1:43 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Is a briefing legal if no one’s in the front row? (Laughter.) Of course.
Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. I have lots and lots of things to talk about before taking your questions. Just to start right in, the Secretary has completed her day in Hanoi having conducted bilateral meetings today with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Khiem, participated in a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of normalized relations between the United States and Vietnam. As she always does when traveling overseas, met with staff and family at the – families of our Embassy in Hanoi. She joined today PEPFAR partnership framework signing ceremony with Justice Minister Cuong; participated in the ASEAN ministerial meetings; on the sidelines of that, held a Lower Mekong Initiative meeting with representatives from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, focused on environment, health issues, and education and training.
She had a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Dung and then attended the ASEAN dinner. Tomorrow, she’ll have more activities when she wakes up here in a few hours as part of the ASEAN Regional Forum, including a number of bilateral meetings, including the one that we mentioned to you yesterday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang, and then she will return to the United States.
We’ve got a couple of announcements or statements by the Secretary, one that we just released – one we’ll release shortly, but obviously, one concerning the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on Kosovo’s declaration of independence. Let me just read it in part, that the
International Court of Justice has today issued its advisory opinion and decisively agreed with the longstanding view of the United States that Kosovo’s declaration of independence is in accordance with international law. Kosovo is an independent state and its territory is inviolable.
We call on those states, who have not yet done so, to recognize Kosovo. Now is the time for them – for Kosovo and Serbia to put aside their differences and move forward, working together constructively to resolve practical issues to the betterment of the lives of the people of Kosovo, Serbia, and the region. This is the path forward – this is the path toward their future, as part of a Europe, whole, free, and at peace.
We’ll also have a statement by the Secretary shortly regarding the legislation passed yesterday. There was a clause within the financial reform bill that involves conflict minerals. And you’ll recall that last year the Secretary spoke out about the trade of conflict minerals that had funded a cycle of conflict in the Congo and left more than 5 million people dead since 1998, displacing countless more and spawning an epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence. And now that President Obama has signed the law, the measure will require corporations to publicly disclose what they are doing to ensure that their products don’t contain conflict minerals.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has formally expressed a support for this law and has thanked both the executive and legislative branches of our government for taking this step. Now this is one of several steps that we are taking to stop this illicit and deadly trade. And all of these steps underscore the commitment of the United States to stand with the people of Congo and to work towards an end to this conflict.
The United States Department of State is deeply saddened by the deaths of three contractors today in an attack in Baghdad. These men were assisting the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in protecting American diplomats and missions in Iraq. They were all contract employees of the Department of State. They played a critical role in our effort to bring a better way of life to the people of Iraq. And we extend our condolences to the families of the victims.
Of those who were affected, I think three individuals were killed, 16 were wounded, and two of those wounded were American citizens.
I think the Department of Defense will very shortly be announcing that we have transferred two more detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. One resettled to Spain, another to Latvia. We are very grateful to Spain and Latvia for their willingness to support our efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. With these two resettlements, the number of detainees today in Guantanamo is now at 176.
Assistant Secretary Bob Blake visited Male, Maldives today. He met with President Nasheed, cabinet members, opposition leaders, civil society representatives, and the human rights commission. He encouraged the president and the opposition to work together to resolve their current political impasse.
I think you’ve heard that Secretary of Defense Gates is in Indonesia and had an announcement earlier today regarding cooperation between the United States and the Indonesian military. And as he said, the United States Government has decided to resume limited security cooperation with Kopassus, which is the Indonesian special forces, within the limits of U.S. law, based on the democratic changes that have taken place within Indonesia and the reforms that continue to take place within the Indonesian National Armed Forces and Kopassus. Our ability to expand upon these initial steps will depend upon continued implementation of reforms within Kopassus and the TNI as a whole. We intend to proceed in a limited and deliberate way, beginning with staff-level discussions, to build common understandings of how we each can operate and train together.
