Laughter.) I mean, I think it will be an opportunity to celebrate and to recognize the important achievement as advancing our mutual interest in arms control and nonproliferation. But let’s get across the finish line, and then we can figure out where we go from there.QUESTION:
Can I follow up on that?MR. CROWLEY:
Is it going too far to say that an agreement of principles has been reached?MR. CROWLEY:
I think the negotiations – negotiators are still at work.QUESTION:
On climate?MR. CROWLEY:
The Administration has had a little time to take stock of Copenhagen. There are many people who are saying that it’s not the appropriate forum to reach international agreement. You had much --MR. CROWLEY:
What is not the appropriate forum?QUESTION:
The UNFCCC, and perhaps that there are other forums that are better – that are better for reaching an agreement for the large emitters like MEF. What are your thoughts on that and – yeah, what are your thoughts on that?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I’m hoping to get Todd Stern to pay a visit here in the briefing room in the coming days to be able to talk a little further about Copenhagen. Obviously, we’ve passed the deadline of January 31. A large number of countries, including the United States, have committed to the Copenhagen accord. We obviously supported and worked very hard with the Secretary, with the President in Copenhagen in late December to reach this agreement.
Clearly, there’s still work to be done. There’s work to be done domestically in terms of our own legislation that enshrines the 17 percent pledge that the United States has made. And there’s work to be done coming out of Copenhagen to make sure that there is an accounting process and oversight as countries continue to pursue their respective pledges. So I think we are supportive of this process, as we did last week. We committed to this process. We’re moving forward and – but there’s going to be – it’s one of the more urgent matters that we face globally. And I’m sure that this will be a cornerstone of that effort, but certainly, to the extent that we can continue to pursue reductions in greenhouse gases through a variety of means, we will do so.QUESTION:
And that is the appropriate place to have those discussions? MR. CROWLEY:
I’ve heard of no discussions inside the United States on a different venue. QUESTION:
Thank you. MR. CROWLEY:
On Western Sahara, Western Sahara informal talks will be held next week in the suburbs of New York. What is the reaction of the State Department regarding these talks?MR. CROWLEY:
I’ll take the question. We have a position; I just don’t have it in my book.QUESTION:
The ICC prosecutor Ocampo is in town. I wanted to check if he was consulting with the Department on the possible investigation and a move by him on – based on the Goldstone report that the ICC would take on the issue of the Gaza war and the allegations of war crimes. Would the United States support the ICC, and if it stakes – takes into its hand?MR. CROWLEY:
All right. The last part again?QUESTION:
Would the United States support a move by the ICC to take things – to take the case and prosecute it?MR. CROWLEY:
Of the ICC, of the Gaza war and allegations of war crimes? MR. CROWLEY:
We have made our position clear that we think the Human Rights Council is the appropriate forum to resolve issues regarding the Goldstone report. And we do not support – you’re referring – that particular – the Goldstone report to the ICC.
As to his particular schedule and who he’s consulting with, I’ll see if he’s visiting here at the State Department. QUESTION:
Can I go back to North Korea? As I asked earlier, there have been reports that – insisting that U.S. – North Korea has been continuously supporting Middle East terrorist group (inaudible), terrorist group in South Asia, and there were actual cases that some ships intercepted with North Korean arms which bound to Iran. So U.S. decided not – still keep nuclear away from this state sponsors of terrorism list. So does that mean that U.S. reached to the decision that those allegations or speculations are untrue, or is not able to confirm? MR. CROWLEY:
All I can do is repeat what I just said. We looked at this question hard in the last couple of years. We took North Korea off of the state sponsor of terrorism list. We were asked to reevaluate. We looked hard at this issue, but it did not meet the statutory requirements to relist North Korea.
