1:32 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Continuing on, Secretary Clinton wrapped up the first day of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in a series of sessions on the strategic track she chaired. The Secretary discussed a wide range of priorities in our bilateral relationship with State Councilor Dai and other senior Chinese officials. U.S. Government officials also participated in a number of side meetings devoted to issues, including energy security, climate change, and counterterrorism and law enforcement cooperation. Secretary Clinton and Secretary Geithner will brief the press at the conclusion of the talks on Tuesday. She’ll have a series of high-level meetings focused on regional security as well tomorrow, including, I would expect, substantial discussions of both North Korea and Iran.
Prime Minister Hariri is here in Washington from Lebanon making his first official visit as prime minister. He is meeting this afternoon with the President. Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg will join that meeting. He’s also having separate meetings with Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeff Feltman and Special Envoy George Mitchell. And they’ll consult on a broad range of issues regarding Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence and regional peace and security.
The IAEA has provided the United States with a copy of Iran’s letter and has requested our views. We understand that France and Russia, as parties to the original IAEA proposal, have also received copies of the letter. We are consulting with our partners and expect to respond to the IAEA very soon. But our concerns about Iran go beyond just issues regarding the Tehran research reactor. Both the unwillingness of Iran to engage seriously with the international community, and in particular with the P-5+1, in addition to the ongoing enrichment of nuclear material to 20 percent and Iran’s continued defiance of several UN Security Council resolutions.
Turning to high-level travel, Deputy Secretary Jack Lew is currently en route from Mali to Nigeria. Later in the week, he’ll proceed to Paris for the ministerial-level conference of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In Mali, the deputy secretary visited a National Institute of Health supported laboratory and a USAID sponsored health clinic and met with Malians who have studied in the United States. The highlight of his Mali visit was participating in the closing ceremony of the Flintock 10 military partners exercise. He also engaged with President Toure of Mali. He will meet tomorrow in Nigeria with President Goodluck Jonathan and other senior members of the Nigerian parliament. He will visit both the capital and Kano in northern Nigeria and review our health and food security programs. Accompanying Jack Lew in both Mali and Nigeria is Ambassador Eric Goosby who handles our PEPFAR program.
Under Secretary for Policy Bill Burns met with a wide range of senior Indian officials today, including his counterpart Foreign Secretary Rao, Minister of State Chavan, National Security Advisor Menon, and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Ahluwalia. And his discussions have centered on the upcoming June 1-4 U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. While he was in India, Secretary Burns, as well as joined by Ambassador Tim Roemer, had the opportunity to express our heartfelt condolences to all who were lost in the May 22nd crash of Air India Express Flight 812 from Dubai to Mangalore. India’s directorate general for civil aviation has requested technical assistance, an eight-member team of investigatorsfrom the United States National Transportation Safety board, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Boeing will arrive in Mangalore on Tuesday to participate in the investigation led by the Indian directorate for civil aviation.
Our Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen confirms that two U.S. citizens were kidnapped in Yemen. The kidnapping has been claimed by a tribal group and is not believed to be terrorism related. At the present time, we are working actively with local authorities to gain the release of our two U.S. citizens.
In Jamaica today is a holiday. Tomorrow, when the Embassy reopens, it will reopen for limited service. The immigrant visa, non-immigrant visa, and non-essential U.S. – American citizen services operations will be suspended due to the deteriorating situation in Kingston. We continue to work with the Government of Jamaica collaboratively to counter illicit trafficking. As you know, there is an individual – Christopher Coke -- who is subject of a U.S. extradition request for drug and arms smuggling, and we continue to work closely with Jamaica to seek that extradition.
Also in Thailand, our Embassy was opened for limited operations today and we anticipate resuming full operations tomorrow.
With that, I’ll take your questions.
QUESTION: Based on your description of the kidnapping of the Americans in Yemen, you said that it does not appear to be – or you don’t believe it’s terrorism related. Why? What about the event makes you believe it is not terrorism related?
MR. CROWLEY: There has been, unfortunately, a bit of a side business in what are called tourist kidnappings where, for whatever reason, a certain tribe has a particular grievance with the government and uses the presence of foreigners for leverage, so we have every reason to believe that this is one of those cases.
QUESTION: With the Yemeni Government?
MR. CROWLEY: With the Yemeni Government, yeah.
