1:23 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. As you know, Secretary Clinton has landed in New York where shortly she will have meetings with Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, ahead of this afternoon’s UN General Assembly meeting where she will discuss the humanitarian situation resulting from the floods in Pakistan. She will announce increased U.S. aid to Pakistan, as well as encouraging other nations to step up and help reach the UN goal of $460 million for emergency flood relief for Pakistan.
And as you heard this morning from Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, USAID Administrator Shah, and Under Secretary McHale, we believe our efforts to date have been very aggressive, as I think Ambassador Holbrooke said, we were first and most. And the Secretary’s announcement this afternoon will continue to reflect the partnership that the United States and Pakistan have together, and that this partnership will endure long after the flood waters recede.
We are looking – in the meantime, obviously, we have a great deal of assistance, up to $7.5 billion identified for Pakistan over the next five years under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation. We will be reviewing, in light of the devastation in Pakistan, what the country’s most critical infrastructure needs are, work together with Pakistan to address basic needs, but also we’ll be reprogramming resources to deal with both the immediate and the intermediate needs that Pakistan has in light of this disaster.
The Secretary, in her remarks, will also announce the establishment of the Pakistan Relief Fund that the United States Government will organize through the Department of State for all Americans to join in this tremendous relief, recovery, and reconstruction effort. And through the relief fund that we will be putting together in the coming days, we will be able to encourage Americans to provide contributions, both small through a texting program, and large through more significant donations, to help show our commitment to the people of Pakistan.
Turning to Iraq, Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman is on his way back from Iraq. He’s been there for the past week. He welcomed the new U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Jim Jeffrey, yesterday. Ambassador Jeffrey has presented his credentials today – I’m sorry, yesterday, to President Talabani and Foreign Minister Zebari, but they have met today with President Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Following Ambassador – following Assistant Secretary Feltman’s departure, Ambassador Jeffrey today has also met with Dr. Ayad Allawi to discuss the ongoing efforts to form an inclusive government in Iraq.
Also, we are saddened to learn about the attack on UN peacekeepers in the Congo. This attack resulted in the loss of three Indian soldiers with seven wounded. We obviously convey our sympathies to the families and friends of those killed as well as to the Government of India. We are continuing to be – we are grateful for the ongoing support that India is showing to this UN peacekeeping operation. We condemn in the strongest terms these attacks and call on the Government of the Congo to conduct a full investigation and to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice.
And finally, the Secretary before heading for New York, did have calls today with Foreign Minister Judeh of Jordan, also, Quartet representative Blair, as part of her ongoing consultations on moving the parties towards direct negotiations.
Last evening she also had a call with Prime Minister Fayyad as part of our ongoing efforts to demonstrate support for the Palestinian Authority and to help with – ensure the resources are there so the Palestinian Authority can continue its efforts to build up its institutions and prepare for the prospect of a Palestinian state at some point and self-government.
Today, we remain in touch with the parties and our international partners. We believe we are getting very close to an agreement to enter into direct negotiations. We think we’re well-positioned to get there, but we continue to work on the details of this process. I don’t have anything at this point to announce.
QUESTION: You’re well-positioned to get there? Can you explain what that means?
MR. CROWLEY: We think we are very, very close to a decision by the parties to enter into direct negotiations. There are details that are still being worked out. You could quote Yogi Berra I suppose, “It’s not over till it’s over.” But we’re happy where we are. We think we’re very, very close to an agreement, but there are still – there’s still work that is ongoing.
QUESTION: P.J. –
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: If I could (inaudible) a follow-up. These details that you spoke of, could you share with us these details? What are they? I mean, give us like three or four of these details that you’re either making progress on or they are – you’re not making as much progress as you think, so we have a better idea.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll keep those details to ourselves.
QUESTION: If I just –
QUESTION: Still on the Middle East?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: What can you say about a report today that the United States will issue a statement, essentially with parameters for the negotiations? Does this mean that the idea of a Quartet statement is diminishing?
