1:33 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: So many people here to welcome me back from a week on Cape Cod.
QUESTION: Welcome back.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you very much. A week communing with Red Sox Nation as well.
Good afternoon again and welcome to the State Department. We just released a statement by the Secretary on the six-month commemoration of the Haiti earthquake and, of course, a few minutes ago had a briefing with USAID Administrator Raj Shah and Counselor to the Secretary Cheryl Mills. But as the Secretary said in her statement, over the past six months, the Haitian people have again shown their resilience and strength. Their efforts continue to inspire us all. And the United States remains committed to aligning our investments with the needs of the people and Government of Haiti.
Earlier this morning, the Secretary had about a 45-minute conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu. They reviewed a wide range of subjects during the call, including the situation with respect to Iran. The Secretary also talked to the foreign minister and reiterated the United States’s commitment to help with the PKK as a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. The PKK remains a common enemy of Turkey, the United States, and Iraq, and is a threat to the stability of the region. And we continue to support efforts by Turkey and Iraq to deal with the problem of the PKK.
We congratulate and thank the people of South Africa for hosting an excellent month of soccer. They showed us their passion for the game, introduced much of the world to their rich culture. It was the first time an African nation hosted the World Cup, and South Africa proved its ability to do so quite nobly. We obviously congratulate Spain as well for its thrilling double-overtime win over the Netherlands. And unfortunately, we see this contrast between the vision and the hope that South Africa inspired through this past weeks and how that contrasts with the cowardice and destruction espoused by Al-Shabaab, which used the celebration of the World Cup in Kampala to commit cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians.
The United States condemns the attacks that took place in Kampala yesterday that resulted in so many deaths and injuries. Our condolences and prayers go out to the victims of this cowardly crime. The United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Uganda in the fight against terrorism, not only with respect to Somalia, where Uganda is one of the anchors of the ongoing African Union mission in Mogadishu, but also Uganda’s efforts against the Lord’s Resistance Army as well. The United States commends Uganda for the role that it continues to play in bringing regional security to an unstable part of Africa.
We have today a three-person FBI team on the ground in Kampala collecting evidence. Two Diplomatic Security officers will arrive later today to assist the Government of Uganda in its investigation, and we have an additional FBI team standing by in the United States ready to assist if needed. But we will continue to do everything in our power to assist Uganda in bringing the perpetrators of this – these attacks to justice.
We regret that we have confirmation of the death of one U.S. citizen killed in the attack. He was an employee of an NGO in Kampala. I think the NGO has confirmed his identity. And there have been five U.S. citizens hospitalized for injuries resulting from the attack. We are in touch with them and will be assisting in their medical evacuation in the coming hours and days.
With that, I’ll take your questions.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) five?
MR. CROWLEY: Five.
QUESTION: Do they include any Peace Corps volunteers?
MR. CROWLEY: No. All the Peace Corps volunteers have been accounted for. So I know that was a rumor running around last evening.
QUESTION: On the evacuations, is that a medivac? Are they in critical condition? Is it a --
MR. CROWLEY: In a couple of cases, they have sustained serious injuries. I wouldn't necessarily characterize them as life-threatening, but they obviously are in need of significant medical attention and that is one of the areas that we’re focused on at the present time.
QUESTION: Your opening comments, do we take them to – should we understand that you accept or believe Al-Shabaab’s claim of responsibility for this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, Al-Shabaab has made a public claim of responsibility. Obviously, the investigation itself is ongoing, but the preliminary information that we have certainly would confirm that link.
QUESTION: What – can you --
QUESTION: Could you --
QUESTION: Wait, wait, wait. Can you be a little bit more specific? The preliminary information that you have? Are you talking about something other than the spokesman in Mogadishu saying this?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. In terms of the evidence that we are aware of at the attack scene would seem to suggest and confirm an Al-Shabaab connection.
QUESTION: And can you be more precise as to what that evidence and information is?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: In the past, Al-Shabaab has threatened Uganda and Burundi as two contributors to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, but do you have any reason to believe that these particular venues were targeted because Westerners or Americans or anything might have been at these venues?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s hard to say. Clearly, the attacks were perpetrated on civilians. One of these locations, as I understand it, is an area that has sometimes been frequented by Westerners or by Americans. As to whether this attack – I mean, we – I think we could probably start at face value. Al-Shabaab had threatened Uganda for its participation in the African Union mission. And obviously, this attack occurs in Uganda’s capital, so whether it was directed at the people of Uganda, others who support their – its efforts in Mogadishu and in Somalia, I can’t say at this point.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. considering any further action against Al-Shabaab in light of this? I mean, since last year, the U.S. has been quite active in supporting the transitional government. Are there further measures that the U.S. could take in light of this attack?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think it affirms our broader strategy of working with the Transitional Federal Government, working with regional actors – Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, others – to try to stabilize the situation in Somalia. I think it just – it reaffirms the international community’s commitment to both build an effective government in and around Mogadishu as well as to its ongoing struggle against Al-Shabaab and the narrow, brutal vision that it has as – for a future in Somalia.
