MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Several things to talk about before taking your questions.
This afternoon, in fact, immediately following this briefing, the Secretary will meet with Foreign Minister Morjane of Tunisia to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues, including human rights, freedom of expression, counterterrorism and military cooperation, and efforts to expand science, technology, and educational cooperation under the principles outlined in the President’s Cairo speech. And the meeting reflects our commitment to a stronger relationship with Tunisia and we look forward to continuing to find ways to strengthen and expand our ties.
Later on this afternoon, the Secretary will meet with Foreign Minister Canahuati of Honduras and will exchange views on – updating on progress in Honduras and areas of mutual concern including citizen safety, human rights, and the ongoing work on reconciliation following last year’s coup d’état. We look forward to the May 4 launch of the truth commission which fulfills a key element set forth in the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. But the Secretary will also express her concern about citizen safety, including the safety of journalists who have been targets of violence and intimidation in recent months.
Also this afternoon, the Secretary will meet with the families of the three hikers who remain in detention in Iran and will continue to – will review with them the steps that we are taking to do everything possible to gain their release.
QUESTION: On --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure. Let me run through it. And this evening, the Secretary will provide remarks at the memorial service for Dr. Dorothy Height, a civil rights pioneer who passed away this week. In it, she will reflect on her work as the godmother of the civil rights movement here in this country and will talk about the fact that Dorothy Irene Height was no ordinary woman. She was no ordinary American. She made us a better people, a better society, and a better nation. But as the Secretary has imbued in our own foreign policy, Dr. Height recognized early on that civil rights and women’s rights were – are inseparable.
On travel, Kurt Campbell, our Assistant Secretary for Asia and Pacific Affairs, met today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Minister Umemoto, the director general of the North American Affairs Bureau, and Mr. Takamizawa, the director general for the Defense Policy Bureau at the Ministry of Defense. They talked about wide-ranging issues regarding U.S. security cooperation, and as you could anticipate, Futenma was part of that discussion.
Assistant Secretary Bob Blake is in Bhutan today. He led the U.S. observer delegation to the 16th South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation, or the SAARC Summit, and congratulated the SAARC on its 25th anniversary this year. And he welcomed their vision for greater South Asian regional cooperation. Yesterday, on the fringes of these meetings, he met with Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa and Maldivian President Nasheed.
Also, Richard Holbrooke is traveling this week. He is in Germany for meetings that are part of our regular consultations with partners and allies. He met today with German National Foreign Policy and Security Advisor Heusgen, German SRAP Michael Steiner, and German State Minister Werner Hoyer, in addition to his counterpart from Italy, Massimo Iannucci.
Our team – our interagency team has arrived in Moscow. It’s a seven-member delegation, including representatives from the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, also our Consular Affairs section, European Affairs, and Legal Advisor’s office, and look forward to meetings tomorrow and Friday in Moscow.
With that, I’ll take your questions.
QUESTION: On the families of the hikers, you said that she’s going to review with them all that we are doing to secure their release?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Apart from asking the Swiss to check in on them and making the appeals, the public appeals that have been made, what exactly is all that you are doing to --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have made many public declarations going back to last year when they were first apprehended. We have brought this up both through the Swiss to the Iranians directly, but also we have highlighted this in a number of our bilateral consultations with other countries that we think have the ability to communicate our concern to Iran.
QUESTION: Such as?
MR. CROWLEY: Such as Austria, for example. She was talking recently with the Austrian foreign minister and this was part of the conversation.
QUESTION: Well, how about Brazil, considering the president of Brazil is about to go out there and the foreign minister was just there?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll check. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I don’t know.
QUESTION: And is this --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) can you check on Turkey, too, in that – the same vein?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure. I’m confident that in that context, yes, we have communicated that --
QUESTION: And how many times has she met with the families?
MR. CROWLEY: With the families – I’ll check that. This is not the first time.
