2:53 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Sorry that we’re running a little bit late, but the meeting with the Secretary and Defense Minister Barak ran a little bit long. Let me start there. Minister Barak arrived and had a one-on-one with the Secretary for roughly 30 minutes and then broadened into a full bilateral with the respective teams. They reviewed the status of the ongoing proximity talks. There is a shared interest to try to move from proximity talks to direct negotiations as quickly as possible and discuss some of the ways in which we can build momentum to move towards those direct negotiations.
The defense minister reviewed with the Secretary the decision that Israel made regarding its new policy towards Gaza. He reflected on the fact that even in the last couple of days we’ve already seen a significant expansion in the number of trucks moving into Gaza with more material for the people of Gaza, and he pledged that Israel will continue to expand that flow in the coming days and weeks. And then they talked about a wide range of other issues, other regional issues as well.
The Secretary this afternoon will place a call to President-elect Santos to congratulate him on his electoral victory and to pledge U.S. support for the – for Colombia and to reflect on the broad agenda that exists between our two countries. Of course, they had the opportunity to meet recently when the Secretary was in the region prior to the run-off election.
Staying in this hemisphere, we congratulate the Jamaican Government on the arrest of Christopher Coke. We look forward to working with Jamaican authorities to bring Mr. Coke to justice, to face charges pending against him in Manhattan Federal Court. And at this point, in terms of the next steps, we would refer you to Jamaican authorities in terms of ongoing extradition proceedings.
Also in this hemisphere, we welcome news of the release of Dr. Darsi Ferrer who has demonstrated great bravery and courage in his advocacy and defense of human rights in Cuba. Dr. Ferrer’s release is a positive development, although he should never have been arrested or imprisoned for 11 months. We hope that the Cuban Government will continue to take measures demonstrating increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba. As we have said before, we join many respected international players, including nongovernmental organizations, the Catholic Church, and other governments, in calling on the Cuban Government for the immediate and unconditional release of all Cuban prisoners of conscience.
Earlier today, USAID Administrator Raj Shah joined the Brookings Institution in furthering a dialogue about education in Pakistan by highlighting a new Brookings report that discusses efforts to create concrete programs in Pakistan’s education sector that can more effectively advance U.S. security objectives in the region and contribute to long-term stability in Pakistan. The study’s author is Dr. Rebecca Winthrop and Dr. Corinne Graff, along with Steve Inskeep of National Public Radio, were part of the joint panel discussion moderated by USAID’s Afghanistan and Pakistan Task Force Director Jim Bever.
Also regarding Pakistan, this evening Richard Holbrooke is back in Islamabad where he had consultations with President Zardari and Foreign Minister Qureshi about mutual concern regarding energy and security and to brief them on his recent trip to Afghanistan. In parallel, the 13 U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue working groups continue their results-oriented work on a full range of bilateral issues. Ambassador Holbrooke was in Kabul earlier this morning where he met with NATO senior civilian representative Sedwill to discuss preparations for the Kabul conference, as well as Lieutenant General Caldwell, who is in charge of the training mission, to discuss progress on the development of Afghan security forces and also other Afghan officials. And he did participate today in the President’s meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan via videoconference from Pakistan.
The Secretary this afternoon will be making a series of calls to foreign ministers of coalition countries to discuss the President’s announcement regarding the appointment of General Petraeus to succeed General McChrystal.
And finally, before taking your questions, we look forward, obviously, to the arrival and meetings tomorrow of Russian President Medvedev and the Russian delegation. The two presidents will talk about a wide range of issues from economic and trade relations to international security issues. President Medvedev will come to Washington from Silicon Valley where we expect he will have some things to say about economic modernization and innovation. The presidents have the opportunity to review the work of the Bilateral Presidential Commission and the various working groups that have been formed. And while the President is having lunch tomorrow with President Medvedev, the Secretary will host the rest of the Russian delegation led by Foreign Minister Lavrov. They’ll have a lunch at Blair House.
QUESTION: P.J., what was the Secretary’s role in the decision – the President’s decision earlier today? Who will she be calling and why didn’t she call them before? Why hasn’t she --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the President made this decision. The Secretary was part of the NSC meeting today about Afghanistan and Pakistan that was already on the schedule before the events of the last 48 hours. I can’t tell you if anyone in the White House asked for her view, but this was the President’s decision. He made that decision this morning. He made that announcement, as you heard, a short time ago. And the Secretary is promptly following up with her counterparts in coalition countries.
