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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
May 12, 2010


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • President Obama Announced Secretary Will Lead U.S. Delegation to Kabul Conference in July
    • Secretary Clinton's Conversation with New UK Foreign Secretary William Hague / Offered Congratulations to PM Cameron
    • Secretary Clinton's Farewell Call with Hungarian Foreign Minister Bajnai / Transition to New Government
    • Secretary's Call with Chinese State Councilor Dai
    • Secretary Meets with Blue Dog Democrats / State Department and USAID Funding
    • A/S Phil Gordon Remains in Kosovo
    • Interagency Team Meeting with Russian Counterparts
    • Sympathies to Families of Victims of Afriqiyah Airways Crash In Libya
  • UNITED KINGDOM
    • Secretary's Congratulatory Call with UK Foreign Secretary Hague
  • CHILE
    • Man Who Set Off Explosive Detectors at Embassy Santiago / U.S. Cooperating Closely With Chilean Authorities / Chilean Law Enforcement Had Solid Grounds for Apprehension
  • EGYPT
    • Egyptian Government Arrest of American Egyptian with Weapons on Plane from New York
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Nuclear Fusion Claim
  • RUSSIA
    • Russian Adoptions Agreement
  • JAPAN
    • Futenma Base Relocation / On-Going Discussions
  • ISRAEL
    • Israel Celebrates 43rd Anniversary of Jerusalem Reunification
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Secretary Clinton Discussed Sinking of Cheonan with China State Councilor Dai / On-Going Investigations
  • CHINA
    • Falun Gong
  • YEMEN
    • Extradition of Anwar al-Awlaki if Captured
  • UKRAINE
    • Accusations against Former Prime Minister Ms. Tymoshenko
  • SYRIA/RUSSIA
    • Nuclear Cooperation between Syria and Russia
  • IRAN
    • Families of Hikers Have Their Visas
  • EAP REGION
    • Secretary Clinton's Travel to Asia


TRANSCRIPT:

1:18 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Okay, you just had the President and President Karzai in their press conference where the President announced that the Secretary will lead the U.S. delegation to the Kabul Conference in July. I’m happy to take further questions on that, if you wish.

A few things to – a few calls and such to read out. The Secretary this morning had a five-minute conversation with the new foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, William Hague, where she conveyed our congratulations, echoed the President’s message to Prime Minister Cameron. And in fact, Foreign Secretary Hague will come here to the State Department on Friday for their first meeting.

The Secretary this morning also had a farewell call with Hungarian Foreign Minister Bajnai. Hungary is in the midst of its own transition to a new government, and they reflected on the productive working relationship that they’ve had to strengthen transatlantic relations. The Secretary, in particular, repeated her gratitude for Hungary’s support in helping with the resettlement of detainees from Guantanamo.

Last evening, the Secretary had a lengthy call with Chinese State Councilor Dai. It’s about, I think, their second call this month. The call was just over one hour. They talked about the status of discussions on Iran sanctions. They acknowledged that good progress has been made, talked about a couple of technical issues in the drafting of the resolution – or the drafting of the draft resolution, and pledged that both sides would continue to work hard within the P-5+1 to resolve remaining questions. And in fact, there was a P-5+1 meeting in New York this morning as well.

They also talked about North Korea. Chairman – or State Councilor Dai gave the Secretary a little more insight into the recent visit to Beijing by Kim Jong-il following up on readouts that we had received while Kurt Campbell and Sung Kim were in Beijing and also readouts that we received earlier to the Embassy there.

Later on this evening, the Secretary will have a meeting with the Blue Dog Democrats up on the Hill. She will thank them for their ongoing support of funding for the State Department and the USAID, the so-called 150 Account. She’ll stress that we are right in the middle of ongoing significant activity in frontline states – Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan – and in fact, that accounts for the bulk of the proposed funding for the State Department and USAID for 2012 – fiscal 2012 – 2011? 2011.

And – but one of the critical issues is how to characterize the 150 funding. The Blue Dogs actually have a proposal in the Hill to categorize 150 funding as national security funding alongside other crucial funding – homeland security, defense, veterans affairs. But she will stress that while acknowledging that times are tough, resources are limited, maintaining full funding for the President’s international affairs budget request is essential.

