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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 3, 2010

Index for Today's Briefing
    • U.S. -India Strategic Dialogue Meetings
    • EU Council of Ministers Adoption of Counter Terrorism Law
    • UN Special Rapporteur's Report Under Review
    • Turkish American Citizen's Death
    • Injury to American Citizen Emily Henochowicz
    • U.S. Takes Responsibility for U.S. Citizens Abroad Seriously/ Flotilla Larger with Greater Potential of Confrontation/ Consular Officials in Contact with U.S. Citizens/ Looking into the Cause of Death/ Multiple Contacts with Israel and Turkey Prior to the Incident/ US in Contact with Multiple Contacts Regarding Ships on Their Way to Gaza/ Israel Has Legitimate Security Concerns/ U.S. Confident Investigation Will Take Place/ U.S. Evaluating How to Expand its Assistance to Gaza/ Current Gaza Status Quo Not Sustainable/ Amb. Oren: Israel Has Received Over 10,000 Rockets from Gaza/ Israel Has a Legitimate Interest in Inspecting Supplies Entering Gaza/ U.S. Mindful of Humanitarian Plight of Gaza/ U.S. and Israel Interest in Isolating Hamas/ Ways to Assist Gaza Without Hamas/ Variety of U.S. Officials Involved in Investigation/ Furkan Dogan Born in Troy, New York/ Aged 19
    • Senator Mitchell's Activities Continue/ Direct Negotiations the Only Way to Resolve These Issues/ Meetings Held with Palestinian Officials This Week
  • IRAN
    • No Update on Sanctions Timeline/ Will Check on Musavian Request for Asylum/ Work Continues on Sanctions/ Secretary Spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov/ Conference Call Among P-5+1
    • Ongoing Efforts for Reconciliation/ Importance of a Government Willing to Pursue Peace
    • Turkey Expressed Importance of Returning Citizens/ U.S. Conveyed Those Concerns to Israel
    • U.S. and India Discussing Counter-Terrorism Issues
    • U.S. Supports Free and Fair Elections/ Concerned About Reports of Fraud
    • Peter Erlinder Remains in the Hospital/ U.S. Remains in Touch with the Rwandan Government/ No Knowledge of Meeting with Family
    • Senator Webb Trip/ U.S. Concerned with Burma's Relationship with North Korea
    • No Readout of UN Meeting


12:35 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Obviously today, the Secretary and External Affairs Minister Krishna have opened our high-level interagency discussions here at the State Department. Senior delegations from across the government are discussing a range of issues including agriculture, energy, climate change, education, trade, intellectual property enforcement, fighting illicit network crime, especially related to counterfeit pharmaceuticals and counterterrorism. We look forward to having the President here later on this afternoon for a reception as part of this and you’ll hear from the Secretary – what about an hour from now. And have a statement from us this afternoon welcoming the European Union Council of Ministers’ adoption of the joint U.S.-EU Statement on Counterterrorism. We and our partners in the EU are committed to working together to combat the threat of terrorism, bring to that effort our common values of freedom, democracy, our respect for international law, the rule of law, human rights.

We – just one left over from yesterday. We do have the report of Special Rapporteur Alston and – as one of several reports, being provided today within the Human Rights Council. We continue to review it and we note that it is difficult for states to meaningfully engage in an interactive dialogue if reports are not released with sufficient time for review. But we are firmly committed to the rule of law. As Legal Adviser Harold Koh said back in March, we are committed to complying with all applicable law, including international humanitarian law, in all aspects of ongoing armed conflicts. While the United States cannot comment on specific activities, we work hard to ensure that our activities are subject to scrupulous oversight, comport with domestic and international law.

Finally, clearly the subject of greatest interest, we can confirm that a U.S.-Turkish national – dual national was among those killed in the raid on the Free Gaza flotilla. Our mission in Turkey has been in contact with his family and is providing consular assistance. This morning, our consular officer met with the father and offered our heartfelt condolences to his family. His name is Furkan Dogan, D-o-g-a-n.

QUESTION: Can you spell the first name, please?