QUESTION: So none of these coalition countries were told before the announcement?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the White House on that.
QUESTION: Well, can you tell me if the Secretary made any calls?
MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary --
QUESTION: President Karzai in Afghanistan says that his spokesman says that he was told before the announcement was made.
MR. CROWLEY: That could very well have happened. I would defer to the White --
QUESTION: Did anyone from this --
MR. CROWLEY: No, we did not make any calls --
QUESTION: So the State Department was completely out of the loop on this --
MR. CROWLEY: I didn’t say that, Matt. The Secretary did not have any calls with --
QUESTION: Well, I’m asking --
MR. CROWLEY: foreign leaders this morning --
QUESTION: Okay, look --
MR. CROWLEY: As you know – look, the President had – as he indicated yesterday, he had the opportunity to meet with General McChrystal and then had the NSC meeting with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and then announced his decision. The Secretary was there for the NSC meeting, participated fully in a review of developments in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and is now following up with calls explaining and emphasizing what the President stressed in his public statement, which is there will be strong continuity in policy. Obviously, General Petraeus, as the President said, was fully engaged in the debate that led to the strategy announcement in December. As – obviously, as the commander of Central Command --
QUESTION: That’s great, P.J., but --
MR. CROWLEY: Let me – Matt, you opened this door. Let me finish.
QUESTION: I wasn’t looking for a repetition of the President’s prior statement.
MR. CROWLEY: The – General Petraeus is someone who is well known to the Secretary and others in this building, worked very collaboratively with us, not only on regional issues, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also in his prior time as Central Command commander, been very engaged with us in terms of ongoing issues in the Middle East. So – but the Secretary will explain to those foreign ministers that he should be able to, with the concurrence of the Senate, step into his duties as the ISAF commander and stress the continuity of our ongoing strategy.
QUESTION: So as far as you know, neither the Secretary or anyone from this building was involved in contacting foreign leaders or coalition members before the President --
MR. CROWLEY: I can just simply tell you the Secretary had no calls today with foreign leaders prior to the President’s decision.
QUESTION: But you mentioned that – you mentioned that Ambassador Holbrooke was in Kabul this morning meeting with some people and then he was meeting with President Zardari, so did Ambassador Holbrooke have any role in telling the Pakistanis, perhaps, that – of what was coming down?
MR. CROWLEY: I think the meetings that Ambassador Holbrooke had today with President Zardari and others had concluded before the NSC meeting.
QUESTION: Who is the Secretary calling this afternoon? You said that --
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll get you that list. I think we’re setting up calls as we speak, so whether she gets to a number today – but you know the list of coalition countries and we will be consulting with all of them, some today, perhaps some will bleed over until tomorrow.
QUESTION: All of them? You plan to consult every single leader that has – she plans to call the --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, she will be calling many of them. It may well be that other – I mean, we, the United States, in light of the President’s decision, will be contacting all of the coalition countries. The Secretary will handle many of those calls. We’ll get you – we’ll do – we’ll get you a full list as she goes through it.
QUESTION: And if you could get us a list of who she calls today – by today, that would be great.
MR. CROWLEY: I will – I pledge to you that as she makes those calls, we will let it be known to you, perhaps by Twitter.
QUESTION: Is Pakistan on the list? And secondly, with General Petraeus now the new commander --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m quite certain that we will be talking with Pakistan. As Matt indicated, with Ambassador Holbrooke there, I’m certain that there’ll be discussions directly between Pakistani leaders and ourselves, if not while ambassador is still in Islamabad, certainly as a follow-up. Ambassador Holbrooke, when he leaves here, will be actually going to Brussels to consult with the NAC. So again, he will provide them his perspective based on his conversations that he’s had in the last few days with both Pakistani and Afghan leaders.
QUESTION: Have there been any communications between the Secretary and General McChrystal, and did she feel that he was the right man for the job?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we’ll probably have a statement from the Secretary before the day is over. I know that she admires General McChrystal. As the President said as well, we are very grateful for his distinguished service. He has made a significant contribution to the mission in Afghanistan. But I think she understands fully the reasons why the President felt that he had to make this decision.
QUESTION: Did McChrystal apologize to her? I mean, he apologized to two people who work for her, Holbrooke and Eikenberry.
MR. CROWLEY: I am not aware that the Secretary and General McChrystal have talked in the last 48 hours.
