1:15 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Just continuing on with a few announcements before taking your questions. Secretary of State Clinton will meet the afternoon with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon here at the State Department on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. We expect they’ll discuss a range of multilateral issues, including the President’s Prague agenda and Iran.
Secretary Clinton, Deputy Secretary Steinberg, Assistant Secretary Phil Gordon, over the weekend, all visited the Polish Embassy here in Washington to personally express the condolences of the Department and the United States over the death of President Kaczynski and members of his delegation. As the Secretary said in her statement on Saturday, this tragedy cut short these lives that will be felt deeply across the world, but their legacy will live on in a free and flourishing Poland. But we certainly express our sorrow and share the sorrow of the people of Poland over this great tragedy.
The United States stands fully with the people of Northern Ireland in rejecting those who would continue to use violence as a tool. We will continue to support ongoing efforts of the people of Northern Ireland to build and sustain a thriving, confident, and shared society. And the car bomb today in Northern Ireland should in no way deter momentum towards realizing the promise of the Good Friday and St. Andrews agreements, including the conclusion of the devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster to Belfast, as occurred today.
Special Envoy Scott Gration is on his way back to the United States with voting underway in Sudan. I think we’re satisfied with the start of the process, but we’ll refrain from commenting specifically on how it’s going until voting is concluded later this week.
Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson has arrived in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, where he’ll meet tomorrow with Foreign Minister Basile Ikouebe and President Denis Sassou Nguesso.
Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Bob Hormats addressed Vietnam’s Foreign Trade University today to highlight the growth and opportunity and shared prosperity in the U.S.-Vietnam partnership. Thanks to a historic bilateral trade agreement, trade has increased over the past eight years by 700 percent, from just over $2 billion in 2001 to nearly $16 billion in 2009, clearly benefiting both countries.
And finally, over the weekend, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women Issues Melanne Verveer started a two-week trip to Lithuania, Russia, and Egypt. The ambassador will meet with senior government officials and nongovernmental leaders in all countries to discuss progress to achieving women’s empowerment in the political, social, and economic arenas; combating gender-based violence; and improving maternal health.
QUESTION: On Russia, really briefly. The Embassy announced that there’s going to be a team going out there this week to discuss the adoption issue.
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s next week.
QUESTION: Or next week, sorry.
MR. CROWLEY: But there will be a team from the State Department. And in fact, this trip was being put together even before last week’s incident. But Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Michael Kirby will lead a team to Russia. We’re planning to send the team. I think the arrangements are still being worked out. But clearly, this latest situation will be among those things discussed.
QUESTION: Did – is this something that Melanne Verveer would also take up when she’s there?
MR. CROWLEY: It – I wouldn’t say it – it’s possible. I mean, I think it would be something that if the Russians bring it up, we’ll be happy to discuss it.
QUESTION: Right. Okay, and then just one more briefly. Scott Gration was out there for – what, two weeks?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And he’s decided to come back before the election is even over?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, he did a great deal of --
QUESTION: I’m not suggesting he didn’t do a lot of work while he was there, but I’m just curious about the timing. I mean, he was there for the entire run-up to this and the whole question --
MR. CROWLEY: Right.
QUESTION: -- of whether it was going to be delayed or not. And then all of a sudden, it happens and he takes off after they’ve said they’re going to extend it for two days?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, part of what he worked on was to work with the parties to help prepare for the elections, clarify the stance of various participants in the election. He participated in a variety of training sessions for the various international and domestic observers who are doing their work now. I think he basically --
QUESTION: Right, and now he’s --
MR. CROWLEY: His work was preparatory to the launching of the election itself.
QUESTION: Well – but why did he decide to leave now when he’s been there --
MR. CROWLEY: His work is done.
QUESTION: Well, isn’t his work also – wasn’t – isn’t his work also to help determine whether this election is free, fair, credible?