QUESTION: Where is this meeting?

MR. CROWLEY: It’s up on the Hill.

QUESTION: Okay. And then --

MR. CROWLEY: On the House side.

QUESTION: And then – so in other words, you will pose this as security funding (inaudible)? You want to keep it as separate?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, yeah – we – yes, we want to have – we want to have the State Department and USAID funding be considered national security funding, just as defense funding is.

A little bit on travel. Phil Gordon remains in Kosovo today, where he did the things that we talked about yesterday. Our interagency team had a meeting with its Russians counterparts today and we expect to have another meeting tomorrow. I would characterize the discussions as positive, producted – productive. And both sides are committed to do whatever is necessary to safeguard the security of adopted children.

These discussions are technical in nature, since any agreement that we ultimately reach is subject to domestic law in both countries. So we would expect that there’ll be further rounds of discussions before we are able to finalize an agreement.

QUESTION: So an agreement is not done?

MR. CROWLEY: It’s not done.

We certainly wish to express our deepest sympathies to the victims of the Afriqiyah Airways crash in Libya today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ families and friends. We do have Embassy personnel at the airport. I think our preliminary indication is that there are no American – there were no American citizens on board, but as you know, in some cases, you have dual nationals who might be traveling with a non-U.S. passport. So we are continuing to work with officials to kind of determine whether any American citizens were tragically lost in this crash.

With that, I’ll answer your questions.

QUESTION: On the – can we assume, or the fact that she only spoke to Hague for five minutes and she spoke to Dai for an hour that China is more important than Britain now in American foreign policy?

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: That was a joke. What did she exactly tell Hague? Just – was it – obviously, it was just very brief and she just said, “See you on Friday”?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, it was very brief – congratulations, look forward to working together. The foreign secretary gave her a little kind of perspective on the negotiations that led to the coalition government that was formed in Britain. And beyond that, they pledged – he offered to come on Friday and she accepted right on the spot and said we look forward to having you here.

QUESTION: Did they discuss Afghanistan?

MR. CROWLEY: No. It was simply – it was literally a congratulatory call. And as you know, the Secretary is fascinated by politics, so for about a minute they talked a little bit about the dynamic that led to the coalition. But it was simply, “We’ll see you on Friday.”

QUESTION: Had she met him before?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, he is a familiar figure, so I don’t know whether – I wouldn't rule it out. I don’t --

QUESTION: You wouldn't rule it out. He’s been here to the State Department as a shadow foreign minister, but I don’t know if he met the Secretary.

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, I don’t know.

QUESTION: And he offered to come here, right?

MR. CROWLEY: He indicated he was willing to come, and she said, “We look forward to having you here.”

QUESTION: Is there anything new on the Chile situation?

MR. CROWLEY: Not necessarily. I think the – we will be cooperating closely with Chilean authorities. I believe the individual has been charged with violating the firearms, explosives, and anti-terrorism laws of Chile. And we will cooperate fully in that ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: Can you --

QUESTION: Why did he want to come to the United States?

MR. CROWLEY: Lots of people want to come to the United States.

QUESTION: I know, but was there any reason that he gave in the visa application or that --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, visa applications are privilege documents, as you know.

QUESTION: Did he have – the reason why he’s being charged is because he – I know he had residues, but did he have actual explosives somewhere? Is that why they arrested him?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: He did?

MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no, no, no. In other words, if you set off explosive detectors, then you’re going to be taken into custody in some cases. And that’s what happened in this case. I mean, this – as to – there’s – I can’t get into details. There’s intelligence matters here. But all I can – all I’ll say is there were solid grounds for apprehending him and this is – he will be charged under Chilean laws.

QUESTION: Had he been granted visas before to the United States?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know. I would say there was a question – I think Matt had it – in terms of why Chilean law versus U.S. law. It’s – embassy premises enjoy inviolability under international law, which means that agents of a host state are not permitted to enter embassy premises for official purposes without the consent of the ambassador. But there is a popular misconception that embassies are outside the territory of the state in which they are located, which is not true. So the first prerogative here would be that he would be subject to Chilean law, given what happened.