QUESTION: And on the same issue, you said that – you mentioned the three hikers who remain in detention – I believe were your words – clearly, they are. Have they not been charged? Are there any charges pending against them?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not believe they’ve been charged.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Some State Department official said they – it will suspend efforts to get the North Korean back to the Six-Party Talks pending the result of South Korean sinking navy ships. Is that the position – the State Department position on Six-Party Talks currently?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily link those directly. The investigation on the ship sinking continues. As we’ve said from this podium and elsewhere, we’ll be – we’ll draw conclusions once we understand what the investigation discovers. We want to see North Korea come back to the Six-Party process. We’re committed to this with our partners. But clearly, provocative actions that North Korea takes has an impact on the broader environment. So I wouldn’t predict anything going forward. Let’s – on the investigation itself, let’s find out and conclude what is responsible for the sinking of the ship, and we’ll draw implications from that.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: The military officials – U.S. military officials are saying that it was not an internal explosion; that it was an external explosion that caused the sub to sink. I’m sorry, that caused the South Korean ship to sink. So now that they know it’s not a boiler, there was obviously some kind of explosive device that – I guess what I don’t understand is what’s taken so long to determine that there was some sort of offensive action here that sunk the ship?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I’m not aware that the investigation has arrived at the destination that you described. But for argument’s sake, if it was an external explosion, what was it and where did it come from? Again, these are all things that have to be investigated, and once we understand more about what actually happened, we’ll draw the appropriate conclusions.
QUESTION: Is anybody thinking of any foul play or any kind of terrorism?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s all part of the investigation. Ships don’t normally sink of their own accord; they can occasionally. But that’s one of the reasons why we are supporting the South Korean effort. The ship has been raised and we should be able to answer these questions in time.
QUESTION: P.J., (inaudible), unless someone wants to stay on --
QUESTION: I just wanted to slip in a quick Iran question. Have you, or will you --
MR. CROWLEY: Those are not mutually exclusive. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- be granting a visa to Ahmadinejad to attend the UN?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have certain responsibilities as the host of the UN. Any foreign official who’s coming to the UN for official business is normally granted a visa.
QUESTION: He’s not normal, though.
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: He’s not a normal guest.
MR. CROWLEY: But to your more precise question – has the Iranian delegation, including its president, presented applications to our Embassy in Berne, the answer is yes.
QUESTION: And have you granted?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Have you granted him a visa?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, this just happened this morning.
QUESTION: So they haven’t been granted yet?
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: The conference begins on Monday.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, it does.
QUESTION: Today is --
MR. CROWLEY: But the applications were just --
QUESTION: -- Wednesday.
MR. CROWLEY: -- provided to us this morning.
QUESTION: Okay. The last time I remember Ahmadinejad being at the UN is two years, no?
MR. CROWLEY: Wasn’t he there last fall?
QUESTION: I don’t think he showed up. I thought -- was he there?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, he was there last fall.
QUESTION: Last year?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: I thought the big show was Qadhafi last year. Anyway, but you’re reviewing the applications, is that the idea?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, if the Iranians will have a delegation at the NPT conference on Monday and, if they choose to have the president lead that delegation, that’s their decision.
QUESTION: Can we move a little bit to the west of Iran? What’s your understanding right now of the alleged de facto freeze in East Jerusalem construction, and is Senator Mitchell still planning to go next week?
MR. CROWLEY: Regarding the policy of the Israeli Government in East Jerusalem, I’ll refer to the Israeli Government to enunciate its own policy. George Mitchell is planning to travel to the region next week. He was here yesterday, along with the Secretary, for important meetings with defense minister Ehud Barak. They talked about a range of issues, including the efforts that the Israelis have undertaken on their side; some of those areas rest in – within Minister Barak’s portfolio. And the Secretary thanked him for working with the Palestinian Authority to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and access to key goods there. He has – the Israelis have worked in recent months to remove some checkpoints and talked about ways in which more can be done and have – to open up greater space on the West Bank.
So, but George is planning to go next week.
QUESTION: Did anything outside of Barak’s specific portfolio come up, such as the settlement issue or the East Jerusalem construction issue?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to get any more particular than that. I think you can rest assure that we talked about the full range of issues both within our efforts to get the Israelis and the Palestinians into proximity talks. We also talked about other regional issues from Syria to Iran.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, the reason I’m asking the East Jerusalem question is because the mayor of Jerusalem last night had some pretty provocative comments about what his local – you know, what the municipal position on this. And what he said was that regardless – well, it was basically that he doesn’t really care if it has any effect on the peace process, there will not be any freeze or de facto or otherwise, and that this kind of construction is going to continue regardless of whether it interferes or hurts your attempts to get the proximity talks started. The other thing he said was that there was no way – repeated his position – that there was no way that Jerusalem would ever be divided.