MR. CROWLEY: F-u-r-k-a-n. The last name is spelled -- anglicized D-o-g-a-n, pronounced Dogan. And our Ambassador Jim Jeffrey will also be reaching out to the family soon. Clearly, we have obviously just learned about this. We are gathering information about what happened on the ship. We are also mindful that our citizen, Emily Henochowicz, has sustained a serious injury. She was involved in a West Bank protest. She is still in the hospital receiving proper treatment. We are aware that one additional American citizen had some injuries on board one of the ships and we are looking out for him as well.

We are in contact with the Israeli Government to obtain more information. We have made no decisions at this point on specific actions the United States Government will take. But as we’ve already stated, we expect the Israeli Government to conduct a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation that conforms to international standards and gets to all the facts surrounding this tragic incident.

We – as the Secretary has said, we are open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation, and we continue to talk about these ideas with the Israelis and others. And meanwhile, we continue to evaluate how, together with the international community, we can expand the amount of assistance to the people of Gaza, and that is something we are looking into with our international partners.

QUESTION: What are the range of options that you can take related to this guy’s death?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we take the health and welfare of American citizens anywhere in the world seriously. It’s our fundamental responsibility as a government. We will carefully evaluate all the information that we can gather about the circumstances of his death. And those facts will lead us wherever they lead to.

QUESTION: Do you have any information --

QUESTION: (Inaudible). Does the fact that an American was killed in this affect or change what you would like to see done in this case whether – regarding the investigation and how that’s carried out or otherwise?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we have taken this seriously from the moment that the – we understood that this flotilla was being organized and that we understood both its ramifications for regional security and the fact that American citizens would be on board these vessels. We’ve had a number of conversations both with the Israeli Government and with others. In the weeks leading up to this, we have been very conscious of the ever-present danger of miscalculation when these kinds of situations and confrontations take place. So we have taken this seriously from the outset.

That said, the fact that – and we’ve understood for a couple days that there were American citizens that had sustained injuries. But obviously, now that we understand that there has been the death of an American citizen, this will be something that we will evaluate carefully – we take seriously given it is one of our fundamental responsibilities as a government.

QUESTION: Would you ask the Turks --


QUESTION: Would you ask the Turks --

QUESTION: Since 2005 – the Israelis say since 2005 there have – they have dealt with nine flotillas. This was the first time they had violence. Now, in the – with the United States, did you also raise issues about previous flotillas? Was this one particularly flagged because you thought there were going to be Americans? What made you talk so seriously with the Israelis about this one flotilla?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we had an understanding that this was larger than previous efforts to bring humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. So we – I think we understood that the – there was a greater potential for a confrontation.

QUESTION: But you also talked about the presence of Americans. I think you just mentioned that in passing. Was that something that the United States was aware of, that there were going to be Americans? And if so, how did you know that?

MR. CROWLEY: A fair – I don’t know the answer to the second question. But I mean, we have a broader geopolitical interest in this issue and, obviously, we were conscious as we got closer to the launching of the flotilla that there would be American citizens involved as well.

QUESTION: P.J., would you ask the U.S. Embassy in – or does the Embassy in Turkey – why wouldn’t they ask the Turks for the autopsy reports? I mean, the nine dead are all there, including the American.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, from the outset, we’ve had consular officials in Israel in contact with Israeli authorities visiting hospitals. Our consular officials also visited the morgue, because we were looking to see – ascertain, knowing that there were U.S. citizens on board these ships, if any American citizens were injured or killed in this incident. So – and so we’ve been doing that from the outset. And we made contact with the family as soon as we learned today that one of those killed was a dual citizen.


QUESTION: What do we know about the cause of death?


QUESTION: What do we know about the cause of death of the American citizen?

MR. CROWLEY: The individual sustained – I mean, I – the injured – our American citizen sustained gunshot wounds during this incident.

QUESTION: To the head?

QUESTION: To the head? Four shots to the head?


QUESTION: He wasn’t the one with the four to the head, was he?

