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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 21, 2010


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton's Conversation with Japanese Foreign Minister Okada / Relocation of US base at Okinawa
    • Announcement of Marzuki Darusman as UN Special Rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights
    • Condemnation of Journalist Killings in the Philippines
    • Support for Upcoming Elections in Guinea
    • U.S. Congratulates Colombians on Elections
    • Statement from the Quartet on Gaza situation
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Policy Proposed by Israelis
    • Types of Items Excluded/Permitted to Enter Gaza
    • Possibility of Meeting between Secretary Clinton and Ehud Barak this Week
    • Possibility of Other Flotillas Attempting to Cross Blockade
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Media Reports that Richard Holbrooke's Aircraft was Attacked
  • IRAN
    • Iran's Unwillingness to Cooperate with the IAEA
    • U.S. Push for Sanctions while Leaving Door Open for Diplomatic Solutions
  • PAKISTAN
    • US Contact with Family of American Citizen in Custody of Pakistan
  • RUSSIA
    • U.S.-Russia Adoption Talks
  • COLOMBIA
    • U.S. Expects Continuation of Close Relationship with New President
  • INDIA
    • Bhopal / Extradition Request
  • KYRGYZSTAN
    • Assistant Secretary Blake's Meeting with Interim President Otumbayeva
    • Upcoming Constitutional Referendum
  • NORTH KOREA
    • North Korean Claims of Nuclear Fusion / Hydrogen
    • Cheonan/ Options Available to the U.S. / No Reward for Provocative Actions


TRANSCRIPT:

1:38 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the State Department. A few announcements before taking your questions. The Secretary spoke this morning with Japanese Foreign Minister Okada. The call lasted 17 minutes. They talked about the importance of the U.S.-Japanese alliance, the ongoing work by the expert group on implementation of the base relocation plan, and efforts to lighten the impact on the people of Okinawa. They also talked about regional issues, including the need for a strong response to the sinking of the Cheonan and international issues, including implementation of Resolution 1929. The Secretary and Foreign Minister Okada will see each other next month at the ASEAN ministerial.

Staying in the region, the United States welcomes the announcement of Marzuki Darusman as the special UN rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK. The United States hopes the North Korean Government will grant Mr. Darusman access to North Korea to observe conditions inside the country and hold direct discussions on human rights issues. The United States recognizes and thanks Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn for his six years of outstanding service as the first special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK. Professor Muntarbhorn eloquently gave voice to the North Korean people, strongly advocating for the North Korean Government to improve its human rights record. The United States remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in North Korea and the plight of North Korean refugees. Human rights are a top U.S. priority and addressing human rights issues will have a significant impact on the prospect for closer U.S.-North Korean ties.

Also in the region, we deplore the killings of journalists and urge the Philippine authorities to move quickly to bring those responsible to justice. We note that just this weekend was tragically the third in a string of recent attacks on journalists. Greater progress must be made to halt such killings. We will continue to raise this point with our Philippine counterparts and support efforts to build government capacity to investigate and prosecute these crimes.

In Africa, the United States supports the Ghanaian* people as they prepare for an historic election this weekend. We have been particularly encouraged by their embrace of an innovative text messaging and mapping platform set up to further transparency during the elections which are scheduled for June 27. Our Embassy has engaged in enormous outreach to Ghanaian* political parties, leaders, transition government, the civil society, and the public t o reinforce the message of peaceful elections, the necessity of transparency, and the respect by all parties for the will of the voters. And we certainly strongly encourage all parties to join together to ensure a peaceful, fair, and free process.

*Briefer is actually referencing elections slated to be held June 27 in Guinea.

In this hemisphere, we congratulate President-elect Santos for his victory and applaud the people and Government of Colombia for conducting Sunday’s run-off election in a fair and transparent manner. The peaceful and transparent elections and the respectful but spirited debate that preceded the election illustrate Colombia’s longstanding commitment to democratic principles. We look forward to working with the president-elect and to deepen our partnership and to advance common goals for the benefit of our two people.

And finally, we are – we will shortly be releasing a statement by the Quartet which I will read in part: “The Quartet reaffirms that the current situation in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population, is unsustainable, unacceptable, and not in the interests of any of those concerned. Consistent with these objectives, the Quartet and the Quartet representative have worked with Israel as well as consulting the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and other concerned parties to effect a fundamental change in policy in Gaza. The new policy towards Gaza just announced by the Government of Israel is a welcome development. The Quartet will continue to work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other concerned parties to ensure these arrangements are implemented as quickly as possible. At the same time, the Quartet recognizes that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded and believes efforts to maintain security while enabling movement and access for the Palestinian people and goods are critical.”

