1:42 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: First of all, we should congratulate Russia and Qatar on being selected to host the FIFA World Cups in, what, 2018 and 2022 respectively. We congratulate and look forward to sending a strong United States team to compete in both those events.
Turning to the Secretary and her day, she is en route to Manama, Bahrain as we speak, having traveled today to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. During meetings with President Otunbayeva and other Kyrgyz Government officials, the Secretary congratulated the people of Kyrgyzstan on their recent elections and expressed her support for Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to promote constitutional democracy as well as a range of other issues of mutual concern. She also expressed her appreciation for Kyrgyzstan’s continued contribution to efforts in Afghanistan through its support of the transit center in Manas.
In Tashkent, the Secretary met with President Karimov to discuss a wide range of matters in our bilateral relationship and also regional affairs. The Secretary and the Uzbek First Deputy Prime Minister Azimov signed an agreement between the Government of the United States and Uzbekistan on science and technology cooperation, which provides a framework under which U.S. and Uzbek Government agencies, institutes, universities, research centers, and private companies can cooperate in the fields of science and technology.
Also during the course of her day, she had the opportunity this morning to make very quick calls to President Zardari of Pakistan and also President Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina. They did talk about the importance of our relationship in both cases. She did express regret to both presidents for the release of classified documents. But they – in both conversations, they continued to look forward, and in both cases, President Zardari and President Fernandez de Kirchner continued to express the importance and friendship that these countries have with the United States.
QUESTION: Can you say how many people she’s called so far?
MR. CROWLEY: A baker’s dozen. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: And (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: The one I haven’t reported to you – 12 – the one I haven’t reported to you is she did talk on Tuesday with Liberian President Johnson Sirleaf. All the others have been --
QUESTION: Can you run down the list just quick since you got it right there?
MR. CROWLEY: So we’re not going to get to lunch anytime soon. (Laughter.) Okay. President Zardari, President Fernandez de Kirchner, President Sirleaf – Johnson Sirleaf, China State Councilor Dai Bingguo, Canada Foreign Minister Cannon, China Foreign Minister Yang, German Foreign Minister Westerwelle, France – the new Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie, UK Foreign Minister Hague, Afghan President Karzai, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud, and that’s it.
QUESTION: Does she plan on calling Erdogan?
QUESTION: I’m just curious --
MR. CROWLEY: So it’s 11. I’m sorry, it’s 11. It’s 11. I miscounted.
QUESTION: And then --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, she – I mean, she did – she has other calls with – recently with Japanese Foreign Minister Maehara, Korean Foreign Minister Kim, but those were not in this context.
QUESTION: Just so we’re – sorry, just to clear one thing on this, this is obviously in reverse order? The first calls which you disclosed via tweet on --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: -- were --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, yes.
QUESTION: Okay. And can you give us the days, if you just have them right there?
MR. CROWLEY: On Friday, she talked to China, Germany, France, the UK, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. On Saturday, she talked to Canada. On Sunday, she talked to China again. Now, I would say in the – both cases of her conversations with Foreign Minister Yang and Councilor Dai, the majority of those conversations related to North Korea. But Wiki did come up as part of both. On Tuesday, she talked to President Johnson Sirleaf. And of course today, she talked to President Zardari and Fernandez de Kirchner. And she will continue to make these calls as her schedule permits.
QUESTION: Does she have any plans to call the vain and vindictive president of Turkmenistan or the godfather-esque president of Azerbaijan this --
MR. CROWLEY: When we have calls we can report out to you, we will, of course, let you know.
QUESTION: P.J., just --
QUESTION: And Prime Minister Erdogan --
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Prime Minister Erdogan, who is furious over the declaration that he asked, was that --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, of course, in this case, we had a meeting this week with Foreign Minister Davutoglu and I won’t rule out that there will be other calls, and we’ll let you know as they take place.
