1:11 p.m. EDTMR. CROWLEY:
Let’s see, and in other news, the Secretary met today with Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis. In addition to expressing continued commitment to our strong bilateral relationship, the Secretary underscored our appreciation for Latvia’s firm support of the international security agenda, even in the face of Latvia’s economic challenges. We expressed appreciation for Latvia’s role in Afghanistan, where it currently contributes approximately 170 troops to ISAF, provides crucial trainers, and makes important civilian contributions in the particular fields of rule of law and governance. They talked about a broad range of regional security issues, energy, and our ongoing efforts to try to diversify sources of energy and electricity across Europe. The prime minister indicated when he leaves Washington he’s heading to Brussels, where the EU Council will continue deliberations on
Speaking of the EU, we welcome yesterday’s statement from the EU Foreign Affairs Council indicating the June 17 European Council will take up the issue of strong measures to implement and accompany UN Security Council Resolution 1929. We continue to work worldwide on vigorous implementation of the resolution, and we have every indication that the European Council later this week will affirm that is the EU’s intention as well.
We have reaffirmed our commitment to engage Iran in pursuit of a diplomatic resolution to the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Resolution 1929 keeps the door open for continued engagement between the P-5+1 and Iran, as well as other differences between us. We hope that the Security Council’s adoption of this resolution will affect Iran’s strategic calculus and cause Iran to take a more constructive course.
Staying in Europe, I think you’ve seen we released a statement a short time ago that the United States welcomes the publication of the Bloody Sunday inquiry report and acknowledges the work of those who have contributed to this very important process, including all those who testified. It is our hope that the scale of the inquiry, the quantity of material available, and its findings will contribute to greater understanding and reconciliation of what happened on that tragic day. We recognize the deep and enduring pain of those who lost loved ones on Bloody Sunday and throughout Northern Ireland’s conflict in all communities. The United States will continue to stand by those who are working towards building a peaceful and pluralistic society. We hope that the completion of the independent inquiry’s work and publication of its report will contribute to Northern Ireland’s ongoing transformation from a turbulent past to a peaceful future.
The Secretary also this morning had a call from Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey of Switzerland updating the Secretary and following up on a call they had last week, but updating the Secretary on passage of the agreement between Switzerland and the United States regarding UBS. Now, as we understand it, there are differences between the versions of the legislation passed in the lower house of Switzerland and the upper house that’ll have to be resolved later this week. But the Secretary, also during the conversation both last week and today, continued to thank the foreign minister for the Swiss Government’s efforts on behalf of our – the Swiss Government’s efforts to free the detained hikers in Iran.QUESTION:
What are the Swiss Government’s efforts to free the hikers? I mean, my understanding is that they – basically, they’ve been going and that they get consular visits. They (inaudible) -- MR. CROWLEY:
Well, yes, but they continue to lobby the Iranian Government on our behalf.
Turning to Africa, the United States welcomes the signing of the – of last week’s agreement between President Isaias of Eritrea and President Guelleh of Djibouti and support the efforts of His Highness The Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar to mediate the border dispute between the two countries. We view this agreement as an important first step towards achieving renewed peace and stability in the region, and urge Eritrea and Djibouti to work together on a rapid, peaceful, and sustainable settlement.
Assistant Secretary Bob Blake and Assistant Secretary Mike Posner continued meetings today in Ashgabat as part of the inaugural U.S.-Turkmenistan Annual Bilateral Consultations. During today’s sessions, Assistant Secretary Blake and Assistant Secretary Posner met with Foreign Minister Meredov and other high-level Turkmen officials to discuss cooperation in humanitarian affairs, including educational and cultural issues, as well as discussions on human rights. They also met with civil society leaders and students in a separate session.
And while he was there, Bob Blake had the opportunity to talk to Interim President Roza Otunbayeva in Kyrgyzstan to get updated on the current situation there. They discussed efforts internationally to provide assistance to Kyrgyzstan. Assistant Secretary Blake will be going to Tashkent tomorrow, where he will then travel down to the Fergana Valley and be able to see firsthand the current situation involving individuals who have crossed over the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and evaluate directly the humanitarian situation there. We are in consultations with internationally and through the UN and Red Cross about potential offers of humanitarian assistance. We’ll probably have more to say about that later this week.
