1:45 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Sorry to be late, and probably given the time – I know we have the bilateral with Foreign Minister Qureshi coming up, so we may need to abbreviate the briefing slightly.
But as you heard this morning in the Secretary’s comments as – during the plenary of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, she announced the Administration’s multi-year security assistance commitment to Pakistan. It includes a commitment of – to request $2 billion in foreign military assistance from Congress for the years 2012 through 2016 and it will complement the $7.5 billion in civilian projects that has already been approved in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation. Pakistan remains one of our closest partners in the fight against terrorism and in the counterinsurgency effort along the border with Afghanistan. And we will continue to work closely with Pakistan to ensure they have the training and equipment necessary to support their counterinsurgency efforts.
Later on this afternoon, the Secretary will visit the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, our flagship public-private partnership supporting Afghan women. It will convene this afternoon here at the Department with co-chairs Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Georgetown University President Jack DeGioia, and Council Honorary Advisor Laura Bush. She’ll be speaking by phone to open the session.
Under the category of hail-and-farewell, both yesterday afternoon and this morning, the Secretary had the opportunity yesterday afternoon to call both former Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos to thank him for his outstanding service and then also welcome new Spanish Foreign Minister Jimenez. And this morning, the Secretary also called new Dutch Foreign Minister Rosenthal. And for both of her new counterparts, she hopes to meet with them both soon, perhaps next month, at the Lisbon Summit.
We will release after the briefing an announcement that today in Tokyo, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos and the Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Sumio Mabuchi signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at establishing an open skies air transportation relationship between our two countries. The MOU will be incorporated into an agreement on open skies to be concluded between our governments through the exchange of diplomatic notes.
And just a shout-out to one of my colleagues: Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs is among this year’s five distinguished winners of Southern Illinois University’s Inspiring Women of Achievement Award. She’s very, very diligent, works hard here and we’re very proud of her for that recognition.
And finally, after the briefing, you will see a formal trip announcement where the – we announce the Secretary’s travel beginning next week to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia. She’ll begin her trip in Honolulu where she’ll both have the meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Maehara and then deliver a speech on U.S. policy towards the Asia-Pacific region in Honolulu before continuing with her travel. And in conjunction with that, Secretary Clinton will not be able to attend the APEC ministerial meeting this year, but Deputy Secretary Steinberg will lead the U.S. State Department delegation in support of the President at these meetings.
QUESTION: Can I ask about the Pakistan – a couple things about Pakistan aid? One is: When did the Administration begin withholding assistance to military – Pakistani military units that were accused of human rights abuses under the Leahy Amendment?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, Matt, the way the process works – let me kind of turn that around. In providing military assistance to Pakistan or other countries, we vet units that are slated to receive equipment. And under the Leahy Amendment, we do not support units where we have a credible human rights concern. So it’s not a matter of pulling back on assistance; it’s a matter of we make sure that in providing assistance to militaries, including the Pakistan military, we will not support any unit for which we have –
QUESTION: Okay. So this is –
MR. CROWLEY: -- security or human rights concerns. And in fact, we remain in full compliance with our Leahy obligations.
QUESTION: So in other words, since the beginning of the Administration, this has been going on? It’s not new as some might suggest.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would use an example, though. You’re familiar with the recent video that seemed to demonstrate potential human rights violations with respect to Pakistani units. In that case, we’ve asked the Pakistani military to conduct an investigation. General Kayani has assured us that there is an investigation underway. So I’m not saying that in a case where we might have an existing relationship with a military unit, we might be forced to, in fact, withdraw assistance. But in this particular case, we’ve made sure that we will not support units where we have credible information.
Now, in the context of Pakistan, we’ve had a number of conversations with Pakistan over many months on these issues. We’ve had discussions with Pakistan both before that video, as an example, and since that video. And we do believe that – and are supporting Pakistan as it both investigates human rights concerns, but also to improve as General Kayani – I think he himself has said publicly – to improve efforts further professionalize the Pakistani military. So this is something that has been and continues to be part of our ongoing dialogue in Pakistan.
