12:18 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, the Secretary – and I know we’re a little pressed for time – the Secretary will be meeting with some Afghan female ministers this afternoon, underscoring our support for Afghan women. Our goals are to improve the security of women in institutions that serves women, supporting women’s leadership in the public and private sectors, promoting women’s access to formal and informal justice, enforcing existing law and constitutional rights of women, improving women and girls’ access to education and health care, strengthening and expanding economic development opportunity for women, especially in agriculture, and increasing women’s political participation. And I’m sure she will talk to them about reintegration and stress that Afghan women’s rights will not be sacrificed as reintegration efforts move forward and that there is a commitment to have at least 25 percent of the membership of the upcoming peace jirga be women.
QUESTION: How many ministers is that? That she’s meeting with?
MR. CROWLEY: She’ll be meeting with the minister of labor, social affairs, martyrs and the disabled; the acting minister of health; the director of gender and human rights at the ministry of foreign affairs.
QUESTION: How many ministers is that? Two?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s three.
QUESTION: No, no, I don’t think the director of --
MR. CROWLEY: All right.
QUESTION: It’s three officials but only two ministers.
MR. CROWLEY: You’ll see them at the camera spray upstairs in a few minutes.
QUESTION: Right. But are those the only two women in the cabinet?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a good question. I’ll – they’re the two that are here. I’ll take that question.
And then the Secretary moves over to the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she will have a conversation with President Karzai, moderated by good friend Ambassador Bill Taylor, and that will be live-streamed on USIP.org and be covered live on C-SPAN. And I think many of you probably will be going over there.
The Secretary this morning spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu regarding Iran. During the call, the Secretary stressed that, in our view, Iran’s recent diplomacy was an attempt to stop Security Council action without actually taking steps to address international concerns about its nuclear program. There’s nothing new and nothing encouraging in Iran’s recent statements. It has failed to demonstrate good faith and build confidence with the international community, which was the original intent of the Tehran research reactor proposal. It has yet to formally respond to the IAEA. She stressed that the burden is with Iran and its lack of seriousness about engagement requires us to intensify efforts to apply greater pressure on Iran. Now, that was the primary purpose of the conversation. They briefly touched on other subjects, including Middle East peace and the relationship between Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue is underway. You’ll recall that President Obama and President Hu Jintao agreed during their November 2009 meeting that we would organize another session. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Mike Posner and Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for International Organizations Chen Xu are leading the dialogue. Rule of law, religious freedom, freedom of expression, labor rights, and other human rights issues of concern will be raised over a two-day period.
Moving to Russia, our teams finished a second day of meetings on adoptions. We’re committed to reaching an agreement to increase safeguards for inter-country adoption between Russian – Russia and the United States. We shared our views on existing difficulties and discussed ways to resolve them. In fact, the detailed discussions and very complex issues were such that they stayed over and will have another round of consultations tomorrow.
Raj Shah has arrived in – or will be arriving in Nairobi today on the first leg of his travel throughout – to Africa and to Kenya and Sudan. Phil Gordon departed Macedonia today for – I’m sorry, departed Kosovo for Macedonia, where he’ll discuss bilateral issues.
And finally, the United States has decided to join the Alliance of Civilizations. We recognize the value of the Alliance of Civilizations as an important initiative seeking to improve understanding between cultures and peoples. We will be the 119th[i] member country or international organization in the alliance’s group of friends. And on May 28 and 29, the Government of Brazil will host the next Alliance of Civilizations’ Forum in Rio de Janeiro and the United States will attend this forum – our first event as a member of the group of friends.
QUESTION: Why hadn’t you been a member before?
QUESTION: You’re not civilized?
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) I think going back to the previous administration had a particular (inaudible) to joining an international organization.
QUESTION: Why, though?
MR. CROWLEY: You’ll have to ask them.
QUESTION: No, no. Why – I mean, there were concerns about this group, were there not?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it was created in 2005 and we think the alliance activities complement President Obama’s vision of more active U.S. engagement with other nations and international organizations to advance America’s security interests and meet the global challenges of the 21st century.
QUESTION: Are you convinced now that the group is not going to be promoting things hostile to Israel?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we believe that – I mean, the focus – the agenda of this organization, we think, is very consistent with what we’re trying to achieve in our relations with a broad range of countries.
