1:24 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon. Welcome to the Department of State, where it is Foreign Affairs Day. Happy Foreign Affairs Day. Today, the Secretary celebrated Foreign Affairs Day with the men and women of the State Department and thanked them for their service while delivering a general State of the Department overview as she approaches her 500th day on the job.
She also delivered remarks at the American Foreign Service Association Memorial Plaque Ceremony to honor State Department colleagues who lost their lives in the line of duty or under heroic circumstances while serving their country overseas. And tragically, we added three names to the plaque: Victoria DeLong, who lost her life in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti; Dale Gredler, who was serving in Kazakhstan and lost his life in January; and Terrence Barnich, who was killed by a roadside bomb last Memorial Day in Iraq.
The Secretary had a 22-minute conversation with her European counterparts – Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, UK Political Director Geoffrey Adams, and UN – I’m sorry, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. This is the kind of regular interaction that the Secretary and other leaders in the government have with their European counterparts. They talked about multiple subjects, but the predominant discussion was just to update themselves on the current status of negotiations in New York towards a UN Security Council resolution.
In a similar vein, last night our deputy perm rep in New York, Ambassador Alex Wolff, participated along with other representatives from the Security Council nations in a dinner hosted by the Iranian foreign minister. It was a frank and professional exchange. Members of the Security Council pressed the Iranian Government to promptly meet its international obligations. Several members of the Council, including the U.S., pointed out the significant flaws and shortcomings in Iran’s approach. During the course of the conversation, Foreign Minister Mottaki focused on the Iranian counterproposal to the Tehran research reactor, which deviates in significant ways from the balanced IAEA proposal that Iran agreed to and then walked away from last October. But we see this as yet another missed opportunity by Iran to meet its international obligations.
Regarding the oil spill, we can report that two additional nations have graciously come forward with proposals to offer assistance, those being Vietnam and Japan, bringing the total number of countries that have offered assistance to the United States to 15. We continue to evaluate the offers that we have received and will make decisions very, very soon.
QUESTION: Just --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure, let me just get through a couple other things.
Kurt Campbell remains in Manila. Today, he participated in the lower – U.S.-Lower Mekong Senior Officials Meeting, and depending on the time – in the next few hours, he will participate in the 23rd U.S.-ASEAN Dialogue.
Scott Gration is en route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he’ll participate in the African Union meetings on Sudan and discuss regional strategies and international coordination in support of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
George Mitchell just started a dinner meeting with President Abbas. I think you saw earlier today he met with Israeli President Shimon Peres. We expect to have additional meetings tomorrow before he returns to the United States, and we would expect late tomorrow night, early Sunday morning, to have a statement as he prepares to leave for the United States that summarizes where we are following his meetings.
And then finally – then, Matt, I’ll get back to your question – we’re pleased to announce the appointment and arrival today of Barbara Shailor as the Department’s Special Representative for International Labor Affairs, part of our DRL Bureau. Special Representative Shailor comes to us from the AFL-CIO, where she served as the Director of the International Affairs Department. As Special Representative for International Labor Affairs, she will lead the Department’s efforts to promote workers’ rights, liaise with the global labor movement, and focus on strengthening the labor officer function at our embassies abroad.
Now back to your questions.
QUESTION: I was just – Vietnam?
MR. CROWLEY: Vietnam.
QUESTION: What did they offer, do you know?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, it’s not – but as of right now, nothing has been accepted, right?
MR. CROWLEY: Correct. It’s still being evaluated.
QUESTION: On the Iran – the Secretary’s call, you said that they updated themselves on the current status of the negotiations. What is the current status of the negotiations?
MR. CROWLEY: We continue to work on the specifics of a UN resolution. There’s still work to do and we will – we’ll be moving that forward in the coming weeks.
QUESTION: I’m sorry, the coming what?
MR. CROWLEY: Weeks.
QUESTION: But I presume, or it appears, that the people that she spoke to are all – she and the people that she spoke to all agree, correct, on what should be done? So I’m just curious as to – I mean, there is --
MR. CROWLEY: This conversation did not get into the specifics of option A, B, C, D. It was more a case of where do we stand in the specific work of building a resolution but mostly comparing notes on various consultations that the United States and other countries have had with those who will be in a position to evaluate the resolution once it’s formally presented to the Security Council.
QUESTION: With other members of the – with the nonpermanent members of the Security Council?