QUESTION: You mentioned the international community. What are the larger implications for the international community now that they’ve struck outside of Mogadishu, outside of Somalia? Is there a concern that they’re going to start striking other locations around the country, especially – around the world? Especially if they start --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would say first and foremost, if Al-Shabaab’s intent in orchestrating this was to somehow weaken Uganda’s resolve, every indication that we have says the opposite. Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, our ambassador in Kampala have both talked to President Museveni in the past 24 hours. He is determined to continue Uganda’s constructive action, both in Somalia, elsewhere in the region. So if this was somehow aimed at punishing or weakening Uganda’s resolve, we think that this has backfired.
QUESTION: And what about a strike outside of the continent? Is there any concern about that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we – there’s still a lot of investigating to do to figure out how it was carried out. But clearly, we’ll evaluate the implications once we know more, but at this point, we have no reason to doubt the – Al-Shabaab’s claim of responsibility.
QUESTION: Do you expect this to go on? I mean, like this is merely launching a new phase in the – that kind of activities by al-Qaida affiliates in Africa? Is this the face of al-Qaida?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll leave that for Al-Shabaab to describe. We understand fully that in Africa and elsewhere, we are in the midst of a very significant struggle against al-Qaida and those who identify themselves with al-Qaida. Shabaab is one of those groups. So in this respect, this is nothing new in the sense that you have a group that is striking out where it can.
But again, I would look at the response of the Ugandan Government. We’ve been very encouraged by what President Museveni has told us. He has indicated to us that Uganda remains committed to the mission in Mogadishu, and that probably is the strongest retort to Al-Shabaab, that we are going to continue to support those who want to responsibly govern in Somalia and we’ll resist those who have a narrow, brutal, violent vision of the future in that country.
QUESTION: Well, considering that --
MR. CROWLEY: All right – wait – hold on.
QUESTION: -- Al-Shabaab do have an address in Somalia – they do have an address and it is well known, will there be some sort of retaliation?
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t predict. I mean, I think the best response to this kind of violence is to do exactly what Uganda is doing, do exactly what the United States and the international community – we are going to continue and stay determined to help build effective structures of government in Somalia.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. sent a message to all the regional governments urging them to continue their support for the peacekeeping mission? Has that been the U.S. message in all of this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there is, ironically, upcoming in Kampala next week a scheduled summit meeting of the African Union. The United States will be represented there. Somalia was already an issue that was going to be discussed as part of that conference. I would expect that its importance will only increase given the attack in Uganda yesterday. I would fully expect that the response by other countries will be the same response you’re hearing from the United States and from Uganda, that we are going to do everything in our power to resist those who resort to violence to threaten and kill innocent civilians.
QUESTION: But has that been the U.S. message today to these governments – stick to your guns?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I can’t point to any particular outreach that we’ve had today with the exception of the call last evening to President Museveni by Assistant Secretary Carson. I’m sure that we will have conversations in the lead-up to the AU summit next week. I’m sure that also the AU will have further conversations within its own ranks. We are – have been very grateful to the efforts by Uganda and Burundi and others to support the AU mission in Mogadishu, and we would hope and expect that that would continue.
MR. CROWLEY: Are we okay? We’re --
QUESTION: Well, can we stay in the region, at least?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The ICC today brought three charges of genocide against – charged President Bashir with three charges of genocide.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s --
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: -- I think, an updating of the existing warrant, adding genocide to the existing charges that included crimes against humanity. We continue to support this process. We have, in our previous discussions with Sudanese officials, strongly encouraged Sudan to cooperate fully with the ICC. Scott Gration, who will be leaving for the region later this week, has repeatedly told Sudanese officials that at some point, President Bashir has to present himself to the ICC and be held to account. And he will reiterate that message when he meets with Sudanese officials later this week.
QUESTION: What does that mean, at some point that President Bashir will have to turn himself in? I mean, what are you doing with --
MR. CROWLEY: What does that mean? It means that, among other things, he has to hire a good lawyer.
