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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 26, 2010


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • USAID Administrator Shah Returning from Pakistan/Total Support to Pakistan $200million
    • Dialogue between NASA and Chile Regarding Miners in Chile
    • SCA Assistant Secretary Blake Upcoming Travel to Tajikistan, Moscow
    • U.S. Welcomes Ugandan Constitutional Court's Reported Decision in the Mwenda Case Finding the Law on Sedition to be Unconstitutional
  • PAKISTAN
    • U.S. Conscious of Threat of Extremist Elements in Pakistan/Working with Government of Pakistan
  • TURKMENISTAN/AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN/INDIA
    • Gas Pipeline/U.S. Working to Encourage Greater Trade and Investment Across the Region
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • David Hale and NSC Dan Shapiro Meeting with both Palestinian and Israeli Officials/Preparatory Work for Meetings Next Week
    • Special Envoy Mitchell Remains in United States
  • NORTH KOREA
    • President Carter Still in Pyongyang
  • MEXICO
    • Ambassador Pascual has Condemned Violence and Deaths of Migrants in Mexico
    • Cartels are Dangerous/U.S. Stands Ready to Help Mexico if They Require Assistance
  • CANADA
    • Terrorism Charges/U.S. Not Asked for Assistance
  • THAILAND
    • Viktor Bout / Extradition Request/Thai Legal Process/Russian Government Communication
  • IRAQ
    • U.S. Relationship with Iraq / Stepping Up on Civilian Side
  • IRAN
    • IAEA and P5+1 Meetings/Hopeful for Meetings to Happen Soon
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Resumption of Six-Party Talks/End of Provocative Acts
    • Assistance Due to Weather
  • PAKISTAN
    • U.S. Thinks Civilian Government to Be Best Form of Government
  • SUDAN
    • U.S. Very Mindful of January Referendum/Much Work to Be Done/Augmenting Presence in Sudan
  • SOMALIA
    • U.S. Continues to Look For Ways to Support TFG
  • INDIA
    • Nuclear Bill in Indian Parliament/Still Working Way Through Congress
  • IRAN
    • U.S. Calls Stoning Barbaric Form of Punishment


TRANSCRIPT:

1:22 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. First of all, we brought reinforcements today. We have members of the current information officer course at the Foreign Service Institute. These will be – soon be information officers and public affairs officers at posts around the world and may well be supporting you all in the upcoming months and years, and who knows, if one of them is lucky enough, they might actually stand here – or unlucky enough, they might actually get to stand here – (laughter) – at some point in time.

Moving to business, USAID Administrator Raj Shah is on his way back to Washington from Pakistan. Yesterday, he announced $50 million of additional assistance to meet the immediate needs of Pakistan as it deals with this horrible disaster. This $50 million latest block is money that will be redirected from other priorities under Kerry-Lugar-Berman, including prepositioning of supplies in Pakistan to be able to more effectively assist the people of Pakistan when the immediate crisis – or when the flood waters begin to recede. In the meantime, as he said, we will be reevaluating our projects, some of which are, literally, under water. And whereas additionally, agricultural and economic infrastructure that has already been part of our plan, will become ever more important in the coming days and weeks.

But this brings up to – the United States’s support for Pakistan up to $200 million in a combination of relief and recovery efforts. And we’ll be releasing, as we always do, our daily fact sheet of the disaster response. But we have delivered to date almost 2 million pounds of relief supplies to the people of Pakistan.

You asked yesterday about ongoing dialogue between the United States and Chile to help Chile deal with the miners trapped near Copiapo, Chile. And of course, we recognize that Chile has world-class expertise in mining issues, but there is a dialogue going on between Chile’s ministry of health and NASA where we have a great deal of experience regarding medical, nutritional, and behavioral issues related to the space travel that we have done for decades and are providing that perspective to Chile so it can develop a program for helping to sustain these miners in the coming weeks and months before they can be rescued.