QUESTION: All right. Do you know how many units it affects right now?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m constrained in what I can say about this for a variety of reasons, including legal and intelligence reasons. It’s a relatively small number. That’s all I can say.
QUESTION: Are you concerned that these concerns that you’re talking about are going to make it more difficult to get congressional approval for the 2 billion that the Secretary talked about this morning?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think it’s an example of where we have concerns. We’ve raised them with the Pakistani military. We’re following U.S. law. But at the same time, because we have a system of vetting units, we can have confidence that for those units that we are supporting we have vetted them properly and we believe there are no such concerns.
QUESTION: P.J., just to follow quickly, according to Freedom House, many countries, including Pakistani, using blasphemy law, the sixth century law, and caning. As far as human rights here, what do you think about these blasphemy laws?
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, that’s a very broad sweep. We are supporting the Pakistan military because it is in our mutual interest to do so. Pakistan is a strategic partner. It’s a vitally important partner in counterinsurgency operations and counterterrorism activities, and it is in our national interest to continue to support Pakistan.
QUESTION: I just want to know where – how and when did you notify the Pakistanis about this? It appeared as of yesterday evening that they didn’t seem to know about it. (Inaudible).
MR. CROWLEY: We have been talking to Pakistan about our human rights concerns for some time.
QUESTION: I understand that. But when did – when were they informed of – that the aid to these units would be cut off?
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t answer that question.
QUESTION: Why not?
MR. CROWLEY: I cannot answer that question.
QUESTION: P.J., in the strategic --
QUESTION: You don’t know or you --
MR. CROWLEY: As I said, there are both intelligence and legal considerations. I can’t answer that question.
QUESTION: Which --
MR. CROWLEY: I won’t answer that question. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You said the investigation is on, not completed yet, so how can you take a decision before the investigation is complete?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry, what?
QUESTION: You said the investigation is still on, it’s not completed yet, so how can you take a decision before it’s --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s – no, let’s – all right, Lalit, let’s separate the two issues. In other words, we have an ongoing requirement in the military support that we provide to any military, including Pakistan. As we are providing that assistance, we have to ensure that any unit that we are supporting is free of any human rights concerns or violations. So to Matt’s point, we have been following the law all along, and as we have developed our relationship with Pakistan, we have been in full compliance with the Leahy Amendment. Where we have had human rights concerns, we have not supported particular units. That is fully in accordance with the law.
So for those units that we are supporting, we have satisfied that – we are satisfied that these units do not have human rights concerns. And we will just continue in our relationship with Pakistan as well as other countries to fully support the requirements of the Leahy Amendment.
QUESTION: P.J., on the broader issue of the Strategic Dialogue, which one of the 13 working groups deals with the issue of Kashmir?
MR. CROWLEY: Kashmir is an issue that we believe needs to be resolved between Pakistan and India. It is an issue that does come up in time to time in our bilateral discussions with Pakistan, but there is no working group on Kashmir.
QUESTION: So in other words, for the Pakistani foreign minister to come here and raise the issue and tell – and say that President Obama should redeem his pledge to get the U.S. involved in some kind of mediation of the dispute when he visits India next month, that kind of a statement is not particularly appropriate to the Strategic Dialogue, is it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no, actually, because the Strategic Dialogue is focused on expanding our bilateral relationship, when we get together the United States or Pakistan can bring forward any issue that it wishes. The Pakistanis have raised the issue of Kashmir with us before. This is not new. Our understanding of the Pakistani view of this issue is well known. But at the same time, the United States policy is clear: We believe that this is ultimately an issue that has to be resolved between India and Pakistan.
QUESTION: Are you concerned about human rights violations in Kashmir which have raised tensions between Pakistan and India?
MR. CROWLEY: We obviously have great concern about the situation in Kashmir. We talk both to our Pakistani friends and our Indian friends on this issue on a regular basis. We would like to see the situation in Kashmir resolved. There is obviously too much tension and violence in Kashmir, which is why we continue to encourage both countries to resolve it through dialogue.