QUESTION: But that’s different from whether he apologized to them. Did he email her or write to her or --
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: How would you assess the impact on the alliance of this furor over McChrystal and how much work will it take to calm the alliance and reassure them?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think as the President said, he took this action to make sure that there would not be any diversion in focus on the important work and ongoing work in Afghanistan. And in fact, with the presence of Karl Eikenberry on the job in Kabul, Richard Holbrooke having just visited both Pakistan and Afghanistan, I think you see that notwithstanding the ripple effects of the Rolling Stone article, we continue to be focused on the mission. And in fact, notwithstanding the challenges that we confront in Afghanistan, I think Ambassador Holbrooke leaves the region tomorrow with confidence that, slowly but surely, we are seeing progress here in terms of the capacity of the Afghan Government. You’re seeing exports that Afghanistan had in the past in terms of agricultural goods. Its GDP, I think, is up 22 percent last year. We’re anticipating the GDP of Afghanistan will be up 15 percent this year. So these are among the key ingredients that we hope will turn the tide in favor of the Afghan Government as we continue to support that strategy. So I think part of the rationale that went into the President’s decision was, in fact, to make sure that, as he said, there would be unity of effort. And I’m sure the Secretary completely supports what – that the thrust that, in fact, let’s continue to focus on the job at hand.
QUESTION: So you think this distraction will just blow over quickly, that you’re right on course now again?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think that’s – well, I’m – I would not necessarily say that we were ever off course. This was an issue that came up, as the President said, had the potential to erode trust within the team working earnestly on Afghanistan and Pakistan issues. The fact that the President chose and has nominated General Petraeus – he knows these issues. He’s been involved significantly in the development of the current strategy. We have confidence that he can step in from his time in Iraq. We certainly understand that he recognizes the importance of both the civilian and military components of the strategy working hand-in-glove. And we would expect there to be the same kind of transition from General McChrystal to General Petraeus in Afghanistan that you saw from General Petreaus to General Odierno in Iraq.
QUESTION: In Afghanistan, around 70 percent of your logistics being handing – being handed out to Afghanistan trucking companies, which is, according to the local sources, is giving a lot of funding to the warlords, militia, and the Taliban itself. Would you like to comment on it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think on particular details I’ll refer you to the Pentagon. We take seriously our responsibility to make sure that our support for Pakistan and Afghanistan strengthens those engaged in legitimate commerce and the governments, and we take every measure that we can to make sure that the support that we provide and the services that we purchase do not benefit those who are trying to upset security and stability in the region.
QUESTION: You are having a series of talks, strategic talks, both with India and Pakistan in the last two months. Is it linked somehow? Do you have any holistic perspective, both are separate strategic dialogues going on?
MR. CROWLEY: I think what we’ve been doing this week is a logical extension of the recent strategic dialogue that we have with India. You can see that in other contexts, once you establish that dialogue and the structure that goes along with it, there are important follow-on meetings as we’ve just indicated that’s happening in the dialogue with Pakistan. It’s happening in the dialogue with Russia. So it does reinforce the breath of our common interest, but forming a strategic dialogue is not just about some fancy title; it really involves very specific issues and it has a formal structure that allows us to work through those issues and follow up on the recent high-level meeting between the Secretary and Foreign Secretary Krishna. And we are also mindful of the fact that obviously we’ll have an important trip by the President to the region later this year. So there’s a lot of work to do, and the meetings that we have are a reflection of that.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary going for this next month’s strategic dialogue with Pakistan?
MR. CROWLEY: Well we haven’t announced – she’s got travel coming up soon to Europe. We’ll be announcing that travel early next week. If she will be traveling to Asia in July we’ll have more to say about that after that –
QUESTION: The State Department –
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, go ahead.
QUESTION: The State Department hosted a lot of ministers and officials and CEOs from India. Was there any subject that is more than 20 years old brought up?
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) That’s a very creative way. Look, we have a lot of important economic issues that we are talking with India about. We are mindful of history but we are focused on the future.
QUESTION: Staying in that region on Pakistan, what’s your understanding of the status of Mr. Faulkner?
MR. CROWLEY: I – we do not have a Privacy Act waiver so there’s a limit to what I can say. He has departed Pakistan. He has arrived here in the United States, and for the details of his trip home I would defer to his family.
QUESTION: Can we go back to the Secretary’s meeting with Defense Minister Barak?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: You said that he reviewed with her the new Israeli policy toward Gaza.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, he did.