QUESTION: Well, that’s the reports, P.J., that he was four to the head and one to the body. Can you tell us what that tells you about the nature of the force that was used in --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not – we are looking into this. We are in conversation with the Israelis to get more information. As we’ve said all along, we’re going to let facts govern our response. As we have said many, many times, we’re going to be very cautious and prudent in how we approach this. So I’m not going to prejudge. We are aggressively trying to understand precisely what happened on that ship. And once we have more information, then we’ll take appropriate steps based on that information.

QUESTION: Have you established as fact that this man sustained four bullet wounds to the head and one to the body?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m – I’ve said all I’m going to say on that.

QUESTION: Was his family all in Turkey? Even though he is an American citizen, were the contacts – consular contacts with his family in Turkey?

MR. CROWLEY: We had contact with his father today and he is a Turkish citizen. I can’t make a broad statement about the rest of the family.

QUESTION: But the contacts so far have been in Turkey?

MR. CROWLEY: In Turkey.

QUESTION: Did you at any point warn Turkish Government about the possible clash in the Mediterranean with this flotilla?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, all I’ll say is that we had multiple contacts through multiple channels with the Israeli Government in the weeks leading up to the flotilla.

QUESTION: That was a question about the Turkish Government.

QUESTION: The Turkish Government.


QUESTION: Did you inform Turkish Government about the possible clash?

MR. CROWLEY: I believe the answer is yes. I’m – I’ll – yes.

QUESTION: Can you just confirm the comments that you made on the record to the Post about urging caution and restraint?

MR. CROWLEY: I think I just – I basically have said that already. (Laughter.) We had multiple contacts with the Israeli Government in the weeks leading up to the flotilla. Understanding that civilians would be on those ships, including American citizens, we urged caution and restraint. And in fact, in previous episodes, that’s precisely what Israel has done.

QUESTION: What about the flotilla that’s on the way? The Rachel Corrie, I believe, is the name of the ship. What is – what do you understand about it? Do you understand any Americans to be on board? And what contacts – what steps are you taking to try and prevent a repeat --

MR. CROWLEY: We are in contact with multiple governments about vessels that may still be making their way towards Gaza.

QUESTION: Does that include the Irish?


QUESTION: And what have you told the Irish?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, everybody has the same concern given what happened earlier this week. And as we have said all along, we are – everyone wants to avoid a repetition of this tragic incident.

QUESTION: So is your advice to the Israelis the same now as it was apparently in the previous weeks to urge caution and restraint when responding to this one?


QUESTION: It worked so well --

QUESTION: Are you prescribing any sort of other action since they didn’t do that last time?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, Kirit, it’s a fair question, but to what – to some extent, it prejudges what we will all learn as we go through and ascertain more facts about precisely what happened. Clearly, there was a tragic confrontation on the high seas, and we deeply regret what’s happened. We’re looking into the circumstances. We all want to find a way to provide greater support to the people of Gaza, meet Israel’s legitimate security interest, and avoid further loss of civilian life.

QUESTION: What I’m trying to understand is that given what’s happened last time, how specific are you being with your advice to the Israelis this time?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, ultimately, governments are sovereign. Israel has very legitimate security concerns. They have their own policies in dealing with those security concerns. As a friend of Israel, we are providing them our perspective on how to best do this. But ultimately, these are decisions made by the Israeli Government. Only they can determine what they feel is best for their own security. We understand that.

QUESTION: Given the importance of this and the ease of which you can see whether Dogan’s got four bullet wounds in the head, is it reasonable to assume the U.S. will be able to establish whether those reports are true or not in the next few hours?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure I understand the question.

QUESTION: It seems to be important whether this person was shot four times in the head, which is clearly not a restrained way of dealing with anyone. Is – it’s quite easy to establish whether someone’s been shot four times in the head.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, we expect Israel to conduct a credible, prompt, transparent investigation of what happened on that ship. And we ourselves, in talking to Israel, are trying to gain greater information and perspective on what happened on the ship. And I’m not going to prejudge what information that is provided, what we learn ourselves, and what we do based on that information.

QUESTION: Do you want it to be international? I mean, you suggested – you kind of hinted at it – that you wanted an international component to the investigation.