And I’m just wondering what you make of these remarks in light – are they helpful in light of where you are trying to get the two sides?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, look, we have our own issues in this country where occasionally cities or states delve into foreign policy areas.
QUESTION: Well, here’s the thing, he doesn’t regard this as a foreign policy --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, Matt, hang on a second. Let me – and there’s a conversation between the federal government and state and local governments over the provinces of federal action versus local action. In this case, as well, notwithstanding what they may or may not think, to the extent that there are issues that have broader implications, this is an area that really is between the Israeli national government and the mayor of Jerusalem. I’m not going to intercede in the middle of that relationship.
As the Vice President and the Secretary have made clear, we think that the parties have special responsibilities not to take unilateral actions that complicate – they should take actions that promote negotiations. They should not take actions that complicate negotiations. That is our position. As to how that applies to the actions of the mayor, I’ll leave that to the Israelis.
QUESTION: Well, but do you regard his comments as a complicating factor?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would just simply say that Israel and Israeli citizens have special responsibility as the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian people have special responsibilities. That would include the mayor of Israel – the mayor of Jerusalem.
QUESTION: Well, that’s – right, but that’s not my question. My question is: Does this complicate your attempts to get the proximity talks started?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to comment on the mayor’s specific comments. Obviously, this issue involving actions on the ground have the potential to complicate proximity talks that we hope will lead to direct negotiations. We’ve made that clear that unilateral actions, whether made at the governmental level or made at the citizen level, have an impact. People need to evaluate and take that into account before they take such actions.
But these are matters that we remain in regular, if not daily, contact with the parties on, and we are – continue to work with them as we have in terms of the Secretary’s meeting with Minister Barak. Deputy Secretary Steinberg also had a meeting yesterday with Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon. And we are working this intensively and hope to see the parties back into proximity talks very soon.
QUESTION: Right. Well, I’ll tell you, I’ll just drop it after this, but I’m just a little confused, because when the initial announcement was made that caused so much problems last – caused all these problems last month, there was no – you weren’t shy about talking about announcements or comments. The Secretary got on the phone with Netanyahu and complained rather vociferously about this, as did you from this podium, and as did White House officials after that.
So why now is it that you don’t want to talk about what – or you don’t want to say --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me separate --
QUESTION: You don’t want to give us your impression of what these comments --
MR. CROWLEY: Let me separate the two issues, okay? On comments by the mayor of Jerusalem, I will simply repeat what the Vice President said: that the parties have special responsibilities to do things that promote negotiation and not do things that complicate negotiation. But our – on the specific issue of actions on the ground, we have been very clear that Jerusalem is a final status issue and the only place in which that can be resolved is through direct negotiations, and no attempts should be made to change or complicate the facts on the ground before the parties can get into direct negotiations.
QUESTION: So do you --
MR. CROWLEY: On that score, we’ve been very clear.
QUESTION: So you --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to talk about --
QUESTION: All right, all right. You think the mayor is irrelevant here?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m just – as to what the mayor says and how that relates to Israeli policies, I’ll leave that to Israeli politics. As to our view of Jerusalem, we’ve been clear over a number of years that Jerusalem was a final status issue and that the parties writ large, and that includes at high and low levels of government, they should avoid provocative and unilateral steps that complicate getting the parties into negotiations, which is the only route to resolve this once and for all.
QUESTION: South Asia?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: P.J., as far as U.S. high-level trips to India and Pakistan were concerned in recent days and weeks and months, what role you think they played as far as India and Pakistan talks, upcoming talks now?
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, I’m not sure I completely understand the question.
QUESTION: There were very high-level visits to India and Pakistan from the U.S. and also from India and Pakistan here. What do you think U.S. played what kind of role as far as India-Pakistan talks, upcoming talks, most probably tomorrow?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have – as we always have, we have our own strategic dialogue with both India and Pakistan. We are planning for the next round of discussions with India in the next few weeks. We have encouraged India and Pakistan that they need to restore a high-level dialogue that they have had in the not-too-distant past. There have been some significant steps by both countries to restore dialogue both at the leader level and at other levels, and we certainly encourage that.