QUESTION: Were China and Russia on the call or not?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Why? Why not? Just --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this was a quad plus one call.
QUESTION: (Off-mike.) Quad plus one?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, this was a call with our European counterparts. We do have these calls on a regular basis or contacts on a regular basis. China and Russia are not part of that component. I mean, that said, last night, all of the countries in the Security Council, including Russia, including China, joined in pressing Iran to change its course. So we’re very comfortable with where we are in terms of our interaction with the – within the P-5+1.
QUESTION: All of that begs the question, though, of why you felt that you should consult without your Chinese and Russian partners.
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, as Matt suggested, we have a lot of different groupings, depending on the issue.
QUESTION: Is it quad plus one because quint was already taken? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You’re really getting desperate if you’re quoting Matt. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve got to write that down. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I take that – well, actually --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, I mean, we’re not excluding anyone. This was a case where we – and like I said, there were other topics of discussion focused in Europe as well. I’m not kidding you, this was the primary focus of discussion. And our countries have touched base with others who sit on the Council and will – and just to some extent, perhaps I would describe this as doing a bit of a (inaudible).
QUESTION: And then one other thing, if I may, on this. There is a report that the – your plan is to put forward the resolution to the full Security Council next week. Is that correct? Have you set such a – do you plan to put it forward next week?
MR. CROWLEY: That report is not correct.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Is it really – do you think the resolution – another resolution is going to work against Iran – you have done in the past? Don’t you think that Iran is buying more and more time, whatever that is?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is precisely, Goyal, something that does concern us, that this week, Iran had an opportunity with President Ahmadinejad here, with Foreign Minister Mottaki here, and we literally heard nothing new. They are not in compliance with their IAEA obligations. They have not come forward with a meaningful or acceptable counter proposal on the TRR, something that we had offered last fall, in order to build confidence.
Ambassador Wolf and others made clear to Iran last night that they’ve had the opportunity to build confidence, and their actions and words since then have done exactly the opposite. So we are in a position where we’re working closely with others in the Security Council. We’re working on this resolution. And we look forward to a very strong, united international statement that tells Iran it’s got to change course and meet its fundamental obligations.
QUESTION: P.J., can you comment on any possible interaction that Alejandro Wolf had with Mottaki?
MR. CROWLEY: On the margins of the meeting, he did both stress that the United States continues to have concerns about the welfare of our citizens who are in Iranian custody. He shared with Foreign Minister Mottaki some letters from family members, but – and stressed again that we would like to see these individuals released.
QUESTION: *Was there any reaction?* Did Mottaki – was --
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t characterize any reaction.
QUESTION: Can I just --
QUESTION: Was that just the hikers or was that for all the U.S. citizens?
MR. CROWLEY: All the U.S. citizens.
QUESTION: But the letters were just from families of the hikers?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t – I think they were beyond.
QUESTION: Okay. You have heard something new from him this week, though. Ahmadinejad talked a lot this week – it’s apparently for the first time – about how if this sanctions resolution comes forward, all ties will be cut with Iran, Obama is going to regret it. We’re – I mean, he seemed to have this very strong message this week of threat, saying that the United States would actually – our experiments, our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the Palestinian territories would be destroyed if we passed this resolution. He had some pretty strong words about that. I mean, does the Administration – what’s the reaction? Is it – you know, is it giving anybody pause?
MR. CROWLEY: No. I mean, it is our view that absent a strong statement and significant pressure, Iran is not going to engage significantly. We have offered, clearly, a path of engagement, and it has been Iran that has failed to reciprocate. So Iran is isolated and unless it comes forward and answers the questions that the international community has, it will have – it will face additional pressure and additional isolation.
QUESTION: Were the detainees the only subject that he brought up on the margins or what did he --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of another one.
QUESTION: So you do not expect a resolution this month while the Security --
MR. CROWLEY: I didn’t say that, Samir.
QUESTION: -- while the Security Council --
MR. CROWLEY: I said it in response to a particular question.
QUESTION: Yeah. You said there was --
MR. CROWLEY: “Do we expect to table a resolution next week?” I think that report is irrelevant.
QUESTION: Not next week. You said it’s going to take weeks to table the resolution, right – earlier?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, it will take as long as it takes. We are working hard on this and I would expect there’s still work to be done. And we’ll work hard until it’s completed.