Next week, Assistant Secretary Bob Blake will be in Tajikistan to conduct a six-month review of the annual bilateral consultations with the Government of Tajikistan. He will also stop in Moscow for regional discussions with his counterparts in the Russian Government.

And finally, the United States welcomes the Ugandan Constitutional Court’s reported decision in the Mwenda case, finding the law on sedition to be unconstitutional. Numerous journalists, activists, and politicians in Uganda have been charged with sedition for criticizing the government. Functioning democracies require freedom of expression and an independent media, and we view this reported decision as a step in the right direction for Uganda.

Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah, just a couple very brief things. One, on Chile – I’m sorry, what exactly does space travel have to do with trapped miners? Is this about confined spaces – (inaudible)? What’s the --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, our understanding is that the miners are secure, but will be in this current situation in a confined space for some extended period of time, and in our discussions with the Government of Chile, we offered to help in any way we can. And the ministry of health has come back and asked for consultations with NASA to see if our experience with extended space travel, particularly with respect to the International Space Station can provide them perspective that helps them to design a program to support these miners over the weeks or months that they’ll be still in a confined space before rescue efforts can reach them.

QUESTION: All right. Well, I mean, and I guess maybe this is a question for NASA, but I’m just a little confused. I mean, astronauts who go into the space station chose to do that and chose to be there. These guys, presumably, didn’t chose to be trapped in a mine, so I’m not sure – is there – has there been a determination made that anything NASA can offer them would be relevant?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – there is an ongoing dialogue between NASA and the Chilean Government. Obviously, it will be up to the Chilean Government to take the perspective that NASA’s experts provide and see if that can help them in terms of how they’re going to support and sustain these miners for an extended period of time.

QUESTION: Right. And then my other brief logistical thing was on the Pakistan aid. The 50 million is coming from Kerry-Lugar-Berman?

MR. CROWLEY: Correct.

QUESTION: Well, then so how – so, in fact, that’s not new. It was already going to Pakistan, right?

MR. CROWLEY: It was already going to Pakistan. It was for longer-term development. It is being redirected to meet Pakistan’s immediate needs.

QUESTION: But --

QUESTION: Sorry, 15 or 50?

MR. CROWLEY: Fifty, 5-0.

QUESTION: But the – all right, this is where the numbers get all screwy here. Because I mean if this money – regardless of whether it was going to go for emergency flooding or not, it seems to me that this money was already appropriated.

MR. CROWLEY: That’s true. That’s true.

QUESTION: So it’s not really new money.

MR. CROWLEY: I didn’t say it was new money.

QUESTION: Well, I know, but you said this brings our total to 200 million.

MR. CROWLEY: The 200 million that we are directing towards the current crisis in Pakistan.

QUESTION: All right, okay.

QUESTION: P.J., may I just follow quickly on Pakistan, please? Talibans are threatening and warning foreigners who are working for relief efforts and that if you don’t get out of Pakistan then you will be killed. What safety do you have since Dr. Shah and others are – including Senator Kerry and Ambassador Holbrooke and all were there?

MR. CROWLEY: We are concerned that extremist elements within Pakistan, including the TTP, may well decide to attack foreigners who are in Pakistan helping the people of Pakistan, or may choose at this time to attack government institutions in Pakistan that are responding on behalf of the Pakistani people. And I think it just underscores the bankrupt vision that these extremists have, and we are conscious of that threat. We are working with the Government of Pakistan to deal with that threat, but it is something that we are watching very carefully.

QUESTION: And one --

QUESTION: What is the U.S. doing to mitigate the threat? Are they stepping up security? Is there an increase in security measures for --

MR. CROWLEY: We’re looking at the potential implications. We – security is obviously an ongoing concern to us given what we know happened recently next door in Afghanistan. So we are conscious of this threat; it is a real threat. We are working with the Government of Pakistan. But obviously, to the extent that this is something that extremists in Pakistan are contemplating, it demonstrates their disregard for the welfare of the people of Pakistan.