QUESTION: Did you discuss it with Israel before announcing you’d join it?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not know. I mean, we pursue our own national interests. We don’t normally ask other countries permission to do what we think is in our interest.
QUESTION: I don’t believe she said “ask permission.”
MR. CROWLEY: You feeling all right? I heard a rumor you were --
QUESTION: My daughter. That’s all (inaudible). Quickly on China Human Rights Dialogue, you didn’t mention internet freedom in the list that you went down. Is that going to come up generally, and is the issue of Google going to come up specifically?
MR. CROWLEY: Internet freedom is a dimension of our pursuit of freedom of expression. That segment of the discussion will happen this afternoon and it wouldn't surprise me if a range of issues regarding internet freedom comes up.
QUESTION: Including Google?
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t predict. This is – this component of the dialogue will occur this afternoon.
QUESTION: And one other thing. Have you yet gotten a response, let alone a satisfactory response, from the Chinese Government to your inquiries about Google?
MR. CROWLEY: It goes back several weeks. I do not know that we have received any indication of the – of any investigation that we called for.
QUESTION: Can I ask about the Davutoglu? You said that she doesn't think any of the recent Iranian diplomacy amounted to anything new. Was she referring to that dinner they hosted or to the conversations that she’s had --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean --
QUESTION: -- that they’ve had with the Iranians and the Brazilians?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, Iran has been very busy in recent weeks having conversations with a range of countries. Part of that conversation did occur last week in the dinner in New York. And not only – during the conversation in New York, not only did Iran not offer any new, Foreign Minister Mottaki indicated during the dinner that notwithstanding any potential agreement on the Tehran research reactor, they would continue to enrich uranium to 20 percent, which we – which is of great concern to us and violates their obligations under the IAEA.
So they had initially, when they announced they were going to enrich uranium to 20 percent, they claimed at the time that it was for the Tehran research reactor, but it’s obviously part of a broader agenda. And that’s what we are concerned about. That’s why we continue to pursue the sanctions resolution as part of our pressure track.
QUESTION: Was there a specific reason for the timing of this call? I mean, why today? Why now?
MR. CROWLEY: We have maintained very close contact --
QUESTION: Did the Turks come out and say something that – I don’t know --
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: The Brazilians are going this weekend, I think with the Turks?
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: Tauscher’s there now, right?
AMBASSADOR VERVEER: Hmm?
QUESTION: Tauscher is there now in Turkey, right? Is her visit in any way --
QUESTION: On the 16th.
QUESTION: What -- what is the purpose of her visit to Turkey at this time? Larijani is in Turkey, too.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. I’m not up on her travel.
QUESTION: You said that the Turks were, or that the Secretary was satisfied what she heard from the Turks in response to her comments today?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we have an ongoing conversation. Obviously, at some point in the next few weeks, we expect to table a resolution in New York, and at that time, Turkey will have a decision to make in terms of whether or not to support that resolution. We’ve had many, many discussions with Turkey and Brazil and others who are deeply engaged in this process. You are quite right that President Lula will be going to Tehran this weekend. Foreign Minister Davutoglu has been personally to Tehran multiple times trying to convince Iran to be more forthcoming, and so we have just kept in regular contact.
QUESTION: So the answer is no, she was not – she doesn’t feel like she was able to convince them of anything?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure she necessarily intended to convince them. I mean, ultimately, Turkey will make a judgment based on its own self-interest and its own international obligations. We are in conversation with Turkey, Brazil, many other countries that are part of the Security Council and will be required to judge what the consequences of Iran’s failure to respond or engage seriously are.
QUESTION: Does she have any plans to talk to Lula or Amorim before the trip, before –
MR. CROWLEY: If she does, I’ll let you know.
QUESTION: And just one thing you said --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware – I don’t know. You can talk to the White House in terms of whether the President plans to talk to President Lula before the weekend. But if we tee up a call with Foreign Minister Amorim, I’ll let you know.
QUESTION: And you said that she saw nothing new nor encouraging in Iran’s recent statements. Does she think that the Turkish and Brazilian diplomatic efforts are pointless?