QUESTION: The other day you told us – I think Monday you told us that you didn’t have a list or you didn’t have a list of goods that would now be banned or barred from – has the Israeli Government yet shown you such a list?
MR. CROWLEY: I think the Israeli Government is still developing its list.
QUESTION: So how detailed an understanding then does she have on what will be permitted in and what will not be permitted in?
MR. CROWLEY: I think what we heard from Defense Minister Barak today is a very earnest commitment. They have made a fundamental decision at the Cabinet level to change their approach to Gaza. We certainly welcome that and have made it clear that this is a significant and positive development. He indicated to the Secretary directly that Israel is developing a list but he made very clear that it anticipates a dramatic expansion in the flow of materials into Gaza. He indicated that working with the UN and others, he anticipated that there would be a significant in the projects that will go forward in Gaza. He did not lay out a specific list, but as he stressed in the bilateral, even in the last few days you’ve seen a very dramatic increase in the flow of goods and he anticipated that that would continue to increase. He made a commitment in terms of trying to improve the infrastructure around the opening so that it would clearly could sustain a much higher level of commerce.
We will continue to as part of our efforts, we expect that George Mitchell will be back in the region next week, and we will continue to talk through with the Israeli Government its full implementation of this. We’ll continue to discuss in our discussions with the Palestinians as well how we can link commercially businesses on the West Bank and have them be a part of this flow. Obviously, the Palestinian Authority has a role to play in this so we would – this will be part of the ongoing dialogue that we have with this Israel and the Palestinians in the coming days and weeks.
QUESTION: As you know, the devil is in the details.
MR. CROWLEY: Absolutely.
QUESTION: Well, and therefore, I continue to not understand why you have been so fulsomely praiseworthy of the Israeli change in policy if you do not yet have a precise and detailed understanding of what they’re going to allow in and what they’re not.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, Arshad, we’ve been very clear. We do welcome this step; it is a dramatic change in how Israel has approached Gaza from the last couple of years. Implementation will be important. The particulars will be important. Obviously a critical aspect of here is in helping the people of Gaza not just sustain their daily lives but to recreate a viable economy within Gaza. There are things that will have to be done. There is infrastructure that will have to be built.
This will in essence require a fundamental change that the existing of the Israeli policy that existed days ago had a very limited number of goods that were cleared for entry into Gaza. Israel is now going to reverse this and allow -- and only limit certain things that it believes have military value. We’ll be watching very carefully. We’ll be consulting directly with Israel as it goes through this implementation. But listening to Defense Minister Barak today, I think we were encouraged by the commitment that Israel makes to enhance the flow of goods to the people of Gaza.
QUESTION: And the other day – sorry, last word for me on this.
QUESTION: Yeah, it’s also on this.
QUESTION: Yeah. Building materials – the other day you said that you would like to see, that the U.S. Government would like to see building materials flowing into Gaza. Did Defense Minister Barak give any assurances about the flow of building materials to allow for a reconstruction post the Israeli offense in Gaza?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, what the minister told the Secretary was that they are developing their list. It will be centered on things that were excluded which then infers that things that are not on their list are, in fact, open to -- for transportation into Gaza through the land check points.
We’ll – so –
QUESTION: So you still –
MR. CROWLEY: This is important and obviously what the minister talked to the Secretary about today was expanding the number of projects that help with that rebuilding effort, that obviously infers that things will be built, rebuilt, and that will require construction materials to be able to accomplish that. So this will be something that Israel will be developing in the coming days and we will be a part of that conversation.
QUESTION: You also said they discussed ways to build momentum for a return to the direct talks. What were these ways?
MR. CROWLEY: On the particulars, what we heard was that Israel is committed to do what it can to move from the existing proximity talks to direct negotiations. There’s a need for action by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to create the trust that allows them to take that step. And we will be – as I said, we’ll be talking to both of them. George Mitchell will be back in the region next week, and we’ll just leave it there.
QUESTION: I’m assuming they discussed the 22 homes in the King’s Garden – the al-Bustan as the Palestinians call it.
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we – there are steps that both sides need to take.
QUESTION: Did they discuss them? I’m so sorry, did they discuss that or not?
MR. CROWLEY: It did not come up in the portion of the meeting I was in. I will check to see if it came up in the one-on-one.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Was there a discussion at all on the flotilla incident and the possibility of an independent commission to investigate it?
MR. CROWLEY: The defense minister did discuss the Israeli investigation that is underway with the Secretary. I think the – and he also talked about Israeli’s ongoing efforts to understanding that there may be other ships on the way in the coming days.
