(Today's briefing was done off-camera.)
1:40 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: I think the first thing that we obviously all want to talk about is the welcome news from the United States Senate last night as they voted to confirm Ambassador Ian Kelly as the new U.S. Representative to the OSCE. And we will begin our direct negotiations with Ian so he – on his first briefing back here in the briefing room as the ambassador once he arrives in Vienna and presents his credentials.
QUESTION: Once he figures out what OSCE stands for. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, that’s right. I think Ian actually knows – he can speak OSCE in multiple languages. But we should all plan an early visit to Vienna.
But continuing on, Kurt Campbell has arrived in Bangkok. He’ll meet with senior Thai foreign affairs, security, and economic officials. Then he moves on to Brunei tomorrow. Scott Gration is traveling to Doha today. He met with Kenyan Minister of Trade Amos Kimunya to discuss development and infrastructure in Southern Sudan. He also had meetings with former Kenyan president Daniel Moi and General Lazarus Sumbeiywo to get their insights and perspectives as the figures in the – key figures in the creation and implementation of the 2005 North-South CPA.
We certainly congratulate President Sebastian Pinera on his inauguration and the Chilean people for another successful election process, and we look forward to working with President Pinera to deepen our partnership and advance common goals for the benefit of our two peoples. And we especially wish him well in this time, given the great challenges in the wake of the earthquake.
QUESTION: Sir, just to clarify something on the announcements, did you say that Scott Gration was on his way to Doha?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. So – but then you gave us the list of people he had met with in Southern Sudan. So what’s he doing in Doha?
MR. CROWLEY: I think he’ll be there – we’ve talked about this previously when we announced his trip, but I think he’s there to discuss with officials from the south and from the Sudanese Government ongoing status of their implementation of the CPA.
QUESTION: Proximity talks – have you heard anything directly from, or has Ambassador Mitchell heard anything directly from the Palestinians about their participation? And if they are pulling out, do we have any sense of what can be done to get them back?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that that report that’s been circulating for the last 24 hours is accurate. We’ve heard nothing to indicate that they’ve pulled out.
QUESTION: Does that include the Vice President? There’s one wire story – said that Abbas had called the Vice President and told him he wouldn’t be participating.
MR. CROWLEY: I am not aware that the Palestinians have informed a U.S. official that they are pulling out of the proximity talks. I think the Vice President has arrived in Amman, but he, I think, in his speech today in Israel, he reiterated our condemnation of the announcement. Obviously, it’s had an impact in the region. Today here at the State Department, between George Mitchell and Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman, we are reaching out to leaders throughout the region to assess where everybody is in the process and to determine how best to move forward.
Clearly, this action or this announcement was counterproductive. It’s made the environment more difficult. But we still continue to feel that this underscores why we need to see the discussions that are underway continue, ultimately, to formal negotiations that can resolve these complex issues once and for all. So --
QUESTION: You said Mitchell, Feltman, and Clinton met today?
MR. CROWLEY: No. Mitchell and Feltman have been on the phone throughout the day, talking to leaders in the region.
QUESTION: Can you be more specific, either now or can you get us a list of who they have spoken with, please?
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll try.
QUESTION: Do you think that the Palestinians – that the Israelis should make some gesture to the Palestinians in order to try – you know, beyond what they’ve said about it being a mistake and the – to try to soften the blow and, you know, prove to the Palestinians and the Arabs that they really want to go forward? Have you asked them to make a gesture?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it is in both the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ interest to move forward in this process. I think that is our key message. There are always going to be bumps in the road, but the only way to resolve these difficult issues is through discussions that lead to formal negotiations that lead to a peace agreement that addresses all of the key issues.
So – but – it really is – it’s not about us obtaining a gesture from one side or the other. It is about a process where – and through that process, you build trust that both sides are willing to take the difficult steps, to show determination, to gain confidence in each other, reassert their commitment, and ultimately begin to address these fundamental issues, resolve them, make the difficult compromises, reach a peace agreement that’s in everybody’s interest.
So, I – we’re obviously aware of statements made by various Israeli officials in the aftermath of this announcement, but it is ultimately about moving forward in the process because that is – absent the process and absent progress, there’s no means of ending the conflict.
QUESTION: P.J., can I ask you about this case in Ireland about this --
QUESTION: Can we ask --
QUESTION: Sure. Yeah.
QUESTION: -- one more on this? President Abbas has told the Arab League that he’s not going back to the negotiations, in the negotiations with Israelis?
MR. CROWLEY: We have not heard that. I understand that there are reports out there. We have not heard that. I mean, to be clear, right now – I mean, we – as I said, we’re on the phone with all of the parties, other interested nations. We’re hearing from them as to how they see the situation in light of the events of the last 48 hours. But George Mitchell is planning to be in the region next week and to – for further discussions on these issues. So we remain committed to the process that is underway.