QUESTION: So you don’t expect it this month?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we face – we have a sense of urgency about this, but – we are working as fast as we can, but there’s no particular time – there’s not a specific timetable.
MR. CROWLEY: The other piece again, Jill?
QUESTION: Anything that the Pakistanis are saying in return or any more specificity on the U.S. side of what it wants?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we have had a range of contacts with the Government of Pakistan, both at post and here in the United States. We continue to develop information here as the investigation continues. The flow of information to Pakistan has begun. And with that flow would come specific steps that we would expect Pakistan to take.
QUESTION: You think this has become an international issue now? Because I think that the issue is going beyond U.S. borders as far as the investigation is concerned. One --
MR. CROWLEY: That’s true.
QUESTION: If this is connected in any way, Headley, who is being held in Chicago, and who has provided much information as far as the bombings in India and elsewhere, you think this is connected in some --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it could be – there have been multiple plots that have involved the United States and Pakistan, citizens on both sides who have chosen to take these actions. I’m not aware that there’s any specific connection, but clearly, we are looking to see, while this individual was in Pakistan, who he met with, what support, if any, was provided. And that is the reason why we are working so closely with Pakistan on this investigation.
QUESTION: One more --
QUESTION: P.J., when you said the flow of information has begun, we knew that yesterday, and actually, a couple of days before that. But is there anything specifically today, more information? Is it – you know, is a – significantly more information or is it --
MR. CROWLEY: Jill, I can’t – more? Yes. Significant? Hard to judge. I mean, the investigation is in its fifth or sixth day, depending on how you count. I’m sure we are learning more today than we knew yesterday, from yesterday from the day before. As we develop information that has a link back to Pakistan, we are doing exactly what would be expected. We’re sharing the information that we can with Pakistan. They are already also taking their own actions. So the kind of dialogue that we need to both understand what happened here and what happened there and eventually put these pieces together, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
QUESTION: One more quickly. As far as this case is concerned, are you in touch or if India is in touch of each other from Delhi to Washington (inaudible)? And also, what steps – what Pakistanis are saying now?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, on – I mean, we have regular dialogue with India, including on counterterrorism issues. I can’t say at this point there’s an Indian link to this case, but we do have dialogue with India on a regular basis on terrorism issues.
QUESTION: Were you able to find out if the Administration has a position on this legislation that was introduced or that was presented yesterday by Senator Lieberman and others?
MR. CROWLEY: As the Secretary said, we’re taking a hard look at it. We do have constitutional – what is being proposed has constitutional implications, including the 14th Amendment Citizenship Clause. I mean, the bill is focused on amending what’s called the Loss of Nationality statute, updating a list of expatriating acts to add terrorism-related activities as a new expatriating act. We have seven specific circumstances under which citizenship can be forfeited. So we are studying it, and across the Administration.
QUESTION: But does what you said yesterday about due process and you wouldn’t want to see it for suspects, only convicts – does that stand?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, clearly, yes, there are – as the Secretary pledged yesterday, we are going to take a hard look at it. It is something that we have to evaluate, as she indicated, that these people that associate themselves with terrorism groups, those terrorism groups that are at war with the United States, it is a serious matter and we are looking closely at that legislation.
QUESTION: Can you tell us or find out the last time the State Department actually used this power? As I understand it, the law would expand the category that basically removes, revokes citizenship for people who join foreign armies.
MR. CROWLEY: That is one of the criteria.
QUESTION: That’s the criteria that Lieberman piggybacks off of. That one specifically is the one he’s piggying back off of. And I’m wondering, when was the last time we revoked someone’s citizenship for that reason?
QUESTION: Well, (inaudible).
QUESTION: I know you don’t know that now, but can you – can we find out?
QUESTION: Isn’t it – it’s not just foreign army, it’s foreign armies that are at war with the U.S.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I can go through this – that among the current criteria, someone who is naturalizing in a foreign state after the age of 18, declaring allegiance to a foreign state after the age of 18, serving as an officer in the – in a foreign state’s military or entering or serving therein, if the foreign state is engaged in hostilities with the United States after the age of 18, accepting a foreign government office by a national of that state or where an oath of allegiance is required, renouncing citizenship abroad or renouncing domestically when the U.S. is in a state of war.