QUESTION: Do you have any information that this threat is actually increasing or has this always been there?

MR. CROWLEY: Without getting into intelligence matters, we have – we’re in possession of threat information. We are dealing – we are talking to and working with the Government of Pakistan to do everything we can to make sure that our disaster response and Pakistan’s disaster response can continue in light of this threat.

QUESTION: Is there any information that the U.S. aid is particularly targeted, or is that – or that – on a particular threat, or has it been the entire operation?

MR. CROWLEY: We have information of the potential targeting of foreign relief workers in Pakistan as well as government ministries.

QUESTION: How much of the $200 million has already been spent?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, for the most part, this is assistance that is already flowing to the people of Pakistan. I can’t speak of the $50 million that Dr. Shah spoke of yesterday, but for the most part, this is money that has already been committed and for which supplies and support is already flowing to the people of Pakistan.

QUESTION: One more, same question I’ve been asking every day ever since this flood problem in Pakistan. I have been going around the Pakistani community in the area here. Again, they are saying that – tell them, the spokesman, or Secretary Hillary Clinton or Dr. Shah that – why Pakistanis are not giving because they have to stop corruption and relief funds should go directly to the people; people are still crying for food.

MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, Dr. Shah spoke of this yesterday. We are aggressively supporting Pakistan, but we are also going to make sure that in providing that support, whether it’s in the immediate term or the long term, that assistance is provided in a transparent manner, that there will be accountability. And we want to make sure that the assistance actually gets to the people who are – who have the greatest need.

QUESTION: Afghanistan –

QUESTION: Pakistan, but a slightly different issue: In Afghanistan, an official today announced in Kabul that they have reached an understanding with Pakistan, Tajikistan and India for construction of a gas pipeline running from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and to India. How do you view this development? He also said there’s agreement of the signed letter, they said, maybe in November.

MR. CROWLEY: Tell you what, I’ll take the question of whether there’s – we have been working to encourage greater trade and investment across the region. There have been some energy deals that we’ve had conversations with, but I’ll take the question and see if there’s a specific project and if it’s reached a point at which we can comment.

QUESTION: New thing.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Could you update us on the trip of the U.S. envoys to the West Bank – Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Hale? And what are they doing? Are they indulging in trilateral talks?

MR. CROWLEY: They are not. David Hale and Dan Shapiro – David, of course, is George Mitchell’s deputy, Dan Shapiro from the NSC that are in the region today. They’re meeting with both Palestinian and Israeli officials and planning for next week’s direct negotiations here in Washington.

QUESTION: And these negotiations that they’re involved in, do they deal with terms of reference, do they deal with (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: They are doing the kind of preparatory work for the meetings next week. I won’t talk in any particulars.

QUESTION: There’s a report out of the region that the two of them are working on – with the Israelis to come up with some sort of interim step that they could take on settlements, for example, ahead of the talks, that they could show up to the talks with some sort of goodwill gesture. What can you tell us about that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, they’re dealing with both the Palestinians and the Israelis. These are preparatory meetings in advance of the gathering at the White House on September 1st and here at the State Department on September 2nd. These are preparatory discussions and – so that we – the negotiations get off to a fast start next week.

QUESTION: I understand that. I think what I’d like to know is whether they’re working on getting at least the Israelis to come to the table with some sort of proposal before talks begin.

MR. CROWLEY: We’re working with both parties to make sure that we have a successful first meeting.

QUESTION: Are they going anywhere else?

QUESTION: And separately, right? Are --

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Are they going anywhere else?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll let you know if they do. I’m not aware that they’re – they have other stops.

QUESTION: Could you update us --

QUESTION: On Mexico --

MR. CROWLEY: Wait. All right, I’ll come back. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I just wanted to know if there is an update on a possible Mitchell trip to Syria.

