Daily Press Briefing - June 10
Index for Today's Briefing:
- Secretary Clinton is in Barbados today/Emphasizes the important strategic partnership between the United States and the Caribbean
- Special Advisor Robert Einhorn will serve as the U.S. Coordinator for sanctions against Iran and North Korea
- Secretary Clinton issued a statement congratulating Filipino President-elect Benigno Aquino
- U.S. has several working groups in Islamabad as part of the ongoing U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue
- U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission Working Group on Energy and Investment meeting at the State Department today
- Assistant Secretary Robert Blake will travel to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan June 14-16 and Tashkent, Uzbekistan June 17-18
- Assistant Secretary Michael Posner hosted a roundtable with NGOs working on Sudan today
- Secretary Clinton will meet with Palestinian Authority President Abbas/Will also meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan
- U.S. expects all UN members to aggressively implement UNSC Resolution 1929/Sanctions will have an impact on Iran over time/Resolution tailored to changing Iranian behavior/Countries can now look at bilateral measures
- Russian S-300 missiles not covered by UNSC Resolution 1929/Russia has not sent S-300s to Iran/Appreciate Russia's restraint
- FBI is leading investigation into the death of a Mexican teenager at the U.S.-Mexico border
- U.S. has received a diplomatic note from Mexico over the incident/U.S. regrets the loss of life and promises a transparent investigation
- U.S. wants to see the international community send a strong message to North Korea over the sinking of the Cheonan/Expects this matter to come before the UN Security Council in the next few days/Secretary Clinton has made the U.S. views clear to China during her visit to Beijing
- Regional security issues are an inherent part of our ongoing dialogue with Russia/U.S. has not forgotten what happened during the crisis between Georgia and Russia/U.S. supports Georgia's territorial integrity and rights in the region
- Flotilla incident has not knocked proximity talks off course/Encouraged that the people remain committed to the proximity talks/Goal is to get Israel and the Palestinians into direct talks
- DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL
- U.S. has responsibilities under regional agreements to inform countries that may be affected by the oil spill/U.S. has briefed Cuba and Mexico/Will continue to brief others as needed
- BP is a private company/People expect BP to assume responsibility/Oil spill will not affect the special relationship between the U.S. and United Kingdom
1:19 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: I thought Mr. Duguid would be here so we could congratulate him on behalf of all Chicagoans for the Stanley Cup Championship, and we offer our condolences to Mr. Toner, whose Philadelphia Flyer team was excellent but fell a couple of games short. And Matt Lee is not here to kibbitz on how for both Washington fans or Boston fans or Buffalo fans we’ll say wait till next year.
But good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. A few things to mention before taking your questions. The Secretary is in Barbados and her visit today emphasizes the important strategic partnership between the United States and the Caribbean. This morning, she met with Barbadian officials and to thank Barbados for its strong leadership on security and other issues. She met with Caribbean leaders from around the region to discuss the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, health issues, including PEPFAR, energy, climate change. And by acclamation following their meeting, the leaders adopted a commitment on Bridgetown Partnership for Prosperity and Security, underlining their support for these initiatives. And she’ll return to the United States and here to Washington this evening.
As you heard and read, yesterday we announced that Robert J. Einhorn, our Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, will serve as the U.S. Coordinator for the implementation of sanctions related to Iran. We would also mention that in addition to overseeing full and effective efforts to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1929, Bob will also similarly coordinate U.S. sanctions-related efforts, particularly those aimed at preventing the North Korean acquisition or transfer of proliferation-related equipment or technology, including full implementation of Resolutions 1718 and 1874. So in that respect, he will be assuming the responsibilities formally held by Ambassador Phil Goldberg, who is now our Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research.