QUESTION: On Jamaica, what is your latest understanding of the street fighting in Jamaica? And kind of given the violence, do you think this would complicate the U.S. extradition request?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a better question to ask the Jamaican Government. We are cognizant of the fact that there has been some threat of violence in Jamaica and some actual violence. I think the government has declared a state of emergency, which gives the Jamaican Government some additional powers. We have a longstanding cooperation with the Jamaican Government and we’re continuing to watch the situation carefully, which is why we’re adjusting our Embassy operations accordingly. But we have been working with the Government of Jamaica for a number of months on this extradition request. And we seek the removal of Mr. Coke to the United States as soon as possible.
QUESTION: And then on the Iran letter, have you had any chance to review it? I mean, on first glance, it sounds like it’s pretty much just what was in the declaration the other day --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think --
QUESTION: It’s not like it --
MR. CROWLEY: -- we’re going to consult with France and Russia before responding formally to the letter. As we indicated last week, we do appreciate the efforts of Brazil and Turkey in trying to push Iran to be more forthcoming to address the concerns the international community has. It’s unclear if the letter truly offers anything new, but we will study it closely and will respond formally through the IAEA in the next few days.
QUESTION: Yeah, but this letter was leaked on the weekend, the letter published – released by Reuters concerning the – that was sent by President Obama to President Lula, saying that they agree with the negotiations and all that. And did you see that this letter that just came out like that and with the – and the relations between Brazil and USA, it seems that they’re not on the good terms today and it’s becoming worse. You can – you could see.
MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t characterize it that way. We work with Brazil on a wide range of issues, regional and global. Brazil, like Turkey, are – they are emerging global powers and are stepping up in terms of wanting to play and actual playing a significant role in tackling the challenging issues that we face around the world. Climate change is one. But nonproliferation is another. We do appreciate the earnestness with which Brazil and Turkey have tried to mediate this, but this is really about Iran. It’s not about Turkey; it’s not about Brazil. It is about whether what is on paper today represents a real change in the attitude of Iran to address the concerns of the international community has. And we will study that closely, we’ll consult, and then respond formally later this week.
QUESTION: Anything on the hikers?
MR. CROWLEY: The mothers have returned to the United States. It is unfortunate that Iran had an opportunity to make a significant humanitarian gesture. I mean, we do appreciate the many hours that the moms were able to spend with their children. That said, there were claims over the weekend that these three are spies. That’s totally false. They are exactly as they present themselves, three young people who wandered across an unmarked border. And we continue to call for their immediate release.
QUESTION: Do you think that the 5+1 can become 5+3 soon, including Brazil and Turkey?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s about more than five, it’s about more than seven. I mean, we continue to work in New York at 16 and higher. Prime Minister Hariri is here; Lebanon is a member of the Security Council as well, and we’re using the opportunity of Prime Minister Hariri’s visit to Washington to stress the importance of all countries who currently play a role within the Security Council. But it is – in New York, we continue to work on the NPT Review Conference. And this is where Iran falls short. A wide number of countries around the world are committed to fulfilling their obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty and are committed to prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms around the world.
We have made clear to Iran that if it chooses to develop a nuclear weapon, that will kick off an arms race in the Middle East that will challenge the foundation of the NPT. As we’ve stressed, Iran and many other countries have the right to develop civilian nuclear energy, but with that right comes responsibilities. And Iran, by insisting that it will continue to enrich uranium to 20 percent, is in violation of a number of UN Security Council resolutions. That’s why we seek to engage Iran directly on these issues. It’s why we called for the meeting last October 1st. And we will continue to look to see if Iran is prepared to engage the international community seriously. I think over the weekend, Catherine Ashton reiterated the willingness of the P-5+1 to meet anytime, anywhere, provided that Iran is willing to engage seriously on these nuclear question.
QUESTION: But that’s a very concise reiteration of your position. However, that wasn’t the question. The question was: Brazil and Turkey have made these efforts at diplomacy, trying to get Iran – to bring Iran forward. You have this P-5+1 process where you’re engaging Iran. Turkey and Brazil maintain that maybe you can have better efforts if you enlarge the group to countries that Iran has a better relationship with and it has more trust with. Is that something you’d be willing to consider?