And at the direction of Secretary Clinton, Assistant Secretary Blake will be in Bishkek on Friday and Saturday for direct consultations with the Kyrgyz Government. But thus far, we’ve provided just under a million dollars in humanitarian assistance in the form of medical emergency supplies, bandages, surgical instruments, and clothing. We’re prepared to airlift medicines as needed. But we recognize that with various estimates of up to tens of thousands of people displaced on both sides of the Uzbek-Kyrgyzstan border, they’re going to have dramatic humanitarian needs in the very near term, and we’re in discussions as to how to best help them meet those needs.
Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman is in
Iraq. He arrived yesterday afternoon to get a firsthand update from Iraqi leaders on how government formation talks are going and to get a status report from the Embassy and U.S. Forces Iraq on how the transition to a civilian-led relationship is proceeding. While there, he’ll have meetings with President Talabani, Prime Minister Al-Maliki, and other political and religious leaders, and convey our interest in seeing talks make real progress towards informing an inclusive and representative government.
And in Syria, we have a delegation of prominent American technology companies in Syria engaging the Syrian Government and the local private sector, civil society, and academic stakeholders. The companies participating in this visit include Dell, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Symantec, and VeriSign. Leading the delegation is Alec Ross, the Secretary of State’s senior advisor for innovation, Jared Cohen from the Secretary’s Policy Planning staff and other State Department officials. The initiative is in line with President Obama’s Cairo speech of last year, where he called for expanding cooperation between the United States and Muslim-majority countries and promoting job creation, education, and technological innovation.
The meeting – the visit has several objectives: first, to advance U.S. commercial interests by opening a new and emerging market for U.S. technology exports; supporting access to technologies that facilitate communication innovation which are crucial to meeting Syria’s needs today and in the future; broadening our engagement with both the Syrian Government and people; and supporting the rights and values that Secretary Clinton spoke of in her speech on internet freedom late last year.
Turning to Pakistan, our U.S. Consulate in Peshawar was notified this morning of the arrest of an American citizen, and we are currently working to arrange to have consular access to him. But due to privacy concerns, we are not able to comment further at this time.QUESTION:
So the -- MR. CROWLEY:
And just one more. And finally, in terms of the oil spill, we have received additional offers of assistance. Qatar has offered containment boom, Sweden has followed up on an earlier offer of assistance to include skimmers. This brings the total number of countries offering assistance to 18. Meanwhile, the International Maritime Organization has coordinated a response to our call for information on sources of boom. They have identified sources of boom in 10 countries, including Belgium, Canada,
China, France, Germany, Israel, Kenya, Norway, Spain, and Tunisia.
Just to kind of recap, as we’ve said before, so far we have accepted four offers of assistance from Mexico, Norway, the Netherlands, and Canada. BP has been also sourcing various equipment – skimmers, busters, boom – and technical experts worldwide from a fairly significant number of countries.
And just to clarify, one of the – there have been some questions about these offers of assistance. For the most part, they are offers to sell supplies. And in determining whether to accept these offers, we look at the availability of domestic sources and also compare pricing on the open market. So that may be one of the reasons why, in some cases, we’ve been able to accept these offers and pursued them. In other cases, we’re holding them in abeyance as we continue to identify sources of important equipment that will be needed for this – to handle this over the long term.
And before going to that, can I just – this arrest in Pakistan, so this guy was picked up for what? Jaywalking? Why are you telling us about this and then saying that you have no additional information about it when no one asked a question about it.MR. CROWLEY:
I believe there are – I believe he crossed the border into Pakistan and was arrested. QUESTION:
He crossed the border with a sword and a pistol and said he was looking for bin Laden. MR. CROWLEY:
I understand that.QUESTION:
Is this guy on any watch list? Is there any reason to believe that he’s involved in any terrorist activity? Is he someone that you’ve been watching?MR. CROWLEY:
Again, at this point, we’re not able to discuss anything further. I mean, we’re going to talk to him, try to figure out who he is, what brought him to Pakistan, and we’ll go from there.QUESTION:
But we are talking about the same person, aren’t we? Well, you volunteered this information, saying that an American has been arrested in Pakistan -- MR. CROWLEY:
Yeah. Yes, it – QUESTION:
An American was arrested in Brazil today, too.MR. CROWLEY:
It is the same person. We’re talking about one person -- QUESTION:
And have you seen him yet?MR. CROWLEY:
Not to my knowledge.QUESTION:
But did you know about this person before? I mean, was this -- MR. CROWLEY:
No. We – as I started the statement, we were informed by the Pakistanis of his arrest.QUESTION:
No, but what I’m saying is: Was this particular person a person of interest at all? MR. CROWLEY:
I -- QUESTION:
Is he someone that’s been on U.S. watch lists?MR. CROWLEY:
I have no – I can’t even begin to tell you anything about him at this point. QUESTION:
Kyrgyzstan. MR. CROWLEY:
You talked about Secretary Blake about to head over and for observations. Kyrgyz officials have made it known that this – of the burgeoning humanitarian situation that they’ve called – last week they called the White House, asked for rubber bullets, and were turned down, according to them. They called Moscow and begged for military intervention. No dice, for the most part. And you have the border closing and you have rioting. Are you comfortable with the pace of how the U.S. is becoming involved in terms of observations? I mean, they seem to be saying, hey, please come now, now, now, and it seems to be a bit slow. Is that a fair characterization?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I wouldn’t say so. Let’s separate two issues. First of all, on the security situation, the situation on the ground is clearly tense, particularly in the southern areas along the Uzbek-Kyrgyzstan border. But it is more stable today than it has been for the last few days.