QUESTION: P.J., so far, the prime ministers of two countries are meeting tomorrow in Thimphu, capital of Bhutan, on the sidelines of SAARC summit. How do you see the meetings coming together? How do you see the meetings of two prime ministers, India and Pakistan, meeting in Thimphu?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we always think that when leaders of countries, particularly countries with the history of – the unique history of India and Pakistan, anytime they can get together for high-level constructive dialogue, that is good for the region and we support it.
QUESTION: When the President and the Secretary met the prime ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of Nuclear Security Summit here, was there any common message relayed to both the countries?
MR. CROWLEY: We have encouraged the leaders of Pakistan and India to restore direct dialogue that has been characteristic of the relationship between those two countries within the last few years, and we’re encouraged that they are taking steps to do that.
QUESTION: And finally on the SAARC nations which are having the meetings in Thimphu where all the seven leaders from Afghanistan also are there, how do you see the role of SAARC nations or SAARC group as (inaudible) in that particular part of the world?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we said earlier, we – this is one of a number of important structures that you have across the broader Asia region. We think they’re important. We encourage them. And as you see both with Secretary Blake’s appearance at the SAARC, the Secretary is committed to strengthen the United States’s ties to other structures like ASEAN. This is an indication of our ongoing and deepening commitment to the region.
QUESTION: Could I just go back to Iran for a second? I just want to make sure I understand you. If Ahmadinejad’s visa application is made, is it that the U.S. wouldn't see any problem in granting it? Is that sort of the --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we have special responsibilities as the host of the UN. And if you’re asking is he likely to be in New York on Monday, that – I mean, that’s an Iranian decision. I’ll defer to them.
MR. CROWLEY: But I don’t think that we’re going to stand in the way.
QUESTION: Well, it’s not an Iranian decision if you decide not to give him a visa.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, our focus is, should he come, we want to see him play a constructive role in the upcoming NPT Review Conference. This is about efforts that – our commitment to strengthening the Nonproliferation Treaty, strengthening the capabilities and resources available to the IAEA. We want to see nations reaffirm their commitment to the treaty, and we would certainly hope that President Ahmadinejad or whoever leads the Iranian delegation will come to New York prepared to make that commitment.
QUESTION: Okay. Following on that, would it be at all possible that he or members of his delegations would have meetings with U.S. officials in New York – the Secretary or anybody else?
MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t anticipate that.
QUESTION: You would not?
MR. CROWLEY: I – we’re – the Secretary will have a number of bilaterals when she’s in New York early next week. The Iranian president or foreign minister is not on the schedule.
QUESTION: What do you – you said that you hope that the Iranians play a constructive at this. What are the chances of that, do you think?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is what the international community is clearly telling Iran it needs to do. And if Iran plays by the approach it’s taken – I mean, it’s going around the world right now trying to evade responsibility, trying to demonstrate a face of being cooperative. It’s not. It has yet, as the Secretary said yesterday, with the recent meeting between the Iranian foreign minister and Director General Amano of the IAEA – was nothing new in that meeting. So while Iran is traveling around the world doing what I would call, to use a boxing term, rope-a-dope diplomacy, trying to evade responsibility, we are in New York committed to the Nonproliferation Treaty, strengthening the global regime, and we want to see countries play a constructive role. Iran is not playing a constructive role and it wouldn’t surprise us if they continue on this same path. And if they do, the leadership of Iran will be further isolating its country and its people.
QUESTION: P.J., I don’t know how big a boxing fan you are, but the rope-a-dope actually worked. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: In this particular case, I --
QUESTION: It won’t? All right. Can we just go to --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, look, we’re not looking for a knockout punch here. We’re committed to a nonproliferation regime. We are demonstrating through what we’ve done throughout the Obama Administration’s 15 months in office – the START negotiation, the recent Nuclear Security Summit – heck, Iran had a – its own meeting and couldn't even get nations to agree to its final statement.