QUESTION: Well, wait a minute, P.J. Was he in the Embassy when apprehended or was he on the sidewalk outside the Embassy, therefore on Chilean property?

MR. CROWLEY: That may be a distinction without a difference. But he was in the Embassy when the alarm was triggered, and I think he was arrested outside of the Embassy.

QUESTION: P.J., you were going to try and find out about the kind of visa he had. I’m also wondering, do you know if he has any family here?

MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, we will continue to investigate on our side with the information that we have. I’m not aware of any link to the United States at this point.

QUESTION: Can I ask about Russia?

QUESTION: Hold on. Do you know where he got his visa and when?

MR. CROWLEY: Hmm? I don’t have that information.

QUESTION: There’s a story on the wires today that the Egyptian Government arrested an American Egyptian coming from New York carrying lots of weapons. I mean, how would the New York airport let him go on the plane?

MR. CROWLEY: Samir, that’s a fine question to ask a different agency of government.

QUESTION: Do you have any details on –

QUESTION: North Koreans claim that they have created nuclear fusion reaction to produce energy and many experts already call these claims absurd. What would be your reaction to that? Does it look like a violation of the UN Security Council resolution?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the North Koreans have been prone from time to time to claim lots of things.

QUESTION: So no any basis?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to comment on the specifics, but I wouldn’t dissuade you from those people who are offering skeptical views on this at this point.

QUESTION: If these claims turn to be true, will it have any impact on their prospects of –

MR. CROWLEY: There are a lot of ifs in that question. I mean, look, I’m not going to comment on the specific claim, but obviously, we will look at that more closely.

QUESTION: On Russia, the Russians have said that they are nearing an agreement with the U.S. on the adoption issue. Is that your understanding of the status of negotiations?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think the key word, Kirit, is “agreement,” that these are complicated issues, they involve domestic law on both sides. I think we have a broad understanding of a framework for going forward. But in terms of the technical details, there will be further action needed before we arrive at a final agreement.

QUESTION: Yeah, so the Japanese Government has submitted an initial draft proposal about the base relocation and there’s a working group at the Pentagon today which I believe includes State Department employees. Do you have any comments on the draft proposal or what’s going on today?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll comment on the second part of that. There are meetings going on at the Pentagon today between U.S. and Japanese officials. Our Deputy Assistant Secretary Joe Donovan is participating in those discussions and we continue to seek an arrangement that is operationally viable and politically sustainable.

QUESTION: So you’re not satisfied with the proposal that’s been presented to you?

MR. CROWLEY: And the discussions are ongoing.

QUESTION: P.J., Israel has celebrated the 43rd anniversary of Jerusalem reunification today and its mayor pledged to keep the city undivided. Do you have anything on this?

MR. CROWLEY: Our position is longstanding. It’s always been clear. Jerusalem is a final status issue, which is why we continue to encourage both sides to get into direct negotiations.

QUESTION: Has Senator Mitchell met with the Secretary?

MR. CROWLEY: Not yet.

QUESTION: Any plan for him to go next week? And do you have any date?

MR. CROWLEY: He pledged in his statement this weekend that he would return to the region soon. I’m not sure there’s a specific date set yet.

QUESTION: Well, does the Israeli celebration – is that something that is a provocative act?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we have always said, both sides have particular responsibilities to enhance the conditions under which negotiations can proceed and both sides have to be cautious in what they say and what they do.

QUESTION: Yeah, okay. And does this commemoration – is that the kind of caution you’re looking for?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to take the bait.

QUESTION: Well, I’m not – (laughter) – it’s not bait.

MR. CROWLEY: No, no --

QUESTION: I’m just asking. I mean, are you happy that they did this? Are you – do you think it’s unhelpful? Do you think that it –

MR. CROWLEY: We have always cautioned both sides to be careful in what they say and what they do.

QUESTION: Right, I understand.

MR. CROWLEY: I know. I’m not going to characterize it one way or the other.