QUESTION: But he – at his own discretions, then?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, there’s a warrant out for his arrest. And we believe that he should present himself to the ICC and answer the charges that have been leveled against him. Obviously, one needs a legal process. Everyone is entitled to a day in court, and we think the sooner that President Bashir presents himself to that court, the better.
QUESTION: On Afghanistan, President Karzai has requested removing around 50 Taliban leaders’ names from the al-Qaida Taliban sanctions list of the United Nations Security Council. What’s the U.S. position on this? Do you support this because they consider this as important for their reconciliation efforts?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would be careful about putting a particular number on this. The United States is in the process of reviewing the status of several former members of the Taliban currently on the – it’s called the 1267 Sanctions List. Most of the individuals under consideration have already reconciled with the Afghan Government while a few others are allegedly deceased and, therefore, no longer warrant inclusion on the sanctions list. So we, as with other members of the Security Council, are considering the merits of delisting specific individuals. But I would just say the number under review is far less than the 50 that was cited in one particular report.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Taliban – on the Taliban, as far as the status of women goes, if there is some sort of reconciliation, how far will the U.S. go to protect women’s rights if Taliban are drawn into any new governing?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we have made clear –
QUESTION: I mean, beyond statements or response.
MR. CROWLEY: -- this should not be seen as a zero-sum process, and women are fundamental to the future development of Afghanistan. We have made clear that there are specific stipulations that anyone who wishes to reconcile has to meet. That includes support of the Afghan constitution, including the fundamental rights for all Afghan citizens, including women, enshrined in that constitution. So we do not think – and the Secretary has spoken repeatedly and strongly about this – we don’t think that any reconciliation process in Afghanistan should come at the expense of women.
QUESTION: It might, though, and if it does, have you discussed measures that you’d take?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is – you all know the Secretary of State very well. She has spoken about this. She’ll have the opportunity to reiterate this at the upcoming Kabul conference. And many other foreign ministers and leaders share her view that reconciliation cannot come at the expense of Afghan women, and that will be a very strong message that we continue to reiterate during the course of this process.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the Swiss decision not to honor the extradition request for Roman Polanski?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the United States believes that the rape of a 13-year-old child by an adult is a crime. And we continue to pursue justice in this case and I’ll let other countries explain actions they’ve taken or actions they’ve failed to take.
QUESTION: And then – or any follow-up discussions with the Swiss since that decision has been taken?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of any follow-up discussions. I think we’ll evaluate today’s decision and next steps would be up to our colleagues at the Department of Justice.
QUESTION: In the investigation, at least according to our report, the Swiss attorney general made two – or justice minister said two things: One, she alluded to potential technical errors in the U.S. extradition request. Do you buy that?
MR. CROWLEY: Please. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Fine. And --
MR. CROWLEY: A 13-year-old girl was drugged and raped by an adult. This is not a matter of technicality.
QUESTION: And then secondly, she apparently, or she is reported to have said that one of the reasons for not extraditing Polanski was that he had been coming to Switzerland for many years in good faith – presumably, in good faith – that he would not be extradited to face justice. Do you see any merit to that argument?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Would you say the U.S. has been disappointed by the Swiss decision? Would you characterize it that way?
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) Yes, I – look, I can just reiterate what I just said. The rape of a 13-year-old girl by an adult who should know better, and that does know better, is a crime. And we will continue to seek justice in this case and we will evaluate our options.
QUESTION: How –
QUESTION: I wasn’t aware that – so the federal government is actually taking a position on this? This is not – this is a – you believe that the federal government – this is not just a California situation?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, you have a California court that adjudicated this case. I think the facts in the case are not in dispute. The girl was 13. There was an adult. There was a rape or unlawful sex, whatever you want to call it. We think that’s a crime. And that is why we have been pursuing this case over many, many years. Again, I’ll defer to other countries to describe how they view the facts in this case, but we have a judgment that this is a crime for which justice has not yet been served.
QUESTION: Well, will there be any ramifications or any consequences for this for the Swiss –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is a process that is ongoing.
QUESTION: -- who just last week or two weeks ago, you were lauding as being a great partner and thanking them for all that they’ve done in Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, we will evaluate the basis upon which this action took place. We are disappointed by it. And as to any – as to our next steps, that is a matter that Justice is reviewing as we speak.
