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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 15, 2010

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Mitchell's Trips Demonstrate U.S. Support for Comprehensive Peace in the Region
    • Ambassador Steve Bosworth's Meetings in Beijing / Ambassador Sung Kim
    • U.S. Aware of Plea Bargain / Working with Serbian Officials
    • Upcoming Elections / U.S. Working Diligently with Haitian Authorities / Cheryl Mills Haiti Travel / U.S. Working to Help Haiti with a Successful Election


September 15 - Part 1

QUESTION: And the decision to send Senator Mitchell to Damascus to meet with President Assad tomorrow, any details about his mission, if he’s carrying any positive new steps that could be taken?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, his trips to both Syria and Lebanon are to demonstrate our support for comprehensive peace in the region. Our primary focus right now is obviously on the Israeli-Palestinian track, but we have an interest in seeing progress and a return to negotiation on the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks as well. I’m sure that is the – he will update senior Syrian officials on the most recent talks and encourage progress on the Syrian-Israeli front as well.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: P.J., do you think North Korea’s chief nuclear envoy Kim Kye Gwan or foreign minister will come to New York for General Assembly this month?

MR. CROWLEY: I have no idea. Since – but since you touch on North Korean issues, I just can report to you that Ambassador Steve Bosworth is in Beijing. He did have a meeting today with his counterpart, Wu Dawei, as part of our ongoing consultations with our partners in the Six-Party process, and he expects to meet with Foreign Minister Yang tomorrow.

QUESTION: Can I just ask a question about Ambassador Bosworth’s role? And I mean, what is the difference between – he’s there talking about consultations about the Six-Party Talks. What does he bring to the table in terms of these consultations that Ambassador Kim doesn’t? What’s the difference?

MR. CROWLEY: They’re a team. So there are times where Ambassador Bosworth engages and there are times where Ambassador Sung Kim will engage.

QUESTION: But you can’t really point to a substantive difference? I mean, if Ambassador Kim is the one that’s talking during the negotiations and the actual negotiator, what is Ambassador Bosworth bringing to the table?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, Steve Bosworth is leading our team. But as you know, he is here sometimes (inaudible) and Sung Kim is our full-time ambassador in this process. So – but they are partners in this effort to try to encourage North Korea to pursue a different path.

QUESTION: Another topic, Miladin Kovacevic case and his bargain plea in Serbia – the guy who beat up an American citizen in New York – have you got any comment on that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we’re aware that there has been a plea bargain in this case. It is something that we have pressed hard in – with Serbia for justice in this case. We’re disappointed in what we perceive to be a relatively light sentence. At the same, given the level of injury that was inflicted on our American citizen, we’re not sure that any length of sentence would fully restore his health. But we will continue to cooperate and work with Serbian officials. But we were – we are pleased that justice was pursued. We do not necessarily believe that justice has been entirely served.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Can you repeat that? We’re not sure that any length of sentence would – what?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, our American citizen sustained very, very serious and significant longstanding injuries. So regardless of the length of sentence, he will have injuries that he will have to live with for --

QUESTION: Yeah, but you’re talking about the victim, not the --

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, the victim, right.

QUESTION: -- but how can --

MR. CROWLEY: So it --

QUESTION: But the defendant’s jail sentence in any case isn’t going to contribute to --

MR. CROWLEY: The defendant’s jail sentence --

QUESTION: -- the victim getting better, is it?

MR. CROWLEY: -- is more consistent with a – I mean, we just – we thought that a more significant jail sentence was appropriate.

QUESTION: In this hemisphere there has been some concerns raised about the upcoming November elections in Haiti and the disqualification of a number of political parties – more than a dozen, I think. Do you have any concern about that or anything to say about that?

MR. CROWLEY: The upcoming elections – it’s something that we are working diligently with Haitian authorities to help them prepare. It is vitally important to Haiti’s future that there be a credible election. We are very mindful of the fact that with the earthquake back in January, among the institutions of government that were hard hit were those that would either conduct or support a successful election. Lots of people have been moved around the country; they have to be relocated and then they have to be identified on voter rolls, so there’s an enormous amount of work to do.

Cheryl Mills, our counselor and chief of staff, has been in Haiti for the last two days to confer with Haitian officials. I’m confident that elections were among the topics discussed. This is a Haitian process. There are qualifications that have to be met for candidates to stand for these elections. We are very mindful, given Haiti’s history, that this has to be seen as a legitimate and credible process, and we’re doing everything that we can to help Haiti with a successful election.

QUESTION: Right. But I’m curious about if you have anything specific to say about what’s being called – just, well, what is the disqualification of political parties, not candidates, not specific candidates, including potentially famous candidates, but actual parties.

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) Who are citizens of the United States.

QUESTION: Yeah. But do you have – can you at least – can you take the question to see if – I mean, there was the letter sent to the Secretary about this and if Cheryl Mills is there right now, I would think that --

MR. CROWLEY: Why don’t you ask us again tomorrow and we’ll see if we have more to say about this.

QUESTION: Fair enough. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:26 p.m.)

DPB #151

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