MR. CROWLEY: No. We believe that if we reach the point we hope to arrive at that members of the Quartet will demonstrate their support for the process. We will demonstrate our support for the process, and we will outline specifics of where we go from here. We’re not at that point yet. There are still details that we’re working through. We’re not going to do the negotiation in public. We want to make sure that the parties have the right understanding of what they’re agreeing to and we’re able to move this process forward with the appropriate set of expectations. So, there’s work being done as we speak, and I’m not here to forecast when we’ll get to this point other than we are confident that we are moving ever closer to getting the parties into direct negotiations.
QUESTION: When you talk about we’ll outline details of how we move forward, is that – will those details likely be in a Quartet statement or will the details be something that the U.S. would unilaterally be talking about?
MR. CROWLEY: Those are not mutually exclusive.
MR. CROWLEY: All right. No, we’ll stay on this.
QUESTION: So you are responding to Mr. Netanyahu. He requested a statement from the U.S. and you’re also pleasing Abbas who wanted a statement from the Quartet. How are you going to combine the two?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, as we’ve said for the last few days, as part of the Quartet we are prepared to demonstrate our support for the parties as they move towards this decision. But we, the United States, have always played a special role within this effort and we will be prepared to assist the parties going forward in moving towards a successful negotiation. So, we can do both.
QUESTION: Since you’re so close to restarting the talks, have you chosen a venue for them?
MR. CROWLEY: We are working – again, I just want emphasize there is working being done today. I know there’s been some conjecture that we’re poised to make a statement. We think we’re very, very close, but there’s still work being done and there are details being worked out – should the parties come to an agreement to enter into direct negotiations? How will they – when will they happen? Where will they happen? What will be the agenda for the first meeting? There are still things that we’re working through.
QUESTION: P.J., if I could follow up. If – when the Secretary of State spoke with Foreign Minister Judeh and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and when she speaks to the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and so on, will she discuss with them options other than a statement by the Quartet or a unilateral statement by the U.S. on inviting or launching the talks?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, what has distinguished this effort over many, many months has been the work that has been done, not only directly with the parties, but also with our partners in the region, including members of the Quartet, to make sure that the leaders know that they have the international support to make this difficult decision. And so – but we’re working with our international partners. The Secretary may have additional calls to make today, but we want to make sure that the political support is there when the leaders feel that the time is right to enter into direct negotiations.
QUESTION: Okay. One quick follow-up. When the Secretary speaks with Prime Minister Fayyad and when she speaks to Mr. (inaudible), did they give her a different message? Are they on the same –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I should clarify. I mean, in her calls today it is on the current state of our efforts to move the parties into direct negotiations. She has regular conversations with Prime Minister Fayyad. Her discussion with the minister yesterday was more about the ongoing efforts to – of institution building within the Palestinian Authority, making sure that the resources are there to continue this effort, to improve security forces on the ground, continue to take the initiative to build an effective Palestinian economy. Obviously, the reality on the ground in the Palestinian areas does have a direct bearing on the confidence that past Palestinians feel in this process. But her conversation yesterday was not about the negotiations per se.
QUESTION: On Pakistan – yesterday, President issued an executive order to establish Pakistan, Afghanistan support office. Who is heading – it will be under the Department of State. Who is heading that (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take the detail – I’ll take the question and we’ll provide more details.
QUESTION: And how is it different from the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan?
MR. CROWLEY: I believe it is under the aegis of the Special Representative’s Office.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on the flood – is concerning Secretary’s visit to the UN and direct assessment of the floods and also she will be asking the international community to help as did UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Many Pakistanis still have been talking in this area. What they are saying is that why they are not giving or sending money to their own countrymen who are in trouble in Pakistan – what they are saying is that U.S. really must address the issue and give a clear message to the Pakistanis here and also in Pakistan as far as corruption is concerned. And who will be in charge of these millions and millions of dollars are going and other food and relief efforts?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, first of all, who’s in charge of the relief effort? It is the Government of Pakistan. We are working closely with the national disaster authority in Pakistan. We are following Pakistan’s lead. And as we go forward not only in meeting the immediate needs of the Pakistani people, but also the long-term needs of the Pakistani people, we will be guided by how – what Pakistan feels is its most significant needs. So who is ultimately responsible? It’s the Government of Pakistan to support and respond to the needs of its people. We are here to help Pakistan do that.