MR. CROWLEY: Actually, that’s the work of the formal observers from the United States and international community and the private sector that are involved in this. Obviously, Scott will pick up the process in the aftermath of the election, but I think he felt that--
QUESTION: Well, then --
MR. CROWLEY: -- basically the focus of his trip was to help Sudan prepare for this election. Now that the election is underway, he felt that his work was done for the moment.
QUESTION: Okay, what do you make of the extension by two days the decision to delay?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we had anticipated that what Sudan had pledged, that there would be a three-day block, and that inside their – that process was in any case where there was a delay in beginning formal voting, that there would be an extension on the back end.
QUESTION: On the same subject, a lot of these Sudan activist groups are saying that this was a sham and the government never really relented on allowing the opposition to have media coverage and that it’s already clear this was a setback for the whole CPA, including the referendum that they’re going to have.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we have said, we’ve had concerns about the atmosphere and the environment in the run-up to the election, and we will evaluate what happens now. Let’s let the election actually occur. Let’s have the international observers report on what they saw, and then we’ll evaluate the results from there.
That said, the election, as we have noted, is a significant step towards full implementation of the CPA. Obviously, it’s going to be a difficult election for Sudan to carry out. They haven’t done this in a while. So we will not be surprised if there are irregularities. There’s some evidence that there have been some difficulties in the first two days of voting. But it is important that the election reflect the will of the Sudanese people and we’ll have more to say once the voting is completed.
QUESTION: So just to follow up on that, the U.S. position is that we don’t know whether or not this election will reflect the will of the Sudanese people yet, that that’s a decision that has yet to be made based on reports coming in from poll monitors; is that right?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think that it’s a little bit – we understand the challenge that this represents for Sudan. We understand that in the last few years, there have been significant conflict. But that said, this is an important step for Sudan. But as to the particulars of the voting, I think – we think it’s appropriate, lets the voting take place, let the observers tell us what they saw, and then we’ll evaluate what the consequences are. But we would like to see the result reflect the will of the Sudanese people, understanding that given more than two decades since they’ve held an election, we recognize there are going to be difficulties.
QUESTION: Is it the U.S. position that the current difficulties we’ve seen in the run-up to the election are more of a logistical challenge and that, as you keep on repeating, they haven’t done this in a while --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- or more a product of the Khartoum Government actually rigging the system?
MR. CROWLEY: The – well, the – rigging is a loaded term. I mean, there certainly have been challenges in preparing for the election. There’s certainly more that the Government of Sudan could have done and should have done to create an appropriate environment for the election. And – but beyond that, the people of – we think the people of Sudan want to see this election take place.
That’s one of the reasons why we have supported this election as part of the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement. And this election is an important milestone because it is the first of a number of steps that Sudan is going to take in terms of determining its future. Clearly, we’re focused as well on this election and what it says about the institutions – election institutions – that will be vital as we look towards January and the upcoming referendum on the future of Southern Sudan. So we thought it was appropriate to have this election, notwithstanding the likelihood there would be considerable difficulties.
MR. CROWLEY: You had the – our resident expert on India standing in front of you --
QUESTION: Yes, I know. Thank you very much. Yeah, he was good.
P.J., what I’m asking is two-part question. One, if on the sideline U.S., after meeting that the President met with and Secretary met with both leaders, India and Pakistan – if there is anything on the sidelines that U.S. trying to bring them together here, India and Pakistan, as far as their defenses are concerned? And second, part of the second is that what Indian officials are saying now they are focusing more on Headley case because they believe Headley has more to talk other than what he has pled guilty, and they need really access. What I’m asking you if Indian Government officially had made any extradition or any access request officially.
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my – obviously, we have kept India apprised of the – our ongoing investigation with respect to Mr. Headley. As to what has been discussed here this week, I haven’t got a readout of the bilateral yesterday between the President and the prime minister. But I think this will be part of an ongoing conversation between India and the United States, given the shared importance of combating terrorism here and there. I’m not aware that we’re going to try to bring together Pakistani and Indian officials here in Washington, but we continue to encourage both sides to find ways to improve their bilateral dialogue and we will continue to encourage them.