You are absolutely right; there are various estimates ranging from 80,000 to 200,000 in terms of potential displaced persons. There is, in fact, an emerging humanitarian crisis in Kyrgyzstan and we are responding and prepared to respond further to that. And we are in touch with the UN. We are in touch with the International Red Cross. We will be providing additional assistance. We’re working to see exactly what the need is. And it will be a significant amount of money. We’ll have more to say in the next day or two.
We are in touch, as I said yesterday, through the UN. There was a briefing last evening on the current situation. We are consulting closely within the Security Council on how to help – how to best help Kyrgyzstan. Had an emergency meeting yesterday within the OSCE. And so we are focused on this and will be responding to the needs both on the Kyrgyzstan side and on the Uzbekistan side. That’s one of the reasons why Bob Blake is expanding his existing travel not only to be able to see firsthand the situation along the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, but also to consult directly with Kyrgyz officials later this week.QUESTION:
But you didn’t see the sense that there is a perception by the Kyrgyz officials that there’s been this essentially hands-off approach from two major countries of interest there, namely the U.S. and (inaudible)?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I mean, I wouldn't exactly describe what I just said as being a hands-off approach. We’re – as we said today, we consulted directly with the interim president. Our Embassy has been in continual touch with the Kyrgyz Government. I think let’s separate out both dealing with the humanitarian situation and then what can be done through international organizations and a very separate issue from a security standpoint over what is needed on that front.
But we are consulting closely with international countries, including Russia, that have an interest in this part of the world. And I think it’s clear that the international community is going to respond to Kyrgyzstan as an international community. And with the discussions yesterday in the UN, we are very focused on this and will provide assistance to Kyrgyzstan.QUESTION:
The Kyrgyz are asking the Russians to send in troops, as you know. Has there been any talk about the U.S. possibly providing any logistical or manpower logistical support?MR. CROWLEY:
I think we are in touch with authorities there to determine how best to respond. We want to make this a coordinated international response. And as to what is needed and then what countries are able to step up and provide the needed assistance, that is exactly what we’re trying to put in play.QUESTION:
At this point, does the U.S. believe that an outside, let’s say, third party is needed to resolve this; in other words, it looks as if the Kyrgyz cannot do it themselves?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, Jill, I think that’s a debatable assumption. The situation with intervention by community leaders has stabilized. I don’t want to overstate or understate what’s happening there. Clearly, there are longstanding and residual tensions within Kyrgyzstan. We’re trying to understand exactly not only what triggered this, what the situation is now, and then what the appropriate outside role, if any, should be. But no one takes lightly the aspect of providing direct support or even direct intervention. We’re going to work through this carefully, consult closely with Kyrgyz officials, work collaboratively with the international community, and we will respond as an international community.QUESTION:
The interim president, when she talked to Secretary Blake, did she mention this issue of international intervention? Did they – did you have any specific requests of her?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I mean, we have had these kinds of conversations with Kyrgyz officials already. Our advice to the interim president was to work through the OSCE and the UN. And we will be working within – with those bodies directly to see how we can best support Kyrgyzstan.QUESTION:
Do you think that enough discussion of the potential escalation of conflict was discussed enough when the government first took over? I mean, you kind of saw this coming around the bend, didn’t you, when the government first took over? I mean -- MR. CROWLEY:
Well, Elise -- QUESTION:
Were these type of discussions taking place at the time?MR. CROWLEY:
I think that infers some things that we may not fully understand yet. There obviously has been terrible violence and hundreds of people have been killed and injured. At this point, there’s a lot of conjecture not only as to what might have started this, but also whether there are forces within Kyrgyzstan that are taking advantage of the situation. We’re watching it closely. We’re consulting with Kyrgyz officials. We want to understand what this actually represents in terms of the immediate challenge that the interim government faces.