The Secretary has sent out a message that joins President Obama in congratulating President-elect Benigno Aquino III, whom the Filipino people have chosen to lead their nation. The Philippine successful election exemplified the vitality of the country’s democratic institutions and should point – be a point of pride for Filipinos everywhere. The Filipino people now look to President-elect Aquino to carry forward the democratic traditions that his parents did so much to champion. The United States has long stood with the Philippines as a trusted ally and friend, and we will continue to support the ongoing efforts of the Filipino people to build a secure and prosperous country.
Turning to a few activities overseas, we mentioned yesterday that one element of the ongoing Strategic Dialogue between the United States and Pakistan, a working group underway on science and technology – well, in fact, there are several working groups that are working in Islamabad this week in preparation for future meetings with the Secretary and her counterpart in the coming weeks. So there are a full range of the working groups going on regarding law enforcement, energy, water, economics and finance, market access, defense, health, women’s issues, and agriculture. In fact, the defense working group co-chaired by Pakistani Lieutenant General Athar Ali, Pakistan’s secretary of defense, and Mr. David Ochmanek, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Development, and David Sedney, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan and Pakistan and Central Asia, met today and exchanged views on security cooperation and focused on mechanisms for prioritizing and integrating security and defense capability requirements.
Also here at the State Department, officials from the United States and Nigeria are meeting to discuss electrical power generation and Nigeria’s petroleum sector as part of our Binational Commission Working Group on Energy and Investment. And the objective is to assist Nigeria to improve its power generation and distribution, as well as discuss Nigeria’s plans for reforming its petroleum sector through discussion of both regulation and the role of the private sector.
Just in terms – a couple mentions of travel. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake will travel to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on June 14 through 16, and Tashkent, Uzbekistan June 17 and 18. He will lead a large official delegation to the first bilateral consultations, or the ABCs, with the Government of Turkmenistan, and the delegation will include Assistant Secretary Mike Posner and Kurt Donnelly, who is Director of Central Asia for the National Security Council. The ABCs will address a wide range of bilateral issues from energy cooperation to human rights. Turkmenistan is the fourth Central Asian country to conduct ABCs with the United States over the past six months. And then Assistant Secretaries Blake and Posner and Director Donnelly will travel to Tashkent for regular consultations with the government, civil society, and multilateral partners in Uzbekistan.
And – but before he travels, Mike Posner today hosted a roundtable with NGOs working on Sudan. The meeting focused primarily on NGO recommendations regarding the south and issues surrounding full implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement. The Administration’s Sudan policy places a strong emphasis on outreach and consultation with nongovernmental organizations as assets in U.S. efforts to end the suffering of the Sudanese people and bring stability to the country.
I mentioned yesterday that the Secretary will be meeting tomorrow with Palestinian Authority leader President Abbas. She will also have a one-on-one meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah, who is actually here at a private visit, but they’ll have the opportunity to visit early tomorrow afternoon.
QUESTION: So what time will she --
MR. CROWLEY: I think the meeting with President Abbas is mid-morning. I think it starts around 10 o’clock, and we will have media availability afterwards. I do not think there is a press component to her meeting with King Abdullah, which will take place outside the Department.
QUESTION: What time?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) taking place?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: With President Abbas (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: It will be here at the State Department.
QUESTION: She’ll be meeting with the king when?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s tomorrow midday at his hotel.
QUESTION: On sanctions, could we move onto that?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Even though Brazil and Turkey have voted against the sanctions at the United Nations, have – has the United States talked with them? Do they know whether they are intent on carrying out these sanctions even if they don’t agree with them?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we’ve – well, first of all, we expect all UN members to carry out the will of the United Nations and the Resolution 1929. I think we have heard that – at least from one of those two countries that they are committed – they have committed to carry this out. And we fully expect that that will be the case.
QUESTION: Is that Turkey?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Is it?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I think Brazil has said publicly that they will carry it out, and I – but I don’t have any reason to think that Turkey will not fulfill its obligations as well.
QUESTION: There have been several countries who have come out today and say that their particular projects are not affected by these sanctions. Is there any reaction to that? Is there some way to evaluate these statements? Is it --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure I know what you’re alluding to.
