1:33 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon. Welcome to the Department of State. And we should first welcome some students from Brigham Young University who are here to learn about the briefing process and the mayhem that occurs here in the State Department briefing room every single day.
But to business. The Secretary is currently having lunch with Dr. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, and also former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, who are co-hosting the U.S.-China Track Two Dialogue, an ongoing dialogue of non-official channels. And I think later on this afternoon and tomorrow the group will also be hearing from Secretary Gates and Secretary Geithner. But the group, over the course of a couple of days, will be reviewing the current state of our strategic relationship with China, but they’ll also talk about and consider specific issues from climate change to Asia Pacific security cooperation to economic and financial issues.
Tomorrow, the Secretary will host the U.S.-Northern Ireland Economic Conference here at the State Department. The U.S. has long supported the peace process in Northern Ireland, and the Secretary herself has been personally committed to it since her time as First Lady. The people of Northern Ireland have made significant progress in the peace process, and this conference will bring together U.S. business leaders and Northern Ireland Government officials to discuss ways to further that progress by encouraging increased economic and trade activity between the United States and Northern Ireland. And then the Secretary will also hold bilateral meetings with State Secretary for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, the Northern Irish First Minister and Deputy First Minister – that would be Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, respectively.
Also today at the State Department, Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon are leading U.S. and Israeli delegations in participating in the semi-annual U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue. The dialogue is an ongoing process that allows our two countries to participate in a robust dialogue on issues facing the United States, Israel, and the region.
And also, the United States and Mexico have been working in close cooperation on sea turtle conservation as well as range of bilateral fisheries and marine conservation issues of importance to the two nations. The Government of Mexico implemented a plan of action in the past several months to strengthen sea turtle conservation in its shrimp trawl fisheries. This plan of action represents significant improvements in the use of Turtle Excluder Devices, or TEDs, by its fishing industry. And we are pleased to report that as of Friday the State Department has certified Mexico under Section 609 of U.S. Public Law 101-162, which prohibits the import of shrimp and shrimp products harvested in ways that may adversely affect some sea turtle species. This certification is based on the determination that Mexico’s Turtle Excluder Devices are comparable in effectiveness to the current U.S. program.
QUESTION: So we can get shrimp as well as drugs from Mexico; is that the idea? (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: And finally, of great significance and news to Mr. Lee, this morning, Under Secretary for Management Pat Kennedy hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of a new U.S. Passport Agency serving the residents of Buffalo and the surrounding region. The agency located in historic downtown Buffalo will issue U.S. passport books and passport cards on site to citizens with urgent travel requirements. And it is at 111 Genesee Street in Buffalo. And I notice, Matt, that the naming rights are still up in the air, so --
QUESTION: Yeah, well, it’s just a little disconcerting to go away and come back and find out that your city’s teams have a combined record of 1 and 10. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: But now you have a passport agency in case they want to leave the country.
QUESTION: They may have to. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: I have a couple questions on Iraq. There were a spate of stories, it seems, this morning about the political situation and the formation of the new government there and U.S. concerns – alleged U.S. concerns that Iran may be playing quite a big role, that they may be trying to essentially try and form a shadow government in Iraq and that you now are telling the Iraqis to – well, these are just what the reports say, I don’t know if they’re true or not – that you’re telling the Iraqis to slow down, whereas before you were telling them to speed up and get a government in place as soon as possible. Can you comment on those?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, our message to Iraq has not changed at all. We want to see the formation of a new government expeditiously. And we also want to be sure that the new government is inclusive of all four winning blocs. So our message has not changed. And it has been more than six months since the election, but we do notice that the pace of political action to try to form a governing coalition has picked up in Iraq in recent months – recent weeks. Prime Minister Maliki is visiting Iran today. I wouldn’t over-interpret this. We understand that Iran and Iraq are neighbors. They have to have a relationship. But we certainly think that Iran can be a better neighbor by respecting Iraqi sovereignty and ending it support to those who use violence in Iraq.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure. Welcome back.