QUESTION: When you say you will continue to seek justice, could you specify what that means? How will you do this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we haven’t tried to hide behind technicalities here. This is actually a judgment that goes back many, many years. The city of Los Angeles hasn’t forgotten about this case. We have not forgotten about this case. And we think it sends a very important message regarding how women and girls are treated around the world. So to just – just to push this case aside based on technicalities, we think, is regrettable.
MR. CROWLEY: Wait.
QUESTION: No, no, no.
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on.
QUESTION: So again, are there any consequences for the Swiss? I mean, do –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s see where the –
QUESTION: Well, it seems to me –
MR. CROWLEY: From our standpoint –
QUESTION: -- your comments, which have been pretty dismissive and derisive, actually, of any kind of a technicality issue seems to suggest that you have already evaluated the reasoning and that you completely disagree with it and –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we do disagree.
QUESTION: -- the fact you’re --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, and as to next steps, we’ll evaluate the implications of this going forward.
QUESTION: The India-Iran Joint Commission meeting took place on Thursday and Friday. And later the Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, she really was very critical of the U.S. unilateral sanctions. And she said that, to quote, “Our energy security and our attempts to meet our development needs of our people” are going to be affected. What is your comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not familiar with those particular comments. Every country obviously pursues its own self-interest of its citizens. We understand that. By the same token, all countries have international obligations to fully respect and to heed the sanctions that were passed by the Security Council last month. We are taking our own steps to fully implement those sanctions and to take additional steps within our own laws. And we would expect all countries to respect and commit themselves to undertake and to enforce the sanctions that have been passed by the UN Security Council.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
QUESTION: She mentioned – a follow-up. She mentioned that these are unilateral sanctions of the U.S. and they are going to affect the business of Indian companies in Iran.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we’ve said, the – we have ongoing concerns about the nature of Iran’s nuclear program. There are many questions that we have that have gone unanswered. You even have today concerns expressed by President Medvedev regarding his concerns, which we share, about Iran continuing to move closer to having a breakout nuclear capability. It is up to Iran to come forward and engage the IAEA and the international community constructively. Iran has failed to do that.
So under these circumstances, from our standpoint and what we have made clear in our conversations with many countries, is that this cannot be a situation of business as usual. This is about the future of the world. This is about the danger of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which will affect countries outside of the region, including India. So everyone has a responsibility to do what each country can to convince Iran to change its present course. I’ll leave it to India to describe what steps it is going to take.
We are moving forward both to implement international sanctions and to evaluate how we can take additional national measures that puts pressure on the Iranian Government to come forward and engage constructively.
QUESTION: On President Medvedev, do you – so you share his concerns that Iran is very close to having the potential to make a nuclear bomb? I mean, it sounds like he thinks that they’ve – they’re close to crossing the threshold.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we continue to see that as Iran attempts to perfect the technologies involved in enrichment, it gets closer to that point at which the leap from a civilian program to a military program is narrowed. We have definite concerns that if this trajectory continues, that Iran will at some point approach that moment – that tipping point, if you will – where it has a de facto military capability. We are doing everything in our power to delay and deter that moment from occurring. That’s why today, at this point, what we need is international resolve. All countries have a special obligation to do everything that they can to convince Iran to move in a different direction.
QUESTION: Both India and Pakistan are moving ahead with Iran to have a gas pipeline – Iran, Pakistan, India gas pipeline. Are you talking to either India and Pakistan, both countries, on this issue? Do you have – I know you have been opposing this gas pipeline for a long time.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question as to whether we have concerns about that particular project.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Another one, to go back to – can we go back to President Medvedev’s comments --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: -- just to close out with that?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Were you pleased that he made this public statement which is being reported as among the sort of hardest comments of a senior Russian official about Iran’s potential nuclear capability? And would you say that it suggests that the Russians are growing even closer to your perspective on Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, Arshad, I would go back not only to the meeting that the – President Obama and President Medvedev had last fall at the UN in New York where their comments were very similar. Russia clearly reached consensus within the Security Council in both supporting, crafting, and passing the recent sanctions resolution. So I don’t think that there has been a great deal of daylight between our position and the Russian position. And they have, in fact, converged in the past several months. We have the same concern about the threat that an unchecked Iranian program poses to the region. Russia has a special concern because it is – it sits directly adjacent to that neighborhood.
So I think this is just indicative of the cooperation that – and shared perspective that the United States and Russia have reached on this issue based on the extensive dialogue that the presidents have had, the secretaries of state and foreign minister have had, defense officials have had over many, many months.