Human rights and accountability are critical issues for the United States and will remain an important part of our interaction with the TNI and Kopassus moving forward. Indeed, one of the main reasons for our decision is to encourage additional progress in this area. And any activities undertaken will need to comply with applicable U.S. laws, including the Leahy provisions related to human rights vetting.
Yesterday, I took a question about whether we’ve had follow-on discussions with the Government of Chad regarding its cooperation with the ICC. We have had such a discussion today with our chargé at the embassy. We discussed the issue of ICC indictments in general and how they specifically apply to Mr. Bashir. That said, we also take note of the fact that in recent days and weeks there has been a significant rapprochement between Chad and Sudan. We view this as a positive development. And any – steps that – to normalize relations can have a very significant impact in terms of security and peace, particularly affecting the people of Darfur. That said, it is important for long-term regional stability that Chad honor its international obligations, including cooperation with the International Criminal Court.
You asked yesterday about the issue of the Russian citizen detained following a judicial process in Liberia, expelled from that country, and now arrested here in the United States. I can say that we take our consular notification requirements very seriously. We’ve had an exchange of diplomatic notes with the Russian Federation regarding this particular case. We made every attempt to comply with our international obligations including consular access. And I would say that in the middle of this process there was an error on our part and consular access was accomplished but it was delayed beyond the normal window that we normally work through. But – and I say through exchange of diplomatic notes we believe that we have resolved the questions that have been raised by the Russian Federation.
You asked yesterday about the situation in Nepal. We note that the Nepali Parliament held elections for a new prime minister yesterday; no candidate won a majority. The parliament is now scheduled to meet tomorrow to vote again to elect a new prime minister. We urge Nepal’s political leaders to reach agreement on a government that will move forward quickly on the issues that are essential for Nepal’s stability and economic development, the completion of the peace process, and drafting of a new constitution.
You asked also about, I think, a question regarding Senator Menendez and the status of various reports mandated by the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009. These reports assess the effectiveness and progress of U.S. Government counterterrorism and security assistance to Pakistan. Three of these reports have already been provided to Congress and a fourth and final one is in the final stages of completion.
QUESTION: P.J., you mentioned the Secretary being in Hanoi. A North Korean official is quoted as having said in Hanoi that the U.S. sanctions and military exercises pose a grave threat to peace and security in the region. I wonder if you could respond to that.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, in fact, actions by North Korea including the sinking of the Cheonan – those kinds of actions, those kinds of provocative steps do, in fact, pose a threat to security and stability in the region. And we will continue to take appropriate action to try to influence the North Korean leadership and their policies. We want to see North Korea fundamentally change its approach to its neighbors, cease provocative actions, have constructive relations with the region and others including the United States, and take affirmative steps towards denuclearization. So North Korea has a habit of trying to deflect responsibility onto others. Right now the responsibility is theirs and we would like to see them take responsibility for what they’ve done, but more importantly take constructive steps along the lines of the international –the commitments that they have made to the international community and to the Six Party Process.
QUESTION: Is there a level of concern that they could respond to what they consider to be a provocation with provocations of their own?
MR. CROWLEY: Well they – we’ve seen a series of provocations going back a year or more. So are they capable of these kinds of steps? Tragically, the answer is yes. And the very kind of actions that we’ve announced in recent days including military exercises that will be conducted in the near future are expressly to demonstrate that we will be prepared to act in response to future North Korea provocations. We hope it won’t come to that. We hope that North Korea will recognize that there’s no game for North Korea going down its current path, that it will firmly assess its current policies, cease its provocative actions, and take the kinds of affirmative steps towards denuclearization that they have pledged in the past.
QUESTION: P.J., on the Cheonan, there are some scientists who are, in fact, the region here – Virginia especially – who are looking at this in a scientific fashion, and they say that some of the evidence really does not support that the North Koreans torpedoed that ship. Is there any scintilla of doubt on the part of the United States in that North – in that South Korean study that I guess had some U.S. influences – decisions. Well, any –
MR. CROWLEY: We participated along with experts of other countries. I’m not – I think we stand by the conclusions of that investigation. We think that the findings are compelling, scientifically-based, and I’ve heard of no reconsiderations of those findings.