MR. CROWLEY: No. We have a two-track strategy. The – Turkey and Brazil have made a substantial commitment to try to make progress on the engagement track. We have in the past as well. We obviously continue to welcome any efforts that – any steps they can take to try to convince Iran to change course. We ourselves are skeptical that Iran is going to change course. And certainly, coming out of President Lula’s trip to Tehran this weekend, we look forward to hearing the results of that discussion and any others that might occur. And at that point, I think we’ll understand where – what Iran is either willing or unwilling to do. And at that point, we believe that there should be consequences for failure to respond.
QUESTION: So you’re saying that Lula – Lula is sort of the last opportunity for them to be responsive to --
QUESTION: In this phase?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we are – we continue to move forward on a sanctions resolution, and we have a sense of urgency about this. We want to get this done as quickly as possible. But our view remains that we are doubtful that Iran is going to change course absent the kind of significant pressure that comes with a resolution and the consequences that come with them.
QUESTION: There seem to be all different options, though, on how this Tehran research reactor deal could proceed. And I wonder, how flexible is the U.S. being? Did she give Davutoglu any red lines about what the U.S. would accept in this?
MR. CROWLEY: In – regarding the TRR, it was put on the table last fall to build confidence with the international community about the true intentions of Iran’s nuclear program. We have drawn conclusions from Iran’s failure to even respond – much less engage constructively – even respond to the proposal formally to the IAEA. She stressed to Foreign Minister Davutoglu again today that it’s not about the public statements that Iran makes. If Iran wishes to engage in – regarding the TRR, come up with alternatives that meet the fundamental intent of the proposal, then they can pick up the phone and call the IAEA, which is something they have failed to do.
QUESTION: P.J., Lula is going to Moscow before going to Tehran. Has he discussed any specific ideas with State that he might be discussing with the Russians before going to Iran about the nuclear fuel swap?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we are significantly engaged with Russia on this process and we would anticipate that that discussion would be consistent with our stance, which is that Iran has to either respond or face the consequences of a UN Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: P.J., the Secretary meets William Hague tomorrow. Is she comfortable with the fact that his coalition partner is very clear that they regard the Iraq war as having been illegal, that they’re seeking a full judicial inquiry into allegations of British complicity into rendition, and they’ve ruled out force against Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: She looks forward to the discussion tomorrow. She has met William Hague before. I think, as was indicated in London yesterday with the discussion by Prime Minister Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Clegg, there are lots of things that have been said during a campaign, but now you have a coalition government. And I think, as Prime Minister Cameron said yesterday, he seeks to maintain a secure and effective relationship with the United States. And we look forward to hearing from Foreign Secretary Hague about how he sees the future of the relationship.
QUESTION: Does that security and an effective relationship depend to some extent on rolling back on the Lib Dems’ part from both --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, these are judgments that the new British Government is going to have to make. I mean, we recognize in this country that there are things said during a campaign and then they have to put together a program to govern.
QUESTION: Like Armenian genocide?
MR. CROWLEY: As the President said yesterday, this is an extraordinarily special relationship. It is one of the most important strategic relationships in the world. We have a shared vision of the world, a shared agenda. I’m confident that that will be the primary topic of conversation tomorrow, including the situation in Afghanistan. I don’t know if Iraq will come up. It wouldn’t surprise me if perspective on the current steps being – aggressive steps being taken in Europe to deal with the economic crisis.
So I’m confident there will be a full discussion. There will be a press availability tomorrow and you’ll have a chance to ask him that question yourself.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you expect the – that you expect them to not follow through on their --
MR. CROWLEY: I think, given --
QUESTION: That politics is politics, and politicians lie to get elected?
MR. CROWLEY: No. Well, hang on a second. I mean, given --
QUESTION: Is that --
MR. CROWLEY: Given the statements made yesterday, I think the release of – I think there was a release of kind of the basis of the coalition government. We will look forward to seeing how the government plans to govern over the next five years. We look forward to the discussion.
QUESTION: If they do go ahead – well, you’re not worried about a criminal inquiry if it comes to pass?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not – I’m just going to say we look forward to the meeting tomorrow and --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) you say that was the last administration had nothing --
MR. CROWLEY: We look forward to the meeting tomorrow and we’ll hear what Foreign Secretary Hague has to say about what their agenda is.