With that --

QUESTION: Can we go to that to start with?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: I don’t understand something. So the current situation in Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable and not in the interests of anybody. Does that mean that even with the announcements made by the Israeli Government yesterday, it is still unacceptable to you?

MR. CROWLEY: No, it means that the current situation as of this moment is of concern to the United States, to the Quartet. What – the policy that the – Israel announced yesterday is a welcome step. And we believe, as I think the White House statement said yesterday, that once implemented, these arrangements should significantly improve conditions for Palestinians. But now comes the hard part of actually implementing this policy and, in the process, working effectively with the Palestinian Authority to increase the flow of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank.

QUESTION: So once that’s been implemented, then from your point of view, will the situation will be sustainable and acceptable?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’ll wait to see how the policy is further developed and fully implemented. But certainly, the policy framework that the Israelis announced yesterday, we believe can help improve the situation significantly.

QUESTION: In what ways do you expect it to improve their daily lives? What in particular are you looking for?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as I understand it, the Israelis are kind of flipping the current process on its head. So now, instead of having a situation where goods are excluded unless they are specifically authorized for transit, now you have a much broader array of goods that are authorized for transit into Gaza and that only the restrictions will only apply to those things which have military value.

QUESTION: So you think they’ll have a normal healthcare, education, food – just in most parts of the --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t think anyone could describe the current situation in Gaza as being normal. But clearly, this can offer the opportunity for progress. It will require the Israelis, the Palestinians, others to work in good faith and work through established channels, through international organizations and the UN, to channel more assistance to the people of Gaza.

QUESTION: The checkpoints, maybe? The improvements is including the checkpoints? Because Hamas wrote a letter to European Union and they are suggesting that Larnaca or Cairo or the Egypt – in a harbor in Egypt maybe – new checkpoints for the control of the goods. Is it --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we would like to see an expansion in the flow of goods, the flow of people. That may well require more openings for the flow of material. These will all be part of the process now of implementing the policy that the Israelis announced yesterday.

QUESTION: But last week (inaudible) --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll have time.

QUESTION: -- seemed to suggest that it is not enough. It was a welcome thing, but really not enough. Do you agree with that assessment?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we will see as this policy is fully implemented. And I mean, obviously, you fit this in a broader context of continuing to develop the capability of the Palestinian Authority and their ability to meet the needs of their people both in the West Bank and Gaza. We also want to see the parties get to direct negotiations. But certainly, this has the potential to significantly improve the daily lives of the Palestinian people. But let’s be cautious. This is not going to be something that happens overnight. The Gaza – the people of Gaza have profound needs in terms of housing, in terms of education, a lot of infrastructure that needs to be either rebuilt or further developed. But those are the kinds of things that Prime Minister Fayyad is working on on behalf of all the people of the Palestinian territories.

Now, that – this would also – in order to really change, fundamentally change, the lives of the people of Gaza, you need to have a more responsible government working on their behalf rather than working against their long-term interest.

QUESTION: Considering that this has gone on for three years now, I mean, what is the sudden – why is it all of a sudden so urgent? I mean, is it something that you realized now that you did not three to four months ago?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think everyone has recognized, particularly in recent months, the profound plight of the people of Gaza. We’ve had many conversations with the Israelis about their previous policy, and we’re gratified that they have responded to our thoughts and others.

Michel.

QUESTION: The Jerusalem mayor has decided to demolish 22 Arab houses in East Jerusalem. How do you view this act?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we understand that this is an action undertaken by the municipality of Jerusalem, not the Government of Israel, and it’s an initial step. We have made it clear that we disagree with some Israeli practices in Jerusalem affecting Palestinians in areas such as housing, including evictions and demolitions. The status of Jerusalem and all other permanent status issues must be resolved through negotiations. So we’re concerned about it. We’ve had a number of conversations with the Government of Israel about it.

This, I think at this point, is still an issue between the Government of Israel and the Jerusalem municipality, but this is expressly the kind of step that we think undermines trust that is fundamental to making progress in the proximity talks and ultimately in direct negotiations.

QUESTION: Do you think that will affect the proximity talks?