QUESTION: Have you – just a quick one. Have you learned – or I think – from the last, which was not flood, but earthquake as far as corruption and still people are asking where is the money? Because they still don’t have shelter. What I’m asking really – what they are asking, Pakistanis, have you learned anything from the past to this today?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are working, as you heard from Mark Ward yesterday. We have experience based on the earthquake. We are working directly with Pakistani officials who themselves were involved in the earthquake. That helps us with the kind of cooperation and seamless support that we’re looking for. In terms of assistance, there’s all kinds of assistance. Some of it is direct support through our military stocks directly to the Pakistani people. In some cases, it’s through nongovernmental organizations. In some cases it’s through the government. We will not tolerate corruption. The assistance that we’re providing is for the people of Pakistan. We want to see this assistance get directly to the people of Pakistan.
QUESTION: A follow-up actually on the relief fund that you’re putting together. You mentioned the texting campaign. Can you give us an update on how much that’s raised so far? I think about –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, and I should clarify. The ongoing 50555 campaign will continue. That campaign is geared towards helping UNHCR which will be one element of the broad international relief effort. We are setting up a new texting campaign as people will hear this afternoon. If they go to state.gov and dial in to– dial the word “FLOOD”, F-L-O-O-D to 27722, they can contribute to this Pakistan relief fund. I think overall the Swat campaign, if you will – texting “SWAT” to 50555 has raised over $50,000 so far. But we will be – this will be part of a larger effort and I think we’ll be seeking not only $10 contributions – we’re grateful for whatever people are prepared to give – but we’ll also be looking for more substantial donations, because we understand fully that Pakistan’s immediate and long-term needs are going to be very profound.
QUESTION: So where is the second group of money going towards if it’s not to – is it going directly to the Government of Pakistan? Will that be their group money to work with or some other agency?
MR. CROWLEY: Those are some of the details we’ll be working out, but it will be through the United States Government.
QUESTION: To –
MR. CROWLEY: To a – I think, it will be a combination of recipients.
QUESTION: Including the Government of Pakistan, though. I just want to be clear about that part of it.
MR. CROWLEY: I would say I believe, yes. Yeah.
QUESTION: P.J. –
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. Same issue.
QUESTION: As you review the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill and the priorities in that, are you also reviewing the amount of money that you are giving to Pakistan? Is 7.5 billion in five years enough given the devastation that’s there or 1.5 billion in one year?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, Senator Kerry was in Pakistan. He’s now returned to Kabul. But while he was there, I think this will be a first effort as not only making sure that the money that we have set aside for Pakistan meets what we would anticipate to be a changing set of priorities in light of this disaster. But we will also be looking at what Pakistan’s long-term needs are. And it will be a combination. As we said yesterday, we understand that there will be immediate needs because Pakistan has lost its crop for this year. So we understand that. But how we rebuild infrastructure that we were already planning to update, but now may have to rebuild entirely, this is a process that we’ll be working through with Pakistan once the floodwaters recede.
QUESTION: And finally, are you in touch with Pakistan’s immediate neighbors like India, Iran, or even China in the flood relief works in that –
MR. CROWLEY: First of all, that’s the purpose of the general assembly meeting this afternoon that the Secretary will be addressing. But obviously we want to see Pakistan’s neighbors step up and contribute significantly to Pakistan’s future.
QUESTION: Can I go back to mine real quick?
MR. CROWLEY: All right.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Close the loop on the 50,000 figure you just gave us. Are you somewhat dismayed about that? I mean, it’s significantly lower than what was donated to the Haiti texting campaign over a similar time period. I mean, there was 22 million after a week in Haiti and you’ve got 50,000 after two weeks in this case.