QUESTION: Do you find – thank you. Do you find the statement made by Allawi on this issue to be disconcerting about Iran really meddling in Iraqi politics and so on and out on the open and, in many ways, sort of preempting any kind of coalition formation?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are concerned about any neighboring country that would meddle in Iraq’s affairs. Ultimately, this has to be an Iraqi decision as part of its own political process and we have every indication that Iraq’s leaders are working to try to form a government. We just want to see that government be as inclusive as possible. Our concerns about Iraq and its – I’m sorry, our concerns about Iran and its meddling in Iraq’s affairs are longstanding, but that said, we would expect the Iraqi Government to work on behalf of its own citizens and not on behalf of another country.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up: P.J., Maliki visited Jordan and visited Syria and now he’s visiting Iran. But the Saudis, another major neighboring country, so far has not extended any invitation to Mr. Maliki all throughout his tenure. Is that something that concerns you? Will you put some sort of pressure on the Saudis to receive Mr. Maliki?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we want to see Iraq establish and sustain appropriate relations with all of its neighbors. We want to see Iraq integrated into the region. But it’s not for us to dictate to a particular country what their relations with a government should be. We have talked to Saudi Arabia and encouraged them to increase their dialogue with Iraq, but obviously, what they do is up to them.
QUESTION: P.J., just to follow up quickly – according to The Washington Post and other reports, Iran also meddling in the affairs of Afghanistan, can you have peace in Iraq and in the neighborhood without Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, all right, can we have peace in the neighborhood without?
QUESTION: Iran or Iranian dialogue or involvement?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we want to see Iran be – play a constructive role in the region. We obviously have a lengthy list of concerns about Iran’s behavior, not the least of which, its direct support of terrorism groups and its nuclear ambitions. We understand that Iran, in the context of Afghanistan, does have relations with Afghanistan and has interests in Afghanistan. In fact, we have worked directly and cooperatively with Iran previously. And we note today there was an important regional meeting in Rome and there was Iranian representation at that meeting.
QUESTION: One more follow-up on Iran and Iraq: Are you concerned that these reports suggest that the – Iran’s brokered a deal between Maliki and Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Madhi Army?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we believe that this should be an issue that is resolved inside Iraq, by Iraqi leaders, working on behalf of their constituencies and working for the interests of Iraq and no other country. We want to see a government formed. We believe a government that emerges that is inclusive and reflects the major blocs that earn significant electoral support will be a government that is strong enough and credible enough to work on behalf of all of the people of Iraq. The sooner that happens, the better.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: On Iraq too. The New York Times has reported yesterday that members of awakening councils have quit or been dismissed from their positions in significant numbers in recent month and the defections, as it said, have been driven in part by frustration with the government, which awakening members say – and intent on destroying them as well as by pressure from al-Qaida. Do you have anything on this?
MR. CROWLEY: We actually believe that the Government of Iraq is working constructively with the Awakening Council with living up to the agreements that it made earlier. I think in terms of saying that there’s one group that has moved in a direction and is responsible for significant levels of violence, I think oversimplifies the challenge in Iraq.
QUESTION: You are not concerned about this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, are there – I suppose there are undoubtedly a number of individuals who have gone back into perpetrating violence. We don’t think it’s a large number. We think by and large the Government of Iraq is working – is engaged with the Awakening Council and working to keep its members working constructively for the future of Iraq. So I don’t know that we agree with the thrust of that article.
QUESTION: P.J., on that issue –
QUESTION: P.J., the same –
QUESTION: -- on the Awakening Council. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: Their major gripe is that they don’t get paid by the Iraqi Government unless a pressure is sort of levied on the Iraqi Government by the U.S. Government. So --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, and this is something that we continue to talk to Iraq. There was a – I think, a problem that had existed some time ago, but we think that Iraq has improved its interaction with and its support of the Awakening Council.
QUESTION: But P.J., doesn’t that under – doesn’t that damage the concept of this whole thing? I mean, right when these Awakening Councils began, the idea – the criticism was as long as the money is there, people will be in those councils. As soon as the money is gone, they’ll go back to al-Qaida or to somebody else. So is it – it would appear that in some cases, it did not change that much. Perhaps temporarily it brought them over, but not permanently. And this same strategy is being used in Afghanistan right now with pay-for-work programs and other similar concepts.
MR. CROWLEY: Look, Jill, I think what – your comment is a little bit oversimplified. We want to see a government emerge in Iraq that is working on behalf of all people in Iraq. We want a government that Sunnis can support, Shia can support, Kurds can support, other religious and ethnic minorities can support. We want a government that is working on behalf of everyone and is not being perceived as a government working for one block in – at the disadvantage of another.