They’ve got a referendum coming up scheduled for the end of this month, and we’ll be talking to them about what – giving them some advice in terms of what the best path forward is. And they’ve got a very difficult, challenging road in terms of putting in place a new government. So we are committed to Kyrgyzstan. We want to be supportive, but we want to do this in the right way.QUESTION:
Is there any indication – does the U.S. have any indication that the former President Bakiyev had any role in instigating this?MR. CROWLEY:
There’s a lot of speculation on that. We are trying to clearly identify what has happened here. We’ve had officials from the Department in Kyrgyzstan over the past couple of weeks. I think we recognized for a variety of reasons, some perhaps related to the recent change in government, some perhaps more longstanding, but clearly we recognized that in and around Osh and the south, there were very significant tensions. It didn’t take much of a spark to light this conflict. But at this point, we’re not prepared to say that there’s a broad political agenda behind this.QUESTION:
What kind of officials have you sent in? I assume you’ve sent in new people and you said in the last couple weeks.MR. CROWLEY:
Well, folks who work for Assistant Secretary Bob Blake. George Krol has been there within the last couple of weeks and had kind of a firsthand look at the situation there. And so we are going to have Bob Blake in Bishkek later this week and we’ll see exactly what Kyrgyzstan needs. But we are committed to supporting in any way possible.QUESTION:
Do you have the exact – you said at the very beginning it was just under a million dollars of --MR. CROWLEY:
Eight hundred thousand, to be precise, at this point. QUESTION:
Eight hundred – since when?MR. CROWLEY:
Over the past few days. Since the -- QUESTION:
Since it began?MR. CROWLEY:
The operations at Manas Air Base, is it going on? Is it safe? Have you beefed up the security over there?MR. CROWLEY:
I mean, I’ll defer to the Pentagon, but my understanding is operations still continue at Manas.QUESTION:
Change of subject? A new subject?MR. CROWLEY:
New subject. On Iran, President Ahmadinejad has said that the deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey was still alive. I think he had previously said the contrary, that the resolution would kill the deal. So do you think because of the resolution and because of the Europeans moving, now that Iran might be starting to move towards some dialogue?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, the first step that Iran could take is to respond to our response to the IAEA of May 24, where we clearly raised several issues that we continue to have with the Tehran declaration and Iran’s letter to the IAEA. But we would – in the Tehran declaration, there was a commitment, in quotes, to engage constructively with the IAEA and the P-5+1. So I’m not going to interpret what President Ahmadinejad said, but clearly, if Iran wants to engage constructively, either in responding again to what we have outlined in terms of our ongoing concerns or to engage the United States and other countries directly through the P-5+1, they know our number.QUESTION:
Well, why does it have to be that they engage directly with the U.S. and the P-5+1? I mean, again, we’re going back to – other countries feel that they can take a – play a role, Turkey, Brazil. Maybe the deal that came out at the end wasn’t what you were looking for, but obviously there’s a certain level of trust between Turkey and Brazil and Iran. And if you were to have more confidence in a deal that would come out, why can’t they play a role? Why does it have to be that they engage the U.S. and the P-5+1? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I’m not – these are not mutually exclusive. I mean, as we’ve said, Turkey and Brazil played – tried to play constructive mediators. But ultimately it’s about whether Iran is willing to come forward and engage seriously and answer the questions that the international community has outlined. In terms of the narrow aspect of the TRR, of course, that was an idea put forward by the United States, France, and Russia. But ultimately, Iran is going to have to sit down with the P-5+1 and engage substantively on these issues. We are prepared to have that discussion if Iran is prepared to have it.QUESTION:
Well, also in your resolution, you recommit yourselves to diplomacy and acting – engaging constructively with Iran. Additionally, Secretary Clinton and others have said that they don’t feel that Iran would respond positively to such engagement until there was a resolution with the additional sanctions. So you have your resolution. You have your additional sanctions. Are there any plans from the P-5+1 to reach out to Iran again and say, okay, let’s put this past us; let’s get down to talks?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, in fact, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We have – QUESTION:
I mean, if Catherine Ashton sent a letter, we want to meet – I mean, what are the plans for engagement?MR. CROWLEY:
I can’t speak to whether there has been a particular conversation in the past week, but we have stood ready since October 1st
of last year for a direct follow-on discussion with Iran on the TRR and broader subjects and that offer remains on the table.QUESTION:
Yeah, but standing ready and, like, waiting for Iran to come to you is different than what engagement is, right? Isn’t engagement continuing to reach out and say, hey, we’re here, let’s meet? I mean, is engagement just letting the other party know that we’re ready when you are?MR. CROWLEY:
I don’t think that there should be any doubt in Tehran’s mind that we stand ready. We – when we were with the Iranian representative in Geneva on October 1st