QUESTION: Will the U.S. be taking any efforts – if you’re so convinced that the North Koreans could launch a provocation, will the U.S. be taking any efforts to ensure that the U.S. military participants in these joint exercises are far enough away that nothing – that the North Koreans don’t actually try to shoot down a U.S. plane or sink a U.S. ship? Is any particular precautions being taken that way? Are you --
MR. CROWLEY: Look, I don’t know what particular steps North Korea will take. We hope that they – I mean, we’re calling on them to cease their provocative actions, not further inflame the situation. But our ships in the region are fully capable of defending themselves. We don’t think it’s going to come to that. These are exercises that are designed to improve our coordination and training and capabilities with the – our South Korean allies. They are not meant as a provocation. As we’ve said in the aftermath of the sinking of the Cheonan, we would carefully review our defensive capabilities, augment them, and refine them where appropriate. But this is simply – it’s a defensive exercise meant to improve our ability to work together as allies, but clearly would be very unwise for North Korea to challenge these forces.
QUESTION: The Kosovo ruling has created some preoccupation in southern European countries, particularly in Spain, where the government of certain sectors of the public opinion fear that this could be used by certain nationalistic movements in the Basque country or in Catalonia as a base for their own political demands. Has the State Department any kind of view regarding this issue? Do you think that this could trigger more nationalistic movements in the rest of Europe?
MR. CROWLEY: No. The short answer is no. And I should say that there will be a briefing at the Foreign Press Center this afternoon at 4:00 with our legal advisor Harold Koh and our Ambassador to Kosovo. But this was a very – a set of facts unique to Kosovo. The court was applying these facts. We don’t think it’s applicable to any other situation.
QUESTION: Change of subject or –
QUESTION: Yeah. P.J., could you clarify the extent of U.S. Government participation in the sting operation with regards to that Russian citizen, Mr. Yaroshenko the pilot who, as you put it, expelled from Liberia? From what I saw earlier, I assumed it was basically the U.S. operation or foreign (inaudible) --
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t say it was a U.S. operation. And I’m not sure that we’re going to get into operational details, but we do work –
QUESTION: Well, who was he detained by?
MR. CROWLEY: We do work – well, he – before, as I understand it, he was detained in Liberia. He was subject to some sort of judicial process in Liberia. Liberia, in turn, expelled him, and then he was brought here to the United States. On operational details I would defer to the Drug Enforcement Agency for specifics regarding his case and his status presently, I would defer to the Department of Justice. I simply don’t know to what – we obviously have very significant cooperation with countries around the world including Liberia. We certainly have supported efforts by the Liberian Government to stem drug trafficking in Western Africa. But as to a particular participation in this operation, I would defer to the DEA.
QUESTION: On that same subject –
QUESTION: Are you trying to implicate he was not brought here by Americans?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not saying that. The question was – there was cooperation between the United States and Liberia leading up to cracking this particular case and this particular network. So were we involved in sharing information with Liberia? Yes, indeed. Were there particular U.S. participation? I’m not aware of that. But I would defer to the DEA for operational details like that.
QUESTION: P.J., on that same subject, you said that there was an error on the U.S. part. Is the United States apologizing to Russia?
MR. CROWLEY: We have apologized to Russia. The simple matter is, the people that – when he was brought here to the United States, he was subject to a hearing here in Washington – I’m sorry, in New York I believe on January 1st –
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry, June 1st. June 1st, thank you. And then we sent out the consular notification. We just happened to send it to the wrong embassy. And it took – normally, we try to arrange these consular notifications within 72 hours. And we didn’t discover our error until it was after that period of time.
QUESTION: Do you know where it was sent?
MR. CROWLEY: I do.
QUESTION: And where was that? Something close to Russia?