MR. CROWLEY: We’re going to do everything that we can to try to generate the same kind of private support for Pakistan that we’ve seen in other instances.
QUESTION: Can I try –
QUESTION: What – I mean, how? I mean, why aren’t people contributing do you think and how are you going to try to convince them to do it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, accessibility is one issue. There has been coverage of the story and I think there will be ongoing coverage of the story. Pakistan is some distance away from the United States; Haiti is a country that is in our immediate neighborhood. So I think it’s a little unfair to directly compare the two. We are going to do everything that we can to demonstrate our support for the people of Pakistan. We are committed to the future of Pakistan and we think that as we go on we will be able to generate significant resources to be used for the people of Pakistan.
QUESTION: P.J., can I turn that –
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on a second.
QUESTION: -- turn that around a little bit?
MR. CROWLEY: Turn that around a little bit.
QUESTION: Well, U.S. taxpayers already provided $90 million. Is that correct?
MR. CROWLEY: Give or take.
QUESTION: Yeah, and then plus an additional 50,000 that they’ve donated privately through this Swat thing presuming that most of those are U.S. citizens. I don’t know if they are.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. Yes.
QUESTION: And now you want them to give more to a government that is unable to collect taxes from its own people, a government that the Secretary has at least said is – knows where bin Laden is. I don’t understand; why should the American people be asked to contribute more than what they’re already funding through their own taxes.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the answer in light of the disaster is the same reason why we are encouraging a significant U.S. investment in Pakistan’s future. Because the future of Pakistan is directly in the –
QUESTION: It’s 7.5 billion that the American taxpayers –
MR. CROWLEY: -- national interest of the United States.
QUESTION: -- are giving to Pakistan.
MR. CROWLEY: We – our future and Pakistan future are definitely tied together and there is a threat within the borders of Pakistan that directly impacts the United States. So it is in our national interest to help Pakistan develop in a way that reduces the threat of extremism –
QUESTION: Why should the American –
MR. CROWLEY: -- to the region and to the United States directly.
QUESTION: But why should the American taxpayer who just this morning got another horrible – more bad economic news be asked to contribute more than they already are to this when the results – as I said before, this is a country that has difficulty or is unable to collect tax money from its own people, the wealthiest Pakistanis who live there, and has not been entirely cooperative in going after people that attacked us.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not arguing the point. We are in the midst of transforming our relationship with Pakistan. The strategic dialogue that we have underway is part of that effort. We expect Pakistan to do many things for itself. We are committed to help Pakistan build the kind of institutions of government, establish the kind of relationship between its government and its own people, and as the Secretary said when she has been in Islamabad, we do have expectations that Pakistan will deal with the threat inside its borders which is a threat to Pakistan itself as well as being a threat to the United States. We do expect Pakistan to reform its government system. It does need to increase its tax revenue. Pakistan has taken some steps in that direction. It clearly needs to do more. Over time, Pakistan is going to need to stand on its two feet. We are willing to help them along that journey, but definitely as we provide help, there are clearly things that we expect Pakistan to do for itself.
QUESTION: But regarding –
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on.
QUESTION: Different country –
QUESTION: On the same topic –
MR. CROWLEY: All right –
QUESTION: One more –
QUESTION: May I?
QUESTION: One more.
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Are we – let’s stay with Pakistan and then we’ll –
QUESTION: Pakistan – Congress, there were reports saying – speaking of the slow trickle of relief money and people talk about donor fatigue. They talk about absence of enthusiasm by donors to (inaudible) actually and so on. And in fact, there’s a great deal of frustration and talk – calls by several Pakistanis for the military to step in and so on. Are you concerned about that? Do you discuss this as part of your strategy: How do you regenerate interest and enthusiasm in donating to Pakistan at this time?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I wouldn't call $90 million a trickle. And within 24 hours of Pakistan’s request for assistance, we had American helicopters in the skies over Pakistan providing direct assistance. So we’re very proud of what we’ve done so far. We’re demonstrating today our ongoing commitment to Pakistan. As we just talked about, we’re going to be looking at ways in which we can assure that given what’s happened in the last couple of weeks, we continue to provide support where Pakistan needs it most.