QUESTION: On Iran still?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: There have been – there has been many reports on the continued breach of sanctions – on smuggling oil from Kurdistan to Iran on a daily basis. What are you doing to lean on the Kurdish – Kurdistan Government to stop that?
MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, with the recent Security Council resolution, now comes the important step of fully implementing it. And every country has a responsibility to abide by its international obligations. Iraq is no different. I can’t specify that we’ve had a specific conversation with Iraq over the past couple of weeks, but that is something – Chris Hill was in Kurdistan over the past day or two. I’ll check to see if he had – if that was on his list of topics discussed.
QUESTION: Because the Iraqi Government is saying they are in violation of these sanctions, and they are protesting that the Kurdish Government continues to send it across the border.
MR. CROWLEY: And like I said, I’ll check to see if this was an issue that Chris Hill raised over the last couple of days in his conversations with Kurdish officials.
MR. CROWLEY: No. The elections have taken place. These were decisions for the Japanese people to make. We will continue to work very closely with the Japanese Government on issues of mutual concern.
QUESTION: No concerns whatsoever on the Okinawa base? Because Kan’s power has weakened.
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ll defer to Japanese political commentators to describe the potential ramifications. We will continue to work closely with the Japanese Government.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: The UN commander is saying that there’s going to be a meeting between the U.S. forces and North Korea. Would the – what would the talks be about and would these be specifically about the warship issue?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll defer to DOD in terms of – and the UN command in terms of whether the meeting will take place tomorrow as has been suggested publicly. I mean, this is a forum through which the militaries of – can talk about violations of the armistice. Clearly, in our view, the sinking of the Cheonan was a profound violation of the existing armistice. But as to whether the meeting takes place and what the agenda is, I’ll defer to DOD.
QUESTION: Who requested that meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: It is something that was proposed to North Korea; it initially rejected it. There’s some indications that it’s reevaluated its position. But as to whether the meeting will actually take place as early as tomorrow, I’ll defer to DOD on that.
QUESTION: Anything on North Korea? Anything new with Mr. Gomes on his condition? There was a report that – the American who was there – there was the report that --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t have anything beyond what Mark talked to you about on Friday.
QUESTION: P.J., do you have – the four senators from New York and New Jersey have written a letter to Secretary Clinton asking her to take up with the Brits, very urgently, the case of Mr. Megrahi, who now appears to have far more than the three months to live that he was reported to have had when he was released by the Scottish authorities. One, do you know if the Secretary has received this letter? Two, even if she hasn’t yet, does the Administration share these concerns, especially in light of the comments that the doctor who apparently examined – who examined him now seems to be backing off on his original diagnosis and it turns out that he was actually paid by the Libyans to do this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I will check to see if we have received the letter. The senators – we appreciate the senators encouraging us to focus on this issue. We’ve actually been focused on this issue since last summer. We haven’t changed our view. We think that the decision to release Mr. Megrahi last summer was a mistake. We thought that he should continue to – in jail for his crime. And that continues to be our view.
But I’ll check to see if we have the letter and if, as a result of that, we’ll reiterate that position to the – to Scottish authorities.
QUESTION: You say you’ve been focused on it. When was the last time it has come up in conversations with British officials? Do you know?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, for – we made our views very well known to a variety of both British and Scottish officials.
QUESTION: Right. That was at the time, though.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no, but there was an expectation from last August that Mr. Megrahi had only a few months to live. We’ve been on a Megrahi watch --
QUESTION: Right. Well --
MR. CROWLEY: -- since that time and we have been alert for indications that that doctor’s prognosis was going to come to pass. And we think that every day that Mr. Megrahi lives is an affront to the families of those who lost their lives in Pan Am 103.
QUESTION: Every day that he lives?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Lives? You mean, not --
MR. CROWLEY: Every day that he lives as a free man, we think is an affront to the families of and victims of Pan Am 103.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, just – I mean, there’s been a change in government in Britain since that, since last August. Have you – has it been raised with the new government?
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: So it’s not really something that you’ve been focused on?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no, we’ve been focused on the fact that he is in Libya --
QUESTION: You’ve been focused on him.
MR. CROWLEY: -- and there was an expectation that he was on death’s door, and that has not yet come to pass.
QUESTION: Well, so do you share the concerns of the senators about the Libyan involvement in the doctor’s examination?
MR. CROWLEY: Like I say, I’ll – we’ll find out – I’ll check to see whether we have that letter.