QUESTION: Just to make sure, because Bill Burns --
QUESTION: During the meeting, there was an apology or --
MR. CROWLEY: Can I run – can I just tick off a couple things? Turning to Cote d'Ivoire, the provisional results of the presidential election have been announced by the Independent Electoral Commission, declaring Alassane Ouattara the winner with 54.1 percent of the votes, and incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo received 45.9 percent. We commend the Independent Electoral Commission for its work throughout the electoral process, and recall that numerous international observers deemed the second round of elections free and fair.
The United States stands behind the Ivorian people as they move towards reconciliation and an end to a 10-year political crisis. And we call on the leaders in Cote d'Ivoire to respect the results and undertake a peaceful transition.
Also, we take note of the fact that yesterday the United Nations Security Council listed targeted sanctions against four individuals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo whose actions, including human rights abuses, are destabilizing to the DRC. And this morning – I’d just call your attention to a follow-on announcement by the United States Treasury Department regarding particular sanctions against these individuals, three of whom were members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, otherwise known by the French acronym FDLR, and one was a senior official of the DRC armed forces, the FARDC.
The United States welcomes the appointment of Ann Tutwiler as the new Deputy Director General for Knowledge of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, otherwise known as the FAO. Ms. Tutwiler will be the first woman deputy director general since its founding in 1945, and she will serve as the highest ranking woman in the UN system with responsibility for global agricultural development issues.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. What’s the title?
MR. CROWLEY: Deputy Director General for Knowledge of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
QUESTION: The title is deputy director for knowledge?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Does that imply that all the other officials don’t have any --
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible) knowledge – thanks, ba-dum-bum. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: And I presume you’re saying this is because she’s an American?
MR. CROWLEY: She is an American.
I would also call your attention, tomorrow afternoon here at the Department, we will mark International Day for Persons with Disabilities. And our State Department Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, Judy Heumann, has assembled an impressive array of academics, policy experts, and advocates from NGOs, international organizations, and the U.S. Government to participate. It will be here tomorrow afternoon starting at 12:30 in the Loy and the media is welcome to cover it.
And finally, before taking your questions, tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the detention in Cuba of Mr. Alan Gross, a committed international development worker who was arrested by Cuban authorities for his activities, dedicated to helping the Jewish community in Havana connect with other Jewish communities throughout the world.
We have repeatedly called on the Government of Cuba to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Gross, who has been held all this time without charge. We will continue to use all available channels to urge the Cuban Government to show humanitarian compassion and put an end to Mr. Gross’s long and unjustifiable ordeal. And this afternoon, State Department officials will be meeting with the family members of Mr. Gross to discuss his continued incarceration.
Anticipating your question, the last time we had consular access to him was on November 16.
QUESTION: P.J., I wasn’t aware --
QUESTION: Of this year?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: I was not aware of the connection to the Jewish communities around the world. I don’t – maybe I missed that. Was that something that you have talked about before? And if not, can you give us a little detail?
MR. CROWLEY: He is a contractor and he was trying to help connect communities in Havana to the rest of the world. And obviously, we think that is important for the development of civil society in Cuba.
QUESTION: P.J., what --
QUESTION: So the communications devices that have been mentioned --
MR. CROWLEY: Connecting to the internet.
QUESTION: The internet?
MR. CROWLEY: These are not revolutionary kinds of technology.
QUESTION: When the Secretary hosted Jewish groups several months ago and talked about this, she asked them to make appeals to the Cubans. Are you aware if any of them have?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I think we – that’s correct. And I think there have been some contacts. I mean, it’s a broad-based community. I know there have been some suggestions publicly that, well, some groups know about him; some groups don’t know about him. That really is beside the point.
MR. CROWLEY: He has been incarcerated without charge for a year and we will continue to encourage his release.
QUESTION: So before we get into the – all those WikiLeaks questions, which you were having before – I’m curious to know as to why, given your concern about actions or statements that can cause problems or incite violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and your unprompted condemnation of a Palestinian claim to the Western wall the other day – that you didn’t open up with a condemnation or at least an expression of concern about the Israeli Government’s announcement today that, in fact, 625 new houses for Jewish people will be built in East Jerusalem, and also the comments made by Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman, who said that much of the – that a lot of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiment is being sparked by Arab Israelis themselves, including former members of the Knesset --
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: Can you explain why – why no --
MR. CROWLEY: I will not comment --
QUESTION: -- expression of that?