MR. CROWLEY: George Mitchell remains here in the United States and he’ll be here in Washington next week. He is not traveling overseas prior to the arrival of the president and prime minister next week.

QUESTION: Do you have anything about Mr. Hoff? Mr. – Senator Mitchell’s deputy is visiting Lebanon today, I guess.

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll – we’ll put – if he is, we’ll put out some information on his visit.

QUESTION: What’s your reaction to Kim Jong-il’s trip to China while Jimmy Carter is still in Pyongyang?

MR. CROWLEY: It’s not for me to confirm the travels of the – of Kim Jong-il. I’ll defer to the North Korean Government.

QUESTION: Is President Carter still in Pyongyang?

MR. CROWLEY: President Carter is still in Pyongyang.

QUESTION: This is a different topic, on Mexico. We’re still waiting for the official position by the State Department regarding the massacre of 72 migrants bound to the U.S. Do you have the official position of the State Department regarding that massacre? And second, do you think that these type of events --

MR. CROWLEY: Well --

QUESTION: -- show a growing power of the drug cartels?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, you’ve had the – Ambassador Pascual has already joined President Calderon and Foreign Secretary Espinosa in condemning this violence and the deaths of these migrants. And we will cooperate fully in any way that we can to support Mexico as it investigates these heinous crimes.

QUESTION: But do you think that this shows a growing power of the cartels now between two other type of trades?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think it shows the level to which they will stoop to kidnap, terrorize, and ultimately kill these innocent civilians. But it doesn’t change our perspective that they are dangerous, they are attempting to undermine the democratic institutions of Mexico, and that’s why we pledge to continue our partnership with Mexico, other countries in the region, to defeat these cartels.

QUESTION: P.J., on the same issue, do you think the Mexican Government can do something else to guarantee the security of the migrants that are coming across from Central and South America towards the northern border?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the Mexican Government. I would think that we are mindful of the risk that anyone who engages in these kinds of migrations is taking, whether it’s a threat from violence from these cartels or just a threat from the searing heat and the elements as they approach the U.S. border. It’s one of the reasons why we, the United States, understand fully that part of the solution to this is comprehensive immigration reform. But meanwhile, we will continue to work with countries in the region and Mexico to protect not only the citizens of the respective countries, but those who are moving across other countries here in the region.

QUESTION: Have you receive any request of the Mexican Government in regards with support to identify and perhaps to transport some of the bodies?

MR. CROWLEY: I – we have a strong relationship with Mexico through our law enforcement authorities. We stand ready to help Mexico if it requires any assistance. I’m not aware of any special requests at this point.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Three Canadians have been arrested on terrorism charges; is there any connection to the U.S. and are we helping the Canadian Government at all in their investigation?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that we’ve been asked to provide any assistance.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more on the Viktor Bout saga? (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: Anything in particular, Matt?

QUESTION: Well, yeah, it looks like you guys really screwed things up by anticipating that the appeals court was going to reject the extradition request, you dropped on the Thais just before the hearing a second extradition for – on other charges. Presumably, you did this so that he wouldn’t be released and allowed to go free then. But now that the court ruled in a way that you didn’t expect, the Thais are saying they won’t send him back until the second extradition request is dealt with. I understand that earlier this week you withdrew the extradition request, but that a hearing had already been scheduled on it and the Thais won’t let him go until that hearing has been done. So what’s going on?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, on particular extradition matters, I would defer to the Department of Justice. As you say, the Thai court has ruled on the extradition request that we did file and we are looking forward to having Mr. Bout appear in a U.S. court. And as I’ve said, there’s a process that we understand that follows the court ruling and we look forward to seeing him in a courtroom here in the United States.

QUESTION: Well –

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going into detail with the logistics. As far as I know, he remains in Thailand at the moment, but we’re looking forward to the execution of our successful extradition request.