MR. CROWLEY: We value the participation of Turkey and Brazil in this process. I can’t tell you whether we would make the P-5+1 a P-5+3. What we’re really interested in doing is getting Iran back to the table, where it’s willing to address its nuclear program directly and answer the many questions that the international community has. We’ll be seeking a way of most effectively pursuing such dialogue. But right now, I think our – as the joint declaration indicated, Iran committed itself to engage the P-5+1. And right now, we’ll watch to see if Iran is actually willing to follow through
QUESTION: On the same subject, regarding the IAEA and the next steps in the agency, is this – is it any longer about the U.S.-French-Russian proposal, or is that a totally different matter now? Is it dead? And does – when you say the U.S. will respond, does that mean you’ll say yes or no to the proposal from the Turks and Brazilians, or --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the proposal for the TRR was put forward by what’s called the Vienna Group: the United States, France, and Russia. So it is up to the three nations to respond to the letter from Iran. The IAEA is serving as a facilitator in this process and we value that role.
We’ll get back to the IAEA and have a formal response later this week. Certainly, from a standpoint of the TRR, we offered the proposal last October as a confidence-building measure. It has diminished value today relative to nine months ago expressly because Iran only today finally responded formally to the offer of last October 1st. But in the meantime, it has for all intents and purposes doubled the available enriched material. So we will have to take that into account as we evaluate Iran’s letter.
QUESTION: But – so if the U.S., France, and Russia says we don’t like this new proposal, would it just – that would be the end of the story?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s remember that we will respond in the context of the TRR, but even the TRR didn’t address the large concerns that we have about Iran’s behavior. And we take note of the fact that notwithstanding a formal offer regarding the TRR, it continues to stress that it will continue to enrich uranium to 20 percent. Now, when it originally announced a few months ago that it was beginning that process, it tied that enrichment to the TRR. So to some extent, Iran is the one that is presenting contradictory perspectives here. If Iran is willing to accept the basic TRR proposal, then there’s no foundation for Iran’s pledge to continue to enrich uranium to 20 percent.
QUESTION: On India?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: As Secretary Burns visits India and also you said that U.S. sending some teams to investigate the Air India Express flight crash in Mangalore --
MR. CROWLEY: Just to clarify, we’ll send a team to assist India in its investigation.
QUESTION: Yes, sir. Is it the first time that India has such a request from the U.S. or by the – to the U.S.?
MR. CROWLEY: We can try to find that out.
QUESTION: Is there any reason why India this time, which happened in India on the runway and all that, do you see some kind of terrorism there or have they indicated anything to Secretary Burns?
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, let’s not get – jump ahead of the investigation. I’m not aware that anyone in India has suggested a link to terrorism. We provide this assistance to any country that, unfortunately, suffers a tragedy of this nature. And we will cooperate fully in the Indian investigation.
QUESTION: Any Americans in this?
MR. CROWLEY: We’re still checking. But as far as we know, there were no American citizens on board.
QUESTION: Well, is it a State Department team or an NTSB team?
MR. CROWLEY: No, it is a – transportation experts.
QUESTION: And continuing with this Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue next week, you said Friday that it will to be for four days. So what would you be discussing over the four days and who all will be participating from the U.S. side?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as you know, when we announce the Strategic Dialogue, we set forth a number of working groups that would be a part of this. Those working groups include a range of environment, economic issues, counterterrorism issues, regional security issues. So the – and so you’ll have the Strategic Dialogue chaired by Secretaries Clinton and Krishna, but there’ll be a number of meetings across the government on a wide range of issues.
QUESTION: So who else will be participating from the U.S. team besides Secretary Clinton?
MR. CROWLEY: I assume we’ll put together a formal release with kind of the schedule later this week.
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t. I’m not sure whether Afghanistan was his first stop or – I think he –his first stop is India, actually.
QUESTION: Can we talk a little bit more about North Korea?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: I know the Secretary had some comments. But first of all, I’m not clear how many more measures can be taken against North Korea either by the United States or the international community. I mean, there are already kind of sanctions to the hilt. So I’m wondering – I mean, what is your kind of end game in terms of punishing North Korea? Is this to make a punishment? Is it to prevent them from having access to do something like this again? And what type of – when the Secretary said that you would be reviewing what unilateral measures, what does that mean?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, we – what we seek is a change in North Korean behavior.
