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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 29, 2010

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Secretary Clinton's schedule for G8 in Ottawa
    • Secretary Clinton's schedule for Haiti Donors' Conference
    • Secretary Clinton will meet Foreign Minister Lavrov to express condolences for Russian bombings
    • Secretary Clinton Statement on Russian Metro Bombing
    • Readout of Secretary Clinton's phone call with Foreign Minister Davutoglu of Turkey
    • Turkey to make decision to return Ambassador/ Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Davutoglu converse on a regular basis/ Turkey is playing an increasingly important role in the region /We continue to press both Armenia and Turkey to move forward and ratify protocols
    • John Roos had discussion with the foreign ministry where they updated us on their thinking regarding the base realignment plan/ U.S. is listening attentively/ Will continue the conversations in the weeks ahead/ Secretary to talk to Foreign Minister Okada this evening
    • 123 Agreement in the interest of U.S. and India/ reflects a much broader, deeper, and expanded relationship between U.S. and India
    • President met with troops and commanders/ assessed conditions on the ground/ Met with President Karzai to discuss good governance and corruption
    • START Treaty settle on the primary text first/ want to have the complete package done as quickly as possible/ target is the end of April to submit to the Senate later in the spring,/ goal to have ratification before the end of the year
    • U.S. stands by and is ready to assist the Russian Government in any way they might value in response to the Metro bombings/ Unaware of any U.S. fatalities in bombings
    • Secretary Clinton has not had discussions with Israel since Netanyahu's visit last week/ Netanyahu had a number of detailed conversations last week - the President, the Secretary, George Mitchell/ U.S. hopeful to push peace process forward/ We will be in contact with the parties and others in the region in the next couple of weeks
    • Moving the Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem would have an inflammatory and destabilizing effect/ complicate our ability to play a helpful role
    • U.S. looks forward to having China send a delegation to the U.S. Nuclear Summit/ decision for the Chinese Government
    • South Korea is a member of the Nonproliferation Treaty/ has rights and responsibilities under that treaty
    • NLD made their decision/ is a reflection of the unwillingness of the government to take necessary steps to open up the political process and engage in serious dialogue key figures/ We understand and respect the decision/ not aware that we've had further direct discussions with Burma/ U.S. thinks that the electoral law as it was announced by Burma is not the right way to go
    • France is involved in a wide range of issues from climate change to Middle East peace/ shared interest in specific issues regarding Africa/ visit agenda will have wide ranging conversation/ defer to the White House on the particular agenda


1:06 p.m. EST

MR. CROWLEY: Continuing on, a few announcements before taking additional questions. The Secretary has arrived in Ottawa early this afternoon, where she’ll have a number of meetings throughout the rest of the day. She’s beginning with a meeting of the Arctic Five to focus on long-term trends in the Arctic and pursue discussion of potential cooperation in the area of science, natural resource development, public safety, and extended continental shelves. And Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has joined her for that meeting.

Later on this afternoon, then she’ll have a so-called Quint meeting focused on regional security issues, particularly the Balkans, with her counterparts from France, the UK, Germany, Italy, and the European Union, before beginning a G8 working dinner later tonight. And on the – as the foreign ministers tee-up discussion for the – ultimately for the G-8 Leaders Summit that will take place in June in Muskoka, Ontario, their focus will be on terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, and regional security issues.

This evening, the Secretary will have a bilateral with Foreign Minister Okada to discuss our alliance issues, and including the base realignment involving Futenma.

Later this week, when – the Secretary will arrive in New York tomorrow night, where we’ll – she will host, along with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and others, the Haiti Donors Conference. We expect more than a hundred countries to come together in New York to talk about and pledge support for Haiti’s future.