MR. CROWLEY: It was sent to the wrong embassy. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What it – Kyrgyzstan or what? I mean, where did it go?
MR. CROWLEY: No, it just went to a different embassy than the one it was supposed to go to.
QUESTION: So then a different country? You’re not (inaudible) – consular –
MR. CROWLEY: We sent the notification to the wrong embassy. It just was an error on our part.
QUESTION: (inaudible) to a Russian Embassy in another country or to a different country’s embassy?
MR. CROWLEY: No, to a different – we –
QUESTION: A different country.
MR. CROWLEY: We pressed the wrong button on the fax machine to be brutally honest.
QUESTION: What was the result? I mean, was there a delay in the consular access they actually received?
QUESTION: And that’s the reset button, I take it, yeah? (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: Now, we did have conversations with the Russian Government in that 72-hour window, but that did not constitute formal notification. We freely acknowledged that in our diplomatic note to Russia. And we do believe that this matter has been resolved.
QUESTION: But can you base that on – the Russians are telling you this is resolved?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we’ve had exchange of notes. From our standpoint, we believe it has been.
MR. CROWLEY: No, we’re – I just want to note that there has – we recognize that there has been positive interaction in recent days and weeks between Chad and Sudan. There are – obviously going back, there have been a number of years that there have been individuals and groups that have flowed across their common border and the violence that has resulted has significantly affected people on both sides of that border. There has been a significant effort towards resolving these elements of the conflict and moving towards normalized relations between Chad and Sudan. We recognized that as a positive step. That said, we still have communicated to Chad that it has responsibilities as a signatory under the Rome Statute and needs to continue to fulfill its obligations under the – to the ICC.
QUESTION: Same area.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Scott Gration is quoted in one of the newspapers this morning, as suggesting that the genocide charges that were launched against Bashir last week is something of an impediment now to his mission because it jeopardizes good relations with Sudan.
MR. CROWLEY: I talked to Scott Gration in Darfur today. And we talked about that article. It stems from comments that he made to a group here in Washington before he left. Let me be very clear, what Scott Gration was reflecting in his comments was that the indictment in – it is viewed negatively for obvious reasons in the eyes of the Sudanese leadership. And because of how they view the indictment and how – they view the indictment as an attempt at international regime change. It is the Sudanese attitude of the indictment that, in Scott’s mind, has added some – has affected Sudan’s willingness to cooperate with the international community and with the United States. It doesn’t change the basic facts and Scott Gration is totally understanding of and supporting of the basis for the ICC action and the need, as he has said to Sudanese officials many, many times for President Bashir to present himself ultimately to the ICC and be held to account.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: To follow up – I mean, not to put words in your mouth, but are you saying that since --
MR. CROWLEY: They’re probably better than mine.
QUESTION: Are you saying because of the needs – the need to – for good relations between Sudan and Chad that Chad has been given a pass on arresting Bashir?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I wouldn't say that Chad has been given a pass. But there are – I just want to make sure that there – and there are two imperatives here. One is that improvement in relations between Chad and Sudan will have a positive impact on the ground, including a positive impact in Darfur. If this cooperation continues, lives will be saved on the ground in Sudan and in Darfur. And it takes off the table one source of conflict that we are trying to deal with as we move towards the referendum later this year.
So the fact that Chad and Sudan are working through issues and they have both taken steps to improve the situation and their relations, this is a positive development and will have broad regional impact. That said, it doesn't change how we feel and – on the ICC warrant and the need for all countries – Sudan, Chad, others – to cooperate fully with the ICC.