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, I mean, on the broader aspect, as we’ve said in the last couple of days, there are many, many countries that had citizens involved in this flotilla. We obviously are one of them. Everyone wants to understand what happened on that ship. Everyone wants to make sure – do everything possible to try to avoid this tragedy happening again. In trying to understand what happened on the ship, the investigation has to be credible. And we’re open to a variety of ways of making that as credible as possible. Possible international involvement in the investigation is one way to accomplish that.

QUESTION: The Israelis still haven’t announced an investigation despite the U.S. (inaudible) and in the UN Security Council over recent days. Are you disappointed by that? (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: I think we are confident that an investigation will take place.

QUESTION: The Turks themselves have been one of the countries that has asked to head an international investigation, while the Israelis, of course, are rejecting it. P.J., do you think the Israelis independently can conduct – can alleviate international concerns over the incident by conducting their own investigation?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, can Israel, as a vibrant democracy, with strong institutions of government, conduct a fair, credible, transparent investigation? The answer is yes. It is fully capable of doing that.

QUESTION: P.J., the Secretary has said that the situation in Gaza is really unsustainable. What is the United States, looking forward, going to propose or what does the United States think should be the next step? If it is, in the U.S. opinion, unsustainable, what should be done? And how are you --

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a process that we already have underway to evaluate how we can, working with Israel and other countries, expand the amount of and type of international assistance. In various meetings that we’ve had with world leaders, this has come up on a regular basis. The Secretary has commented on it on a regular basis. We have particular concern about and interest in construction materials that not only can help the people of Gaza sustain life, but actually improve their life on the ground.

We understand the security concerns that Israel has and we are going to be working with them, just as we have been pressing them for weeks and months to find a way to expand the amount of assistance that’s provided on a regular basis to the people of Gaza. So we’re going to redouble our efforts and see if there are other things that we can do and other things collectively the international community can do to increase that support while respecting and protecting Israel’s legitimate security interests.

QUESTION: Should we interpret --

QUESTION: So when the Secretary – I just want to make sure I understand. So when the Secretary talks about unsustainable, she’s talking in a more direction fashion – supplies, what people get in the situation in Gaza. She’s not talking about a broader issue like what do you do with Gaza, should it remain part of Israel. I mean, some people in Israel say just put up a wall and make it separate.

MR. CROWLEY: I think what the Secretary is saying is that the current status quo is not sustainable. We don’t think it’s in Israel’s long-term security interest to maintain the status quo. And we will be working with Israel and seeing if we can, together with the international community, others who have direct interest in what happens in Gaza, find ways to increase the amount of assistance while also protecting Israel’s security interest.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, I want to make sure I understand this correctly. Should one interpret --

MR. CROWLEY: I’ve got to go in a couple of minutes.

STAFF: You’re actually okay.

MR. CROWLEY: All right.

QUESTION: Should one interpret your comment that the current situation is not sustainable and that you believe it’s not in Israel’s interest to maintain the status quo – should one interpret that to mean that you indeed have concluded that the blockade of Gaza simply isn’t a good policy and you need another one? I mean, finding a way to get more goods in could mean that the blockade stays established – you just get more stuff in there. So I want to make sure that we’re – is the blockade a bad policy?

MR. CROWLEY: It’s a good question, Arshad. I – Ambassador Michael Oren had an interesting piece today in The New York Times. And he mentioned in it that Israel has been victimized by more than 10,000 rockets that have been fired from Gaza into Israel, fired indiscriminately, and has threatened and killed Israeli citizens. Given that history and that reality, Israel has a very legitimate interest in being able to inspect and, to some extent, control the flow of materials into Gaza to make sure that that doesn’t include further rockets, missiles, arms that pose a real threat to Israeli citizens. Israel feels that the blockade is the most effective way of doing that. We understand that.

We also are very mindful of the humanitarian plight of the people of Gaza. And it is certainly possible that one can maintain the ability to control the flow of goods into Gaza so that Israel can be assured that the flow of goods does not include weapons that can threaten Israel directly, while expanding the amount of assistance, particularly construction materials, so that together the international community can help improve the lives of the average citizen of Gaza. We’re also conscious of the legitimate interests that Israel has and the United States shares in isolating Hamas, which is a terrorist organization that has chosen not to join the peace process, has chosen not to recognize Israel, has chosen to fire rockets that jeopardize Israel’s security, have chosen not to respect international agreements with respect to the peace process. Hamas has a choice it could make if it wanted to play a more constructive role in the region. It has chosen not to do that.