MR. CROWLEY: -- on Foreign Minister Lieberman’s comments. I have not seen them. We have had multiple conversations with the Israeli Government. We have expressed our concerns about such announcements. We’ve done this repeatedly over time. We’ve done so again. We continue our very earnest, ongoing efforts to work with the parties and see if we can’t create conditions for a return to negotiations, and certainly, as we’ve made clear over time, these kinds of announcements undermine the trust that is important to get the parties back into negotiations and to make progress.
QUESTION: Okay. And then just can you find out – or can you ask if there might be something forthcoming on Foreign Minister Lieberman’s statement, given that he is actually the foreign minister and the senior Palestinian official that you condemned the other day was the deputy information minister. There seems to be a bit of a –
QUESTION: Double standard?
QUESTION: There’s a bit of a difference here just in terms of seniority, going from the deputy --
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Let me try – I have not seen the foreign minister’s – I understand what you’re asking.
QUESTION: Could NEA maybe pose the question? I mean, maybe you don’t have a problem with his statement.
MR. CROWLEY: I will take the question. I mean, just to put this in context, we had conversations with the Palestinian Authority about the other set of remarks. We gave the Palestinian Authority several days to make their own statements rebuking those remarks. When that was not forthcoming, we felt it was important to put our comments on the record. We will – I’ll check and see if there’s anything we want to say at this point on Foreign Minister Lieberman.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: More on Israel --
QUESTION: Well, wait. Just on the terms of the Palestinians, I understand that the consul general in Jerusalem met with Abbas today. Do you have anything on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Daniel Rubinstein did meet with President Abbas. He meets with him on a regular basis. And I think it was just to keep him apprised on the – on our ongoing discussions with the Israelis.
QUESTION: Is there any progress in those discussions?
MR. CROWLEY: Our efforts are ongoing.
QUESTION: Just following up on that, the Palestinian official only told one of us that the U.S. Administration has informed them that the Israeli Government did not agree to a new settlement freeze. Did you see that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’re not going – as we have said many, many times, we’re not going to give you a play by play. We have quiet conversations with both sides on the substance of the peace process. Those conversations are ongoing. And beyond that, we’re not going to get into details of what precisely was discussed.
QUESTION: P.J., the – if we can, WikiLeaks. The latest are concerning Russia.
MR. CROWLEY: Groundhog Day, yet again.
QUESTION: I know. But it is – it’s a lot of stuff about Russia – kleptocracy; Putin is still running the country; bribery rampant; et cetera, et cetera. I mean, is that the true view of the United States about Russia?
MR. CROWLEY: Jill, we’re not going to get into what was in a cable. So do you want to – I can play Alex Trebek here. You want to rephrase this in the form of a question that I might be able to answer?
QUESTION: Well, all of these cumulatively, how will they affect, realistically, the relationship?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, this is having an effect. Under Secretary Bill Burns was on the Hill yesterday and he made clear that this is going to make the conduct of diplomacy for a period of time more difficult, I mean, for human nature reasons if none other. We’re not happy at these – the release of these documents, and I have no doubt that countries and leaders looking at the documents out of context are not happy as well. We will continue our diplomatic outreach. We’re having many conversations. The Secretary is having them at her level. We’re having them from the level of the Deputy Secretary down to the ambassador and other counselors at embassies around the world. Countries, depending on what they’ve seen and what they’ve read, are reacting.
We are – we anticipate that for a period of time, some government officials that have talked to us freely in the past may be more reluctant. We do understand that there may be officials who were willing to share information that may be more reticent. We will work through this, as the Secretary has made clear, but we understand that for a period of time, this is going to make our day-to-day conduct of diplomacy much more difficult.