, we made clear that we hope to have a follow-up meeting. At that meeting, Iran itself said that it was willing to meet again. And then subsequently Iran failed to follow up. So we are – QUESTION:
One of the P-5+1 ambassadors had dinner with the Iranian – MR. CROWLEY:
There’s – Elise, there’s – QUESTION:
Did you bring up then – MR. CROWLEY:
There’s no mystery here. If Iran is willing to constructively engage on nuclear issues, the United States, among other countries, is ready to sit down and have that discussion. The ball is in Iran’s court.QUESTION:
Well, it sounds as if, though, that the TRR is out there and that’s like your only game in terms of engagement. I mean, are you trying to hash out other ideas, perhaps other ways to bring Iran back to the table or is it TRR or nothing?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, it’s not – again, remember, TRR was a means to an end. The sanctions – QUESTION:
(Inaudible) another means?MR. CROWLEY:
The sanctions are a means to an end. Ultimately, we want to see Iran change its current course. We want to see Iran understand that the pursuit of nuclear weapons is not in its security interest. We are prepared to have a broader conversation beginning with our nuclear concerns, but it can extend beyond that as we go forward. But really, what has been absent over the past year has been constructive engagement by Iran absent one meeting in Geneva last October 1st
. European countries, the United States have made this clear to Iran on a number of occasions that we are ready to engage. It has been Iran that has been unwilling to come forward.QUESTION:
How does this juxtapose with the rhetoric that Iran is illegitimate or the current government over the past year and that the election has been stolen and so on? I mean, the Iranians have a – they must be a little bit confused. On the one hand you want to engage them; you’re saying they’re not engaging. On the other, the common rhetoric is that the government is illegitimate, the election was stolen and –MR. CROWLEY:
Well, let’s take – a fair question. Let’s separate those two. I mean, we recommend – we recognize that Iran has a sitting government. President Ahmadinejad represented Iran at the opening of the NPT review conference on May 3rd
. So from a legal standpoint, there is a Iranian Government in place. The issue of legitimacy goes to the real question and that is really something for the Iranian people, which is – there was an election just over a year ago. Many feel that that election was stolen and that the result that was sanctioned by the Iranian Government did not actually represent the actual will and votes of the Iranian people. That is an ongoing challenge for Iran. And from this has emerged a determined political opposition that, tragically, Iran is doing its upmost to try to intimidate and crush.
We want to see a confident but peaceful Iran emerge that allows for freedom of expression, allows for freedom of assembly, allows for a much broader and pluralistic political system than currently exists. But these are ultimately choices for the Iranian people to make. QUESTION:
P.J. MR. CROWLEY:
A new topic –
North Korea?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, hold on. What were you – go ahead.QUESTION:
At a rare press conference up at the UN, the North Korean ambassador came out and said military forces will respond if the UN condemns it for the sinking of the ship. There were several things that said – I mean, but basically they deny – vehemently deny – that they had a role in it. But (inaudible) I can’t do anything, but if the UN condemns it, the military will respond. How do you respond to that?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I mean, that sounds like the same kind of provocative behavior that has characterized North Korea, unfortunately, since early 2009. What we need from North Korea is, first of all, accountability. And secondly, we need behavior that we think is more consistent with a responsible state. So we’re looking for North Korea to change its unacceptable behavior, to cease belligerent actions.
The last thing that we want to see is further tension in the Korean Peninsula. But there was a South Korean ship sunk, were 46 lives lost. There was an exhaustive investigation. The investigation, we think, proved without a reasonable doubt that the only country responsible for that act was North Korea. We are looking for the UN and the international community to come together and make a strong response to that provocation.
And we would like to see North Korea change its course. North Korea cannot expect us to continue a business-as-usual approach when they go about sinking the Cheonan
. We can’t proceed as if this never took place. Actions have consequences. North Korea, unfortunately, has put together a string of provocative actions from missile firings to nuclear tests to the sinking of the Cheonan
. What is important for North Korea is to take stock of these provocative actions, cease this belligerent behavior. And if they do, we will respond appropriately.QUESTION:
There was a couple of substantive things that led up to its citing that saying the military might respond. They said that the U.S. and South Korea had a trade deal signed between you two as possible motivations, basically saying that you’re benefiting from this and that you’re cooking this up. MR. CROWLEY:
Well – QUESTION:
I mean, you can say what you want about it. I’m just –MR. CROWLEY:
Well, and there’s a suggestion that somehow the relationship that the United States has with Japan and South Korea is harming those countries. Hmm, let’s review the videotape here. There are -- two of the most vibrant and responsible countries in the world and certainly in the region are Japan and South Korea.