QUESTION: On Burma, some members of NLD have now registered a different party and are not planning to contest the elections. Do you see this as the military junta has been successful in further isolating Aung San Suu Kyi in the country or dividing the NLD itself?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it doesn't change our concern about the electoral process. We think that this is a flawed electoral process. We respect decisions that former NLD members have made. But we certainly do not have any expectation that what proceeds in Burma here will be anything that remotely resembles a free, fair, or legitimate result.
QUESTION: Does that make you rethink your outreach to the government?
MR. CROWLEY: Not at all. We will continue to engage the Burmese Government because it’s in our interest to do so and we will continue during those discussions, if and when they occur in the future, to make clear that Burma has more that – much more that it needs to do to engage in dialogue with its key groups within its population and to open up its political process to meaningful participation.
QUESTION: Can you --
MR. CROWLEY: And to release Aung San Suu Kyi. That will continue to be our message whenever we meet with Burmese officials.
QUESTION: Can you point to any --
QUESTION: Well, then ultimately --
QUESTION: Sorry, can I keep going? Can you point to any instance in which, since you began this dialogue under the current Administration, and at a higher level than had hitherto been the case, where the government has moved in your direction in any manner whatsoever? The two that come to mind particularly are democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi, on the one hand, and assuaging your concerns about possible nuclear cooperation with North Korea.
Have they done anything to address your concerns on those two fronts?
MR. CROWLEY: On the democracy front, no. Their steps have been inadequate. We continue to have concerns about Burma’s relationship with North Korea. It’s something that we watch very, very carefully and consistently.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? I mean, do you have any benchmarks for this type of engagement, I mean, at which point you say that engagement isn’t working and maybe you need to try something else? I mean, just following on Arshad’s question, you – obviously, you want to give it a chance. But at what point do you say, well, this is not working and we’re rewarding the military junta there --
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: -- with our engagement and a better relationship when we’re not getting any?
MR. CROWLEY: There’s a presumption behind your question that engagement is somehow a reward. Engagement is what we think is the most effective means to an end. Now --
QUESTION: Well, what’s so effective about it?
MR. CROWLEY: Hang on a second. We have years, if not decades, of experience that tells us that isolation has not worked either. We are involved in direct discussions with Burmese officials. I can’t predict when the next round will occur. But so far, their response on – particularly on the democracy front has been disappointing. It’s been a missed opportunity. But we will continue to engage them – not to reward them, but just simply to make sure that they have clarity that if they envision any different kind of relationship with the United States, that fundamental processes within their own country have to change.
QUESTION: Well, what if they don’t envision a fundamental different --
MR. CROWLEY: Then at a point, we will reach that conclusion. We’re not there yet.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Are you any closer to appointing a special envoy to Burma?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve got nothing to announce. Well, I know where we are in the process.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry, one at a time. Go ahead.
QUESTION: There are Israeli reports saying that they would like direct talks, or they hope to have direct talks starting by August 1st. Can you say anything about that timeline? And if it’s inaccurate, what would be inaccurate?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, you need decisions by both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority to enter into direct negotiations. We’re trying to reach that point as quickly as possible. We haven’t put a particular date on the map and said it’s got to occur by this date. George Mitchell will be in the region later this week to continue his regular conversations with Israeli and Palestinian officials, and we’ll continue to evaluate, based on their responses, how close we are.
QUESTION: So August 1st is not a goal? We can say that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we want to see direct negotiations begin as soon as possible. Will the conditions allow them to occur by August 1st? We would be very encouraged by that. But that’s not a particular deadline, if you will. We want to get them into direct negotiations as quickly as possible. If they can be done in August, terrific. If we – if it doesn’t happen until September, the key is we don’t – as we’ve said many, many times, until we get into direct negotiations, there is little prospect of reaching a just settlement for everyone concerned.
QUESTION: So the presumption is that the proximity talks have served their purpose?
MR. CROWLEY: I think the proximity talks are serving their purpose, but I think we recognize that –
MR. CROWLEY: -- we’re not at a point yet where – I mean, clearly, from public statements by the leaders, we’re not at a point where both have yet agreed to direct negotiations.
QUESTION: But I thought that was the purpose.
MR. CROWLEY: That is our objective.
QUESTION: I thought that was the purpose. So if they –
MR. CROWLEY: That is the purpose.
QUESTION: Okay. So you haven’t reached – so they haven’t served their purpose.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no. But we are working on substantive issues. George doesn’t sit down with both leaders and simply say how’s the weather, how’s the kids. He’s going through substantive issues on both sides to see if we can establish the kind of foundation necessary so that both the Israelis and Palestinians can get to yes.