Other countries in the region and around the world also have a similar stake in Pakistan’s future. As Richard Holbrooke said this morning, many countries are concerned about the threat of extremism that emanates from the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. We are not alone in facing that risk, and we have to be working collaboratively as an international community to make sure that the support to Pakistan is significant and well-coordinated. We’re prepared to do that, and today’s speech by Secretary Clinton and the meeting in New York is a step in that direction.
QUESTION: P.J., what many in Pakistan again are saying, no amount of money given to Pakistan will change the U.S. image in Pakistan unless until it reaches to the people of Pakistan, not to the military or the Government of Pakistan. Number two, do you agree that earlier questions – why Pakistanis are not giving because of corruption and why Americans are not giving because of the history that Pakistan was supporting terrorism and also where is bin Laden?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know where bin Laden is. (Laughter.) All right, look, we – as the Secretary is leading a different kind of conversation with the people of Pakistan, we understand that there is distrust that has been built up between our two countries. This is a two-way street. As the Secretary said last October, Pakistanis have questions of the United States, we have questions of Pakistan, but we are working to build the kind of long-term strategic partnership that we think benefits both countries.
QUESTION: On Turkey. Most probably the first time in the history that the presidential nominee for Turkey post, Mr. Ricciardone, Ambassador Ricciardone, has been blocked by a senator. My question is: What is the current situation? Has the ambassador engaged with the senator or any meeting has been arranged with anyone at the State Department?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, unfortunately, Ambassador Ricciardone is not the only nominee who is being held by the Senate. We are in touch with those senators who have questions about his nomination as well as others. He remains our nominee to be the ambassador to Turkey. We think he’s well-qualified to assume that post. He’s worked in that country before and in that region before. We will be aggressively answering the questions that the senators have during this recess period and we hope that the Senate would agree to place him as the ambassador to Turkey as soon as possible.
QUESTION: I meant first time to Turkey. Second question: Has the Secretary placed a call to senator so far over the issue?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure that she’s placed a call. She is in contact with Senate offices. I think we’ve received a letter from one senator who has raised certain questions. She will answer those questions. We are certainly in touch with a number of members of the Foreign Relations Committee. We remain committed to that nomination and will do everything in our power to have him confirmed as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Did she talk to Senator Brownback (inaudible)?
QUESTION: Is it plural?
MR. CROWLEY: Huh? Senator Brownback has written to Secretary Clinton and she – we are working on a response to him.
QUESTION: Is it plural? Is it more than one person who has these objections?
MR. CROWLEY: I know – right now, I know that Senator Brownback has raised questions about his nomination. I believe there might be others who have raised questions as well.
QUESTION: Do you think you might wait until, like, mid-January to answer his letter?
MR. CROWLEY: She will be answering his letter very soon.
QUESTION: P.J., North Korea said today that it has reached a full consensus with China for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks during the Chinese chief nuclear envoy Wu Dawei visit to Pyongyang this week. So do you have any comment?
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t validate that statement one way or the other. We will have the opportunity – as we come up towards the UN General Assembly, we’ll have the opportunity to consult directly with many of our partners in this effort. And we will continue in the meantime to make clear to North Korea that there are steps that North Korea has to take to create the right environment for progress.
QUESTION: A follow-up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: A follow-up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: I just want to ask you about U.S. Government’s condition to restart the talks. I mean, do you want any specific actions from North Korea, or you just want them to wait silently until U.S. and other countries feel comfortable to restart the talks?
MR. CROWLEY: No, there are specific things that North Korea can do to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose and to create an environment where future talks could be productive.
QUESTION: What are the steps? Can you --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to specify them here. I mean, there are specific obligations that North Korea has undertaken. Obviously, we remain concerned about provocations that North Korea has made both recently and over many months. We want to see a change in North Korea’s behavior. And should we see that change, then that would give us indications that North Korea is serious about moving ahead.