QUESTION: Well, did you miss – did you and the DOJ miscalculate in dropping the second request on the Thais?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to talk about – you’re aware of one extradition request, and we’ll leave it there.

QUESTION: Sorry, still on Viktor Bout.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Have you had any direct contact with the Russians about this in recent days?

MR. CROWLEY: I think the Russian Government has communicated with us regarding this case, yes.

QUESTION: And can you tell us what they said?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Are they happy?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll leave it to the Russian Government to describe their mood.

QUESTION: Are you at all worried that this – is this building at all worried that the Bout case could affect the U.S.-Russia reset?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: On the – on Iraq, as the U.S. prepares to withdraw its major combat forces from Iraq –

MR. CROWLEY: I think we have withdrawn our combat forces from Iraq.

QUESTION: As that takes place, how – can you comment on how America’s relationship will be changing with Iraq? And specifically, do you feel you may be losing some political leverage as less U.S. forces are on the ground so will American influence to perhaps get together with different Iraqi religious groups or political groups?

MR. CROWLEY: We are in the midst of a transition in our relationship with Iraq. Over the past seven years, our relationship has been dominated by our significant military presence in the country. We now have reduced that presence below 50,000 military forces who will be there for another 16 months helping to train Iraqi security forces and to back up Iraqi security forces as they continue to deal with the security challenge across Iraq. In the meantime, we are stepping up activity on the civilian side. We’re going to be constructing a relationship that more closely resembles our relationship with many other countries in the region.

There’s still a lot of work to do with Iraq: helping Iraq build its economy, helping Iraq build its institutions of government, extending civil society and the rule of law. And we’ll be continuing to encourage Iraq to form a new government and maintain or sustain an inclusive political process. I think our relationship is broadening and deepening with this transition. I don’t – but the key to – we will continue to work with Iraq as a partner. It’s not about leverage, but it’s about helping Iraq make – chart its own future and that’s something that we’re committed to help Iraq do.

QUESTION: You previously expressed your concern about Iran meddling with Iraq’s sovereignty. Is there a potential for Iran to gain greater influence in – with let’s say Iraqi politicians or politics as combat troops have withdrawn?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are worried about the influence of other countries inside Iraq. That said, Iraq is going to chart its own future. I think people that worry about the influence of Iran in Iraq, I think miscalculate it in terms of the determination of Iraq, its leaders, and its people to chart its own course. We’re there, committed to help Iraq, but we also want to have Iraq build constructive relations with its neighbors and play a more constructive role in the region than it has in the past.

QUESTION: How alarmed are you that the recent spike in violence could derail the U.S. mission as stated? Because I know you --

MR. CROWLEY: I think what’s important is that the current spike of violence is not directed at the United States. It’s directed at the Iraqi Government. It’s – yesterday’s brutal attacks were directed at the very institutions of government that are there to help secure the Iraqi people. We are concerned about the spike in violence. It’s something that we actually anticipated, that these extremist elements would, as we removed forces, try to step up their activity. They’re doing that.

By the same token, we have confidence that Iraqi security forces are up to the task. They’ve been in the lead now for more than a year. We’re going to – there are going to be good days and bad days in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Yesterday was a bad day. But we have complete confidence in Iraq’s ability to ultimately defeat these extremist elements.

QUESTION: Moving on, P.J., (inaudible) Iran to come to the negotiating table, and Iran has finally now said that it’s ready. What is holding up the determination of a date and place both with regard to the Vienna Group meeting (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: There are discussions ongoing between Iran and Catherine Ashton in the EU, and between Iran and the IAEA. We are hopeful that there can be constructive meetings in the coming weeks on both of those fronts. We stand ready to join other countries in a P-5+1 discussion with Iran, and we hope that such a meeting can be set up very shortly. And likewise, we look forward to discussions within the IAEA about whether there’s any arrangement that can be arrived at regarding the Tehran research reactor. So we’re hopeful that both of those meetings can happen soon, and there are discussions ongoing to try to set up a specific date for both of those meetings.