So it is quite a legitimate policy to find ways to improve the lives of the citizens of Gaza while isolating Hamas and protecting Israel’s security. We’re going to look with Israel to find out if there are improvements that can be made in the current practices so that more goods flow to the people of Gaza and fewer weapons.

As to how we’re going to do that, those are the kinds of conversations we expect to have with Israel and with other interested countries in the coming days and weeks.

QUESTION: How does this incident affect the proximity talks? What’s happening to them right now? I mean, George Mitchell is there.

MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry, I’m stunned – (laughter).

QUESTION: (Inaudible) talking about the length.

MR. CROWLEY: Oh. I’m far more coherent than the late senior senator from South Carolina.

QUESTION: How is the incident and the fallout affecting the proximity talks? George Mitchell is in the region.

MR. CROWLEY: George is in the region. I haven’t been up to speed on his current activities today. We – his activities are continuing. I think we still see ultimately this is the best route to avoid these kinds of confrontations in the future. Ultimately, direct negotiations are the only way to end the conflict. And so we would hope, and we’ve seen no evidence at this point, that the tragedy this week has affected proximity talks.

QUESTION: Has it --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) proximity talks, the Palestinians aren’t really engaging on the issues because of this incident; isn’t that right?

MR. CROWLEY: Actually, it’s not right. We have had meetings already this week with Palestinian officials, including President Abbas. Now, the meeting with President Abbas was more about the Palestinian – Palestine Investment Conference, but we would expect to have more meetings before – this week before George comes back. And so as far as we’re concerned, the proximity talks continue to move forward, and we think that is the right decision for Israel, the Palestinians, and other countries in the region to take.

QUESTION: Has it affected the timeline of UN debate on Iran?


QUESTION: One more thing on the Rachel Corrie -- the next flotilla coming. Do you have any understanding about Americans on board that ship or others that may be accompanying it?

MR. CROWLEY: I do not.

QUESTION: P.J., has anyone from the Embassy seen this guy’s body?


QUESTION: Yes? And who was that in the Embassy? Was it a consular person or was it an FBI liaison or DS?

MR. CROWLEY: I believe it’s – I’ll take that question, but I think it was – they were consular officials. Now, we went to the morgue in Israel, so as it turned out, we – the first time we saw his body it was there at the – at that time, we just did not know that he was a dual citizen.



QUESTION: -- so if you’ve seen the body then at least twice, why are you not able to say what kind of wounds --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to characterize --

QUESTION: Are those the first time or the only time?

MR. CROWLEY: I know – as it turned out, we saw the – those who were killed on the ship in Israel. What we didn’t know at the time was that it turned out one of them was a dual citizen.

QUESTION: Right. And subsequently, have you seen him?

MR. CROWLEY: Since he’s been back in Turkey? I can’t say. I don’t think so.

QUESTION: And where is that body now?

MR. CROWLEY: I believe the family has the body and they are – he’s being shipped to their home town for burial.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason why --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) to ease the flow of goods necessarily require agreement from Hamas, and doesn't that look like a kind of remote possibility now?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we have ways of channeling goods through the Palestinian Authority, through NGOs, and also with the assistance of Israel and Egypt. So there are ways of getting assistance. I mean, I think we have projects underway in Gaza and we’re going to evaluate if we – if there’s more that we can do.

QUESTION: Given the nature of these wounds could determine whether this person was killed in self-defense or (inaudible) execution?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, we’re trying to --

QUESTION: Is there some reason why you --

MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m – we’re – we will look into the circumstances of the death of an American citizen, as we would do anywhere in the world at all times. Let us try to determine as best we can what happened, and then once we have information, we’ll evaluate what an appropriate course of action is.

QUESTION: Who from the American side is doing that? Who is doing the investigation on the U.S. side?

MR. CROWLEY: Right now, we’re trying to ascertain facts. And then we have officials at a variety of levels here and in Israel are in contact with Israeli officials. We’re finding out more information. We’ve had officials who have talked to the family.