QUESTION: Well, do you really think that punishing them – I mean, given the history of North Korea, its provocative actions every time they’re backed into a corner, do you really see that punishing them would change their behavior in any meaningful way?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’ll see. I mean, we have over the years taken a variety of different approaches to North Korea; and tragically and unfortunately, at some point in time North Korea resorts to this kind of provocative behavior. We’re going to make clear that there will be consequences. And as the Secretary has said and the presidents of both the United States and South Korea have stressed, we will seek to put together a strong, concerted, international response. There are a variety of things that – steps that can be taken. The president of South Korea announced some of those steps last night. We completely support South Korea in its efforts – in the coming days will bring the matter before the UN Security Council. And again, the United States is committed to support South Korea as it does so. The Secretary will have in – meetings in Beijing tomorrow and in Seoul on Wednesday and we will consider further steps, and then she’ll bring that perspective back here to Washington.
QUESTION: The new Government of England has --
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. Let’s stay on this for a second.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the Secretary is in Beijing for these kinds of discussions. She’s had some discussions with State Councilor Dai, since arriving in Beijing. She has additional high-level meetings tomorrow where we will consult closely with China – and prior to the meeting in Seoul, and then evaluate what the next step should be.
QUESTION: P.J., in the statement that the White House put out last night on North Korea, it said that the U.S. and South Korea will explore further enhancements to our joint posture on the peninsula. That sounds like there’s some specific thing that is in mind to do together with South Koreans to enhance your position. Can you say what that is?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have a very strong political and military alliance with South Korea. Just as the Secretary will be in Seoul for consultations on Wednesday, I think Secretary Gates will have the opportunity to consult with his counterpart early next month. And I think President Obama plans to meet with the president of South Korea at the G – at the G-8.
QUESTION: G-8 and 20?
MR. CROWLEY: Or G-20. The G-20. So we will – as the White House stressed in a statement last night, we are committed to our security partnership with South Korea. I’m not aware of any change in our military posture on the peninsula, but we will continue to review the implications of this provocative action by North Korea, and we’ll evaluate if any changes are necessary.
QUESTION: So are these further enhancements of a military nature or other type?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I’ll defer to the Pentagon in terms of any changes that do take place on the military side of the house. But we’ll be looking at a range of options. There might be some additional training that might be appropriate. I think South Korea has announced perhaps some changes in how it patrols the seas around the peninsula. But clearly, we will be looking at the implications of this and making clear to North Korea that these kinds of unwarranted steps will have consequences.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, a couple of things: (a) Will the measures that you take keep in mind the humanitarian situation in North Korea? Not that North Korea does, but --
MR. CROWLEY: Of course. Our actions are not intended to punish the North Korean people. We have a quarrel with the North Korean Government and its ongoing, unhelpful, and provocative steps. And we will evaluate both multilaterally and unilaterally areas in which we might be able to have an additional impact on the North Korean Government. But our intent here is not to make life even more difficult than it already is to the North Korean people.
QUESTION: And then two more quick ones: (a) The Secretary kind of fudged the answer when asked about the state sponsor of terrorism list. I mean, is it your position that this particular action is not warranted to put North Korea back on the list? You’ve called it an act of aggression. You haven’t mentioned anything about terrorism. Is this act fall into the category of something that would put them back on the list?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we will be guided by the facts in this case. For any country that you put on the state sponsor of terrorism list, there are legal criteria that must be followed. We – as I said last week, we’ll evaluate this in light of what’s happened and our understanding of it. And we’ll --
QUESTION: But you also seemed to say last week that you didn’t think it really met that criteria.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, yeah. I mean, we have a number of terrific lawyers here at the Department and elsewhere in the government that will go through this step by step.
QUESTION: And then just one last one. What are the consequences for the relationship with China if China doesn’t kind of support the North Korean position? They haven’t even kind of supported North Korea’s assertion that – China’s assertion that North Korea is involved. So if they don’t kind of go along with and support a UN Security Council resolution and North Korea’s guilt in all this, despite the evidence that you all call overwhelming, I mean, what are the consequences for the relationship with China?
MR. CROWLEY: Let’s not get ahead of the meetings that are taking place in Beijing and additional meetings that will take place tomorrow. I think we are very satisfied with the cooperation that we had within the Security Council, including China, in the – that resulted last year in Resolution 1874 that sent a clear signal to North Korea.