Ellen mentioned talking to her counterpart. Secretary Clinton will be with Foreign Minister Lavrov this afternoon in Canada, where she will have a chance personally to express the condolences of the American people for the tragic bombings in Moscow this morning. But, she also released a statement a short time ago where she said our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this morning’s bombings in Moscow, their families, and all the people of Russia. This brutal assault on innocent civilians is another reminder that terrorism is a threat of – threat to peace-loving people everywhere and must be met with unwavering resolve. And she will offer her personal condolences.

But together with our G8 partners, we will discuss how to further strengthen international counterterrorism coordination and cooperation. I was in Moscow earlier this month, and I know the resilience and determination of the Russian people. The United States stands with them today and every day in solidarity against violent extremism in all of its forms.

And finally, the Secretary yesterday had a – about 35-minute call with Foreign Minister Davutoglu of Turkey. They talked about the Minsk Group process, an updating on the – our efforts to resolve the situation involving Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as updating the – Foreign Minister Davutoglu on the Secretary’s recent trip to Moscow, Turkish-Armenian relations, and developments in the Middle East. It was a warm and constructive conversation, and both the minister and the Secretary underscored the importance of our strategic partnership between Turkey and the United States.

With that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: A couple of follow-ups on those statements.

MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: First of all, this is the second time in the last few months that the Secretary has met with the Japanese about this particular base issue. Are there any issues that need to be ironed-out or talks – I mean, what is the state of play with that?

And then also on the Turkish, did she ask him to return the ambassador?

MR. CROWLEY: This is a decision for Turkey to make, but it was part of the discussion, yes.

QUESTION: Well, did she make the argument that at this particular time, given everything that the U.S. and Turkey – all the important issues that they’re working on together, that we need an ambassador?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, certainly, from our standpoint, we understand the reasons why Turkey recalled its ambassador, and we hope that the ambassador will be returned as quickly as Turkey feels comfortable.

On the issue of Futenma, going back to Friday, our Ambassador John Roos had discussion with the foreign ministry where they updated us on their thinking regarding the base realignment plan. We will be evaluating their ideas and will hold further discussions with Japan on this topic. I think there was also a meeting this morning at the Pentagon as well. So we are listening attentively to what Japan is telling us, and we’ll continue the conversations in the weeks ahead.

QUESTION: Does that suggest then that you’re flexible about what Japan might be offering?

MR. CROWLEY: We were asked to evaluate their thinking. And, as the Japanese Government has said, they’ve got an extensive process underway. We continue to compare notes on the way forward, and we’ll have further discussions on it.

QUESTION: Does it remain the U.S. position that the 2006 agreement is the superior agreement? Is the --

MR. CROWLEY: We haven’t changed our position, but obviously, we indicated we would listen to the Japanese current thinking on the subject.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, was the premise – was this meeting previously scheduled, or did this kind of come up in relation --

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a very good question.

QUESTION: -- in relation to – it sounds like --

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, the G8 meeting provides an opportunity. I think given that the foreign ministry had updated us on Friday, it was appropriate for us to have follow-on meetings at higher levels at the Pentagon this morning and in Ottawa this afternoon. It reflects the importance with which we take this issue. I would just caution that this is only one of a number of subjects that we expect the Secretary to talk to Foreign Minister Okada about this evening.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: P.J., thank you. Two quick question. One, as far as the U.S.-India Civil Agreement is concerned, will it bring more, what do you call, trust and understanding between the two countries or any change in the policy of the relations between U.S. and India because of this big hurdle which is now out of the way?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think it’s a reflection of the deepening of our relationship. We think that the 123 Agreement is in the interest of both the United States, India, and has broader impact as well. It was an agreement that required some follow-up, some detail. Obviously, we had to advise our Congress about it. Likewise, the Indian Government worked through the issues. So I think anytime that you not only reach an agreement but then can see it begin to be enacted, that develops trust and confidence on both sides. And I think this reflects a much broader, deeper, and expanded relationship between our two countries.