QUESTION: P.J., on the same sort of region, I have a question on Somalia. The UN humanitarian coordinator is here. He’s asking the U.S. to resume the full spending in Somalia, saying there’s a lot of un-need – unmet needs. And I wonder if you’re satisfied with the measures he’s taken to make sure money doesn't go into the pockets of al-Shabaab.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, we continue to provide assistance to the people of Somalia. We are the largest donor country to the World Food Program and we continue to provide assistance to Somalia through the WFP and other partners and we continue our contributions to the World Food Program. We have suspended a certain aspect of the program in terms of the support to Somalia in a certain part of the country through UN agencies. We continue to work with the UN on our concerns about security of the people who are making these deliveries and also to ensure that there is transparency and accountability so that the assistance that we’re providing does not in any way benefit violent groups like al-Shabaab. Those concerns are being discussed, but at the present time they are still suspended.
QUESTION: Two topics, real quick. Just first a clarification on the Russian pilot story, just on the timeline. Were those diplomatic notes sent in the past day or so, because the foreign ministry issued quite a strong statement, I think, yesterday about it. I just want to make sure that when you say that everything is clarified, whether that – through diplomatic notes, whether that came after the statement or not.
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t – no, I don’t think so. That’s a good question. I’ll take --
QUESTION: From their statement, that didn’t seem very clarified, so I’m curious – it seemed --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, yeah. I mean, we --
QUESTION: I just want to know --
MR. CROWLEY: We certainly do not agree with the characterization about lawlessness. We actually – we take our responsibilities under international statues seriously and we – like I said, we’re attempting to meet those international responsibilities. We just made one mistake in the middle of the process.
QUESTION: Okay. Can you just take the question on when those were sent (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Start again.
QUESTION: Do you --
MR. CROWLEY: I was just trying to make sure I didn’t have the answer to the question --
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
MR. CROWLEY: -- here in my book.
QUESTION: Hugo Chavez announced just a short while ago that he was severing all ties with Colombia over this FARC presentation that Venezuela was harboring FARC terrorists inside Venezuela. And anyway, I think it may have happened while we were out here, but if you have anything at all.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there is a meeting going on today at – a special meeting of the permanent council at the OAS. As I understand it, the meeting is still going on. It was – it pertains to FARC presence in Venezuelan territory. Our understanding is that the Colombian permanent representative has urged the – urged Venezuela to do more to limit the presence and action of the FARC and he’s made – and we think that it’s important for both countries to work to reduce mutual suspicion and to fully implement their commitments under applicable anti-terrorist treaties and resolutions of the UN and OAS. I don’t think that severing ties or communication is the proper way to achieve that end.
QUESTION: North Korean diplomats said in Hanoi they are ready to meet with U.S. officials there. Any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, to the extent that North Korean officials are ready to meet with the United States or other countries under the Six-Party process, the real question is what will they bring to the table. We’re not going to meet for meeting’s sake. We’re not going to talk for talking’s sake. If they are ready to take the kind of actions that we’ve outlined in recent days and weeks, then there will be a basis to consider such a meeting. But if they’re coming back just to talk, I don’t think we’re interested at this point.
QUESTION: Also, do you have any follow-up on the Secretary Clinton, who expressed concerns in Hanoi about North Korea’s transfer of nuclear technology to Burma?
MR. CROWLEY: This is something that we are watching closely, given North Korea’s past record. Any relationship and any trading relationship between a country and North Korea poses potential risks. We continue to stress to Burma that it has international obligations and needs to adhere to those obligations.
QUESTION: The Treasury Department has put sanctions on some people associated with the Haqqani Network. I’m wondering whether you know whether this has any implications for the Government of Pakistan. Do they have to take any actions to make sure these sanctions are made effective?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a good question. I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: Can I follow up real quick?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure. I mean, it can have some impact overseas. I’ll see.
QUESTION: Can you bring us up to speed whether they’re – the State Department and Treasury is still considering further action against the Haqqani Network? I know that General Petraeus and Senator Levin have both urged the placement of the Haqqani Network on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. I just want to – I’m curious whether today’s action is in lieu of that or is --
MR. CROWLEY: No, it’s not in lieu of that. As the Secretary has said on her trip this week, we are looking at whether to designate the group. And that’s – that is a lengthy process and we’re looking to see if it meets the legal criteria that’s outlined in U.S. law.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Kosovo for a second? You said you don’t think it’ll open the floodgates, so two questions. One is --
MR. CROWLEY: No, I – let me be – what I said was that this was a decision of the ICJ based on facts, unique facts specific to Kosovo. We don’t see that this ruling and these facts apply to other cases.