QUESTION: Would it make a difference if it was before or after the United Nations General Assembly next week – next month when (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know that one affects the other.

QUESTION: Has there actually been any movement on this in the last week or is it still just in the discussions stage?

MR. CROWLEY: It’s in the discussion stage. I don’t – I’m not aware --

QUESTION: But I mean --

MR. CROWLEY: -- that we have arrived at a particular date for either one.

QUESTION: No. Well, fair enough --

MR. CROWLEY: But that --

QUESTION: -- you haven’t arrived a date, but has there been progress since you – we last talked about this?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we are hopeful that the meetings, both at the IAEA and with the P-5+1, can be set up in the next few weeks.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but that’s – I’m just trying to figure out – the last time you talked about this, you were saying exactly the same thing. I’m just wondering if there’s --

MR. CROWLEY: And I’m not aware of any specific progress.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. CROWLEY: I think the negotiating of arrangements for these meetings is still ongoing.

QUESTION: China’s chief nuclear envoy Wu Dawei said, in Seoul, China wants to arrange preparatory talks to revive the Six-Party Talks. So what is your comment?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we do have the UN General Assembly coming up. It will be an opportunity for the United States to engage directly with our partners in the Six-Party process. And then we’ll see whether there might be an opportunity for further dialogue with North Korea. But again, as we’ve said many, many times, there are still actions that we want to see from North Korea that convince us that such a meeting would be fruitful.

QUESTION: Also, the South Korean Foreign Minister Yu said North Korea’s apology for the Cheonan sinking is not a precondition for revival of the Six-Party Talks. Do you agree with him?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, we – as we’ve said many, many times, we believe that North Korea was responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan. It has not, as far as I know, taken responsibility for that provocative act. One of the things that we want to see going forward is an end to these kinds of provocative actions that increase tensions in the region, and that would be one of the areas where we would want to see some movement from North Korea that communicates that it wishes to come back to the table.

QUESTION: One more on North Korea. South Korea Government decided to offer humanitarian aid to North Korea responding – South Korean Government decided to offer humanitarian aid to North Korea responding to recent flood. So will U.S. also considering offering similar aid to North Korea if North Korea request it?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we have said many times that – well, we have provided assistance to North Korea in the past through the World Food Program. We stand ready to do that again. I’m not aware that North Korea has requested assistance of the international community, but certainly, we’re very much aware that North Korea, like China, like other countries in the region have – are facing severe situations regarding – because of the weather.

QUESTION: On another subject?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: A political question on Pakistan. You may have seen some --

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) another subject.

QUESTION: You may have seen some reports among the Pakistanis in Pakistan and also in the Pakistani media that Pakistani community is not happy with their government, and they are calling that there should be a martial law today from London directly, his message to the Pakistanis. And (inaudible) leader Mr. (inaudible), he called on Pakistan’s – that there should be a martial law in Pakistan in order to control the prices and all other problems going on there. Have you heard anything like that?

MR. CROWLEY: I have not.

QUESTION: And --

MR. CROWLEY: Pakistan has a civilian government and we think it is the best form of government to take.

Andy.

QUESTION: Just a quick one, first on the NASA-Chile thing. Was it Chile’s idea that NASA would be the most helpful U.S. institution or was that the U.S. Government’s idea? Who suggested this?

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t say. We provided an offer of assistance to Chile as a friend, and I believe Chile came back to us and said we would like to gain some perspective on NASA’s experience with how to support people in extended travel and space, and whether there are any corollaries between NASA’s experience and what these miners are experiencing underground.

QUESTION: Are you aware if we’ve ever provided similar sorts of aid – space travel suggestions for people trapped in --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m – as far as I know, this is almost a unique and unprecedented situation in Chile. And again, in terms of its mining expertise, Chile’s expertise is unparalleled. In fact, if you go back in history, Chilean miners have come to the United States and taught us how to better conduct mining operations in this country. But in this particular case, the Chilean ministry of health is in a dialogue with NASA just to see if there are ideas that our experts have that can help them build a program to sustain these men for what will be an extended period of time.