Clearly, we’re not there yet. But we think there’s value in the periodic discussions that Senator Mitchell has had, supported by conversations that the President and the Secretary and others have had with the leaders on both sides as well.
QUESTION: Former President Clinton was scheduled to speak in Washington this week on, I guess, the 10th anniversary of the failed effort at Camp David to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, and that speech was abruptly canceled this morning. To your knowledge, did the Administration request that he not make that speech? Was there any feeling that that might be unhelpful?
MR. CROWLEY: I have no knowledge of this. I’d have to defer to his office.
QUESTION: When is Mitchell (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: I think he’ll be in the region in a couple of days. I don’t think the specifics of his travel plans are yet a hundred percent set.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: Do you feel that the proximity talks are actually progressing? Or are you still where you were, I don’t know, six months or whenever it is that they started?
MR. CROWLEY: No, I don’t – this isn’t – this is never a static process.
QUESTION: In the Middle East?
MR. CROWLEY: You’re always moving in one direction or the other.
QUESTION: They’re moving forward?
MR. CROWLEY: We think the proximity talks have value. They’re helping to clarify the issues that both sides will need to address substantively when direct negotiations actually do occur. So we are – we see value, we see importance. We are addressing substance in these respective meetings and we hope that we can get the two sides to appoint where they can begin direct negotiations as soon as possible.
Back in the back.
QUESTION: China has called for earlier resumption of the Six-Party Talks, and North Korea said they will make efforts for reopening of the talks. Any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there are specific things that North Korea has to do before we can envision a return to Six-Party Talks. Most importantly, as we’ve said many, many times, having constructive relations with its neighbors, avoiding the kinds of provocative actions that we saw with the sinking of the Cheonan – those would be a good place to start.
QUESTION: Well, what do you mean by constructive relations with its neighbors?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me turn that around, Arshad. If you sink a ship –
QUESTION: No, no. I get the not sinking ships part. That was the second part and I didn’t ask about that. So --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. No, no. But –
QUESTION: But the first part is what – I mean, plus, they just sank a ship, in your view. So why would you be talking – thinking about talking to them at all now?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, and I’m not saying that we are. There are things that North Korea has to do if it envisions coming back to Six-Party negotiations.
QUESTION: Like what? I mean, that’s my question. Like what? I mean, not sinking ships –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, ceasing provocative behavior would be one.
MR. CROWLEY: Engaging constructively with its neighbors. I mean, North Korea has the opportunity to have dialogue with South Korea, for example, on security issues or economic issues. And – but the disregard for the interests of South Korea as evidenced in the Cheonan incident is a case in point. Other countries in the Six-Party process have their own set of issues. But it’s one thing for North Korea to say publicly it’s willing to come back to the Six-Party process. It’s quite another thing for North Korea to show affirmatively that it is prepared not only to come back to negotiations but to have those negotiations progress in some way.
There are things that North Korea can do – actions, not words – that can demonstrate that there’s an earnestness to back up this public indication that they might be willing to talk. There’s more that they have to do.
QUESTION: Well, but the only specific thing that you’ve mentioned is security and economic talks with South Korea. Are those --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, from our standpoint --
QUESTION: Are those the preconditions?
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. From our standpoint, if North Korea wants to engage in the Six-Party process, there are specific commitments in the joint statement from 2005 that it can fulfill.
QUESTION: Like what?
MR. CROWLEY: It can take – it can take steps to restore confidence that it’s willing to seriously consider denuclearization. There’s no indication that North Korea is prepared to do that. And if they’re not prepared to show through affirmative actions a willingness to fulfill the – its existing commitments under the Six-Party process, that it’s prepared to give up its nuclear program, then you have to ask the fundamental question of what are we going to talk about. North Korea --
QUESTION: Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay.
MR. CROWLEY: Hang on a second. North Korea has a history --
QUESTION: I yield to Matt on this one.
MR. CROWLEY: All right. But --
QUESTION: Yeah, but you’ve never said that --
QUESTION: Elise, come on.
MR. CROWLEY: But hold on a second.
QUESTION: You’ve never said that this was a precondition to get back to the talks. You want North Korea to get back to the talks. They’re not ready to come back to the talks. And that’s not – that’s – I mean, this Cheonan incident aside, that’s why you haven’t been talking.
MR. CROWLEY: Hang on a second.
QUESTION: There’s never been steps they have to take for you to sit down.