QUESTION: Well, Russia, for example, is saying that its sale of missiles, certain missiles to Iran, wouldn’t be affected. And Pakistan says that it has a project as well and their gas project wouldn’t be --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, in the case of the – if you’re alluding to the S-300 missiles, the – 1929 prohibits the sale and transfer of items on the U.S. Register of Conventional Arms, which does not include the S-300. That said, this is a sale that Russia concluded with Iran a number of years ago and Russia has exercised responsibility and restraint and has not, at this point, delivered those missiles to Iran.
QUESTION: This question’s been asked in various forms before, but you talked yesterday about keeping up the pressure on Iran. What are you planning on doing in terms of unilateral sanctions or persuading other countries to pursue that track?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have had – well, step back. First of all, the – 1929 provides a framework for addressing our proliferation concerns, our nuclear concerns. It highlights the fact that we can take specific action in a variety of sectors. There’s significant limitations on conventional weapons, missile technology, nuclear technology. It focuses on banking, financial sector and so forth, so there’s a lot in that resolution and it provides broad international responsibility and authority.
And now, a number of countries can look at what can be done bilaterally, unilaterally. We here in this country are in conversation with Congress on some pending legislation that addresses some steps that we in the United States can take. I think the EU will have a council meeting in the next – in about the middle of this month, and they’ll be looking at particular steps that they can take in light of Resolution 1929.
So we are looking for a strong, united international response to make it clear to Iran that it will pay a price for its current course and that it should – based on this pressure, that it will begin to feel – very quickly change course.
QUESTION: Are you pushing other countries specifically or the EU to impose unilateral sanctions?
MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t characterize it as pushing. I think that we are in total agreement that beyond Resolution 1929, there are some steps that the EU can take as a body and that we will consider as well to follow up on what’s in this resolution and begin to apply the teeth that are in this resolution, and really take a bite out of Iran’s – the institutions that support Iran’s nuclear and its current policy.
QUESTION: What do you expect from China in terms of putting pressure on Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, we – first and foremost, we expect every country to aggressively implement Resolution 1929, and we look for the same kind of performance with 1929 that we’ve seen over the past year with Resolution 1874. This was a strong, united, aggressive statement to Iran. We expect it will have an impact on Iran over time and we expect every nation to carry out its responsibility.
QUESTION: Without sanctioning the hydrocarbon industry, I mean, how crippling can – or effective can sanctions be?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, it’s not our – it was not our intent to shut down Iran. It was our intent to change Iranian policy and change Iranian behavior. So this is a resolution that is tailored to not only address the specific interests of government, but also focus on those institutions that support the Iranian Government and Iranian policies. Our focus and emphasis on the IRGC would be a particular case in point. We have no interest – while applying pressure on the Iranian Government with the hope that it will come back to the table to negotiate in good faith, we don’t want to add to the misery of the Iranian people.
QUESTION: P.J., what do you make of the Iranian statement today that they will review their relationship with the IAEA as a result of this?
MR. CROWLEY: Iran has international responsibilities. It wants to be respected in the region and around the world, and that respect is earned. So if Iran continues its irresponsible behavior or if it goes from bad to worse, we will take note of that.
But what we’re trying to do here is not push Iran away from the IAEA; we’re actually trying to help Iran recognize where its own self-interest is, come to the table at the IAEA, engage directly with the IAEA, indicate it’s willing to engage directly with the P-5+1, and once and for all answer the questions that we’ve had for several years about the true nature of Iran’s nuclear programs.
That’s what Iran should do, but what Iran will do is obviously up to its leadership.
QUESTION: Another subject?
QUESTION: Just one more back on sanctions, one more point on the S-300. Is there any side-letter agreement or understanding with the Russians, between the U.S. and Russia, on the S-300?