QUESTION: Back to the Pakistani military support, when you said that you’re sure that the units that you’re supporting are – don’t have human rights violation concerns, when you say support, you mean training – the U.S. military is training these particular units, right?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the nature of our relationship, we provide training, we provide equipment. There’s a variety of support under our existing and future programs.
QUESTION: Well, what I don’t understand is how, if the U.S. is providing all this military assistance and money, how you can be certain that that money is not going to individual units that you have human rights concerns with.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is why we have – we do have oversight over our programs with Pakistan and we do have regular discussions with Pakistan on these issues. It is something we take seriously and something that we focus on intensely in our bilateral relationship.
QUESTION: You said the – going back to the President’s trip to India, this aid package is announced just ahead of that. Were the Indians briefed about this? Presumably, the Indians might not be entirely happy about the military cooperation.
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t tell you if the Indians were briefed. We have – we do not see this in zero-sum terms. The Indians are well aware of the support that we provide to Pakistan. Pakistan is well aware of the nature of our relationship with India.
QUESTION: P.J., what’s the level of tension between the U.S. and Pakistan after three days of dialogue and $2 billion military aid to Pakistan?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think there’s tension at all.
QUESTION: There was before the dialogue and Ambassador Holbrooke’s deputy has recognized that.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I mean, look, there are – we don’t deny that we have issues. We did have a cross-border incident. We investigated it fully. We apologized for it, and we’ve moved on. So I think that you’re seeing here in the Strategic Dialogue and the ongoing support that we’re providing to Pakistan, an example not only of an expanding relationship, but also clear evidence of a long-term commitment by the United States to Pakistan’s future.
In any relationship, there are going to be – periodically be irritants that come up, and this is an example of how something arose. And we worked it through and have resolved it.
QUESTION: P.J., as far as this close to $10 billion, including military and civilian aid to Pakistan is concerned, what do you think what U.S. will get out of this and what new you are looking or asking or coming out of Pakistan that you have not seen in the past?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is something that benefits Pakistan. It benefits the United States, and we think it benefits the region as a whole. We want to see a secure, stable, peaceful region. It is in our interest expressly because there are extremists in the region that threaten countries there and countries here in the West. We want to see a continuation of the kind of determined effort that Pakistan has shown over the past year or so, and what we’re seeing here is an investment in the very capabilities that we believe can help Pakistan continue to carry out its counterinsurgency responsibilities.
QUESTION: And if I may go back to Kashmir one second, quickly please. As far as Kashmiri issues – conflict has been going on forever since India-Pakistan got freedom or existing, the problem – both side – they are using Kashmir, number one. People are sick and tired --
MR. CROWLEY: Wait, Goyal. Not to cut you off, but just to say that I understand the history lesson --
QUESTION: What I’m asking --
MR. CROWLEY: -- but my answer will be the same. This is an issue that ultimately has to be resolved between India --
QUESTION: Can we move next door to --
MR. CROWLEY: -- and Pakistan.
QUESTION: Can we move to Afghanistan?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: What is the status of the discussions between you guys, the rest of the international community, and the Karzai government about this private security contractor ban that seems poised to wreak havoc on development and reconstruction?
MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t jump to conclusions, Matt. It’s a – it is an issue that we’ve been working with Afghanistan for more than two months, since the decree came out. We completely support the objective of the decree. There are a vast number of private security contractors, some of them licensed, many of them not. This is – and the Afghan Government’s objective of moving to where Afghan National Security Forces can take over responsibility for the security of the country. Obviously, that is central to our strategy. We’re in a period of time where as we are building up the capabilities of the Afghan Government, we recognize that there’s a gap that presently exists, and we are working through – with the Afghan Government and others within the international community to try to figure out how to help Afghanistan implement its decree, but at the same time, make sure that essential operations continue to function. And as we’re going through this, we’re seeing that there’s still a lack of clarity in terms of how the decree affects certain kinds of operations.