QUESTION: Well, P.J., if you’re unhappy with it, why don’t – you don’t – this doesn’t matter? You don’t think that this has any effect on the – I mean, if you don’t, that’s fine. But can’t you say that?

MR. CROWLEY: Any other questions?

QUESTION: North Korea?

MR. CROWLEY: North Korea.

QUESTION: Yes, can you give me more details on the readout of what Kurt Campbell got from Beijing?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Do you think Secretary Clinton discussed the sinking of the Cheonan with State Councilor Dai?

MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, they reflected on both what – the specific nature of the meeting. They did talk about the ongoing investigation, obviously, and its potential ramifications once the investigation is completed.

QUESTION: Did this – this story in the Post about the Falun Gong and the internet, did that come up at all?

MR. CROWLEY: No --

QUESTION: Okay. Well, I’m not talking about that --

MR. CROWLEY: -- not that in that call.

QUESTION: I understand that there isn’t yet an agreement with these people.

MR. CROWLEY: In fact, there is not yet an agreement. I think the Post story is premature. We’ve not finalized agreement on the current round of funding and no final decisions have been made.

QUESTION: Well, have you been in discussions with this group about a specific amount that they might get?

MR. CROWLEY: The process is ongoing. They have submitted a proposal, but we have made – no final decisions have been made.

QUESTION: Well, have you said that – have you offered it to them?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to comment on the ongoing process.

QUESTION: On Yemen real quick. There’s a report that the foreign minister there said he would not extradite Anwar al-Awlaki if captured. Has that been conveyed to the U.S. Government in any fashion? And do you have any response?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we’re conscious of certain aspects of Yemeni law. I don’t think that comes as a surprise to us.

QUESTION: Would you like to have him extradited if captured?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, we continue to work closely with Yemen to build up its own capacities. Any nation, using Chile as an example, where any individual violates the laws of a sovereign country for terrorism acts is subject to prosecution in that country. We, obviously, want to see this individual who has allied himself with al-Qaida captured or neutralized and we are working closely with Yemen.

QUESTION: Well, I’ll just ask you again. I mean, this is an individual who’s (a) an American citizen – to differentiate between the Chile example – he’s (a) an American citizen and (b) inspired at least three terror acts on U.S. soil.

MR. CROWLEY: I understand that. Of course, we --

QUESTION: Would you like to have him extradited?

MR. CROWLEY: Is he wanted in our country? He is. Well, first of all, I think the key thing is first, we look forward to having him captured if that can be accomplished. And then we’ll see where we go from there.

QUESTION: Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities – prosecutor’s office are reopen – an old case or a criminal case against former Prime Minister Ms. Tymoshenko on accusations that she had tried to bribe the supreme court judges and she said that these accusations are politically motivated. Is that something that makes you concerned or just an internal matter?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it obviously is a matter for Ukrainian authorities. We would certainly hope that whatever legal proceeding – proceeds is done in transparently and in accordance with Ukrainian law.

QUESTION: P.J., Syria and Russia have talked yesterday about nuclear cooperation between them. How do you view this kind of cooperation?

MR. CROWLEY: All members of the NPT have special responsibilities. All members have rights, but all members also have responsibilities. What concerns us is Syria has not answered questions that have been raised about its compliance with the NPT and all countries that contemplate energy cooperation need to take that into account.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.

QUESTION: Oh, does – the families of the hikers say that they have gotten their visas? Yeah?

MR. CROWLEY: My understanding is they have their visas. Now, from that – this point, they will work with Swiss authorities in Tehran on travel.

QUESTION: Did you make a decision –

QUESTION: Do you know whether the government –

QUESTION: We had a thank you. Are we still on the record?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m fine.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you know when they’re going to go?

MR. CROWLEY: No, that – now that they’ve got the visas in hand, they’ll work the travel arrangements.

QUESTION: Have you made a decision on Secretary Clinton’s trip to Seoul or Tokyo?

MR. CROWLEY: No. She – we’re still looking at other stops in conjunction with her trip to China next week, but obviously, we should finalize those details soon.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MR. CROWLEY: Okay, thanks.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

DPB # 72

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