MR. CROWLEY: I think you’re misreading what we’ve been saying for the last several months. We are not willing to talk for the sake of talking. We are not going – as – to quote Secretary Gates, one of my favorite expressions, we’re not going to buy a horse more than once. If North Korea wants to engage seriously in the Six-Party process, there are very specific actions that North Korea has to take first before we would consider a resumption of the Six-Party process. And as we’ve said many times over the past weeks and months, there are – that avoiding further provocative actions, setting a more stable and predictable environment in the region. But also, from our standpoint, showing that they’re serious about fulfilling their commitments under previous agreements, those are the kinds of things that we want to see before we’re going to agree to a restoration of the Six-Party process.
QUESTION: Can we please move on to --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
MR. CROWLEY: For those who --
QUESTION: I appreciate the smile, but I’m sure that the lacrosse team that’s trying to get to Britain right now doesn't appreciate it.
MR. CROWLEY: The lacrosse team that’s trying to get to Britain to play in the World Lacrosse Championship – we are earnestly trying to help them. But given the more stringent standards that we’ve applied to travel in and out of the region through the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, for one to travel to and then return from a country – other countries, you will need a U.S. passport. We are standing by to help the team get its passports on an expedited basis, and this is something that we continue to talk to them about.
QUESTION: Well, they don’t consider themselves to be citizens of the United States and --
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: And in fact, there are treaty obligations that you have that would seem to be – you would seem to be violating them by not allowing them to travel on their own passports, particularly if they meet the standard to be accepted. I know that there were negotiations with the previous administration about --
MR. CROWLEY: But again, what you’re talking about here is whether other countries will accept --
QUESTION: The Brits have said that they are only looking for assurances from the U.S. Government that these people will be allowed back into the country.
MR. CROWLEY: We stand by ready to help --
QUESTION: But you stand by ready to help them get U.S. passports. They do not accept – they don’t want that privilege.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: So you don’t see this as a violation of treaties that go back to the 1600s?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not willing to go through a 400-year legal process here.
QUESTION: Well, but here’s the – they are.
MR. CROWLEY: Tell you what --
QUESTION: They are willing.
MR. CROWLEY: Tell you what. I will take the question as to whether we have a view as to whether helping them get a U.S. passport so they can travel for this tournament is a violation of an existing treaty.
QUESTION: No, no, no, no. That’s not the right way to look at it. It’s a cute way of changing the subject. They would argue that this is a violation of their sovereignty and a violation of the agreements that have been in existence for hundreds and hundreds of years. Can you take the question as to whether the – on the legality of this, whether you --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that we’re saying --
QUESTION: No, you’re saying that – you’re suggesting that they are claiming that it’s a challenge to their sovereignty for you to help them get U.S. passports. The fact of the matter is they don’t want U.S. passports and they’ve been traveling for years on their own passports.
MR. CROWLEY: But since they last traveled on their own passports, the requirements in terms of the kind of documents that are necessary to facilitate travel within and outside the hemisphere have changed. We are trying to help them get the appropriate travel documents so that they can travel to this tournament. But I’ll – I understand the question that you just asked me.
QUESTION: Okay. But you say – but the appropriate travel document that you’re talking about is a U.S. passport. It’s not some kind – it’s not some enhanced version of their own passport.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again – but what you’re talking about are the standards – it’s not about a U.S. passport per se. You can have a passport from any nation. The real issue is does this passport properly provide the identification and does it meet the security standards that have been raised within our hemisphere and around the world since 2001. So any travel document that meets the standard can be accepted by nations as demonstrating the person traveling is who he or she says she is.
QUESTION: Right, right. But --
MR. CROWLEY: So the issue is the standard. I can’t speak for the --
QUESTION: Well, but it seems --
MR. CROWLEY: -- the Iroquois passport to say whether it meets that standard or not.
QUESTION: Well, if you’re – but this building told them that they – that it’s not acceptable, that they can’t get back into the country with it.
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: So that would imply that it doesn't meet the standard.
MR. CROWLEY: I – well, no, I actually think that conversation is – involves DHS personnel, not State Department personnel.
QUESTION: Not according to them. And I --
MR. CROWLEY: We are prepared to help them gain access to a document that does --
QUESTION: Not necessarily a U.S. passport?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, I’ve already --
QUESTION: You understand that this is a bit different than someone from Guyana who is in the same situation.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand the situation. I understand the question.
QUESTION: These people live in the --
MR. CROWLEY: I understand the question.
QUESTION: All right.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:27 p.m.)DPB # 112