QUESTION: Another meeting tomorrow, there’s going to be a preparatory 2+2 with the South Korean Government taking place here at the State Department. Do you have any agenda, logistics of that meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t have a specific agenda in front of me, but as with any high-level meeting with our South Korean allies, I would expect there will be bilateral discussions. We are making adjustments on the military front. We will, of course, discuss regional security issues, including North Korea. I would fully expect bilateral and regional issues to be – to dominate the discussion.
QUESTION: Do you expect a preview of the Cheonan investigation?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are involved in and fully supportive of the ongoing investigation.
QUESTION: Regarding the human --
QUESTION: The never-ending, ongoing investigation. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Regarding the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, will there be – religious freedom issue will be addressed? And will --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) issue will be included?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Falun Gong issue will also be included?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know that Falun Gong will be a specific topic. I’m not ruling it in or ruling it out. The dialogue just got underway. You’ll have, I think, a briefing tomorrow afternoon with Assistant Secretary Mike Posner at the conclusion of the dialogue and you can ask him what specific issues came up.
QUESTION: Very briefly on this, the alliance, who is going to go to this meeting in Rio? And might I suggest that it would make a lovely stop after a return from Asia --
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- if you really want to show how committed you are and send a high-level representative. It is a ministerial meeting, isn’t it?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not know. I will --
QUESTION: Two days in Rio?
MR. CROWLEY: I will provide your recommendation to the Secretary of State.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll see if we can get you something, Samir.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: The Human Rights Dialogue is here, isn’t it?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: The human rights dialogue is here?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. Deputy Secretary Steinberg addressed the – both groups – both teams at the start of the dialogue first thing this morning.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. side raising the names of specific political prisoners or specific cases?
MR. CROWLEY: We frequently do that with meetings that we have with high-level individuals or delegations from China. That’s a good question to ask Mike tomorrow.
QUESTION: But do you know?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not know what the particular items to be discussed will be.
QUESTION: Do you have a reaction --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I’m sure there could well be, in the course of a broad discussion, some specific cases that we bring up that are illustrative of the concerns that we have.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are very concerned. We’re watching it very closely. It has had an impact on our embassy operations. We continue to believe and we continue to encourage both sides that violence is not the route to resolve these issues. Ultimately, the government and the demonstrators have to get back together again and to find – reach agreement on a path forward. And we are aware that a senior general affiliated with the protestors has been shot and wounded today, so we are very concerned about the ongoing violence.
QUESTION: Are you concerned about the violence or about the – because it was a two-part question about the election.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’re concerned about both. I mean, there was an understanding, whether it had been a formal agreement or not, on a way forward to elections. It would appear as though that agreement has collapsed and we would like – there’s no route to a solution through violent confrontation. The government has to continue to have a dialogue with the demonstrators and they need to reach an agreement on a path forward.
QUESTION: Are there broader implications for democracy in that country? I mean, are you thinking about these possible implications?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I’m not sure that now is the time for kind of sweeping statements. There is – there are fundamental fissures within Thai society, and the only way to resolve this and to develop a civil and inclusive society is through peaceful negotiation.
QUESTION: What’s the effect on your embassy? You said it was affected.
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s closed to only essential operations – let me see, give me a second. It is closed and American citizens services will be available for emergencies only.
QUESTION: When you say it’s closed, do you mean it’s closed --
MR. CROWLEY: I think essential personnel right now are --
MR. CROWLEY: -- manning the embassy, but it’s not open.
QUESTION: Is that because of a specific threat or just because --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think the embassy sits on the fringe of this containment area where some of the violence has taken place.
QUESTION: Are you close to a Russia deal? Are you close to a Russia deal on adoptions? You sounded like it was --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we have a good understanding of the issues. We are – we’ve agreed to pursue an agreement and looking at a wide range of steps to improve the security of these adoptions. I think we’re confident that we will be able to reach an agreement, but these are complex issues. I think actually getting the agreement, which can have legally binding obligations on both sides, will take some time to finalize.
MR. CROWLEY: It was a good meeting, but we continue our dialogue with Japan.
QUESTION: How did the U.S. react to the Japanese proposal?
MR. CROWLEY: There are ongoing discussions about what to do and we’re not done yet.
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Do you think it’s progress from last week?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we have been engaged with Japan for, obviously, many months. We continue to share ideas back and forth. I think we’re hopeful that we can reach an understanding soon, but there’s still work to be done.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:45 p.m.)
DPB # 73
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