QUESTION: The defense minister in his statement – and I’m a bit surprised about this, I can’t understand – that he said that the peace process – about the peace process, and then he said put aside all the difficulties that arose in the recent weeks. What difficulties he is referring to? Were there a lot of difficulties between U.S. and Israel in recent weeks?
MR. CROWLEY: Say that again.
QUESTION: He said that put aside all the difficulties that arose in the recent weeks and put them behind us in a cooperative manner in order to – it says – I’m quoting what he said.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll defer – it’s not my role to parse words by the defense minister. I mean, given the tragedy of the flotilla, those are clearly difficulties that have arisen in the last few weeks and --
QUESTION: There was one difficulty --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, all right. Again, I’m not here to interpret the defense minister’s words.
QUESTION: P.J. --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have many authorities that exist both internationally and domestically. And to take action against North Korea, we have used a variety of steps in the past to send a clear message to North Korea to change course. We are always reviewing options in terms of – because, in fact, North Korea is always moving money and goods around. We are committed to both implement existing UN Security Council resolutions to restrict North Korea’s ability to proliferate technology and know-how. We will always look for ways to apply pressure on the North Korean Government. I’m not going to predict any particular step that we’re contemplating, but these are steps that are available to us under existing U.S. and international law.
QUESTION: Just following on with that, it’s already been reported that you’ve made your final decision to not re-list* North Korea as a state sponsor of terror because of the legal difficulties in proving that.
MR. CROWLEY: I – we pledged that we would review this. We continue to review this. But I’m not here to predict any particular decision.
QUESTION: So no decision has been made?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. We said that we are reviewing. This can be an ongoing process. But there are specific legal criteria that have to be met to put a country on the state sponsor of terrorism list. This is not a static situation. But we have obviously made no announcements.
QUESTION: But that doesn’t mean you haven’t made any decision.
MR. CROWLEY: That’s true.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the gas dispute between Russia and Belarus? It appears that there’s some innocent bystander countries who are having their gas reduced.
MR. CROWLEY: It is a gas dispute between Belarus and Gazprom. And it – that’s what it is. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Going back to the state sponsor’s thing, I’m not sure I understand. Is it still under review? Is that what you’re saying? Or have you come to a conclusion – has the – did the Administration come to a conclusion --
MR. CROWLEY: All right, I --
QUESTION: -- that the Cheonan incident does not rise to the level of state sponsor of terrorism and thus could – will not be a trigger for putting them back on the list, but the other thing --
MR. CROWLEY: All right, I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: But do you know if – I mean, has there been a determination at this point – no?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we pledged – we pledged – I mean, we pledged that there would be a process. We will review North Korea’s status in light of its provocative actions. And I’ll take the question as to whether that review is ongoing or it has been completed.
QUESTION: Can you take the question whether – regardless of whether the review is ongoing, because one could argue that it is a perennially ongoing matter of whether or not you --
MR. CROWLEY: One could argue that.
QUESTION: Yes. But I’m – what I’m interested in and what I expect Matt is also interested in is the specific question of whether you have determined that the Cheonan incident constitutes sufficient grounds for putting them back on the list.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: P.J., you said yesterday that the Secretary will discuss with Minister Barak as far as legitimate security concerns, including Syria, Iran, and from Hamas and Hezbollah. Can you elaborate on that, please?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as defense minister, his portfolio is broader than just the peace process and Gaza. So during the course of their meeting, we had the opportunity to review Israel’s security concerns with respect to specific countries in the region, including those that you mentioned.
QUESTION: At the beginning of the term of the Administration, it was noticed that we will be engaging in dialogue. So is the Secretary going to engage with Lukashenko?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that we have any pending engagement with the president of Belarus, but we are obviously focused on developments there. But I’m not sure it will rise to the level of the Secretary anytime soon.
QUESTION: And a few days ago, you mentioned about that the U.S. will be asking or looking into the explanation on Chinese-Pakistan nuclear deal. What – any development on that?
MR. CROWLEY: The Nuclear Suppliers Group is meeting as we speak.
QUESTION: Please, any update on the Beresford-Redman case in the Mexican extradition petition, please?
MR. CROWLEY: No update.
QUESTION: No update, meaning what?
MR. CROWLEY: Has there been a petition --
QUESTION: Have you received – have you received a request for his extradition from the Mexicans?