There is one country that is isolated. There is one country that is unable to feed its people. There is one country that is pursuing an economic policy that was buried 50 or more years ago. That country is North Korea. So somehow, to suggest that North Korea’s doing everything right and the United States and other countries in the region are doing everything wrong is preposterous.
North Korea has no future on its present course. They might think that if they continue the path they’re on there’ll be some sort of pony at the end of this. There’s no pony here. South Korea is one of the most dynamic countries in the world. It’s one of the leading economies in the world. Japan, likewise. And all we need to see is that if the North Korean people had a fair opportunity to understand what others are achieving while North Korea falls further and further behind, I suspect they would have something to say about that. QUESTION:
But what if they win the World Cup? (Laughter.) MR. CROWLEY:
That will be amazing. QUESTION:
And what are the steps -- MR. CROWLEY:
All right -- QUESTION:
Can I just – actually, can I just ask one question on the World Cup, actually? MR. CROWLEY:
South Korea -- MR. CROWLEY:
I’m rooting for Brazil. QUESTION:
(Inaudible) go to World Cup. (Laughter.) QUESTION:
(Inaudible) on North Korea in the World Cup. MR. CROWLEY:
I’m on record; I’m rooting for Brazil.QUESTION:
South Korea is charging that North Korea is illegally using its broadcast of the World Cup. And I was just wondering what you think – whether you think that showing the World Cup, showing these type of international events in North Korea is a good thing. Could it open up the society if more people know about these type of events? MR. CROWLEY:
On the one hand, I suspect that there’s probably some truth to that. On the other hand, we do take strong stands in terms of piracy of intellectual property rights. I mean, this is yet again a characteristic of North Korea. They could have a normal relationship with their neighbors. They could enter into legal transactions with their neighbors. But they choose, rather than doing so, to try to steal or pirate a World Cup signal even if the showing of the World Cup may well offer yet another crack so that the North Korean people understand the dichotomy between what is happening in the North and what’s happening in the South and elsewhere.
I mean, North Korea is a criminal state. And so this is another characteristic of where, rather than playing by any international rules that countries abide by, North Korea tries to steal its way forward as to try – rather than trying to do so through legal means. QUESTION:
You said -- QUESTION:
(Inaudible) stay on North Korea for a while. MR. CROWLEY:
Sure. Sure. QUESTION:
A while? (Laughter.) QUESTION:
You said actions have consequences. I’m aware of what the South Korean Government has done with regard to North Korea. What U.S. consequences has North Korea suffered since the Cheonan
incident? What have you guys done? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, we are working with South Korea. There was a briefing yesterday at the UN Security Council on – where the states had the opportunity to ask the experts who participated in the investigation precisely what this means. We will be -- QUESTION:
I don’t see any consequences. I mean, what are they? You know, you’re thinking about it, you’re working with South Korea, but what have you guys done, if actions have consequences? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, first we are going to work with the international community and the Security Council on a united response to the sinking of the Cheonan
. I mean, this isn’t – there’s a new development but this is not a new trend. We’ve just appointed Bob Einhorn to succeed Phil Goldberg and we’re going to continue doing what we have been doing for the past year, which is vigorously enforcing Resolution 1874. We continue to look at ways in which we can affect North Korea’s thinking. And it’s not only the institutions, the revenue stream that goes into the government; we continue to look at ways in which we can send a strong signal to North Korea that there’s no reward for this string of provocative actions.