QUESTION: But would you like them to meet here – India and Pakistani leaders -- prime ministers?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we certainly have encouraged previous meetings that have taken place between Indian officials and Pakistani officials. We think that’s vitally important. But I’m not aware that any of that’s going to happen here.
QUESTION: A question on Poland. Could you tell who’s going to head the U.S. delegation for the funeral for the Polish president?
MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, we will have a high-level delegation there. I think we’re still sorting through who will lead that delegation.
QUESTION: On that, actually, are you aware of any U.S. Government policy regarding plane flights like this in terms of U.S. Government officials, if you – if there’s a policy about putting the President and so many top officials on a single plane, do you know of any restriction like that? I mean, I know the Secretary of State often flies with the President on Air Force One, but you don’t often have virtually the entire leadership on the same plane at the same time. Do you know if there is anything like that?
MR. CROWLEY: The only policy I know is what happens in and around the State of the Union, so I don’t know if there is a particular prohibition. But we are – as a government, we are continually evaluating our contingency plans for how we would function in the event of a major attack. That is certainly something that that planning has accelerated in the aftermath of 2001.
QUESTION: I have a question again. There have been reports in the Arab press, and I guess now in Foreign Policy as well, that Syrian-modified SCUD-D missiles have been moved from Syria into Lebanon to be given to Hezbollah and that they’re in the Bekaa Valley. Do you have any information about that?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not.
QUESTION: Can you take the question?
MR. CROWLEY: Probably not. (Laughter.) I don’t know how I could answer that question without getting into intelligence matters, which we generally do not share at the podium.
MR. CROWLEY: I think if you’re referring to – Ambassador Wi Sung-lac is here. I’m not – I haven’t got clarity on all of the meetings that will be taking place this week with various officials, so I haven’t seen a list on Deputy Secretary Steinberg’s encounters, but I do know he’ll be with Steve Bosworth and Sung Kim. We will be meeting sometime this week with Ambassador Wi Sung-lac, who is the special representative for Korean peninsula peace and security affairs. But we’ll – I’ll take the question as to whether Mr. Steinberg is meeting with him.
QUESTION: Can you specify on the topics, specific topics?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sure we will talk about, among other things, the current state of affairs with respect to the Six-Party process.
QUESTION: Do you have anything – any reaction to – there’s a published report that the Venezuelan Government is encouraging street art that’s very disrespectful of U.S. officials, and of course – but also discouraging other types of expression.
MR. CROWLEY: It won’t be the first time that the Chavez government has infringed upon freedom of expression.
QUESTION: Yeah, during the briefing by White House officials Friday about the nuclear summit, one of the officials said that the Secretary will sign today with the Russian foreign minister an agreement on the plutonium disposition?
MR. CROWLEY: Actually, she will do that tomorrow.
QUESTION: Not today?
MR. CROWLEY: Not today.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Kyrgyzstan for a second?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you really not see any Russian hand in what happened?
MR. CROWLEY: I really will not go beyond what Assistant Secretary Blake said.
QUESTION: Well, remember what he said, which was nothing, and I’m a bit concerned that --
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I’m a bit concerned that you don’t know --
MR. CROWLEY: Put it this way --
QUESTION: -- how to answer the question, so you’re not, when there seems to be pretty good anecdotal evidence, at least a report out there --
MR. CROWLEY: Put it this way --
QUESTION: -- that there was a hand.
MR. CROWLEY: Assistant Secretary Blake is going to Bishkek this afternoon. Our Ambassador, who has been – was here in Washington anticipating the bilateral consultation has just arrived back in Kyrgyzstan over the weekend. I’m sure that will be one of the issues that Ambassador – or Assistant Secretary Blake will be able to evaluate once he gets on the ground.
QUESTION: So if the Ambassador is gone and the Assistant Secretary isn’t there, the entire apparatus --
MR. CROWLEY: No, I’m just saying – I’m just saying that we --
QUESTION: -- for U.S. Government analysis is gone?