Now, some of those authorities rest with the Department of Homeland Security as opposed to the State Department. And the last one is – I think this might be the one that’s being piggybacked on – is committing an act of treason against the United States, but if convicted in a court. So there – like I say, there are constitutional implications in this law. We’re going to – or in this proposal – we are going to study it. I will also say that some of the assumptions behind Senator Lieberman’s proposal are also a subject of court cases that are in the courts right now. And there may be questions about the constitutionality of what is being proposed?
QUESTION: Well, how can we find out the last time this was used? I mean --
MR. CROWLEY: I will take the question and --
MR. CROWLEY: -- and see when is the last time that --
QUESTION: The reason I’m asking is because the law basically would require the State Department to have a whole process set up, and Lieberman is acting like that process is already here and those people are already here working on this stuff.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no, but as the Secretary did say yesterday, we have expatriation authority already under statute, and this proposal by Senator Lieberman would potentially add to that authority. So we do already have within our Consular Affairs Bureau lawyers who evaluate these issues and do take action to remove the citizenship of individuals. But there are some – there are many legal questions associated with this proposal.
QUESTION: Yet all of the things you have mentioned, I believe, have to do with dealings with other states, serving other states. The Taliban and al-Qaida don’t fall in that category. What did the lawyers tell you about working --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean --
QUESTION: -- or doing something on behalf of an organization?
MR. CROWLEY: One of the questions is – one of the assumptions behind these actions, which can be taken under the Immigration and Nationality Act, involve actions that are assumed to – where the individual taking these actions is – the actions are taken with the voluntary assumption that citizenship will be relinquished. So there are very set legal issues inherent in not only this proposal, but in cases that touch on this proposal. We are studying all of this.
QUESTION: The other thing about the bill is that it only speaks of terrorist organizations, people – organizations on the terrorist list, which the Taliban, if I’m not mistaken, is not. So it wouldn’t even have applied to the Times Square bomber anyway.
MR. CROWLEY: All kinds of – all the more reason to look harder, as the Secretary pledged yesterday.
QUESTION: Another question: Any – the elections in the UK, any observations? Comments? Reaction?
MR. CROWLEY: We are watching it closely and we look forward to continuing our close cooperation with whatever government emerges. (Laughter.) I mean, look, this --
QUESTION: We knew that.
MR. CROWLEY: This is a great day for political junkies and, I mean, it’s a testimony to the vibrancy of the UK’s democratic system, but the United Kingdom is our strongest international partner – shared values, shared world view, and shared responsibilities on many, many key fronts. And that is not going to change.
QUESTION: As a technical matter, is that why on the phone call that the Secretary had, it was their – it was a career person – that (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: I would assume so, yeah.
QUESTION: Do you want to say the sacred words “special relationship”?
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) It is special. I know my counterparts in other parts of the government have different views of that. I – this is our strongest partner in the world.
QUESTION: Whoa, whoa. You said counterparts in other parts of the government have different views about what? About the special relationship?
MR. CROWLEY: You said the term “special.” (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, and who would those be?
MR. CROWLEY: Lalit.
QUESTION: On Afghanistan, President Karzai is coming here next week.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, he is.
QUESTION: Can you give us a sense of the meetings he would be having at the State Department, the issues that you want to raise with him?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a good question. We probably – I think, let me take that. We are working on a complete agenda. He’s going to be with us for much of a day next week. Let’s see if we are about to release kind of the schedule. I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: There are some reports that U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Jim Jeffrey will be the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and the deputy U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan will be the next U.S. ambassador in Turkey. Do you have any comment on this to offer?
MR. CROWLEY: I would defer to – and whenever we’re announcing potential nominating ambassadors for key positions, that’ll be done at the White House.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t have a comment on – I haven’t seen specifically what he has said. I mean –
QUESTION: He said that he wants to cooperate in moving toward the resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
MR. CROWLEY: And I’m not sure exactly what cooperate towards moving for a resumption of the Six-Party process would mean. As we’ve said all along, we’ll be guided by North Korea’s actions. There are things that North Korea has to do, not say. And they have to meet their international obligations, cease provocative actions. That is what we’ll be looking for from North Korea.
QUESTION: But the statement by Kim Jong-il, isn’t that enough if – even if he says we are returning to the Six-Party Talks?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, what we want to see is North Korea live up to its commitments. We want to see North Korea cease provocative actions. That’s our focus.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the head of the Communist Party of Japan is meeting with State Department officials for the first time today. Do you have – do you know what the purpose of this meeting is? Do you know what they are going to be discussing?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. I don’t know.