QUESTION: Okay. I just wanted to – just – my real question was about Sudan.

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yesterday, the – we got the announcement about Ambassador Lyman --

MR. CROWLEY: Right.

QUESTION: -- going on this new mission. Does this reflect a new – why this now? Is that because there hasn’t been enough progress made under the special envoys aegis? And secondly, there’s been widespread reporting or, certainly, one report that the entire Sudan policy is under review and that we may see some kind of re-weighting of the carrot and the stick.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think what it reflects is that it’s the march of the calendar. We are in August. We’re very mindful of the calendar and the upcoming referendum in January, so we’re in this very intense period of time where much work has to be done. And so we have already expanded our diplomatic presence in Juba, but we are augmenting that experience and that presence in Sudan at this time to see if we can’t work through some of the remaining open areas of the CPA that have to be resolved to create the right conditions for a successful referendum.

So Ambassador Lyman will be going through and working on border issues, Abyei, resource-sharing arrangements between north and south. These are all laid out in the CPA, but there has not been the kind of progress that we would hope for. And we think, at this particular time, putting more diplomatic boots on the ground, if you will, can have a beneficial effect.

QUESTION: Ambassador Lyman in the past has been an advocate for more pressure, direct pressure, on Khartoum. Is that something we can expect to see as early as --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, at this particular stage, we’ve got a lot still to do. We’ve got a limited amount of time to get that work done. And so we thought putting – augmenting the – our diplomatic presence in the country was the right thing to do to augment Scott Gration and the rest of the combined team that’s been working so intensively on this issue for many months.

QUESTION: Another --

QUESTION: Stay in Africa? Can we stay in Africa?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: What’s your reaction to violence, the widespread violence in Mogadishu? There’s been about 30 people allegedly killed by Al-Shabaab, including some government officials.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s something that we’ve unfortunately seen in recent days and weeks. We continue to look for ways in which we can support the Transitional Federal Government. That’s something that Ambassador – Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson and his team are actively engaged in as we speak.

QUESTION: Is there --

QUESTION: Another --

MR. CROWLEY: Wait, wait. Hold on. You’ve got three more and then we’ll wrap up.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments on the passing of nuclear liability bill in the lower house of Indian parliament? When do you expect to --

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer comment. It is still something that’s working its way through the Indian legislature.

David.

QUESTION: P.J., the United States apparently has not sent a representative to a trade conference of ASEAN in Da Nang and there’s criticism of that, disappointment expressed by the ASEAN secretary general that this reflects a lack of engagement with ASEAN by the United States.

MR. CROWLEY: My first instinct – well, there’s no lack of engagement with ASEAN. As you know, the Secretary has committed to increase our engagement with ASEAN. I think we’ll take the question. It may be one better directed to USTR as to why we are or are not at this particular conference.

QUESTION: Any change in our – another subject, our ambassadorial – excuse me, ambassadorial appointment to Venezuela?

MR. CROWLEY: No change.

QUESTION: No change, okay.

QUESTION: This Saturday, in a hundred cities, protestors are going to be calling for the end of the stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani in Iran. Secretary Clinton has expressed her displeasure over our policy of not condemning stoning in the past. Is the U.S. ready to --

MR. CROWLEY: Say that again.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton has spoken out on this particular case with Ashtiani in Iran.

MR. CROWLEY: True.

QUESTION: And we have yet to take a position on condemning stoning --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, actually that’s not true.

QUESTION: -- in Iran.

MR. CROWLEY: We have called it barbaric from this podium, and we again say stoning is a barbaric form of punishment.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Will this come up with Ahmadinejad when he is in town in September for the UN?

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t predict.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Okay.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:57 p.m.)



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