QUESTION: And is there anything with Russia specifically that you’re doing a little bit differently, since it is an important relationship and you’re right in the midst of START?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, as we’ve said, notwithstanding that this is having an effect, this is having an impact, we are hearing back from countries. And I’m sure Ambassador Beyrle has had conversations with his – with Russian officials as well. That said, it doesn’t change the fundamentals here. It doesn’t change our common interest. We have negotiated a treaty with Russia. It is in our interest. It’s in Russia’s interest. And the president of Russia had some comments on your network saying, “Those who oppose this treaty,” I think he used the word “dumb.”
We believe that this treaty is in the national interest. We believe it should be ratified before the Senate adjourns. I think we are encouraged that public comments by various senators on both sides of the aisle appear to leave open a strong possibility that this will come to a vote. We’re counting votes, but we’re not counting chickens at this point. We’re continuing to talk to the Senate. We’re continuing to encourage a vote on START ratification. And we’re cautiously optimistic that the Senate will act before it adjourns.
QUESTION: Are you saying that you agree with or endorse Prime Minister Putin’s characterization of opponents of this treaty as dumb?
MR. CROWLEY: I just – I noted it for the record. No, we have – we think we’ve made the case. We’ve had briefings, hearings, we’ve answered what we believe is every question. The President --
QUESTION: So you’re not --
MR. CROWLEY: The President has put forward a long – an aggressive, long-term program to both – support modernization of the infrastructure of our nuclear labs. We will ensure the ongoing viability of the nuclear deterrent. And we believe it’s time for the Senate to act.
QUESTION: So are you – so you’re not agreeing with –
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not commenting on the president’s –
QUESTION: All right. So there is a reason that I’m asking this. And that is because in some of these cables, they discuss allegations that had been made to U.S. officials about corruption, say, in Russia, or corruption in Turkey, bank accounts, that kind of thing. Should the reader of these cables assume or imply that the U.S. is endorsing the credibility of these allegations, or are they simply just repeating what they’ve been told – the diplomats or the cables?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, all right. I’ve got to put the issue of cables aside.
QUESTION: When a document comes out and people read it and it says in there that so-and-so made X allegation against X leader, should that be read as an – as the U.S. endorsement of those claims, or is that merely just reporting on what you have heard? Are you making the accusation --
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: -- yourself? Is the U.S. Government making the accusation or implying that there is evidence behind that accusation when it appears in a cable?
MR. CROWLEY: The issue of governments and corruption and what corruption means in terms of – as an insidious trend within societies and it affects the relationship between the government and those who are governed – this is an issue that is global in nature. Do we have concerns about corruption in Russia? We do. There are – we have great concerns about the impact that international criminal syndicates have. It affects Russia. It affects other countries across Eastern Europe. It affects countries around the world, including – and these impacts come to our shores as well.
But this is an issue that we have had discussions with a variety of countries, a variety of leaders, and certainly Russia is not immune to these kinds of concerns. This is not something that we think in the abstract. This is something that comes up in our conversations with a range of officials in Russia and elsewhere. It is part of the ongoing dialogue that we have.
QUESTION: I think you’re missing the point of my question though.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: The point of my question is that if a diplomat in a cable reports back to Washington that certain allegations have been made against certain officials in a foreign government, should that be read as a U.S. endorsement of those allegations? Is that – does that mean that U.S. --
MR. CROWLEY: No. No, no. I mean on --
QUESTION: -- regards the allegations as credible or thinks that there’s evidence behind it, or is it simply --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean you’re making a very broad statement. Let me --
QUESTION: Well, because you won’t answer a specific question. I mean you won’t answer. If I say a Spanish judge says that Russia is a virtual mafia state, you’re not going to talk about that. But when – but if I ask you if you take allegations like –
MR. CROWLEY: We --
QUESTION: -- if reporting them back to Washington implies that -- an allegation like that implies that you believe it or you have evidence to support that – that’s what I’m asking. Does that imply that there’s a --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me get to this, to pull out a slightly more important point. And it is a point that Secretary Clinton and other officials here in this Department have made in their various contacts with government officials in light of WikiLeaks. The policy formulation is done here at the State Department and here in Washington across the interagency. A particular cable is not a statement of policy. A particular cable is an interpretation of information or reporting of information and interpretation of events.