MR. CROWLEY: -- will – one of the reasons going there is to assess the situation on the ground and evaluate what we can do.
QUESTION: But --
MR. CROWLEY: We’re just not prepared to make a comment on all of the particulars about how this evolved over the past few days.
QUESTION: Well, can you say whether you’re concerned or not that the Russians may have had something to do with this?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, I’m just going to leave it where Bob left it.
QUESTION: All right. And then one more on this is --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: The answer, which has flummoxed me for years in dealing with this, is that response --
MR. CROWLEY: We do not, Matt, want to keep you flummoxed.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: That is a --
QUESTION: Well, please, maybe you’ll be – maybe I will – you will be able to unflummox me. (Laughter.) This idea that you recognize --
MR. CROWLEY: Is that a verb? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: It is now.
MR. CROWLEY: To unflummox?
QUESTION: It is now. This –
QUESTION: This – deflummox, right – this idea that you recognize states and not governments has always seemed to me to be a very disingenuous and convenient way for you guys to – when you don’t want to talk about something or condemn something, you say, oh, well, we recognize – we don’t recognize governments; we recognize states.
But in fact, in a lot of cases, you do recognize governments and you – in Honduras, that was the case, in Guinea-Bissau, that was the case. I’m talking about recent events now. Can you tell me what it means to recognize a state rather than a government? Does that mean that you have an embassy in a country, so you recognize it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it is not for us to take sides or to choose among competing factions.
QUESTION: Okay. No, I understand that. Well, what does recognition of a state entail?
MR. CROWLEY: Recognition of a state?
MR. CROWLEY: We have diplomatic relations with them.
QUESTION: Okay. So you don’t recognize North Korea as a state?
MR. CROWLEY: And those who are members of the United Nations, for example. So we may not have diplomatic relations with a country, but we recognize that that country does exist. North Korea is a country. We don’t have diplomatic relations with them. But recognition has different terminology in terms of the relations and diplomatic engagement that we have with a particular country.
QUESTION: Well, for years, with Afghanistan, they didn’t have – they didn’t – they weren’t in the UN, or they were represented at the UN by the non-Taliban government. Did you recognize Afghanistan?
MR. CROWLEY: We did not recognize the – we don’t have diplomatic relations with the Taliban.
QUESTION: Okay. So you didn’t recognize – you didn’t recognize Afghanistan as a state? I think that’s correct.
MR. CROWLEY: Look, I understand your interest in a history lesson here. Let me --
QUESTION: No, no, I don’t want a history lesson. I want to know what it means to recognize a country as a state.
MR. CROWLEY: Let me --
QUESTION: Are there any countries out there right now that consider themselves countries that you don’t recognize as a state, maybe like Palestinian Authority --
MR. CROWLEY: I think the magic number is 192.
QUESTION: Okay. Are there any countries out there that you do not recognize as a state?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take the question as to whether there is a particular land mass on the face of the earth that we don’t recognize as a --
QUESTION: Well, Somalia? You don’t have an embassy there.
MR. CROWLEY: Somalia is a country. It does not actually have a national government.
QUESTION: Well, it does. It’s a government that you recognize. I’m sorry. So I’ll stop right now.
MR. CROWLEY: There is a transitional --
QUESTION: Maybe we can get – I would like to get an answer --
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I would like to get an answer to this, because --
MR. CROWLEY: Anyway, look. Let’s stick to what generated your question. There is a transitional administration that has taken over operation of government ministries. We recognize that reality. It’s not for us to say that today, the leader of Kyrgyzstan is Otunbayeva versus Bakiev. What we recognize is there’s a process underway that, within six months time, will produce a new government, one that we hope will be more democratic. We will support that process. In the meantime, as we said last week, we support the people of Kyrgyzstan and their desire for a more transparent and responsible government that reflects their will.
QUESTION: Would you entertain a “Thank you?”
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:39 p.m.)
DPB # 54
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