We understand that there are reports that development organizations are beginning to look at how they would shut down operations if we get to a worst-case scenario. We’re hopeful that we can – while we – the issue is not the decree and its objective; the issue is how you move along a timeline and how much time it will take to move from where we are to where the Afghan Government wants to be. And that’s – those are details that we continue to work out with the Afghan Government and help them explain to those who would be affected what the implications are.
QUESTION: Can you finish the sentence that you started – we’re hopeful that?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we’re hopeful that we can resolve with the Afghan Government a course of action so that over time we can help with this transition from private security contractors to a situation where the responsibility for security in Afghanistan is done by the Afghan Government. That’s their objective. That’s actually our objective. We’re just working through the intervening period and working through the particular implications.
QUESTION: Do you have any sense of this – what sort of the threat of this decree has already slowed down the development effort there? I mean, these reports that you’re talking about are saying that some of these companies are already scaling back because they don’t what the situation is going to be, so there’s sort of an inevitable delay that this uncertainty is bringing.
MR. CROWLEY: There’s clearly a lack of clarity in the eyes of many organizations that are providing vital assistance to Afghanistan. We don’t think it’s had an impact at this time, and we certainly do not want to see development projects that are important to Afghanistan’s future affected by this decree, and that’s why we’re continuing to work with the Afghanistan Government. It’s not about the long-term objective. It’s about the timeline of how we can effectively work this transition and do so in a way where essential operations that are important to Afghanistan’s future are able to continue.
QUESTION: Can I ask one question on the reconciliation in Afghanistan? You said a couple of days ago at the daily press briefing that the U.S. officials are not at this point of time taking part in the preliminary talks between the Taliban and the Afghanistan Government officials. Do you think it might change? Do you envision the situation where U.S. high-ranking officials like General Petraeus or Ambassador Eikenberry will be present in directly negotiating with Taliban face-to-face in the presence of Afghan – officials from Afghanistan?
MR. CROWLEY: This is an Afghan-led process, and at the present time I can’t envision such a scenario.
QUESTION: About a month – less than a month ago the Indian defense minister was here and he had expressed his concern about misuse of U.S. military aid to Pakistan by Pakistan against India. Is that been addressed to when you announced for your new package for Pakistan to fight against terrorism?
MR. CROWLEY: This is a subject that comes up in all of our discussions with high-level Indian officials. It comes up in all of our discussions with high-level Pakistani officials. And we continue to provide the same message to both countries. This is not a zero-sum proposition. Our assistance to Pakistan does not come at the expense of India, and our relationship with India does not come at the expense of Pakistan.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) follow up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is there anything to prevent – or is there a safeguard to prevent Pakistan from diverting this money away from the counterinsurgency or counterterrorism activities that has been getting – is getting the money for?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, all countries are sovereign, but by the same token, we’ve tailored this package we believe to improve training and equipping that is focused on the – our counterinsurgency programs.
QUESTION: P.J., two countries have fought many wars in the past. Before, they used to fight with U.S. and Soviet weapons and now both will fight with the U.S. weapons. Where do they go now? What are you telling the message selling arms to both countries?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’re telling them that our objective here is a stable and peaceful region that involves fighting among no countries.
QUESTION: If I can get back to the – Andrew’s question on the military aid. In the request to Congress is there built into this any sort of checks or monitoring of year-by-year so that we can see where that aid – how that aid is being used and then, perhaps, reconsider if it’s – if two years into the grant it turns out that it’s not doing what we think it’s supposed to do? Or is it a lump sum that then was approved and that’s it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are committed to a multi-year program that – but that will involve working with Congress on annual appropriations.
QUESTION: I’ve got another Leahy Amendment question –
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: -- having to do with the country far away from South Asia. The Indonesian military has admitted today that some of its soldiers were involved in this video, this torture video that’s been making the rounds. I’m wondering if this has any impact on your decision to restore military assistance to certain elements of the Indian – Indonesian military?