So we think there is wind at our backs. We’re making the case. Other countries are seeing that Iran is offering nothing in its conversations with various countries around the world. We continue to work in New York on a strong sanctions resolution. We are working with the Congress on prospectively other actions that we will take domestically. The Secretary, in her meeting yesterday with the leaders of the president of the European Parliament, talked about the fact that we want to see Europe take its own steps. So this is a case where President Ahmadinejad, if he comes to New York on Monday, will have the opportunity to clearly make that kind of commitment. We will not be astonished if he fails to do that. And as we’ve said before, there will be implications.
QUESTION: Can I move --
QUESTION: P.J., why he was not invited for this global nuclear summit in Washington?
MR. CROWLEY: Why President Ahmadinejad was not invited?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, the countries that were invited, we think are playing or have the opportunity to play a constructive role, and Iran is certainly not part of that group.
QUESTION: But don’t you think it would have been greater opportunity for you to talk to him or bring him onboard? And since they are about to announce their nuclear --
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, I understand. That’s a dead end.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Are you hoping or expecting that the meetings tomorrow and Friday are going to produce a resolution to the adoption mess?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we’re going to compare notes on what the current situation is. In our discussions – I mean, to the extent that part of the lessons from some of the – from the most recent tragic situation involving the family in Ohio – greater transparency, better information, as children and parents go through the adoption process, would be useful. Russia has signed The Hague Convention, has yet to ratify it. But we will be looking at ways in which we can strengthen those procedures so that at the end of these processes, you have successful adoptions and children received well in loving homes here in the United States. So to the extent that Russia may seek some sort of agreement where we can strengthen these procedures, we’re willing to have that conversation.
QUESTION: Right. But have you given – have you been given any indication by them that they’re willing to end this slowdown or that they believe that this slowdown can be ended before – as a result of these talks?
MR. CROWLEY: That will undoubtedly be part of the discussion tomorrow.
QUESTION: Did this come up with the Secretary’s meeting with the first deputy prime minister yesterday?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think so. That was mostly on economic issues.
QUESTION: Okay. And on economic issues --
MR. CROWLEY: But it has come up in her recent conversations with Foreign Minister Lavrov.
QUESTION: He came here – the deputy prime minister is saying that he was really pushing for a renewed commitment from the Obama Administration for Russia’s WTO entry. Did they discuss that? And what did she tell him the U.S. position is on where Russia stands on that?
MR. CROWLEY: The issue of Russia and the WTO did come up as part of our efforts to deepen economic cooperation, not only with the United States but with other major trading countries around the world. And I think we are supportive of Russia’s entry. But obviously, there’ll be steps that Russia has to take in order to qualify.
QUESTION: Mr. Shuvalov said that the U.S. was slowing down negotiations deliberately in Geneva on WTO, that they were basically answering – asking questions but not really offering anything.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I think I’ll defer to my Treasury – to the Trade Representative’s office in terms – I think they’re taking the lead on that.
QUESTION: So there’s no policy now to slow down WTO negotiations, perhaps looking for some --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t know. I mean, obviously, for any country that wants to come into the WTO, they have to qualify. And to qualify, there has to be steps that they take in terms of opening up their economy, best business practices, transparency, and so forth. So I think, as the Secretary expressed yesterday, we are supportive of Russia’s entry in the WTO, but there is obviously work to do.
QUESTION: Today, the American organizational states and – although is an internal affair of the U.S., many countries in Latin America have expressed their concern about the situation in Arizona. Many countries say that they’re going to put new consulates to help some of the immigrants that are there in California and in – sorry, in Arizona. I want to know if the Department of State is taking any action with all these concerns.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s make it slightly larger than the State Department. The Administration is evaluating the implications of the Arizona law. There are some questions about the state law and how it intrudes into federal authorities for immigration and border security. The President has said he thinks this legislation is misguided. Clearly, it’s having an impact, most profoundly in Mexico but elsewhere. We’re conscious of the fact that the Government of Mexico has issued a travel advisory for its own citizens. We do that for our citizens. So clearly, there’s international implications of this.
As we have said in many meetings with many leaders in the region, the Administration is supportive of immigration reform, and obviously, we’re working closely with the Congress in terms of how that – how we can get that done as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: But in terms of operative situation, imagine that there are arrests or there are situations there with Latin immigrants. The Department of State is going to work with these countries in order to help them in case some – much of their citizens are arrested or situations like that?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. Well, all I can tell you – look, I can tell you that we understand fully that steps like this have serious ripple effects around the hemisphere. We’re very conscious of that. And we will continue to support efforts along with the rest of the Administration for comprehensive immigration reform, which is ultimately the solution that allows for better procedures for people to legally travel here to the United States and live in the United States.