QUESTION: Does the fact that now you’ve got the ICJ recognizing Kosovo’s sovereignty – and there’s, I think, 70-odd countries now. Does this is any way accelerate a timetable? Is there – does it allow you to move forward with, say, handing over more control of Kosovo to the Kosovars, to a withdrawal of KFOR, to bringing a motion to the UN General Assembly to get Kosovo seated?
MR. CROWLEY: It certainly can be a step in that direction, but obviously, a lot depends on how countries, including Serbia, respond to this ruling. We think it removes all legal uncertainty regarding the status of Kosovo. We think it’s now important for countries around the world, including its neighbors and Serbia in particular, to recognize this ruling, engage Kosovo on a new basis, and as – work to reduce – to normalize relations and reduce tensions that clearly can have an impact in terms of various international missions that are currently in the region. But certainly, this by itself will not solve the underlying tension on the ground, but we hope that from this moment we can see progress going forward.
QUESTION: But is it a turning point for the U.S. Government to say okay, now that this has been recognized we are going to draw down KFOR, we are going to hand over more
MR. CROWLEY: Again, KFOR is there because it is in our interest and in Europe’s interest to have a force there that can maintain peace and prevent conflict. I’m sure that we’ll review our presence in light of this. We, of course, have recognized Kosovo since its declaration of independence. So this affirms a position that we have held for a couple of years. But we hope that this provides a moment where the countries of Europe can work together and see a common peaceful European future and move to that end. If we make that kind of movement, then obviously, we can see changes and improvements on the ground.
QUESTION: Can’t this be seen as an encouraging development for other self-declared little statelettes around Europe like Abkhazia and Transnistria?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, this – anyone who reads the ruling will see that this was a specific judgment based on facts unique to Kosovo. We certainly don’t think it applies to other circumstances.
QUESTION: P.J., notwithstanding your hopes and Vice President Biden’s phone call today and Secretary Clinton’s statement, it does not appear that the Serbian Government had responded with great enthusiasm to this ruling. The prime minister, I believe, has been quoted as saying that they will never recognize Kosovo. And it’s not clear to me, and I wonder if it is clear to you, if there are any signs at all that you perceive that Serbia is going to respond to this in a constructive manner with regard to dealing with Kosovo on issues of mutual interest. Is there anything that you see that suggests that they are willing to do that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s see what happens. We’ve been in touch with a variety of officials in Europe today, including Serbian officials. We understand the historical and emotional aspect of this, but we think it’s important for Serbia to take a long-term view, see where its future interests lie – obviously, integrated into Europe as a whole. There will be some things that the international community, the European Union will be expecting of Serbia, and we hope that they will take the long view of this.
We understand this is difficult, but we think it’s in Serbia’s interest to work constructively with Kosovo, establish improved relations with Kosovo and others, and will be rewarded if they take those steps.
QUESTION: P.J., on Mr. Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber – going through some of those documents that the Scottish authorities have put on their website, a question emerges. It’s – were assurances given to the U.S. Government that any person convicted for Lockerbie would serve out their sentence in Scotland?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: They were. By whom?
MR. CROWLEY: This – were assurances given as we were working constructively to set up the special Scottish tribunal.
QUESTION: So by the UK Government? Or –
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: Okay. Because the Scots are saying that the British said there were no legal barriers to transfer Mr. Megrahi – talking about the prison transfer agreement– but that they gave no assurances to the U.S. Government. So it sounds like a complete contradiction.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, whether those were legal assurances, political assurances, it was definitely our expectation as we cooperated in setting up this tribunal that, if convicted, those convicted would serve out their entire time – the entire sentence in Scottish prison.