MR. CROWLEY: We have had conversations with Russia about this broad set of issues. And I would note that people have kind of overlooked the fact that there is a significant expansion of the restrictions on the sale of arms to Iran. And that has a direct bearing on Russia, which has had a fairly significant level of commerce with Iran over a number of years.
So this was very meaningful for Russia to agree to the restrictions that are in this resolution. But – been some statements out of Russia today regarding the S-300, and as we said, we note the fact that it’s not captured specifically by this resolution, but we have recognized and appreciate the restraint that Russia has shown up to this point.
QUESTION: But to the question, is there any separate understanding between the U.S. and Russia about the sale of S-300s, is there any agreement or any letter --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I don’t know that there’s any agreement. We have talked to Russia about this issue, and Russia obviously will make up – make its own determination as to how to proceed or not.
QUESTION: But you’re satisfied that this particular sale is not – is excluded from the sanctions?
MR. CROWLEY: That is clear, since this resolution was based on the existing arms registry at the UN, and the S-300 is not on that list.
QUESTION: Mexico? That shooting on the border, there’s video that’s come out of – telephone video which appears to show that there was not a gang that attacked the officer with rocks. Do you have – have you seen that video? Has --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: And have you analyzed it? Can you tell us what your conclusions are?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the investigation is ongoing. It’s led by the FBI. The FBI is also aware of this video and that will become part of the evidence that it evaluates as it proceeds.
QUESTION: Anything further, though? Any analysis or indication at this point? Do you know --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, there is an investigation underway and I’ll defer to the FBI as the lead agency in that investigation.
QUESTION: Has there been any other – have the Mexican authorities made any further contacts or condemnations based on that video or based on any evidence that’s come out?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we did receive a formal diplomatic note yesterday from the Government of Mexico. It expressed its concern about what happened. We understand that. We, like Mexico, absolutely regret the loss of life. And it has – it asked for a transparent investigation. That’s exactly what we plan to do.
QUESTION: Admiral Mike Mullen expressed yesterday disappointment with China over the Cheonan incident, and the Chinese --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry, who expressed disappointment?
QUESTION: Admiral Mike Mullen.
MR. CROWLEY: Oh, Mullen.
QUESTION: Yeah. And the Chinese foreign minister said that all countries should be very careful in dealing with the Cheonan at the United Nations Security Council. So you have any comment?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we certainly understand that the last thing we want to see in light of North Korea’s sinking of the Cheonan is further tension, further provocative actions. So we share the same strategic goal with regard to the region. That said, we want to see the international community send a very strong message to North Korea that these kinds of provocative actions will not be tolerated. I expect that this issue will be – come forward to the Council in the next few days, and China will have the opportunity to hear and understand precisely what we have heard and understood based on our participation in this investigation.
QUESTION: Sorry, do you agree with Mullen’s characterization --
MR. CROWLEY: Of course.
QUESTION: -- of disappointment? Would you use the same word, that you’re --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, what’s that?
QUESTION: -- disappointed? That you’re disappointed with --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s – this issue is still ongoing, and the Secretary made our views clear in our recent meetings when she was in Beijing and had the opportunity to talk to officials in China about this. We have steadfastly supported not only the conclusions of the investigation, but the need for the international community and particularly countries invested in the Six-Party process to make clear to North Korea that these kinds of actions are intolerable. So this is an issue that’s going to come up directly before the Council, and China will have the opportunity to again make its views clear.
QUESTION: P.J., on another subject, on Georgia, there have been some statements coming out about the fact that Georgia is no longer an impediment – what happened, the invasion of Georgia – is no longer an impediment in the relationship between the United States and Russia. Could you explain that? Because the last time I looked, it was a problem. It was one area that the Secretary herself said --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure. What are the statements? I’m not sure I’ve seen those.