QUESTION: A quick one. Surprise visit by the President to Afghanistan, what do you make out of this? Is something big going on in the area, or the President just had a really – a big message for the Karzai government and also regional powers?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think first and foremost, the Secretary – I’m sorry, the President had looked forward to the opportunity to visit the troops. Obviously, we have adapted our strategy. He wanted the opportunity to meet with the troops, meet with General McChrystal, meet with Ambassador Eikenberry, and check firsthand how our revised strategy is going and get from them, how they see developments on the ground. But given his presence there, he had the opportunity to meet with President Karzai and discuss the importance of good governance, combating corruption, appointing effective officials, and delivering for the Afghan people. And that is a process that is ongoing in places like Marjah, looking ahead in places like Kandahar. But I think this is just a reflection of the importance that the President attaches not only to our revised strategy, the military and civilian components of it, but the burden that it does place on our troops and their families.

QUESTION: I hope you have some Osama bin Laden soon.


QUESTION: I hope you have Osama bin Laden coming soon.

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) We all hope for that day.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, P.J. Could you elaborate a little bit more on what Under Secretary Tauscher was saying about how the technical annexes to START won’t be completed until, perhaps, the end of April after signing the protocol and the main part of the treaty? She was talking a little bit tongue-in-cheek about the types of things in the technical annexes. Could you elaborate really on what is contained in –

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, you had someone who has far more expertise having worked specifically on those documents. No, this is actually the way that treaties normally are worked out. You settle on the primary text first and then there are some details that the experts follow up. We want to have the complete package done as quickly as possible. Her target is the end of April so that we can see submission to the Senate later in the Spring, and ratification, we hope, before the end of the year.

QUESTION: But could you say a little bit more about what really is in the technical annex, just for those of us who don’t know?

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t. (Laughter.) I’m sorry. That’s a simple answer.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary had any discussions with any of her Israeli colleagues since Prime Minister Netanyahu has left town?

MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Well, can I follow-up on that? What is the status of this would-be agreement that’s supposedly being negotiated between the U.S. and Israel on confidence-building measures that the Israelis and Palestinians could take in order to move everybody to talks?

MR. CROWLEY: Would-be agreement.

QUESTION: Well, you know, supposed agreement that’s in the process of being negotiated. Or is it –

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we obviously had a number of detailed conversations last week – the President, the Secretary, George Mitchell. I think we are hopeful that we can push this process forward after taking a break for the holiday period in the region. As to how the – we and the Israelis and the Palestinians continue to view this, we will be in touch with them soon after the holiday and we’ll see where they are. We want to get this process moving forward.

I think we still – while we thought that the discussions here last week made progress, I think we still think there is work to be done. And we hope that the parties will repeat to us in the near future what they have said to us in the recent past, which is they are ready to move forward with these proximity talks. But we will continue to push both sides on that aspect of confidence-building and taking the kind of steps that we think create the atmosphere for proximity talks to ultimately lead to direct negotiations.

QUESTION: But you are in direct negotiations with the – well, I don’t know if you want to call them negotiations – direct talks with the Israelis since the meeting with President Obama about specific measures that both sides --

MR. CROWLEY: There were some things that we laid out in the initial phone call between the Secretary and Prime Minister Netanyahu. As I said, there have been a number of follow-up discussions on those ideas and other issues. And this is still a work in progress.


MR. CROWLEY: Bill, I’ll come – we’ll come back to you.

QUESTION: One more question on India and the reprocessing agreement. How did they get over the problem of suspension of reprocessing rights, which is a concern that the Indian Government had? And secondly, does it apply only to one facility or all facilities? That’s another outstanding question.

MR. CROWLEY: I would not – other than brilliant diplomacy, I would not offer how we got over particular hurdles. I think we’re satisfied that the agreement is moving forward, but as to particulars, I’ll be happy to defer to others who know more than I do.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. Will you make the text of the agreement on reprocessing available to the media?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. I mean, this is an agreement that we’ve negotiated over an extensive period of time. Many of the elements of this agreement are fairly well-known. But let me take the question as to if the latest understanding is a public document.