QUESTION: Okay. And then one other question. It’s very – the whole thing is very complex. But I think the one question that it is in my mind is: Is there any indication that the U.S. Government has that BP, by lobbying the UK Government, had any direct effect on the transfer – for any reason – of Mr. Megrahi to Libya?
MR. CROWLEY: Prime Minister Cameron addressed that this week, and we support what he said.
QUESTION: So what do you think about the calls now? Senator Gillibrand wants a full investigation. Should there be a full investigation of this issue?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the British and Scottish authorities are, in fact, through their communication, their review of documents, their release potentially of additional documents – we think they are doing exactly what President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron called for this week: to put forward all the facts that were relevant to the decision made. And both the British Government and Scottish authorities have pledged to cooperate fully with the Senate, leading up to the hearing next week. So we think this good faith effort will help people understand what happened. Both the British Government and the Scottish authorities have made it clear, the basis upon their respective actions. We – as we’ve said, we disagreed with that judgment by Scottish authorities. But at this point, there’s nothing that – in our – that we’ve seen to suggest that this process was skewed in any way.
QUESTION: P.J., notwithstanding your statements that the British and Scottish authorities have pledged their full cooperation to the committee, the committee today released a letter from Scotland’s first minister answering a number of questions, but also politely declining to make Scottish ministers available to appear before the hearing. Is that full cooperation by declining to appear at the hearing?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t know that the Senate have asked – has asked for any British or Scottish authorities to appear. It is within the right of any government to agree to make its representatives available or not. I think we are satisfied with the way that Scottish and British authorities recognize the concern that Americans have on this case, given that the expectation that Mr. Megrahi was on death’s door has not materialized. So they understand how we feel about this. I think they are going – they’re making a good faith effort to help put forward the facts in the case. I know in the Scottish letter to Senator Kerry, he addresses one specific question that was raised by senators about whether there was a Libyan medical professional who offered a judgment, how that judgment may have influenced the final decision. And the Scottish authorities made clear that while Libya did commission its own review of Mr. Megrahi’s medical condition, that review arrived after the Scottish authorities had made specific decisions.
So this is a process by which the questions that are quite legitimate are being raised, and I think we are satisfied that British and Scottish authorities are responding appropriately to those questions.
QUESTION: Okay, just – and for the record --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: I think the letters released by the committee today include a letter from Chairman Kerry requesting the presence of Scottish officials, and the response from the Scottish first minister politely declines that request.
MR. CROWLEY: And I – we’re not in a position to compel Scottish or British authorities to appear at Senate hearings.
QUESTION: No, but if you’re going to --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t --
QUESTION: -- if you cite them as saying they’re fully cooperating --
MR. CROWLEY: No, but I don’t – I would not say that that necessarily means that British and Scottish authorities are not cooperating. I think they are going through their own processes, as Prime Minister Cameron said they would. This is going to take time to review documents and see if any further documents can be released. I think this is fully consistent with the pledge that Prime Minister Cameron made earlier this week.
QUESTION: It was the question of fully cooperating that was of interest to me, not just cooperating.
MR. CROWLEY: I think we’re satisfied with the steps that are being taken.
QUESTION: One on North Korea. The U.S.-led UN command is preparing to have a second round of talks with North Korea about the Cheonan sinking. And I’m wondering if you see this as inconsistent with U.S. policy considering you haven’t – you’ve refused to see North Korean officials up till now.
MR. CROWLEY: No, this is fully consistent with procedures that have been in place for decades under the armistice. We see the sinking of the Cheonan as a violation of the armistice. This is the right forum to consider these kinds of questions. Military officials have been meeting for many, many years where one side or the other has questions. So this is quite legitimate and quite consistent with the terms of the armistice between North and South Korea.
QUESTION: Back on Indonesia, which you mentioned earlier, do you know if there was any dialogue with the Hill before this decision? Senator Leahy, for example, wasn’t particularly happy with the decision to resume contact with Kopassus.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, there were consultations with the Hill prior to this announcement.