That’s what’s going to be vital to the future of Iraq. If that government is credible, if that government is doing what it should do to meet the needs of its people, then that’s how you change attitudes and that’s how you overcome existing tensions which are still a part of Iraqi society. So we’re focused on forming this government and we think that as this government is formed and as the government performs on behalf of all Iraqis, that’s the best way to convince people to move past these tensions and past violence and towards a better future for all Iraqi citizens.
QUESTION: Yes, but that – if I could, one little point on this. What I was referring to is specifically these Awakening Councils. I’m not talking big picture; I’m talking about the concept of paying people to join Awakening Councils, and when the money runs out – it’s a very simple question – when the money runs out, people no longer stick around because they don’t share the goals or they think that maybe they ought to go back and get on the payroll of al-Qaida or somebody else. Doesn’t it undercut that concept of paying people?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think so.
QUESTION: Back on Iran for a second.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment, reaction to Iran being – taking over the reins at OPEC?
MR. CROWLEY: We took that question on Friday. I don’t know that I ever – we ever found – it’s a question we took on Friday. I don’t think we’ve had an answer yet.
MR. CROWLEY: The secret –
QUESTION: The secret unannounced before he got there. Did that have anything to do with --
MR. CROWLEY: That’s not true. We announced Mr. Feltman’s travel.
QUESTION: Did you? Well, it’s not in the week ahead. It started in his second stop.
MR. CROWLEY: He issued a very detailed statement –
QUESTION: Yes, after he got there. But, anyway –
MR. CROWLEY: -- after he met with President Sulayman.
MR. CROWLEY: I’d be happy to do a dramatic reading if you’d like.
QUESTION: No, I just want to know if that had anything to do with Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon last week and if it reflected any concern that you might have that Iran was sticking its nose into yet another place that you didn’t – don’t want it to be.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we expressed our concerns to the Government of Lebanon before President Ahmadinejad visited. Jeff is on a lengthy trip to the region and I am quite certain that the subject of President Ahmadinejad visit came up during his meeting with President Sulayman yesterday. He also was in Saudi Arabia today. He’s in Morocco where he had a meeting with Foreign Minister Fassi-Fihri. This was not a secret meeting.
QUESTION: But Lebanon wasn’t on his schedule. What happened to –
MR. CROWLEY: Lebanon wasn’t on his schedule?
QUESTION: Not in the announcement.
MR. CROWLEY: All right. I take that back.
QUESTION: Sorry, wait. Now are you --
MR. CROWLEY: Not so secret.
QUESTION: So it was secret?
MR. CROWLEY: No, I –
QUESTION: He was supposed to go to Cairo.
MR. CROWLEY: I will check and we’ll answer the question whether this was added to his travel after he left Washington.
QUESTION: Any comment or details on an alleged assassination attempt on Ahmadinejad in Lebanon?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry, what?
QUESTION: On an alleged assassination attempt on Mr. Ahmadinejad?
MR. CROWLEY: I have no information on that.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the Post story this morning about the Administration looking at Chinese firms – in particular, for busting Iran sanctions?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, China was integral in the process that left to the drafting and passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1929. China has pledged to fully enforce Resolution 1929. Our Special Advisor Bob Einhorn has had multiple meetings with the Chinese, both, I think, in New York during the UN General Assembly, and also in Beijing towards the end of last month. And we did provide some information to China on specific concerns about individual Chinese companies, and the Chinese assured us that they will investigate.
QUESTION: The first article makes it sound as though China is now the primary concern for the Administration as far as potential sanctions (inaudible) action goes. Is that fair?
MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t characterize it that way. We are – as Mr. Einhorn has been visiting a range of countries that we know have extensive economic dealings with Iran – China is one of them, but not the only one. And I think we have worked with China in recent months and years to encourage China to improve its export controls. We think China has actually made significant progress in strengthening its export control system and it pledged to follow up on the information that we provide them.