QUESTION: Have you heard – I’m sorry.
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Have you heard directly from any of the governments any complaints or any of their concern?
MR. CROWLEY: I have not. I don’t have a catalogue of that. I am sure that we have heard from a number of governments on this issue.
QUESTION: Now that the UN has come out with these reports on the killing of UN personnels in Afghanistan last October, in which one of them was a U.S. national, do you have any comment on it? The investigations are over.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m unclear. I think that there have been investigations both by the UN and there are obviously serious concerns that were in that report. There’s also an ongoing investigation by the FBI.
QUESTION: So what about the UN report? Do you have any comments on it? The killing of --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t have a specific comment on the report itself. I haven’t seen it. But obviously this is a very serious issue. We’ve seen some video of the incident. It raised some very serious questions, and we continue to work though those.
QUESTION: Have you taken up this issue with the Afghanistan Government? Because the UN report says the Afghanistan armed forces might have killed that UN person.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, notwithstanding that we have a UN report, this is a matter that we continue to investigate fully.
QUESTION: And finally, one from Kandahar. The UN has – had announced that it will be withdrawing itself from Kandahar. Do you had – how you see this development?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: From Kandahar. Kandahar.
MR. CROWLEY: Kandahar?
QUESTION: Yeah. The UN is withdrawing there – from there.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- I’m wondering if you have anything further on Assistant Secretary Campbell’s talks there. Specifically on Futenma, are the two sides getting any closer together? And have we actually received a Japanese plan now for Futenma? I know in the past, you talked about them floating ideas. Are we still in the ideas stage or is there actually a plan that’s being discussed?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we’re still in the consultation stage.
QUESTION: And is there any way of saying whether the two sides are coming any closer together?
MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t characterize it at this point.
QUESTION: You wouldn’t characterize it as saying that they’re coming together? Because I think the bottom line here is that we’ve been left with a distinct impression that you want it to remain in the consultations phase forever.
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that’s true. I mean, we understand the impact that our operations have in the region. We also understand the benefits in terms of --
QUESTION: But isn’t it --
MR. CROWLEY: -- regional security and Japanese security. We both seek an arrangement that is operationally viable and politically sustainable, and that remains the subject of our ongoing consultation with the Japanese Government.
QUESTION: Right, but isn’t your position that something that is sustainable and – or was it something sustainable and politically viable?
MR. CROWLEY: And viable.
QUESTION: Right. Isn’t your position that the current arrangement is exactly that? Isn’t that still your position and that there’s been (inaudible) changes?
MR. CROWLEY: We have not changed our view on the existing agreement, but we continue our consultations which (inaudible) --
QUESTION: All right. Which means that you’ve gotten nowhere?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would --
QUESTION: You’re not any – you’re not any – this issue has still not been resolved; you’re exactly where you were a year ago --
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: -- or whenever the new government came; correct?
MR. CROWLEY: We continue our consultations with Japan. I don’t think – to Andy’s question, I don’t think we’ve arrived at where Japan has offered its final understanding. They promised to do that in May, but that’s one of the reasons why Kurt Campbell remains – or is in Tokyo as we speak. All right – no, I’m sorry, he’s left Tokyo and he’s on his way back – but why he stopped in Tokyo yesterday and today.
QUESTION: What’s the latest regarding the Iran sanction resolution at the Security Council? Is there a possibility that a resolution will come out to welcome Ahmadinejad?
MR. CROWLEY: We continue to work hard on it and we’ll work hard on it till it’s complete.
QUESTION: So that means that – not going to happen in the next two days?
MR. CROWLEY: I would not expect it to happen in the next two days.
QUESTION: Situation in Thailand is going out of hand and many minorities, including monks have been under arrest, and the human rights situation is also in jeopardy according to Amnesty International.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would just say our Embassy led by Ambassador Eric John there intensively engaged in discussions both with the Government of Thailand and also the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, the so-called UDD. And our message remains what it has been since this situation evolved, which is to peacefully resolve the situation.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:47 p.m.)