MR. CROWLEY: It hasn’t right now, but obviously, this is – these are the kinds of steps that Israel needs to understand belong in final-status negotiations.

QUESTION: P.J., you mentioned --

QUESTION: The final --

QUESTION: P.J., on the --

MR. CROWLEY: All right. Hold on. I’m getting whipsawed here.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: On – you just mentioned the role of the United States. How would you assess the role of the United States in this decision leading to this decision? Why do you think it came about at this point by the – not the housing, I’m talking about opening up –

MR. CROWLEY: Okay.

QUESTION: -- Gaza.

MR. CROWLEY: Try me again. Our role in this --

QUESTION: Opening up Gaza, yes. The role --

MR. CROWLEY: This was a decision by the Government of Israel. We welcome the decision. We want to see prompt and full implementation of this new policy. I think this is something that we’ve been discussing with the Israelis over many months. We’ve had concerns about the plight of the people of Gaza. So have many others. And this is the culmination of months of diplomatic effort and both public and private discussions that we’ve had to try to encourage a change in the Israeli approach to Gaza.

QUESTION: You mentioned about the plight of people and everything. Last two days we have been hearing statements welcoming, and when are we going to see the real difference on the ground?

MR. CROWLEY: This will take some time to put into place.

QUESTION: Is there a timeframe?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a good question to offer to the Government of Israel. We’d like to see this policy fully developed and implemented as rapidly as possible. Some things like the flow of food and medicine; that can probably be done fairly quickly. Rebuilding housing and infrastructure obviously takes longer and getting the materials into Gaza will be a little bit of a greater challenge, but we – it’s expressly that point. We want to see a change in the lives of the average person in Gaza as quickly as possible. We think that can have a constructive impact on the broader environment.

So we do have a sense of urgency about this, but ultimately it requires goodwill and effective action by all of the parties in the region, including further discussions and cooperation between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority.

QUESTION: P.J., what – the Israeli Government has taken the view that a certain number of materials that are highly useful in construction, like concrete and so on, have military uses. Do you have any – and you’ve spoken a couple of times here about construction – do you have any assurance that basic building supplies and materials will, indeed, be allowed in?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that we have seen the full implementation of this yet in terms of lists.

QUESTION: Well, then why are you welcoming it wholesomely?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the Israeli policy says that you’ll go from a situation where everything’s permitted unless it’s-- that everything’s prohibited unless it’s permitted to the reverse, where everything is permitted unless it is specifically prohibited. We do recognize that Israel has legitimate security interest in excluding certain things that can have direct military value. But we definitely think that the list of things that are relevant to improving the daily lives of the average people – average person in Gaza should expand significantly and that Israel should narrow down its area of concern to those kinds of things which really contribute to Hamas’s military capability.

As we reflected here at various times, no one is sure – exactly sure how potato chips factor into the strategic equation in Gaza. So this was part of the basis on our discussions with the Israelis. I just said the – their present approach is unsustainable and we’re gratified that the Israelis have heeded our advice and others and are moving to change the policy. But now it remains to be seen how it will be implemented and expressly if we have the impact on the ground that we would like to see. I think a broader aspect of this is not just improving the basics in terms of the lives of the average citizen of Gaza. One has to find a way to rebuild the economy of Gaza in a way that supports the people, but does not support Hamas and its policies.

When President Abbas was here recently talking to President Obama and Secretary Clinton, he had some definite ideas on how working – reestablishing some of the commerce between the West Bank and Gaza could have broader impact, and we welcomed his thoughts and think that’s an area that should have further discussion as we go forward.

QUESTION: Can I – same subject --

QUESTION: Could I follow up on this? On – just on the construction issue, though, I mean, you a couple of times mentioned construction and reconstruction in your talk about the new – the people, the residents of Gaza. Obviously, something like concrete can be used to build bunkers --

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- which the military use, just as it can be used to lay foundations for housing. And if – I guess my question is: Why do you think that there’s going to – if you don’t have any assurance that building materials like that are going to be let in, why do you have that--

MR. CROWLEY: All right.

QUESTION: -- are you talking about reconstruction?

MR. CROWLEY: All right. Let me be clear. We have not seen the Israeli list. We definitely believe that construction materials should be let in so that housing, schools, other vital infrastructure important to the day-to-day lives of the people of Gaza can be improved.