MR. CROWLEY: All I can say is that we continue to support the Government of Yemen’s efforts to deal with al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula, and it is an important effort. And that includes dealing with a range of people who have identified themselves with AQAP, and that would include Mr. Awlaki.
QUESTION: And can I switch over to Iraq for a second? With the military forces pulling out, the State Department has said in October 2011 they’re going to be taking over training for the Iraqi police force. Are they on target to pull this off, and do they have the money to actually do this?
MR. CROWLEY: Let me – obviously, we’re nearing the point at which all combat forces will be removed from Iraq. There will still be 50,000 military forces in Iraq supporting ongoing training efforts, working with the Iraqi Government on counterterrorism efforts. We will be stepping up and taking responsibility for police training in Iraq. We are on course to do that and will be ramping up our civilian effort to take that over a little over a year from now.
We still have a lot of work to do in Iraq on the civilian side in terms of rule of law programs, and this is – you’ve heard this term many times, but this is a whole-of-government effort. We’re significantly engaged. So is the Department of Justice. So are other agencies of government. We continue to be mindful of the immediate challenge of helping Iraq form a new government. That was the reason why Jeff Feltman was in Iraq for this past week and had the opportunity to meet with a variety of Iraqi leaders on that subject.
But yes, we are fully prepared to assume our responsibilities as we move through this transition from a military-led effort to a civilian-led effort. This will require resources to accomplish, not only making sure we have the resources to do the police training, but also the resources to establish our civilian presence around the country through the consulates that we have planned and the branch offices that we have planned. And our conversation with the Hill to make sure that the resources are there, that’s an ongoing conversation.
QUESTION: A follow-up on Iraq?
QUESTION: Could I have a follow-up?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: The New York Times says that the State Department is going to more than double the number of security contractors it has following this withdrawal. Is that right?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: So --
MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, when you have 150,000 troops in Iraq, you’ve got security in key areas around the country. As you reduce that number, the Iraqi security forces step up to accomplish much of this responsibility, but we will still have our own security needs to make sure that our diplomats and development experts are well-protected, whether they’re moving around – wherever they’re moving around the country or where they’re posted where we’ll have consulates and these embassy branch offices. The level of violence in Iraq is well – it’s been reduced significantly, but it’s still a dangerous place. So where the military has provided security in the past, we’re not– we now have to provide that security. This is a case where contractors actually – for what we think is a transitory requirement, this is where contractors actually are fruitful. We’re able to ramp up an effort for a temporary period of time and then reduce that effort as the security situation improves.
QUESTION: So you’ve begun contacting them – DynCorp or Xe security?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. We have very specific plans to increase our security because – as the military is leaving. This will be expensive. This is not a cheap proposition, even though when you compare what we will be – what we’ll need to spend in Iraq, a couple of billion dollars, two or three billion a year for the next few years, there will be for the American taxpayer a significant savings from the peak spending that we had with a large number of U.S. military forces there.
QUESTION: These contractors – will their function be restricted to providing personal security, or will it go beyond that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have contractors who are guarding our Embassy and we’ll have contractors who are, as they are today, helping with our mobility and helping with personal security as our diplomats move around the country.
QUESTION: And the contractors’ presence will be coordinated very closely with the Iraqi Government?
MR. CROWLEY: Absolutely.
QUESTION: Did you call Ambassador Feltman before he left Iraq today?
MR. CROWLEY: Did I? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Usually, you get updated.
MR. CROWLEY: I have not – I did not talk to Jeff Feltman before he left to go home.
QUESTION: P.J., Viktor Bout -- what’s the – when is the latest – the last time that you had any contact with the Thai authorities on his case?
MR. CROWLEY: We have been in contact with Thai authorities this week to continue to emphasize that this is of the highest priority of the United States.
QUESTION: And the response?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’ve seen the same reports that you’ve seen that the extradition process is reaching potential conclusion, and we await the judgment of the Thai Government and the Thai courts. We believe that we presented significant evidence to justify the extradition – his extradition to the United States, and we think we’ve made our case and we’ll see what the judgment of the court is.