The cable doesn’t necessarily – any cable doesn’t necessarily have to meet a certain legal standard. It is an ambassador reporting on developments or information in their day-to-day conduct of their duties, which informs policy formulation back here. I think it’s a very important point. A cable is one ambassador’s or one post’s view of the world from that vantage point. We put that information together with other information that is available through other sources, and through that synthesis we think we have a more accurate picture of what’s happening, and that picture then in turn forms our polices. So one can take any cable out of a large bunch, and is that cable considered gospel and is that cable considered policy? The answer is no. Did I answer your question now?
QUESTION: Kind of.
MR. CROWLEY: Kind of. That’s – I’ll take that as high praise.
QUESTION: One has to say – I mean I think the point Matt’s trying to get at or get is just for you to say, “Look, repetition of an allegation does not necessarily mean that we have evidence that the allegation is accurate, that we believe it is credible. It’s something that we heard that we think is worth sharing. Don’t take it any further than that.”
QUESTION: Or what you’re saying.
QUESTION: It would help you to say that, because if you want to imply that the mere repetition of an allegation in a cable implies you believe it’s credible, implies you have evidence behind it, or implies that you said it – not the person who told you – then people are going to read these cables very differently. So finding a way to disavow some of the more --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m – but by the same token, we are not disavowing the excellent work done by ambassadors, counselors at posts. These are hardworking people, and they try to give policymakers here in Washington their best possible perspective of what is happening in this particular country or in this particular province of a particular country. And if they didn’t think that information was useful, one would assume that they would not include it. So I understand the point. What Secretary Clinton is saying is, “Look, pay attention to policy. Don’t pay attention to information that is passed along, which helps give a perspective but is not a formal statement of U.S. policy.”
QUESTION: Yes, but --
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. I --
QUESTION: Look, there is a cable out there that quotes a Spanish judge as saying that Russia is a near mafia state. Okay? That was reported back to Washington. People out there are reading that, correctly or incorrectly, as the U.S. agreeing with or saying that Russia is a mafia state.
MR. CROWLEY: No. I would – for example, we have cables at the State Department every day.
QUESTION: There’s very --
MR. CROWLEY: All right, my turn. We have cables every day that report on major news outlets in various countries and what they are reporting about world events as another source of information. God forbid – there are newspapers in the United States; their reports are informative. Their reports may not necessarily be 100 percent accurate or those reports may not necessarily constitute a level of evidence that one could bring into a court of law, for example. But the reporting on issues is actually useful in trying to help us understand not only what we think, but also what others in the society are being told and what they think.
All of this goes into the hopper in terms of helping us understand what’s the current dynamic in a particular country, what are the implications of that on the country’s economy, on the country’s political leadership, on the relationship between governments and civil society. Not every bit of information there is necessarily totally accurate. It is a digest of information that is available, and from that information we formulate policy based on a variety of vantage points, a broad range of information, and our national interests.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up on that.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: You keep mentioning about excellent work done by the diplomats. So can we say that these, the cables, are examples of excellent work done by the diplomats and you agree with that excellent work?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I absolutely agree that day in and day out we have excellent diplomats who do magnificent work at posts all around the world. Absolutely right. We stand by the work of our diplomats. But then again, you have a wide – we produce from the State Department hundreds of thousands of cables a year. You produce from posts thousands of cables a year. These cables may interpret events as they are unfolding from the – with the best judgment of the ambassador and other key leaders at that post. Events evolve, more information comes to light, an activity tomorrow will change a reality that has been interpreted today. That’s the danger of taking any one cable out of 250,000 and saying, “This is what the United States thinks.”
This might have been what an ambassador reported as his or her best judgment at a particular time, sifting through and interpreting information, just as you as journalists do the same thing every day. These are digests that help us understand what is going on in a particular country on a particular day. That reality does, in fact, change over time. So – and this is what we’re trying to explain to governments and people in our various contacts and conversations.