QUESTION: P.J., another topic. There is a New York Times story about the – one of the wives of David Headley, who was involved in the Mumbai attacks, that apparently a year before that attack, she went to the American authorities in Pakistan to warn them that she thought that he was involved in some type of plotting for an attack, but it was never followed up on. And this was not the first warning – that there was another wife who did it years before. Is this a communications breakdown? Do you know anything about this? Number one, can you confirm that that is the case and –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me – I will respond in the context of two meetings that we did have with one of Mr. Headley’s spouses in late 2007 and early 2008. She did provide us some information. We followed up on that information and provided it to relevant agencies across the U.S. Government.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on – P.J., as far as – I’m sorry, you want – as far as these training camps are concerned which Mr. David Headley told U.S. and Indian officials when they interviewed him. And also, in an interview General Musharraf also told a German magazine that 22 terrorist camps were in Pakistan. One, are they closed now? Can you make sure that those camps are now closed, if you have told the Pakistani authorities or if you are going to tell them here when they meet during this coming meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there’s a lot to your question, Goyal. We have cooperated extensively in investigating the tragic Mumbai attacks, including giving Indian officials access to Mr. Headley. Beyond that, I’m not going to comment about any alleged particulars in those discussions. We have been pressing Pakistan to take more aggressive action inside its borders to deal with a threat that is of concern to us, a concern to the region, and a threat to Pakistan itself.
We – as we’ve noted many times, Pakistan has taken aggressive action within its own borders. But clearly, this is an ongoing threat and more needs to be done. That will be among the issues talked about during this week’s Strategic Dialogue.
QUESTION: And P.J., when President and Secretary visits Mumbai in November first week and they will be staying at the same hotel which was the target of the terrorist bombings from Pakistan, what message do you think they are carrying for the people of Mumbai?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we continue to cooperate extensively with Indian officials. We were doing so prior to the Mumbai attacks. We have done so since the Mumbai attacks. Security is an area of significant dialogue between our law enforcement and intelligence agencies and those of the Indian Government. We will continue to cooperate with India on the security front, but even as we expand our dialogue and our cooperation with India on many, many fronts. And obviously, this will be part of the President’s visit to India next month.
QUESTION: Can we get back to the wife’s –
QUESTION: Yes, you said that you had this input from them. So did you follow up on that input? Was that input from Islamabad reach Washington? Did you share it with any other countries – India, Pakistan? Because allegations in the articles are coming out you did not do anything on it.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s go through those. Did we follow up? The answer is yes. Have – did we share information with our security partners, including India, prior to the Mumbai attacks? The answer is yes. We have cooperated with India since then. I think Ambassador Roemer put out an extensive statement in Delhi over the weekend that highlighted both the – our cooperation with India in – prior to and after.
Needless to say, I will just say that going back over some of the information provided to us, there was concern expressed by both spouses at the same time; the information was not specific. I think everyone should understand that if we did have specific information on this, we would have absolutely provided it to the Indian Government beforehand. The fact is that while we had information and concerns, it did not detail a time or place of the attack.
QUESTION: Did – have you noticed has there been any change or uptick in cooperation between India and the U.S. on intelligence matters like this since the – everything you’re talking about now happened under – not – it was not on your watch; it was under the previous Administration. Has there been an increase in cooperation now?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s – I mean, the short answer is yes. We have an extensive dialogue with India, and as we build a strategic partnership with India and security is one of those areas, and I would say that yes, our cooperation with India has expanded.
QUESTION: So can you say if anything would have been done differently – if this administration would have done anything different than what the last one did?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s an impossible question to answer.
QUESTION: A follow-up on the same issue? You said that the information which was provided by the wives of Headley was taken seriously and further investigated upon. Then why wasn’t he arrested during or soon after Mumbai? Why it took so many years – more than one and a half years to arrest him?
MR. CROWLEY: I – that’s –
QUESTION: You had some credible information about Headley.
MR. CROWLEY: That’s not – I can’t – I can’t make – I can’t answer that question.
QUESTION: So what are you --
QUESTION: Same issue, same issue. You said the information was not specific enough to be followed; did I get that right? The wives’ information?
MR. CROWLEY: In the contacts that we had with his spouses, there was not specific information as to who he was associated with or what they were planning to do.
QUESTION: But didn’t she say Lashkar, she was training at the Laskhar?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ll just say there was not specific information provided.
QUESTION: Is Senator Mitchell participating in the U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue, or this doesn’t include the peace process?
MR. CROWLEY: Senator Mitchell is in New York. He maintains contact with the parties as we look to create conditions for direct negotiation to continue. The Strategic Dialogue with Israel is really about the bilateral relationship.
QUESTION: But what’s the next step regarding the peace process?