QUESTION: Congressman Royce says that he was distressed to learn that the State Department found out about this hearing tomorrow only by reading Russian media accounts that cited Mr. Bout’s lawyers. Is that correct?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: How did you find out?
MR. CROWLEY: As I said, we have maintained regular contact with the Thai Government, and obviously, we’ve been supporting the Department of Justice effort to present the necessary evidence to justify his extradition.
QUESTION: Can you be more specific than saying “we have been in contact with the Thai authorities this week”? Who, where, and exactly how?
MR. CROWLEY: This week, among other contacts, we called in the Thai ambassador here to the State Department to emphasize how important this judgment is.
QUESTION: And similar contact has been going on in Bangkok?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Yes? So the ambassador has been to the foreign ministry in --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, yes.
QUESTION: Okay, sorry. I’m sorry to go back to Iraq, but one thing about the role of the contractors. Are they going to help training the Iraqi forces as well – I mean, Iraqi forces?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, we will take over responsibility for the Iraq police training program. Ours will have a different emphasis than what the military has done up to this point. We’ll be emphasizing community policing to provide basic security for Iraqi citizens around the country. So – but we have great experience in doing these kinds of programs in many, many countries around the world.
QUESTION: So this is going to take place at the five places, including Baghdad and Mosul --
MR. CROWLEY: You’re asking me a level of detail I don’t have here.
QUESTION: Just to clarify one point, the figure that you gave, three or four billion dollars, is it for contractors only annually?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry, what?
QUESTION: Three, four billion dollars.
MR. CROWLEY: I said two to three billion dollars, I think, is the appropriation that we’re seeking from Congress to provide for our total program in Iraq, which would include the police training program.
QUESTION: Can I go back just for a follow-up?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: What day was the Thai ambassador called in?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: What day?
MR. CROWLEY: It was early this week. I’ll get you a specific day. It might have been Tuesday. That would be yesterday – that would be Tuesday. Yeah.
QUESTION: Today is Thursday.
MR. CROWLEY: Today is Thursday all day.
QUESTION: Yesterday an Indian television station reported that Deputy National Security Advisor Froman had sent an e-mail to Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, and he had said that we are hearing a lot of noise about the Dow chemicals and about the Bhopal gas tragedy and that India should cut down on that. Do you have any comments on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I believe actually, we don’t normally comment about internal e-mails. However, I believe the Indian official involved in that e-mail exchange has, himself, indicated that the subject of the e-mail was an upcoming issue of importance to India and that there was no connection to any other issue. Obviously, we have interacted with the Indian Government on the Bhopal issue. We’ve – on an ongoing basis going back many years we’ve expressed our sympathy and concern about the impact that this had on the people of India. But this exchange, the link that was suggested is not there.
QUESTION: So do you consider the Bhopal issue a closed issue today?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
MR. CROWLEY: That’s true.
QUESTION: -- in a few days. Can you talk specifically about what he’ll be doing? Will he be speaking with local media? Will he give any public speeches or go to any – participate in any forums? Something like that?
MR. CROWLEY: He will be involved in direct discussions. He’ll be visiting mosques. He’ll be involved in direct discussions to help people in the countries he’ll visit, understand the role of religion in our society – how American-Muslims celebrate Ramadan, how we emphasize religious tolerance in our society. He will, I believe – I’ve seen his schedule for Bahrain in particular. He’ll actually be doing some recorded lectures that will appear on Bahraini TV. I’m not aware that he’ll be doing any specific local media in Bahrain beyond those appearances on Bahraini TV. But – and he’ll have similar kinds of public and private engagements in Qatar and the UAE.
QUESTION: So the lectures are public but they’re televised for re-broadcast later?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve – I can only say – the only schedule I’ve seen so far is his schedule in Bahrain and he will be doing what is described as, “many lectures” – 10 to 15 minutes as – those of you who have been in the region at this time, people in the region watch a lot of television during Ramadan, and it’s a great opportunity to reach a significant portion of the regional population, and he’ll be talking through Bahraini TV about his experiences being a Muslim in America.