MR. CROWLEY: Those are confidential.
QUESTION: Then can you talk about the Jamaica case, where you said at the beginning that you would refer all questions about Mr. Coke’s extradition to the Jamaican Government? Has the State Department, in fact, handed an extradition request to the Jamaicans for Mr. Coke?
MR. CROWLEY: As we said, there’s an outstanding warrant in Manhattan for Mr. Coke’s arrest and we look forward to working with the authorities in Jamaica to see him face justice.
QUESTION: Have you transported an extradition request --
MR. CROWLEY: That is a matter – again, extradition matters going in both directions are confidential, but we welcome his arrest. And as to what the next step is, that step needs to be taken by the Government of Jamaica.
QUESTION: P.J., several months ago, when Manuel Noriega was extradited to France, there was no qualm about talking about it. In fact, the Department was very proud of the fact that the Secretary had signed the surrender warrant. I’m a little confused --
MR. CROWLEY: After the fact --
QUESTION: -- mystified --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, I --
QUESTION: -- as to why all of a sudden – my understanding was the reason that you wouldn't talk about the Mexican case was because the accused, or the person who the Mexicans want to extradite, is an American citizen. That appears not to be the case, if you’re saying that Mr. Coke – a request for his extradition – he’s clearly not an American citizen – is covered by the same legal rules.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m simply saying as a matter of traditional policy, we do not comment on whether we have asked other countries for extradition or if they have asked us for extradition. Obviously, in both cases, we’ll abide by the extradition treaties that exist with those respective countries, but we seldom talk about them.
QUESTION: But I think just in the – getting back to the Beresford case, I think you have commented that earlier a petition had not been received.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. And at the time I did those were accurate statements, but I’m not going to talk about it now.
QUESTION: Back to McChrystal. During yesterday’s White House briefing, Gibbs said that everyone sat around the table in the Situation Room and discussed the policy last year going forward. Is that to say that there were no differences in the policy with the Secretary or Eikenberry and Holbrooke?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we said at the time, and as I think the President mentioned today, there is a time for debate. And during the course of the three months last fall, there was vigorous participation. The President led a process where every key player had the opportunity to convey his or her perspective on the policy decisions that they were confronting. And the President made the decision, we had the strategy, and we are busily executing the strategy. And as the President said today, this is not about policy differences. We are executing the strategy. We support the strategy.
As we outlined today, we believe that on – in our element of it, the civilian strategy, we’re seeing definite progress on the ground. We are not – we’re constantly mindful of the challenges that face ahead, the ongoing violence that confronts our people, our soldiers, and the Afghan people every single day. But we are working in earnest with President Karzai and his government. We’re working in earnest next door with the Pakistan Government. And that is our – going to be our focus for the months and years to come.
QUESTION: Can I – I want to go back to something on a privacy issue again, back to the Pakistan situation. Was anyone from the Embassy involved in helping get Mr. Faulkner from wherever he was being held to the airport to get a flight out?
MR. CROWLEY: In this particular case, as in all cases where we have an American citizen in custody of another country, we are in touch with that individual, we are in touch with his family. We stayed in close contact with him and with his family throughout this, and we are gratified it was resolved – let me finish – gratified it was resolved rapidly. And in this case, as in any others, we offered our consular services to our citizen to make sure that he was able to travel home safely.
QUESTION: So yes?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: So someone took – someone from the Embassy took him to --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I --
QUESTION: I’m curious to know if --
MR. CROWLEY: -- we did exactly what --
QUESTION: I’m curious --
MR. CROWLEY: -- you would expect us to do.
QUESTION: I’m curious to know if any taxpayer money was used to – in assisting him to leave.
MR. CROWLEY: I --
QUESTION: Other than the time of whatever consular --
MR. CROWLEY: I do not know. Can’t say.
QUESTION: So you can’t characterize anything about his case? I mean, was he innocent or was he having a problem?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, he’s back in the United States and he is a private citizen and if he wishes to come forward and talk about his travels, that’s his right.
QUESTION: You said that you are in touch with anybody who is arrested. The case of five U.S. citizens in Pakistan today in Sargodha, the proceedings were closed today. What is the update on that, if you know?
MR. CROWLEY: What proceedings?
QUESTION: The court proceedings in Sargodha in Pakistan were closed. They came to an end today. So what is the update on that – the five U.S. citizens?
MR. CROWLEY: On the five?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know.
(The briefing was concluded at 3:33 p.m.)