QUESTION: The indication – well, there have been several news articles coming out. I can’t say who they quoted, but Administration saying that this is no longer an impediment in the relationship. And I wanted to see if there was an evolution in the thinking about that.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, that probably – that suggests to me kind of a zero-sum aspect. I mean, we are actively engaged with Russia on a wide range of issues. We’ve hit the reset button and I think we are satisfied with the progress that we’ve made in our engagement with Russia, cooperating on a wide range of issues.
Do we have a disagreement with Russia with respect to what happened in Georgia a couple of years ago, and more importantly, how it perceives its rights and responsibilities in the region and how we perceive Georgia’s rights and responsibilities in the region? We still have – we still do not see eye-to-eye on all aspects of that. We had a meeting this week in Europe where we had the opportunity to review with Russia the current situation. We certainly want to see the situation stabilize and normalize as we go forward. We have disagreements with Russia with regard to the situation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and we will continue that dialogue.
So it’s not a matter of it being an impediment. We are actively engaged with Russia as we seek more peaceful and stable situations in the Caucasus.
QUESTION: But is that behavior by the Russians less a concern to you now because of this reset and the intent to go forward and improve relations?
MR. CROWLEY: I would just say that regional security issues are an inherent part of our ongoing dialogue with Russia. We have common interests, but we may not see every particular facet of our common concerns about the region, may not see every particular situation the same way. But it is – we’ve certainly not forgotten what happened in the crisis between Georgia and Russia. We continue to make clear to Russia that the situation needs to change. And we continue to support Georgia in terms of its territorial integrity and its rights in the region.
So rather than saying it’s an impediment, this is an aspect of our ongoing dialogue with Russia, as evidenced by the meeting that Assistant Secretary Phil Gordon had in Europe this week.
QUESTION: Have the Russians made any movement towards your position at all?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s safe to say that we have agreed to disagree on certain aspects of this.
QUESTION: So that’s a no? Okay.
QUESTION: New question?
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask about the visit of the president of the Palestinian Authority. He spoke today at Brookings. He was quite upbeat. He wanted to keep hope alive and all that and so on. So are we likely to see the resumption of the talks? What will the Secretary of State discuss with him tomorrow? Are there any practical steps?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I think if there is a silver lining in the recent tragedy regarding the flotilla, it is that while it did increase tensions in the region, it did not knock the proximity talks off course. And we value that. The President had the opportunity to talk to President Abbas yesterday. The Secretary will have a chance to talk to President Abbas tomorrow. We want to see these continue and we want to see – and we’ll continue to explore at what point the parties will feel confident that they can move from proximity talks into direct dialogue. That is – that’s our immediate next step, is to get them into direct negotiations, and we’re still trying to work for the right formula to bring that together.
QUESTION: But if you have, like, these incidents like the flotilla or these various incidents, how are you going to make sure that these proximity talks are not just dealing with, like, fallout from day-to-day issues? I mean, presumably, you’ve got to think that a lot of the proximity talks now are going to be just dealing with the aftermath of the flotilla incident.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, those are not mutually exclusive. The President and President Abbas had the opportunity to talk about not only the status of the proximity talks but also the situation in Gaza. I mean, they are fundamentally interrelated. We are seeking a solution for all of the Palestinian people. That’s difficult under the current circumstances, where you have, in essence, divided governments.
But we are encouraged by the fact that they’ve started. In all of these negotiations, go back any number of years, there have been times where there’ve been an event on the ground and, tragically, sometimes they do knock negotiations off track. I think we’re encouraged by the fact that notwithstanding the tragedy involving the flotilla, people remain recommitted to the proximity talks. They recognize that, ultimately, the only way to solve and prevent a repeat of these kinds of confrontations is, in fact, to find an end to the conflict. And that’s precisely what the proximity talks are intended to do: lead us into a negotiation that helps us reach a settlement agreement, a two-state solution, and peace and security for everybody.
So I think we certainly agree with the sentiment of President Abbas. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t very complex negotiations and difficult decisions to be made in the weeks and months ahead. But I think we are encouraged by his steadfastness in recognizing that the proximity talks offer us the best way forward.