QUESTION: On North Korea?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Were you briefed by China about Kim Jong-il’s trip? South Korea said it has been briefed by China about Kim Jong-il’s trip. And what’s the case for the United States?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s my understanding that the Chinese Government has given the DCM a readout of the meeting.
QUESTION: Whose DCM? Yours?
MR. CROWLEY: Ours – our DCM in Beijing.
QUESTION: Can I follow up with that?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Does that include North Korea’s position on Six-Party Talks, that DCM?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we received a readout of the meeting. I can’t characterize what China provided to us, but I assume it would be both an indication of what China told North Korea and what North Korea told China.
QUESTION: One more on human rights in Burma. Keep asking and you keep answering but we don’t reach anywhere, 20 years, almost now. Is that something to do that Administration may change but policy never changes?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the National League for Democracy decided back in March not to seek re-registration under Burma’s deeply flawed election laws. And under the terms of these patently unfair laws, as of today, the NLD is subject to deregistration at any time.
For more than 20 years, the NLD and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, have served as beacons of hope in Burma and as an inspiration to all who strive for democracy and justice around the world. And we applaud the resolve of the NLD to continue working for the people of Burma. We will continue to work with all those who – including the NLD – who are dedicated to building a better future for their country. And we – it’s highly regrettable that the regime has created circumstances where the NLD felt it had to take this action.
QUESTION: Is Campbell going to go?
QUESTION: I just have one more. Do you still consider NLD as a legitimate --
QUESTION: I’m sorry --
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, hold on. I’ll --
MR. CROWLEY: Kurt is still evaluating what his travel plans will be past Manila.
QUESTION: Do you still consider NLD as a legitimate political organization after it has been delegitimized by the Burmese military junta?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we – I mean, we obviously see the NLD as part of a legitimate democratic opposition. And as we have indicated to Burma through the meetings that we’ve had, ultimately, Burma has to open up greater political space and have a meaningful dialogue with the political opposition as well as other ethnic groups.
QUESTION: Kim Jong-il said he wants to create favorable conditions for Six-Party Talks. So how would you --
MR. CROWLEY: I think if Kim Jong-il wants to create favorable conditions for Six-Party Talks, he can do exactly what we have outlined for months and years – meet its international obligations, pursue the commitments that it made in the joint communiqué in 2005, cease provocative actions that destabilize the region – will be guided by those actions.
QUESTION: On Mitchell?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: First a little bit of housekeeping. Can we try – if this statement does come out – not to put it out at 2 o’clock in the morning like the last one?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: That would be really helpful for those of us who try to sleep. And secondly, if you do expect this statement to come out, do you expect it to say that the proximity talks have --
MR. CROWLEY: Right now, it’s scheduled for about 2 o’clock in the morning, but I’ll see what I can do. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: So really – well, then maybe it can be put out – maybe you can put it out some place in the world where it’s actually daylight.
MR. CROWLEY: We will – we did do that last time. We’ll see what we can do. All right, I gotcha.
QUESTION: Do you – do you expect that it will – that the statement will be the – announce the resumption or the start of the proximity talks? Is that your hope?
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll – we have – we expect to have meetings tomorrow in addition to the meeting that’s going on now, and the statement will tell you exactly where we think we are at the end of those meetings.
QUESTION: P.J., is it still your position that the proximity talks, in fact, did begin in March? You were on the record at the time as saying that the talks had --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: -- begun and then you remember --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, and then there was a halt.
QUESTION: So this should be their resumption?
MR. CROWLEY: We – let --
QUESTION: If it happens.
MR. CROWLEY: Let’s let – maybe at 2 o’clock in the morning, we’ll have a dramatic reading of our statement on Sunday morning. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: And we’ll be calling for clarification.
QUESTION: Your home phone number is what?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s actually listed. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I know you’re loathe to scoop Senator Mitchell here, but if he’s already having a meeting with President Abbas and he’s had several with the Israelis, doesn’t one logically conclude that the proximity talks which had hit a bump are back on?
MR. CROWLEY: There are meetings taking place. And when the meetings conclude, we’ll tell you what they mean.
QUESTION: They don’t constitute proximity talks – the meetings taking place?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t want to scoop ourselves either.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Have a nice weekend.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:56 p.m.)
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