QUESTION: Well, same general issue. A few minutes ago, you gave credit to the diplomatic efforts that have been going on for some time in an effort to get the Israelis to do this. But isn’t it, in effect, that what’s broken the logjam on this is the tragedy of a couple of weeks ago with the flotilla and the fact that nine people were killed that brought this to a head and brought pressure on the Israelis to change their policy?

MR. CROWLEY: No question it had an impact.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the housing for --

QUESTION: I want to ask about this. Ehud Barak is coming this week. He’s going to meet the Secretary? Do you think that there is any meeting coming?

MR. CROWLEY: If Mr. Barak is coming to Washington, they normally get together. Let me – I’ll take the question in terms of what that means for the schedule.

QUESTION: P.J., some groups in Lebanon --

MR. CROWLEY: It’s not unusual given what the White House just talked about yesterday in terms of the prime minister coming on – in early July, usually somebody will come ahead of time to help prepare for --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. So I haven’t seen it on the schedule yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me and we’ll let you know.

QUESTION: Yeah. Some groups in Lebanon were planning to send the aid ships to Gaza. Have you talked to the Lebanese authorities regarding this issue?

MR. CROWLEY: We have talked to – there’s not just – there’s – lots of people are talking about other ship sailings or flotillas. Particularly, since you see a change in Israeli policy, there’s no basis for any kind of action that risks the same kind of confrontation that Charlie was talking about a moment ago.

Everyone needs to carefully evaluate actions. We – everyone’s committed to improving the situation on the ground in Gaza. There’s now a policy and increased openings that allow materials to be transported to Gaza through land crossings. We think everyone who wants to help the people of Gaza should work through established channels.

QUESTION: Have you discussed this issue with the Lebanese authorities or not?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. We are very aware of what has been announced. I just can’t – I can’t cite a specific conversation. I’ll take that question.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

QUESTION: Can we just --

MR. CROWLEY: Hold on.

QUESTION: -- go on to the housing for one second? You said that – I believe you said we disagree with some policies including demolitions and evictions, and then a few moments later, you said that the proposed demolitions announced today were exactly the kind of thing that you thought undermined trust; correct? Does that mean that you regard these plans by the municipal authorities to demolish these homes and to build other homes for Jewish people are unacceptable? Do you disagree with that?

MR. CROWLEY: Arshad, I don’t think – I’m careful because there are projects. They have got different histories. And so I would not want to be drawn into a discussion of 10 different items. I think in this particular case, this would appear to be the kind of action that undermines trust and potentially incites emotions and adds to the risk of violence. We do understand that there are perhaps different policy approaches between the Government of Israel and the municipality in Jerusalem. But our broad thrust here is that issues regarding housing and other projects in the occupied areas of Jerusalem, it’s a final status issue. That’s where these issues belong. And any unilateral step that anyone takes, we think, is of concern to us and should be avoided.

QUESTION: Just one quick follow-up on the Middle East.

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: George Mitchell is back. Has he been able to brief the Secretary on --

MR. CROWLEY: George Mitchell is back. He has not been in to see the Secretary today yet, but usually checks in with her at some point.

QUESTION: The Israelis recently accelerated the process of revoking resident status for Jerusalem Palestinian Arab residents that are students or that work outside, and so upon return – returning, they find themselves that they have lost their resident status. Are you aware of that or are you cautioning the Israelis that they should not do this?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not – I can’t cite a specific example of that. Again, this whole penumbra of issues that tries to change – excuse me – tries to change facts on the ground, these are expressly the kinds of issues that belong in formal negotiations and not subject to unilateral steps by any one – any party.

QUESTION: Different topic? What can you tell us about the situation involving Ambassador Holbrooke? In Afghanistan today, there was reports that his Osprey was fired upon when they were trying to land in Marjah and of apparently coordinated suicide attacks around that same time.

MR. CROWLEY: I think this comes out of the category of first reports are usually wrong. My understanding is they were airborne, and while they were airborne, they were aware of small arms fire below in the general vicinity of Marjah, but it did not affect the airplane itself.

QUESTION: Did it hit them at all?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Okay. And then with the bombings that were around, there was some question as to whether a series of bombings in the same area immediately and afterward were connected with his arrival. Do you know?

MR. CROWLEY: In Marjah?

QUESTION: Correct. Do you know if that --

MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on – sorry, Afghanistan or --

QUESTION: Not Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Can we stick with Afghanistan --

QUESTION: Sure.