That said, we obviously have considerable concern about activities involving North Korea, its proliferation of dangerous technologies within the region and around the world. And we continue to work aggressively to restrict those activities under UN Security Council Resolution 1874. But as we said, we will continue to look at the evidence surrounding North Korea’s activities. And if it eventually meets the criteria under the law, then we’ll consider a different judgment. But we’ve evaluated what we think they’re doing and we don’t think it meets the statute.QUESTION:
Can I ask you one more on Six-Party Talks? MR. CROWLEY:
Tension between U.S. and China has been rising because of U.S. Government decision to sell arms to Taiwan. And there are concerns that this tension can impact negative influence to the current Six-Party Talk progress. And what is your comment on (inaudible)?MR. CROWLEY:
I don’t think the evidence supports that. In our relationship with China, we have many areas of mutual interest. North Korea is significant among them. And China is, in fact, the chair of the Six-Party process and will continue to play a significant leadership role in this. And in fact, we see eye to eye with China with respect to our concerns about North Korea. And even as we cooperate fully on the Six-Party process, we will obviously have tensions in other aspects of our relationship and we’ll work through them.QUESTION:
Are you satisfied with China’s current effort to persuade North Korea, and make (inaudible) -- MR. CROWLEY:
Yes. I think we have significant unanimity within the Six-Party process about what North Korea should do. And our officials have consulted closely, and our officials have had conversations with North Korea. So have Chinese officials, so have others, and our message is the same. QUESTION:
Is Iran and the further sanctions on Iran one of those areas of tensions?MR. CROWLEY:
I wouldn’t call it an area of tension as much as an area of discussion. I think we have a similar view about the potential impact of an arms race in the Middle East. We have a difference of opinion as to the steps to take at the present time to put pressure on Iran. And we will continue our consultation with China within the P-5+1 process.QUESTION:
P.J., though, last week in Paris, the Secretary said – made it clear that you – that she didn’t think that you did have a similar position on the impact of an arms race in the Middle East, and she said that the Chinese should, you know, wake up and realize the long-term consequences of it. MR. CROWLEY:
And there are long-term consequences.QUESTION:
Do you think the Chinese really see – have similar views than you – that you – than you?MR. CROWLEY:
I think that the Secretary is right. As she communicated to Foreign Minister Yang last week, China has a great stake in what happens with respect to Iran. China is tied to the global economy; it’s tied to global energy markets. And an arms race in the Middle East has the potential to disrupt oil markets and have a decided impact on China just as the major economies like the United States. So we think we have the same stake in the outcome. And we are talking with China about the appropriate steps to take now and we are continuing to discuss potential sanctions and we’ll continue these discussions of – in the coming weeks.QUESTION:
Were you dismayed by Foreign Minister Yang’s comments yesterday that – his emphasis on negotiations, we understand that we need to press on with negotiations, we need to try to find a solution as quickly as possible through negotiations – didn’t sound like there’s much enthusiasm there for the discussion about sanctions.MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I mean, China has supported the current dual-track approach that we take. They’ve signed on to every communiqué that has been issued in recent months describing the fact that we would prefer a negotiated settlement, but we are prepared as well to take steps to put pressure on Iran to help them recognize that they will pay a cost for their continued pursuit of their nuclear program and while ignoring the valid concerns of the international community.
So we do recognize that at the present time we may not have the same balance in terms of the next step, but we’ll continue to talk to them about it. QUESTION:
P.J., now that the Administration has effectively zeroed out a manned lunar program, has any thought been given here about what effect that will have on the collaborative efforts that we have in terms of relations with Russia and Europe and maybe envisioned with China on the space effort? Is that going to affect it in any way?MR. CROWLEY:
Other than shelving our planned consulate on the moon, I don’t know that there’s any impact here. (Laughter.)QUESTION:
Would we be willing to piggy-back on a Shenzhou 8 or 9 if we want to get to the moon at anytime soon?MR. CROWLEY:
I wouldn't put an international frame on this. QUESTION:
Can we go to Iraq? QUESTION:
Yeah. Are you concerned that the Iraqi Government, Prime Minister Maliki, is going to try and get around this reinstatement of the 500 Sunni candidates? Are the Iraqis following their own constitutional procedures on this?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, certainly, the Iraqi court has made an important ruling and we think it’s a very useful step in moving ahead towards the March 7 election and it will open the way for an open and diverse field of candidates. This is an Iraqi decision. It’s an Iraqi process. We have supported making sure that this is a transparent, inclusive election that the Iraqi people can see as legitimate and credible.
Our efforts now are to help the Iraqi Government with out-of-country voting, working to make sure there are international observers present, and assisting with voter education initiatives. So as to what the government might do, we think they should make sure that this is – continues to be an open and diverse process. QUESTION:
Do you have any concerns that right now it’s not being so open and diverse, that they are trying to block this and that the consequences would go against your aims, which is to have a balanced -- MR. CROWLEY:
I think – again, these – they’re decisions for Iraq to make. But we’ve made our position clear that we support the widest possible field of candidates coming from each of the communities within Iraq so that the end result is an election that produces a government that can govern effectively and can attract the support of the Iraqi people. We would discourage any steps that we think will hamper the emergence of an effective, popular, and legitimate Iraqi government.QUESTION:
Did Vice President Hashimi express his concerns about what was going on among the – his Shiite colleagues and did he ask for any support?MR. CROWLEY:
I mean, we will continue to support Iraq as it moves ahead towards March 7th
and if there’s particular support that we can provide to Iraq, we will do so. Obviously, we have – one of the reasons why we’ve kept a significant number of international – U.S. and international forces in Iraq to make sure that we have the security we think the Iraqi people need when they go to vote on March 7th
Indians have offered to renew security talks with Pakistan. Do you have any view on this? I presume that you think it’s a good idea. MR. CROWLEY:
I think we – I’m – we are supportive of dialogue among India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as a key component of moving ahead and achieving a stable region. So to the extent that – I’m not familiar with that particular report, so I – but we certainly have been encouraging steps that both Pakistan and India could take to address mutual concerns and to take appropriate steps so that tensions can be reduced, cooperation can be increased, and as a result, you have a more stable region that is focused on threats – both interests that they share and threats that they share.QUESTION:
(The briefing was concluded at 1:51 p.m.)