MR. CROWLEY: It has not, but we support the Indonesian Government’s efforts to conduct a full and transparent investigation and to ensure accountability in accordance with both Indonesian law and international human rights norms. Obviously, we’re very much aware and will be watching as Indonesia works through the issues surrounding this incident.
QUESTION: But is this something that could jeopardize aid to certain units of the Indonesian military?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the Indonesian Government has agreed going forward to cooperate with investigations of alleged human rights violations by military personnel, to suspend from active duty any member who is credibly alleged to have violated rights, and remove from the military all members convicted of such abuses. So they have undertaken under democratic law specific reforms and we will continue to work with them. And what they announced today is consistent with the terms under which we resume limited security cooperation with Kopassus.
QUESTION: So, in fact, the admission, while what they’re admitting to is not good, it is a good thing that they’ve actually made this admission?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Just on the mostly Open Skies deal between the U.S. and Japan –
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Is that just a formality? I think the negotiations were already concluded between the two countries. Is this just a formality or is this –
MR. CROWLEY: I think it is the follow-up to some work that was done in the past year. Yes.
QUESTION: I got one more on --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, then we got to kind of wrap up. Go ahead.
QUESTION: You want me to go?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: All right, Guinea. I know that you or Mark said something about the elections yesterday, but not the head of the electoral commission says the second round can’t be held on – this Sunday and there’s been a lot of violence. I’m just wondering what you all think of the situation.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are aware that the second round of elections has been postponed, and we are hopeful that the people of Guinea will avoid significant violence and we also will hope that the government will reschedule these as soon as possible. This is vitally important to Guinea’s future and they need to get his election right. But clearly, the people of Guinea want to see this election take place as soon as possible so they can feel properly invested in Guinea’s future.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’ve got a number of agencies on the ground – USAID, of course, CDC. They’re working closely with the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population, the Pan American Health Organization, and other partners to respond to the outbreak of cholera.
Our understanding at this point – there are more than 1,500 cases and more than 150 deaths so far. We’re providing some oral rehydration, salt treatment kits. We are doing – helping with an intensive public health information campaign on hygiene and proper water sanitation. So I think everyone’s working aggressively because we understand the potential danger posed by this outbreak.
QUESTION: New topic?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: There’s an expected release this afternoon by WikiLeaks. I was curious if you had any comments in anticipation of that.
MR. CROWLEY: We condemn the fact that WikiLeaks will continue to release this classified information. We do believe it continues to put both our personnel and our interests at risk. We wish heartily that they wouldn’t do it and we wish heartily that news media organizations wouldn’t cooperate with them. Beyond that, we’ll see what comes out.
QUESTION: Do you know if there’s any State Department cables or anything in this dump?
MR. CROWLEY: Based on the limited information that we have available, we did not anticipate this having – involving our agency equities to a significant degree.
MR. CROWLEY: All I’ll confirm is that today, Secretary Clinton had the opportunity to talk to Foreign Minister Cannon. He’s traveling in Beijing. Beyond that, I will not comment.
QUESTION: P.J., do you have any update on the preparation of the Russian-U.S. agreement on adoptions?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t. We’ll take a look and see what – where we stand on that.
QUESTION: Just back on the phone call with Cannon.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: I mean, you were asked – the question was specifically about Khadr and you said, “All I’ll confirm is that she spoke to Cannon today.” Does that mean that Khadr is what they spoke about?
MR. CROWLEY: I will simply just, as a news tidbit, tell you that the Secretary and Foreign Minister Cannon spoke today, and I will not go further.
QUESTION: Well, is there a reason why you answered her question about Khadr with an answer about a phone call?
MR. CROWLEY: No. I answered – I had a bit of information and I had been asked by CNN about a prospective call between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Cannon, and I was just providing information. I’m not tying it to any particular issue.
QUESTION: Well, but her question was whether --
MR. CROWLEY: I understand her question, Matt.
QUESTION: So we should not assume that the case was a subject of conversation between the two of them?
MR. CROWLEY: I – you can assume that I’m not commenting on the topic of their discussion.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you and have a good weekend.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:14 p.m.)