We would expect that same kind of seriousness of purpose as we work with South Korea and other countries on an international response to the Cheonan sinking. But this is exactly what Secretary Clinton will be talking to Chinese leaders about. The Chinese said that they wanted to make sure that there was a careful, scientific, fact-driven analysis of the sinking of the ship, and we think that South Korea, supported by the international community, including the United States, have passed that test.
QUESTION: Could I ask a question on Iraq, please?
MR. CROWLEY: Are we – all right. Last one on Korea and then we’ll move on.
QUESTION: The Chinese foreign ministry said that – called for coolness and restraint by relevant parties on the Cheonan incident. So do you have any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, those are not mutually exclusive. We are seeking steps that make clear to North Korea that these kinds of unwarranted, provocative actions will not be tolerated. And the purpose of any steps that we take is not to heighten tensions in the peninsula; it is to shift to a fundamentally different path. This is a path that North Korea has had available to it for many, many years and for whatever reason has chosen consistently the wrong path, whether it’s a failure to step up to its obligations or provocative steps that have impeded progress and have increased tensions in the peninsula. So we will be working closely in the coming days and weeks with our international partners and we think we can send a strong signal to North Korea that there will be consequences for its – these kinds of tragic and unfortunate events.
QUESTION: But don’t you also think North Korea has a blessing from China during the recent visit?
MR. CROWLEY: I have a hard time believing that – I mean, that North Korea consulted with anyone before taking this step. This tragedy, this sinking of the ship, serves nobody’s purposes and I would argue it doesn't serve North Korea’s long-term interest either.
QUESTION: Any reflection on the election process in Ethiopia? The opposition claims that it there was very unfair.
MR. CROWLEY: The election just happened on – yesterday and we will have more to say when the preliminary results are announced later this week.
QUESTION: The Secretary’s visit to China, please? As far as the recent Chinese and Pakistani nuclear deal, I’m sure Secretary will be discussing this deal in Washington with the Indian officials because India is not very happy and is coming with an agenda on this deal. But my question is while in China will Secretary discuss this deal with Chinese? And finally, Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation, she’s saying that – in an article – that Obama Administration or this house – State Department I mean – is soft on China-Pakistan nuclear deal.
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know if this will come up during the Secretary’s meetings with – in China this week. We are talking to China more broadly about the implications of this deal. It has a lengthy history to it. But we will seek to make sure that should this deal go forward, it is in compliance with the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
QUESTION: Yeah. Today, the Indian prime minister at a press conference spoke about a trust deficit between India and Pakistan, and there’s also a trust deficit between the U.S. and Pakistan which you are trying to address over the last one year.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think you left out the punch line that there was a pledge, notwithstanding a trust deficit, to work very earnestly to improve relations between Pakistan and India. And we, the United States, certainly support that.
QUESTION: So how do you address that? Can you share some of the experiences that erasing this trust deficit --
MR. CROWLEY: As we have said many times, it will take time to overcome that, but certainly, mutual commitment to high-level dialogue is a step in the right direction.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll come back to you.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) for a moment. The new Government of England has rejected a letter from the Argentinean Government to enter again in discussions about the situation in the Malvinas/Falkland Islands. And also today, the Argentinean Government has called the ambassador of England for consultations in Buenos Aires. And I want to know – I remember that Hillary Clinton was in Buenos Aires about two months and the Argentinean Government made some comments about the interest of the Argentinean Government to be – to take more involvement of the U.S. in this kind of relation of the (inaudible) situation between England and Argentina. Is there any advance that you think that the U.S. may talk again with the new government?
MR. CROWLEY: This is a matter between Argentina and the United Kingdom. I don’t, at this point, envision a role for the United States unless both sides request it.
QUESTION: Last week, Sri Lanka observed past anniversary of the end of the civil war and the defeat of LTTE. Over this last one years, how do you see their progress towards reintegration – the Tamilians or they’re addressing the human rights issues?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we’ve – we continue to encourage the Sri Lankan Government to move ahead with reconciliation. The new government has received a considerable mandate and needs to use that mandate to heal the existing fissures across the Sri Lankan society.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:06 p.m.)
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