QUESTION: Is the FBI involved?

MR. CROWLEY: At this point, no.

QUESTION: Have they done an autopsy?

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t say. I don’t – I don’t know what the Israelis did before they released the bodies back to Turkey.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you – Mahmoud Abbas recently sent a delegation to Gaza to talk to Hamas about a reconciliation between the PA and Hamas. Could you comment?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, there are longstanding efforts led by Egypt to try to effect a reconciliation with Hamas. Among other things, the Palestinians are overdue for elections. They were supposed to take place early this year and they had to be rescheduled or delayed because Hamas has declined to participate in the electoral process. So we’re not – we certainly encourage efforts so that you can – you have a unified government that is committed to the peace process. That has always been something that we think is beneficial.

QUESTION: Even though you’ve designated them as a terrorist group, you think it’s --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m not saying what the composition of that unified government would be. We have the red lines that the Quartet have laid out for quite some time about the rules under which we think people should be engaged in this process and we’re open to any group that is willing to meet those conditions. But we recognize the importance and value of having a unified government that’s willing to aggressively pursue peace. That – and that’s why we believe that government should be led by the Palestinian Authority. But like I say, there is a reconciliation process that we’ve had underway – that has been underway for some time to see if – and we would hope that that would strengthen the hand of the Palestinian Authority.

QUESTION: P.J., you said at this point now, the FBI is not involved. Under what circumstances would they get involved?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, let’s let – we’re gathering facts about this case where a dual citizen has died during this incident. And based on those facts, we’ll evaluate whether any further investigation is necessary.

QUESTION: P.J., can I ask --

QUESTION: By who? By you, you mean? I mean, (inaudible) specifically said the FBI, and you said at this point no, suggesting that at some point they could be involved. And I’m wondering what it is that would trigger them --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, as to that judgment, you’re welcome to talk to the FBI. But any time an American is killed overseas, we have the option of evaluating the circumstances and if we think a crime has been committed, then working with the host government we have the option of our own investigation. Let’s not jump to any conclusions at this point. We’re evaluating the facts as we can best ascertain them. And based on that evaluation of the information that’s available, we have a variety of options that are available to us.

QUESTION: P.J., can I ask about the Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Davutoglu’s meeting? Did at any point Turks give an ultimatum to the U.S. side about the freeing of the activists?

MR. CROWLEY: About the?

QUESTION: Freeing of the activists from the flotilla. Freeing of the --

MR. CROWLEY: As we’ve said, during the course of the meeting, Foreign Minister Davutoglu expressed the importance that Turkey attached to a return of its citizens, including those killed and injured. We understood fully that – that concern. We conveyed that concern on Turkey’s behalf to Israel, and Israel responded.

QUESTION: But what was the tone of Davutoglu? Was it an ultimatum? Was it friendly atmosphere? How was the interaction?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it just was --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: This was a conversation among allies and friends. The foreign minister expressed very forcefully the importance that Turkey attached to resolving this quickly. He asked that we convey that to Israel. We did so. And we’re gratified that Israel responded rapidly to those Turkish concerns.

QUESTION: Do you have an age and place of birth of the dual citizen?

MR. CROWLEY: He was born in New York.

QUESTION: New York City?

MR. CROWLEY: New York state. My understanding is he was 19 years old.

QUESTION: And where was he living? To your knowledge, was he living in Turkey?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes. I think he – he was born in Troy, New York.

QUESTION: Can we change the topic?


QUESTION: Okay, two quick things. One, did you ever get a comment on my question yesterday about the detained Kuwaiti blogger?

MR. CROWLEY: Not yet. I --

QUESTION: Okay. And then --

MR. CROWLEY: I meant to bring that with me. (Inaudible) arrived before I came in.

QUESTION: And one other quick one. There’s a report picked up by the BBC saying that a former aide to the chief of Iran’s nuclear program, a man named Hossein Musavian, has asked for asylum in the United States. Is that true, or can you check on that?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll check on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On India, will the United States grant the foreign minister’s request this morning to get access to the American who was (inaudible) the Mumbai attacks?