QUESTION: -- just to wrap – close this out? There are reports that the British (inaudible) to Ambassador Holbrooke, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, was going on an extended leave and ceasing to do his job of being a special envoy for Af-Pak. Do – are you aware that this is happening? And to your knowledge, does it have anything to do with his policy disagreements with the United States, notably on talking to the Taliban and his skepticism about the NATO-led forces there?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware and I don’t know the basis for his decision to leave his post.

QUESTION: Any comment on the announcement from Tehran that they’re blocking two IAEA inspectors?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, IAEA inspectors should be free to report on what they see during the course of their duties. It is worrisome that Iran has taken this step, which is symptomatic of its longstanding practice of intimidating inspectors in which Iran has engaged. Reducing cooperation with the IAEA is – will only deepen the world’s concern with respect to its nuclear program. Iran’s obligations are clear and were made more so through the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, which underscores the requirement that Iran has to cooperate fully with the IAEA. And we remain focused on our strategy of implementing and enforcing the sanctions while making clear that the diplomatic option remains available to Iran.

So we’re – this is – this will not engender or encourage the international community to believe that Iran’s program is peaceful in nature.

QUESTION: Do you know the nationality of the two inspectors who were barred from entry or declared persona non grata to --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m sure we do. I don’t have it here.

QUESTION: Were they American? Do you have --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: There is – the family of this American who was out looking for bin Ladin in Pakistan is saying that the State Department is not returning their phone calls when they’re looking for information about the individual. I don’t know if those were over the weekend or late last week or what, but – I don’t know if you have any comment about --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have been in regular contact with the family and we’ve had consular access to him in Pakistan. I’m sure that, given what you just mentioned, that we will check in with the family and see if there’s anything that we can do better. But we have been in regular contact with the family since he was picked up in Pakistan.

QUESTION: Do you know if they’ve been in touch today, just because they said they’ve left messages and they haven’t been returned?

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t say we’ve been in touch today.

QUESTION: Do you know if he’s being held in Islamabad or Peshawar?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we placed him in Islamabad during the last – our last conversation. I’m not aware he’s moved.

QUESTION: P.J., another subject. On the adoption talks between Russia and the United States, what’s the latest on that?

MR. CROWLEY: They completed last week. I think we were very happy with the progress that was made. There is still some work to be done. I think that the next step is probably that this will be a topic that is raised in some fashion in the margins of the upcoming discussion between President Obama and President Medvedev.

QUESTION: What still has to be done if it was completed?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, no, I was just saying that the – this particular round of discussions were completed. There’s still work to be done. There’s a lot of work that has to be done, not so much collectively. I think we have a basic understanding of the parameters of the agreement that we’re trying to reach, but there are just some legal issues that have to be worked through in terms of how the process that we’re describing in the agreement will unfold.

QUESTION: Yes, this is regarding Colombia, the new elected president. Do you see this as a continuity or as a change in the bilateral relations?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think we anticipate a significant change in our bilateral relationship. We’re very pleased with it – very deep cooperation between the United States and Colombia. So I think we see continuity. Now, much of that is because of the shared interest that we have, but I think we’re very pleased with the-- this was a choice for the Colombian people to make, but obviously, he knows us well and we would expect there to be continuity in the relationship.

QUESTION: It is because the new elected president promised to improve the relationship with Venezuela, too. So – and you know that Venezuela has been very outspoken on how close their relations between the U.S. and Colombia.

MR. CROWLEY: We wish him luck with that. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: India – the group of ministers has completed a report on Bhopal and the extradition of Walter Anderson, the former head of Union Carbide, has been discussed. Have you received a request for extradition?

MR. CROWLEY: As I’ve said many times from the podium, those requests are confidential, but if we do receive one, we will give it every consideration.

QUESTION: A follow-up.

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Gordon M. Streeb, the DCM at the Indian – at the U.S. Embassy in India in ’84, has told TV Today network that he facilitated the visit and then the safe return of Mr. Anderson in’84. So I have a question that did the State Department intervene to seek the release of Anderson when he was arrested? Streeb also claimed that the Indian foreign secretary told him that no action will be taken against UCIL chief at that time. Did the State Department have a role in finalizing this? And also, did the State Department have a role in finalizing the compensation for the --

MR. CROWLEY: I do not know what the former DCM, who I think is now a private citizen, what he told the media.