QUESTION: P.J., wouldn’t it be more prudent for Imam Feisal to be here at this time to defend the Cordoba House Center instead of being missing in action during this debate?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we’ve said many times, he has a – this is his fourth trip as part of the speakers program within our international information programs. This was scheduled before the issue of the religious center in New York came up. He obviously volunteered to participate in this program. We value his participation, and we’re grateful for him beginning his program tomorrow.
QUESTION: Can you specifically say who he will be meeting with?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t have his schedule in front of me.
QUESTION: Also, it’s been said repeatedly that he will not go over there to campaign for funds for this mosque. How are you going to monitor him if he’s by himself and how do you keep him from asking people for money?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have briefed him. I mean, first of all, he’s familiar with the program. We have briefed him on the conditions of his program. This is what we tell anyone who participates in one of our expert trips. They’re there to provide perspective on behalf of the United States, and they’re not to engage in personal business as part of the program that they’re participating in. He has agreed to that. He will be supported by our posts in each country, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he talks about the ongoing debate within the United States as part – as an example of our emphasis on religious tolerance and resolving questions that come up within the rule of law in our country. But he’s not there to, in any way, promote his religious center.
QUESTION: P.J., can you clarify the number of combat forces still left in Iraq? There were reports last night that withdrawal was complete. Today it seems like 6,000 –
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to my colleagues at the Pentagon.
QUESTION: Quick, on India. If you have received any request that India wants to re-modernize its forces and they have multibillion dollar military budget for the United States. If you are meeting anybody, any group from India?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that we have any –
QUESTION: And what role the State Department is playing or if you have received any requests?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, in recent years military cooperation between the United States and India has increased, but for specifics, I’ll defer to my colleagues at the Pentagon.
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Go ahead, Matt.
QUESTION: No, no. I’ve got three loose ends. They can finish.
MR. CROWLEY: All right.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it reinforces our perspective that given the – how Burma has outlined plans for its election that it will not be credible.
QUESTION: And finally, do you have a readout on yesterday’s meeting with Special Envoy of Dalai Lama here in this building?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not.
QUESTION: Would you like to add anything to the WikiLeaks ongoing saga with the Pentagon?
MR. CROWLEY: There’s nothing new that I’m aware of.
QUESTION: A readout on the Secretary’s meeting with Qureshi?
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s actually going on as we speak. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Oh, okay. I thought it happened already.
MR. CROWLEY: No, they’re meeting in New York.
QUESTION: Just three things. Quick – very quickly. First, on Burma. What’s – what was the situation now and what happened yesterday? Why is there this miscommunication between the State Department and the White House over whether you’re going to support this UN commission?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure that there’s a – there’s not a miscommunication between the State Department and the White House. We’ve had internal meetings on our Burma policy. We’ve arrived at judgments on how to proceed. But we’re just not yet in a position where we’re going to announce what we’re going to do.
QUESTION: Well – okay.
MR. CROWLEY: But, I mean –
QUESTION: You realize the ridiculousness of that?
MR. CROWLEY: I did check. There was not a formal statement from the White House.
QUESTION: Well, but there were people talking about it obviously –
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: There were people talking about it obviously.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: They were quoted left and right.
MR. CROWLEY: They’re actually giving us great compliments for the issues that we have discussed. We’re just not prepared to bring this issue out and make any announcements at this point.
QUESTION: All right, fine. And then, how is that review of the Lebanese military aid going?
MR. CROWLEY: It is in fact ongoing.
MR. CROWLEY: Nothing to announce.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Okay. So like with Burma, even though everyone knows it’s happening you guys are pretending that it doesn’t exist. Is that correct?
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no, no, no, no. I haven’t pretended that – I acknowledge that we have had internal meetings. We’ve reached some judgments. We’re just not prepared to talk about them publicly at this point.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
DPB # 138
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