MR. CROWLEY: It is an issue that we are discussing with India. During the course of our discussions here, counterterrorism cooperation is a significant priority for us. We are and have been working very closely with Indian authorities on our common threat. But as to that specific question, I’ll defer to the Department of Justice.

QUESTION: Egyptian upper house elections yesterday – the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights along with monitors from other groups have reported widespread irregularities. There’s cases of vote buying. One candidate was apparently shot in the leg, yet the official electoral body, the High Elections Commission, announced that the vote went smoothly. What information do you have on the elections yesterday?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we certainly support free and fair elections as a universal standard. We are concerned about reports of fraud and interference with the ability of some Egyptians to vote freely. We expect the Egyptian Government to take action to remedy any problems along with providing measures to ensure parliamentary elections next fall are free from similar problems. And we also have an interest in making sure that there is – that the Egyptian Government facilitate credible monitoring of future elections.

QUESTION: Well, the high court said everything went smoothly. What steps do you foresee them taking? What steps do you see the government taking to ensure more effective elections?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, there are some practical measures that can be taken. There were problems with access to polling stations both for voters, for election monitors. So the Egyptian Government has it within its power to improve on these clear challenges. As we’ve said many times, we – there are practical issues regarding the execution of a particular election and there are broader issues on just opening up a political process to allow more candidates and more competitive elections. And these are issues that we continue to discuss on a regular basis with the Government of Egypt.

QUESTION: What time is the Secretary’s press availability and how much time do we have to file or we get taken upstairs?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, I’m supposed to go up here --

STAFF: She’s running a little bit late.

QUESTION: I was just thinking it’s time we got out of here.

QUESTION: Just one quick question on the Iran sanctions vote because there was a lot of expectations that it would be held as early as this week, but that’s not happening. How close are you and how close are you to finishing the annexes?

MR. CROWLEY: We have work that is continuing. The Secretary had a conversation a short – right before the Strategic Dialogue with India opened, the Secretary had a conversation with Foreign Minister Lavrov on this issue. Yesterday, Under Secretary Bill Burns had one of his regular conference calls with political directors among the P-5+1. So we continue to work very hard on this and we expect to meet the President’s objective of concluding this by the end of spring, which I guess is June 21st.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary spoken to anybody – back on the Israeli issue – any senior Israeli officials in the last 24 or 36 hours?

MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on this lawyer in Rwanda?

MR. CROWLEY: Stand by. He’s still in the hospital. I’m just looking --

QUESTION: Sorry. Who’s this?

MR. CROWLEY: This is Peter Erlinder. We – he’s still in the hospital. We are still in touch with the Rwandan Government. We want to be sure that he is accorded all of his rights. We are in touch with him. His legal representatives are in touch with him. But we are pressing the Rwandan Government to resolve this case quickly and we would like to see him released on compassionate grounds.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: His family was seeking a meeting here today. Do you know if they got one?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. I don’t know. We are obviously concerned about this and we are in direct conversation with the Rwandan Government to try to resolve this as quickly as possible.


QUESTION: Do you know – is it correct that he tried to kill himself?

MR. CROWLEY: He is in a hospital. Beyond that, I’m not comfortable talking about the details.

QUESTION: P.J., do you have any comment on Senator Webb’s cancellation of trip to Myanmar (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, we’re aware that he chose not to go to Burma, but we’ll defer to his office for comment.

QUESTION: How about the press allegations on Myanmar’s nuclear connection to North Korea?


QUESTION: Press allegation.


QUESTION: Nuclear cooperation between Burma and North Korea.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are – we have been concerned about Burma’s relationship with North Korea, the transactions that occur between Burma and North Korea. We are very conscious that North Korea is a serial proliferator of dangerous materials and weapons, and this is something that we have expressed directly to Burma and that continues to be a major concern of ours.

QUESTION: Did you hear anything from Ambassador Susan Rice after her meeting with Mr. (inaudible) from South Korea regarding Cheonan issue and when they are bringing this issue --

MR. CROWLEY: If you call my colleague, Mark Kornblau, I’m sure he can give you a readout. I don’t have one.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:18 p.m.)

DPB # 86

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