QUESTION: Do you think that the State Department is going to do any claim to the Soccer International Association because of this goal that was not tallied? (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: Let’s see, let’s see. There are a number of things I don’t think that we do here at the State Department. Currency reevaluation is one of them and getting in the middle of controversies over sporting events, including the World Cup, is another. I think we just look forward to the game on Wednesday. We know how important it is.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Why was there no (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: Huh?

QUESTION: Why was there no (inaudible)? Where is the (inaudible)? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) please. You mentioned that he is a private citizen. I agree. But he’s talking about his role as --

MR. CROWLEY: I understand that. I’m not prepared to go into a history lesson here back to 1984.

QUESTION: Kyrgyzstan fact-finding mission?

MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. Hold on. I’m sorry, what?

QUESTION: Kyrgyzstan fact-finding mission. Any reports on that? Any details?

MR. CROWLEY: On Saturday, I think Assistant Secretary Blake had a meeting with interim President Otumbayeva talking about the current situation. We are very mindful of the fact that I believe this weekend Kyrgyzstan has an important referendum coming up on its constitution. We understand the difficulty in some sections of the country in carrying this out. But we are also, I think, over the weekend aware that the UN issued a special appeal for Kyrgyzstan and the United States will contribute to that. We’re working through the details as we speak.

So Assistant Secretary Blake had the opportunity, firsthand, to consult with the Government of Kyrgyzstan, with the Government of Uzbekistan. He was there along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. He saw firsthand the plight of the people there. I think our message to the interim government over the weekend was do whatever it can to help stabilize the security situation, regain the trust and confidence of all of the people of Kyrgyzstan, and we remain committed to helping in any way we can.

QUESTION: What’s the status on the referendum going forward as planned?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, that’s a decision for the Government of Kyrgyzstan. I think it’s still scheduled.

Back here.

QUESTION: P.J., do you have any comment on the North Korea’s claim it has developed technology for nuclear fusion reaction that can produce hydrogen bomb?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we are very skeptical of that claim.

QUESTION: Also, any comment on the increased radioactivity on the North Korean side of the inter-Korean border?

MR. CROWLEY: As to that particular story out of South Korea, we’d refer you to the South Korean Government.

QUESTION: Just a quick one on Iran. STRATFOR, a sort of private analysis and intelligence company, has suggested that the United States is in some kind of backchannel, behind-the-scenes talks with the Iranian Government. I’m very skeptical that you would confirm that from the podium if you were, but I’m even more skeptical that you are engaged in any such talks with Iran, a country with which you, of course, have no diplomatic relations. Can you deny this from the podium?

MR. CROWLEY: Look, if you go back over the 30 years, there have been lots of people on the other side of the equation that placed a call or found somebody in a hotel lobby and suggested that they were part of a back channel. So I certainly, from our side, am not aware of any.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the foreign minister of Brazil declared that the Brazil is – will no longer take part in the negotiation with Iran on Tehran deal. And --

MR. CROWLEY: Start again. I didn’t hear --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the foreign minister of Brazil, according to reports in Financial Times that deckared that Brazil is – will not play any role in the negotiation with Iran on Tehran deal.

MR. CROWLEY: That obviously is a decision for the Brazilian Government.

QUESTION: Is U.S. considering the economic sanctions or financial measures in the response to Cheonan issue?

MR. CROWLEY: I would say there are two things going on here. On the one hand, we have a matter under discussion at the UN Security Council, in terms of the sinking of the Cheonan and working with a variety of governments led by South Korea for an appropriate international response to that provocative act.

Secondly, we are – remain fully engaged in implementing Resolution 1874. We have a wide range of authorities that – at our disposal to send a very strong message to North Korea. We are always looking at ways in which we can take steps to make these authorities and specific actions that we can take as a government as effective as possible. I’m not going to predict where we go from here, but obviously, we have existing authorities and opportunities that we’re always constantly evaluating to put pressure on the North Korean Government to change its current policies.

QUESTION: So does that mean that U.S. is considering also unilateral measures too?

MR. CROWLEY: We have taken unilateral measures in the past. I’m not predicting that we’re going – what we’re going to do in the weeks and months ahead. But we have an array of authorities under UN Security Council resolutions, also under our own laws. We’ve taken these steps in the past, and if we feel they’re appropriate in the future, we will evaluate them and do whatever we think is necessary to convince North Korea that there will be no reward for its provocative actions, that it needs to change its current course.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:15 p.m.)

DPB # 98




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