MR. CROWLEY: We continue to work with the parties to create conditions for direct negotiations to continue, and that – those conversations are ongoing.
QUESTION: So if you were to give us a brief status report, where do we stand? I mean, since the beginning of September 2nd until today?
MR. CROWLEY: No change from last week.
MR. CROWLEY: I welcome the opportunity to talk about North Korea.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you. Seems like a bunch of specialists are – of the United States are invited to North Korea, including Mr. Pritchard and Mr. Hecker of Los Alamos. And what is your comment on that and do you see any policy change coming upon their – I mean, after their visit or --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there are academics who have made periodic trips to North Korea. Mr. Hecker is one of them. Mr. Pritchard is another. And I think we’re – Mr. Pritchard has given us a heads-up that he’s about to head to North Korea in the next couple of weeks.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. CROWLEY: But we – I mean, we value that kind of dialogue, but obviously, it’s – it is not a substitute for the specific actions that North Korea has to take to live up to its obligations.
QUESTION: The French Government announced that they have some intelligence about a specific attack in France that might be pending or imminent. Is there any consideration of increasing the – from the Travel Alert that was issued several weeks ago to a specific warning for Americans who might be traveling in France or heading over there?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think without getting into any specific intelligence information, we have a Travel Alert that is current regarding Europe. And what – our view hasn’t changed on that.
QUESTION: Can we go back to North Korea for one quick second?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Just to close off that line of questioning, can you state that Mr. Pritchard and Mr. Hecker are not carrying any kind of message from the United States, they are not being interlocutors for the U.S. Government; that this is strictly a private trip and they’re not actually doing anything on behalf of the U.S. Government?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I suppose in the interest of full disclosure, I can – Mr. Pritchard is not carrying a specific message from the United States Government. I played golf with him on Saturday and I can – I know exactly what he’s doing. (Laughter.) Mr. Pritchard and I are good friends and we’re former colleagues of the National Security Council. He is going on his own accord.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Who won the golf game?
MR. CROWLEY: Huh?
QUESTION: Who won the golf game?
MR. CROWLEY: I did. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: More on Russia, please. President Medvedev has given awards to the intelligence officers who worked here in the United States. Do you have any comment on that --
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: -- felicitous occasion? No?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: The president of Afghanistan today issued a decree giving his – exempting a few – some of the private security companies to continue after his deadline expires in December. Do you have any comment? Do you – how do you view this development as?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have been working with the Afghan Government to fully understand what it is trying to do. We certainly support Afghan efforts to properly regulate private security firms that are doing business inside Afghanistan. I think that this is a conversation that is continuing because there are some complexities here. But we understand that there are some exemptions for those firms that are protecting embassies and military compounds, and we think that’s an appropriate step to take, but we – there are some other issues that we are still trying to work through with the Afghan Government.
QUESTION: So what are the other issues? Could you, a little bit, explain that? What are the other issues that you’re working on?
MR. CROWLEY: I think there are still some questions about how this might affect ongoing aid workers and the security that they need to continue to function on behalf of the Afghan people.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: The Egyptian election?
QUESTION: Okay. Just a quick – I’m sorry, just a sort of remedial question, and I apologize if you went over it on Friday, but a little bit more detail on this Track Two dialogue, how often it --
MR. CROWLEY: Which one?
QUESTION: The China one.
MR. CROWLEY: China, okay.
QUESTION: How often it meets. Does the Treasury Secretary always address them? Does the Defense Secretary always address them?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a very good question. This is – I think the Kissinger associates have put together this dialogue. I believe the first one was held in 2009.
QUESTION: So you don’t know if the Treasury Secretary has addressed them last year, for instance?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think the – last year, the meeting was held in Beijing.
QUESTION: Okay. So it would be the finance minister, then?
MR. CROWLEY: Right, so it might have been their senior officials that we’re addressing. Obviously, this year, they’re in Washington, so the opportunity for U.S. officials to address them.
QUESTION: And is the name list public or private, who is participating in it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the dialogue is led by, as I mentioned, former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan.
QUESTION: But I mean, are there other members? I mean, you don’t have to read down the names, but is that something that can be --
MR. CROWLEY: I defer – on the composition of the dialogue, I’d probably defer it to Dr. Kissinger’s office.