So we will continue to do what we’re doing. We’re not saying this is easy and we’re not saying that this is going to change North Korea’s habits overnight. This is going to take some time. It’s a process that probably will take months. But at the end of this, we hope that we can influence North Korea’s thinking, get them to stop this string of belligerent actions, and indicate that they are willing to engage constructively. If they do, we’ll respond accordingly. If they don’t, then we’ll continue to find ways to influence North Korea’s behavior. QUESTION:
And just one other for me. How does your rhetoric – for example, calling them a criminal state -- MR. CROWLEY:
That’s not a new revolution – a new revelation. (Laughter.) QUESTION:
I know. I’m well aware of that. But State Department spokesmen don’t usually bandy that term around. And I wonder how it is you feel that calling them a criminal state from the podium makes it more likely that North Korea will change its behavior and cooperate with you. MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I mean, there – QUESTION:
How does that help you diplomatically -- MR. CROWLEY:
We don’t profess to understand everything that’s going on inside North Korea. We do take note of the fact that, somewhat remarkably, the regime felt obliged recently to apologize to its people for its economic policies and its economic performance. Now, that doesn’t necessarily indicate any kind of long-term trend, but we do feel that North Korea is feeling some pressure from the United States and the international community. There is something that North Korea wants, but what North Korea wants is that something for nothing. And what we’re saying is that if you want something from us, you’re going to have to do something first. QUESTION:
So calling them names from the podium helps you diplomatically? MR. CROWLEY:
Look, we will never hesitate to characterize what we think is provocative, belligerent, unacceptable behavior by North Korea. Ultimately, our goals for the region are clear but we’re not going to step back from this. And North Korea has to recognize that it’s going to have to change if it wants a different kind of relationship with the United States. QUESTION:
(Inaudible.) MR. CROWLEY:
Alright. Hold on, hold on. QUESTION:
On North Korea. Do you know why the United States postponed joint military exercise in Korea? MR. CROWLEY:
I do not. I’ll defer to the Pentagon on those kinds of decisions. QUESTION:
Thank you. A CFR report said today that Obama Administration’s North Korea is halfhearted. MR. CROWLEY:
Is what? QUESTION:
Halfhearted. And the strategic patience will lead to acquiescence on North Korea’s nuclear armament. Do you want to comment on that? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I happen to know several of the people that participated in that report. We are reviewing the report; I don’t think we’ve gotten all the way through it. I wouldn’t necessarily – you’ve pulled one phrase out of a very detailed report. I think the group was generally supportive of our common approach to this but I would just say that, going back to remarks I just made a minute ago, no one can say that we have made a halfhearted approach to North Korea. We have been focused on this from the outset of this Administration. We have worked hard within the international community. The fact we – in response to North Korea’s provocative actions last year, the international community came together and passed Resolution 1874. This was a significant action and the implementation of 1874 since then has, we believe, put pressure on North Korea.
There hasn’t – we haven’t seen the response from North Korea that we’d hoped for, and the Cheonan
is just a latest in the string of provocative actions by North Korea. But we haven’t – so, we haven’t seen what we had hoped for, but we have a very strong commitment to continuing to pursue this. But really at this point, you have to put the responsibility where it lies. Where we are right now is expressly because of the provocative actions that North Korea has taken over the past year. QUESTION:
Different subject? MR. CROWLEY:
Go ahead. QUESTION:
Iraq. What can you tell us about this request that the State Department has given to the Defense Department for military equipment, Blackhawk helicopters, bomb-resistant vehicles, et cetera? And especially the question of whether the – whether contractors will be the ones who would have to maintain this, thus continuing the role of contractors in Iraq.MR. CROWLEY:
Well, we are in the process or at the cusp of a significant transition in our policy in Iraq. You’re going to see, beginning later this year, significant reductions in the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq. Those forces have certainly helped provide security to the Iraqi people, but also to our diplomats who engage Iraqi Government and Iraqi people on a daily basis.
But as we make the transition from our current strategy to a civilian strategy in Iraq, our needs are going to change. There are some – there are a lot of programs that are currently being done by the military – police training is a good example of that – that are going to transition and be done by the State Department. As we do that, we’re going to have our representatives and diplomats out around the country. And they will need security.
So we are evaluating exactly what we’re going to need and make sure that our personnel are as safe as they can be. Safety and security of our personnel in Iraq is vitally important, just as it is in any diplomatic post around the world. So there’s a lot of this residual security that, over time, has been provided by the president – the presence of significant military forces in Iraq, but as they transition out, we’re going to have the same security requirements and we will be doing that, beefing up our Diplomatic Security efforts. A lot of this will have to be done by contractors and we are going through a careful planning process of determining exactly what we need so that we have the security as we transition from a military to a civilian strategy and presence in Iraq.QUESTION:
But when you look at this equipment, I mean, this is heavy duty military equipment, which would lead you to think that the situation there is still pretty dire. I mean, Diplomatic Security’s own equipment is not capable, apparently, of dealing with this. So what does that say about --MR. CROWLEY:
-- the operation? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, wait a second. I mean, the Air Force exists in the military. We have air assets that we manage right now, but those air assets are provided to us under civilian contract. So again, the – we are working with the Government of Iraq. The Government of Iraq will provide some of the basic security to us as well. But to the extent that we will have a continuing, ongoing need for years and years to be able to move around the country, to support the various programs that will continue to exist in our relationship between the United States and Iraq, we’re going to need that kind of security complement.