QUESTION: P.J., do you have any more details on the subway bombing in Moscow? And are there people going from here, from State or from the other entities, to Moscow to inform themselves (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: As Ellen Tauscher told you – and anyone who’s got a relationship with Russia has reached out, first to express our condolences, but obviously, we stand by and are ready to assist the Russian Government in any way they might see value. As to the particulars, I would defer to authorities in Russia.

QUESTION: And secondly, on – the Arab League Summit decided not to make any statement encouraging the Palestinians to go enter into negotiations. Is that a setback for the attempt to bring the parties to the table again?

MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t say so. We will be in contact with the parties and others in the region in the next couple of weeks. We still think the – ultimately, it’s vitally important for the parties to move forward with these proximity talks, begin to address the substance within the core issues of the peace process, and move to direct negotiations as quickly as possible. We don’t see an alternative to this course of action.


QUESTION: Are you aware of any U.S. citizens who were injured or killed in the Moscow (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: So far, no.

QUESTION: And then also, on Mexico, do you have any more information about Mexican authorities have arrested or detained a person of interest in the killing of --

MR. CROWLEY: We will defer to Mexican authorities at this point.

QUESTION: Going back to the Middle East, is there any consideration into possibly moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

MR. CROWLEY: Let me read you the guidance. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Since the passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, successive administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have utilized the waiver authority within the legislation to protect critical U.S. national security interests, most crucially to preserve our ability to work with the parties and the key states in the region to realize a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

They recognized then, as we do now, that moving the Embassy would have an inflammatory and destabilizing effect, and complicate our ability to play a helpful role in meeting these goals.

QUESTION: Is there any (inaudible) – is there any discussions from Congress, from those who might identify themselves as friends of Israel, on moving the Embassy?

MR. CROWLEY: I can read this statement more dramatically if you like. (Laughter.) I assure you, I am not saying anything else that’s not in that statement.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: You are under pressure from Congress, I mean, especially in this limit – in this new kind of environment, like, following the tension with Israel recently and this kind of reiteration of Congress – of its support by Israel. There have been some in Congress that are trying to resurrect this idea.

MR. CROWLEY: We understand that there are 75 different views of this in various form – in various parts of the Congress.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: The Chinese have not yet announced who they’re going to send to this nuclear summit. So does that reflect issues between the U.S. and China regarding nuclear security and nonproliferation? And do you feel as if progress is being made with China on these issues, given that there have been a lot of tensions recently?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I read that particular article with interest as well. I think we look forward to having China send a delegation, but as to who will lead it, that’s a decision for China to make.

QUESTION: Do you think you can allow South Korea to reprocess – pyroprocess the spent nuclear fuel like you did to India?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, South Korea is, I believe, a member of the Nonproliferation Treaty, which means they have rights and responsibilities under that treaty. As to particular plans that North Korea – South Korea has on civilian nuclear energy, that’s up to them. But I don’t have any comment beyond that.

QUESTION: Today, Burma’s opposition party headed by Aung San Suu Kyi had their meeting and they formally announced that they will be boycotting the elections. What’s the State Department’s reaction to that? And what are our next steps that we take personally on it?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, that – I mean, that was a decision for the NLD to make, and we think it’s regrettable that the – this is a reflection of the unwillingness of the Government in Burma to take the – what we thought were the necessary steps to open up the political process and to engage in serious dialogue with not only key figures like Aung San Suu Kyi, her political movement, others, as well as the various ethnic groups that want to have a say in Burma’s future. We understand and respect the decision.

QUESTION: Well, can I follow up?


QUESTION: You know, you had this announcement and subsequent engagement with Burma between --

MR. CROWLEY: Ongoing engagement.