QUESTION: I want to ask you about the oil rig situation. I want to know if you have received any calls from countries that also are surrounding the Gulf of Mexico, like Cuba and Mexico that are worried about this problem. Do you think this is going to become soon an international issue with many countries asking BP to be involved with us or with them in determining of – the damages.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, as we have said, we actually have specific responsibilities under regional agreements to keep countries that may be affected by the oil spill fully informed about what is happening. We have briefed Cuban officials in the past. We have briefed Mexican officials. It’s possible we’ve had other discussions as well. I can double-check that. But we are very conscious of the fact that this tragedy does not just affect the United States and where we need to have interaction with countries that may be affected, we’re doing that.
QUESTION: But there are present conversations? You’re mentioning past. You mean the present also that that are calling the U.S.?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not – I can’t cite a particular conversation this week, but we have been discussing this with a range of countries as we’ve seen developments and the impact go potentially more broad than just on the United States.
QUESTION: One more on the oil rig?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: It seems as if in Britain, a lot of members of parliament are kind of complaining with – about President Obama bashing of BP. They feel that it’s Britain bashing and that this is affecting their stock market, and they said that this is kind of a belligerent attitude and not helping anything. And they – these Tory – people from the conservative party are warning that it’s damaging U.S.-British relations.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m shocked that there’s politics going on here. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: They called it anti-British rhetoric, buck passing, and name calling.
MR. CROWLEY: Look, let’s – there’s --
MR. CROWLEY: I can simply say that this – I expect that this will be an ongoing issue of discussion between the United States and Britain. I don’t see it as a source of tension. BP is a private company and this is about the impact of a tragedy in terms of the explosion of the oil platform and the resulting oil spill. And this is not about relations between the United States and its closest ally.
I expect that the President and Prime Minister Cameron will have the opportunity to talk and see each other in the coming days. We have a G-20 meeting coming up. I fully expect that this will be a topic discussed. We certainly understand that as we rightfully demand that BP live up to its responsibilities in terms of finding a way to end the spill and then deal with the mitigation along the Gulf, we fully understand that there are ripple effects in other parts of the world as well. And we’ll talk to the government about this where appropriate. But this is really a – it’s a private matter in terms of a private company, that company’s responsibility under law, and --
QUESTION: Well, they’re saying it’s a private – you’re saying it’s private matter of a private company. They’re saying it’s a very important company to the British economy.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: A lot of BP shares affect pensioners of many foreign and civil service officers in the country. And so when you bash BP, you’re – you know what I mean? This is a company that has a lot of – not necessarily – I’m not looking for the word “clout,” but a lot of influence in British markets.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not arguing. But I do think that the American people have a right to expect BP, as the company responsible for this particular well, to assume its responsibility and not only deal with the immediate effects of – the immediate issue of the oil that continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico, but also deal with its responsibilities in terms of mitigating the impact. And I fully expect that this will be a matter that will take years to unwind.
QUESTION: I don’t think there’s any question about that. But I think the complaint --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. But I also --
QUESTION: -- is that the name calling and the kind of bashing of this company --
MR. CROWLEY: Look. I --
QUESTION: -- is that helpful (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: I think – I think the British people understand the frustration and anger that the American people are seeing in this. It is not going to affect our relationship between the United States and Britain. It – I’m sure it will be a matter of ongoing discussion and we certainly understand the importance that BP has within British society and the British economy. So – but this is ultimately about a private company and its responsibility in light of what’s happened in the Gulf.
QUESTION: So there hasn’t been – as far as you’re aware, there hasn’t been any kind of diplomatic outreach from the British to the United States expressing any kind of concern about the language that’s come out about --
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge. I don’t sense – I think the British Government and its statements fully understand the situation. I think they appreciate how the American people see it as well.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:53 p.m.)
DPB # 91
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