So will we need helicopters and aircraft? Yes. Will we need mine-resistant and heavy vehicles that provide security to the occupants of those vehicles? Yes. This is, for the time being, part of the landscape in Iraq. It affects our people. It also affects the people of Iraq. The situation is stabilizing in Iraq and we continue to be gratified that notwithstanding efforts by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and other – or al-Qaida in Iraq and others to try to foment sectarian violence, that hasn’t occurred.
But that said, there are these kind of residual, ongoing attacks that affect the Iraqi people and can potentially affect our soldiers and diplomats. And we’re just taking a very kind of clear-eyed approach to what we think the security requirements in Iraq will be for the foreseeable future. As the situation in Iraq continues to improve, we’ll adapt our security accordingly. But we have been beneficiaries of a very robust military presence in Iraq going back to 2003. And as the military begins its drawdown, we will still have those – many of those same security requirements as we maintain our civilian presence in Iraq.QUESTION:
But what does this say about the ability of the Iraqi Government to protect people such as the State Department? MR. CROWLEY:
Well, I think if you --QUESTION:
I mean, it looks like (inaudible) -- MR. CROWLEY:
Again, no – you, Jill – I mean, CNN and others are reporting on a regular basis the ongoing tragedies that befall the Iraqi people around markets and government buildings and so forth. We recognize that right now, there is a ongoing – it certainly is less capable – insurgency than existed perhaps five years ago. But it is still a lethal force that continues to attack the Iraqi Government and that potentially affects governments like the United States that are providing direct support to the Government of Iraq.
So we’re just – this is not a statement about the Government of Iraq. We are pleased with the broad trajectory of what’s happening in Iraq, but we recognize in Iraq, just as we recognize in Afghanistan, that there is still an active insurgency, and we have to plan accordingly. As we – as the Government of Iraq continues to improve its performance and as more and more people of Iraq support that government, we expect that the security situation will improve.
But right now, we are very aware that there are just episodic attacks on the Iraqi Government and episodic attacks on U.S. forces and we’re planning for the environment that we see now, even as we continue to work with Iraq to see that situation improve.QUESTION:
P.J., are you sure that clear-eyed approach to vetting security is going to prevent another sort of, quote-un-quote, “Blackwater situation” from emerging in terms of vetting your contractors and so forth, or any manifestation of that -- MR. CROWLEY:
We have existing contractors in Iraq that are providing the services that we need. I would expect those contracts to continue.QUESTION:
Today, the --QUESTION:
Was the --MR. CROWLEY:
Wait. Hold on, hold on, hold on.QUESTION:
Was Mr. Feltman’s visit planned to coincide with the session – the first session of the new parliament? MR. CROWLEY:
I think he actually physically arrived after the first session had opened. But yeah, he’s there at the opening of the session to see how he can help push, prod, cajole the political forces into putting together an inclusive government. QUESTION:
Today, the negotiations between EU and U.S. on anti-terror investigations and the banking data sharing ended. And are you happy with the final result of it, which is going to the European parliament, which is in session today in Strasbourg? MR. CROWLEY:
That’s a good question. Let me see. We have been working this issue hard with the EU over months and years. It is very important in terms of our collective efforts to improve global transportation. I think we’ve seen a commitment on both sides to negotiate in good faith, but I’ll take the question as to whether we have a formal response to whatever agreement has been arrived at.QUESTION:
The China-Pakistan nuclear deal – we understand that the U.S. will oppose or plans to oppose that in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. I’m wondering, what are the arguments for opposing that? And secondly, how do you respond to those who say that the U.S. opened the door to this kind of agreement with the U.S.-India deal?MR. CROWLEY:
Well, we have asked China to clarify the details of its sale of additional nuclear reactors to Pakistan. This appears to extend beyond cooperation that was grandfathered when China was approved for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. We believe that such cooperation would require a specific exemption approved by consensus of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, as was done for India. So we’re not looking at any difference between the two.QUESTION:
And maybe China informed you about the sale of these two nuclear plants?MR. CROWLEY:
I think, Lalit, this was an issue that we’ve had periodic discussions with China for some time.QUESTION:
(The briefing was concluded at 2:05 p.m.)
DPB # 94