QUESTION: Egyptian elections? As the date of 29 November draws near, are you pressing for international monitors to monitor the Egyptian parliamentary elections?
MR. CROWLEY: Tell you what. Let me get updated on what we’re doing and why don’t you ask me that question tomorrow?
QUESTION: Could you? Thank you.
QUESTION: P.J., with elections coming up, do you have any comment on the Burmese decision not to allow anyone into the country to cover or monitor the election – their election?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s unfortunate and – but not surprising, given Burma’s track record in leading up to these elections. Obviously, we’ve already said that we don’t think that these will be credible elections, and the fact that they’re not going to open it up for outsider observers is par for the course.
QUESTION: Do you have any message for the people of Burma? Should they participate in this election, boycott these elections? Aung San Suu Kyi says she’s not voting for it.
MR. CROWLEY: We only wish that Burma had taken advantage of the opportunity to have a more open election and as part of an effort to increase its dialogue within civil society in Burma, and these are ongoing lost opportunities by Burma.
QUESTION: Just going back to the so-called Track Two Dialogue, why can’t you release the list of the participants? I mean, this is an event that’s being held at the State Department. It includes the participation of the U.S. Secretary of State and other significant officials.
MR. CROWLEY: If you want – if you – I mean, if you want us to potentially list who was at lunch today, I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you. And then a second thing just elated to terminology. Track Two, if I’m not mistaken, normally refers to contacts not between government officials and others, but rather people who are not government officials. In other words, it’s more often former U.S. Government officials and, say, former German or whatever officials or academics. But this is not – Secretary Clinton is assuredly a track one official. Why do you call this Track Two?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the group itself is Track Two.
MR. CROWLEY: That said, that with their presence in Washington, Administration officials have taken advantage of the opportunity to have some dialogue with them, but the core group itself is a genuine track two initiative.
QUESTION: And then a final one, if I may? Can you just tell us what – can you give us some kind of a readout of what she says?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll see what I can do.
QUESTION: Well, can – is the meeting actually here? I thought – I was under the impression this was just like an informal lunch that she --
MR. CROWLEY: The lunch is upstairs.
QUESTION: No, I know. But the actual Track Two --
MR. CROWLEY: No, the meetings are, I believe --
QUESTION: They’re at a hotel or something, aren’t they?
MR. CROWLEY: The meetings are at the Hay-Adams.
QUESTION: Yeah. So this is – well, hold on, I just want to know --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, this is lunch. And I – am I going to read out the lunch? No.
QUESTION: Well, is she actually – I mean, is there some kind of formal --
MR. CROWLEY: It’s an informal discussion. It’s not – she doesn't have a formal speech. It’s not – it’s just lunch.
QUESTION: Okay. (Laughter.) Great.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll release the menu. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Can I ask you a little further afield and a little bit back in time – and I don’t know why this is just coming up now, but apparently during the UNGA, Assistant Secretary Valenzuela met with the Cuban foreign minister.
MR. CROWLEY: He did.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what that meeting was about?
MR. CROWLEY: The meeting was to encourage the release of Alan Gross.
QUESTION: And anything?
MR. CROWLEY: Unfortunately, that has not yet happened.
QUESTION: Did they give you any reason to think that it might happen?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, the purpose of the meeting was simply to encourage his release.
QUESTION: But you can’t say anything – nothing out of the meeting makes you think his release is any more or any less likely?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we would hope that it would happen today, but that’s up to the Cuban Government.
QUESTION: So they gave you no indication that he was going to be released?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that they did.
QUESTION: P.J., different question quickly. As far as human rights, democracy and freedom around the globe is concerned, people are now demonstrating around the globe and because of meddling by the military in their governments or military rules, including outside hundreds of people are demonstrating from the Guinea --
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, what country are we talking about, or are you talking about the entire world?
QUESTION: Right now, outside, the West African country Guinea in America, there are outside hundreds of people demonstrating for --
QUESTION: Outside the Department of State?
QUESTION: Right. And they have given a letter to the Secretary, the Republic of Guinea in America.
MR. CROWLEY: Are you talking about Guinea Conakry?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. Well, I mean, we have been encouraging Guinea Conakry to hold a credible election. They’ve had, I believe, one round. They have postponed the follow-up round. We are working with Guinea Conakry on preparations for that election. We hope it will happen soon.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:13 p.m.)
DPB # 169
# # #