QUESTION: Have the Palestinians directly told you that those reports are inaccurate, and that they are – since those reports came out, have they confirmed to you that they’re still in the talks?
MR. CROWLEY: As far as I know, we are still moving forward. We have not heard from the Palestinians that they have pulled out of the Proximity Talks.
QUESTION: About this Jihad Jane case in Ireland, apparently an American citizen or American – maybe a dual national – has been arrested in Ireland in connection with this and another in Yemen. I was wondering if you had been aware of this and if U.S. officials had any consular access.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take the question. I don’t know.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Can I be more specific about – maybe it’s the same case in Yemen, maybe it’s a different case. The FBI says that they are looking at the case of a 26-year-old American named Sharif Mobley of Buena, New Jersey. So my question is: Can you confirm an American citizen has been detained in Yemen? Can you confirm his identity as Sharif Mobley?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll tell you what. I’ll take the question as to whether – what we know from an Embassy standpoint. Obviously, I would encourage you to call the FBI as well.
MR. CROWLEY: We probably should announce this at some point. (Laughter.) I mean, the Secretary will be going to Moscow next week for the Quartet meeting. She will have a range of meetings while there.
QUESTION: This is a question on Japan, quickly. It’s likely in the next few days the Japanese Government will officially confirm that they paid the U.S. $60 million to help cover the cost of conversion of Okinawa to Japanese – to Japan. Do you have any comments on that? Do you expect it to be – have any effect on U.S.-Japan relations or the Futenma talks?
MR. CROWLEY: As to that, I would – I mean, I think this is a matter for the Japanese Government to explain.
QUESTION: Okay. Is that all? Nothing --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you have any update on Kim Kye Gwan’s --
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: -- visit? Are you still considering whether you’re going to issue a visa to him or not?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. We’ve made no decision.
QUESTION: I couldn’t hear that.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ve made no decision on Kim Kye Gwan.
QUESTION: I’m sorry, that was a request initially?
MR. CROWLEY: I didn’t say that. Requests are confidential.
QUESTION: Just back to Mitchell and Feltman.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you making the calls in light – or have they been on the phone? And when you say the events over the last 48 hours – the hours in my head are getting a little fuzzy – but is it – as a result of what happened with Vice President Biden and the announcement and all that – and the housing announcement, or also about the announcement of the resumption of talks? Or basically, you’re trying to do damage control about what happened with the Israelis, I guess I’m asking.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, clearly the announcement has had an impact in the region. There are – and we are in touch with the stakeholders in the process and trying to access the impact and what it means about the environment as we look to next week and George Mitchell’s trip to the region.
QUESTION: When does he get there? I’m sorry, did you say?
MR. CROWLEY: I haven’t – we haven’t detailed his specific timing yet.
QUESTION: And will you put out a – you – will you put – you said you’ll try and get the call?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I think by tomorrow, we’ll have a stronger sense of what the specific timing of his trip next week is.
QUESTION: But the calls – will you put that out if you get it?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. I’m not promising, but I’ll ask.
QUESTION: And he is going – he is planning to go as planned?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: On that Yemen case that Charlie asked about, are you able to say anything about what the man has been charged with or what you think he was up to or --
MR. CROWLEY: I didn’t. Like I say, I’ll take the question as to whether we are aware that a U.S. citizen is – has been detained in Yemen. And if so, if we have any information on that, we’ll pass it on.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on Campbell’s trip to Tokyo, any details, what they’ll talk about or when he’s going?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we’re doing – we’re doing this like, sequentially. (Laughter.) So I’ve got you – I’ve got Kurt as far Brunei. Beyond that, I’ll take you day to day. I don’t have in front of me when he – well, let’s see, I do actually. I’m sorry. He will arrive in Tokyo on March 17th.
QUESTION: And he’s returning --
MR. CROWLEY: I think that’s his last stop.
QUESTION: Last stop in --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you know how long he’ll be there for?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t.
QUESTION: And where’s he going to be in between Brunei tomorrow and Tokyo the 17th?
MR. CROWLEY: Let’s see. Okay. He’s in Bangkok today and tomorrow. He’ll be in Bandar Seri Begawan the 12th through the 14th, Jakarta 14th through 15th, returning to Bangkok on the 15th and 16th, and then in Tokyo on the 17th.
QUESTION: Tokyo on just the 17th?
MR. CROWLEY: (Nodding.)
MR. CROWLEY: Not that I’m aware of.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:55 p.m.)
DPB # 34
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