QUESTION: And with – it’s been mentioned that human rights will be a concern moving forward with this. Are there specific benchmarks that have been laid out in terms of – if certain – things that they need to do in order to resume fuller cooperation?
MR. CROWLEY: There are very specific commitments that Indonesia has agreed to make, including to permit prosecution by civilian authorities of members of the military who have violated human rights, suspension from active duty any member who is credibly alleged to have violated human rights and remove from the military all members convicted of such abuses. And Indonesia has pledged to cooperate with investigations of alleged human rights violations by military personnel.
We’re going into this because of the changes and improvements in the – both political environment in Indonesia and Indonesia’s overall human rights environment. That said, we’re going in with our eyes open. We still – Kopassus has a dark past. We recognize that. We’re going to be insisting that Indonesia live up to its stated commitments. And this is very limited. It’s not a slippery slope. It’s in our interest to have this kind of engagement, have this kind of cooperation, but we’ll be looking to see – and we think that this engagement can, in fact, help to further improve the performance of the Indonesian military.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Can I go to Haiti for a second? Senator Lugar wrote to other senators – I think to his committee today – a report from some of his staffers. And his conclusion was that unless the government there takes steps to encourage private investment, private enterprise, and bring in the opposition to the election planning process, the U.S. should reconsider whether it’s going to be committing the kind of money it’s committed to reconstruction in Haiti. I wonder whether there was any reaction to that, and a follow-up to that, a very short one.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are working very hard and very closely with Haitian officials on elections. One has to recognize that the foundations of Haiti’s electoral process, which was challenged, to begin with --
MR. CROWLEY: -- has been destroyed. Election records, those who have expertise in conducting elections – all of these capabilities have to be rebuilt. So President Preval has pledged to hold elections at the end of the year. We are working hard to rebuild the platform so that credible elections can be held. Obviously, for example, you have, obviously, people who have died in this, but you also have people who have moved, so now how do you – who has moved to where, how do you find them, how do you re-verify identities and certifications and so forth?
There’s so much work to do. But we recognize that a crucial aspect to Haiti’s future is the emergence of a capable and credible government that can support – that the people of Haiti can believe in, and a government that has the ability and capacity to move ahead with the aggressive plan that Haiti has developed.
So there’s a lot of work to do. We are insisting on full accountability as Haiti does take the lead in these efforts. You had Cheryl Mills and Raj Shah here earlier this month kind of going through where we think we are at the six-month point since the earthquake. We recognize that a lot of work has been done. Haiti, in many respects, as I think Cheryl Mills mentioned, is better off today than it was before the earthquake, particularly in the health area. That said, we know there’s an enormous amount of work to do and this is going to be very, very arduous and difficult. So we recognize what Senator Lugar and others are saying. We’re asking those same hard questions. And – but at this point, we are committed, along with the international community, to Haiti’s future.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Going back to the Pakistan question, in the recent days there have been a lot of statements from the U.S. officials in the region, for example, saying that LET is as dangerous as al-Qaida, and another one is that if there is another Mumbai attack there could be war in the region. So is – are we going to see a shift in the U.S. policy, a kind of new U.S. policy to make Pakistan act against these terrorist organizations?
MR. CROWLEY: We have a U.S. policy. It is to fully cooperate with Pakistan on terrorism and to continue to work closely to help Pakistan battle the insurgency that now is a threat to Pakistan itself. We’ve seen significant progress by Pakistan over the past year. It’s an area that was subject to the Strategic – a part of the Strategic Dialogue that our governments just had in Islamabad. We’ll continue to work on this. There are things, clearly, that Pakistan must do. And certainly, continuing to investigate and bring to justice those who are responsible for the Mumbai attack is an important element. It’s important to Pakistan. It’s also important to India. And we will continue our conversations with Pakistan on the things that it needs to do not only for the benefit of Pakistan but the region as a whole.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:53 p.m.)
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