QUESTION: Well, ongoing engagement with Burma. I mean, when they made this announcement about the kind of election rules and regulations and standards, did you reach out in the vein of this new engagement that you thought --

MR. CROWLEY: We offered our views on that. And we think it is inadequate and disappointing. We – I’m not aware that we’ve had further direct discussions with Burma since then. I wouldn’t rule those out in the future. But we obviously think that the electoral law, as it was announced by Burma is not the right way to go.

QUESTION: Well, wasn’t the whole – what is one of the major anyway reasons for the engagement, not withstanding national security interest, but that you were hoping that your engagement with the military junta there would enable you to push forward your desire for more democracy in the country?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, and that remains our desire. I don’t know that we expected necessarily everything to be resolved in one or two or three meetings. That said, we think that this is an opportunity lost in terms of Burma’s ability to demonstrate that it is willing to contemplate a different course of action on a different relationship with its own people and other groups within its borders. And that will remain our view and that will be something that we will be talking to Burma about and we’ll deliver that clear message when it’s appropriate.

QUESTION: Was the conversation on Turkey – did you say that was a phone call?

MR. CROWLEY: It was.

QUESTION: Who called whom?

MR. CROWLEY: I think the Secretary initiated the call.

QUESTION: Well, was there a change that prompted that?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not – I think so, but I’m not 100 percent sure.

QUESTION: Was there some change in the situation regarding the Armenian genocide resolution that prompted that? Because I thought the Turks said that they would not send their ambassador back until they know that that resolution is going nowhere.

MR. CROWLEY: And that, as I said, is a judgment for Turkey to make. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Davutoglu – they converse on a regular basis. When you look at the issues that Turkey is engaged in, they’ve had their own dialogue with Iran, their own dialogue with Syria. They’ve had in the not-too-distant past constructive relations with Israel. So they are playing an increasingly important role in the region. And they are clearly linked to something we have spent a lot of time and attention focused on, which is improving relations between Turkey and Armenia. Many of you were with the Secretary when we had the agreement on normalization. We continue to press both Armenia and Turkey to move forward and ratify those protocols.

And likewise, we are, along with our fellow members in the Minsk process, involved in how to sort through the difficult and complex issue regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. So this is just part of the ongoing strategic nature of our relationship.

QUESTION: But was this the first time that she had spoken with him since the Armenian genocide resolution passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a very good question. We’ll take that question.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Who else did she speak to, P.J., over the weekend? I mean, it seems that she also called the President of Lebanon. Did she make a whole series --

MR. CROWLEY: That was on Friday.

QUESTION: Did she make a whole series over-the-weekend of calls to the Middle East?

MR. CROWLEY: I want to say she talked to the Foreign Minister of Belgium over-the-weekend as well. I think maybe the Governor of Sao Paulo.


QUESTION: South Korea --

MR. CROWLEY: She’s a busy woman. She barely has a --

QUESTION: Well, I was just wondering specifically on the --

MR. CROWLEY: -- day off.

QUESTION: -- Middle East.

QUESTION: South Korea’s defense minister said he did not rule out North Korea’s involvement in the sinking of the South Korean vessel, Yellow Sea. So do you have any comment?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’ll defer to South Korea to make their judgment. I don’t think we’re aware that there were any factor in that other than the ship itself.

QUESTION: Mr. Sarkozy is coming to Washington tomorrow. Given that we’ve been talking a lot about nuclear nonproliferation, et cetera, are you seeing the French coming here as – is there going to more constructive comment and talk about subjects like Iran and the French role that can be played there?

MR. CROWLEY: I have no doubt that – I’ll defer to the White House in turn for this specific agenda. But France, as other counterparts in the EU, are involved in a wide-range of issues from climate change to Middle East peace, to the – our progress in terms of sanctions and Iran. I wouldn’t – we have a shared interest in specific issues regarding Africa. So I think it will be a wide-ranging conversation, but I’ll defer to the White House on the particular agenda.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)

DPB # 45

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