QUESTION: So you agree that on that day, this was correct?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, I mean, I’ve tried to describe the diplomatic process to you as best I can.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about Prime Minister Putin last night on CNN? In a statement that might be telling about U.S.-Russian relations, he said he wanted to talk directly to the American people, speak directly to the American people, “It’s not us who are moving our missiles to your territory. It’s you who are planning to put missiles in the vicinity of our borders.” Does this indicate that he feels that the dialogue between Russia and the U.S. is not getting to a point where he – he has to take it directly to the American people?
MR. CROWLEY: No. I think this reflects a concern that Russia has had for a number of years in terms of the intent of our national plans for missile defense and now, NATO’s plans for missile defense, and how that impacts the viability of the Russian nuclear deterrent. And we have had many conversations over a number of years to reassure President Putin – or Prime Minister Putin and when he was President Putin – that what we’re doing in – with – in terms of mutual security in Europe is not about Russia.
And in fact, under an agreement reached in Lisbon, we look forward to and hope that we can develop missile defense cooperation with Russia. We have done so in the context of NATO. As we reported yesterday, we’ve had conversations with Russia about missile defense cooperation with the United States. And we’re not pursuing an agreement at this point, but we would expect at some point in the future to have future conversations. So we understand the concern that Russia has had. We believe that we have addressed those concerns. But we will consider – continue to have that conversation.
QUESTION: About the list that you – contact list or calling list, you didn’t mention Turkey. I just wanted to know --
MR. CROWLEY: I did mention Turkey. We had a meeting – fortuitously, we had a meeting on Monday morning with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. I’m not ruling out that there will be contact with the prime minister. I’m just saying that if and when that happens, we’ll let you know.
QUESTION: My question is on that, there is a big – quite a few commentaries and reports in Turkey that – whether Secretary Clinton made apology or merely said that this regretful thing that happened or just sorry – this is a huge thing that --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would say that – I mean, as I related on Monday, the Secretary had a one-on-one conversation with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. And she expressed her regret to the foreign minister in the same fashion that she expressed regret to President Zardari and President Fernandez de Kirchner today.
QUESTION: One more question. Some of the cables that you see the names, sources that you describe as sources that help you to understand country or events in that specific country, some of them are erased. My question is --
MR. CROWLEY: Some of them are?
QUESTION: Erased. Those names are erased by the WikiLeaks people or --
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a question to ask Julian Assange, if you can find him.
QUESTION: Today, the Department of Treasury has designated three people, two of them it says Pakistan’s most wanted terrorists. And do you have any comments on that? And this brings – like, how many people do you have on your list for --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, I can’t answer the second question. I’ll refer you to Treasury on the first one.
QUESTION: A question about North Korea? Can I change it to North Korea?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: The North Koreans proposed to the Japanese recently to enter into talks with the Japanese. And the Japanese responded by saying that – forego such talks until North Korea steps back, presumably from the attack on the islands and presumably from the other things North Korea has done, nuclear enrichment and so forth. But does this building applaud that decision to step back from talking behind the scenes a little bit with North Korea? And also, is there anything more on the U.S.-ROK-Japan talks?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, each country makes its decision on what to – how to communicate with North Korea and what to say in those conversations. We do not have diplomatic relations with North Korea. Other countries do and it’s valuable for those conversations to occur, to make it clear that North Korea has to change course. It’s not about the conversation; it’s about the message. And one of the reasons we are closely collaborating, we did – through Ambassador Bosworth’s recent trip to the region. We will on Monday, in our meeting with our treaty allies Japan and Republic of Korea, we’ll talk about North Korea, we’ll talk about the – what we can do to try to convince North Korea to be less provocative, to meet its obligations, its international obligations, to live up to its commitments under the 2005 joint statement.
QUESTION: On China, yesterday the Chinese delegation, including the head of International Department Wang Jiarui visited the State Department. Do you have any readout who he met?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, just to put that meeting, he did meet with Deputy Secretary Steinberg. I think the delegation is actually here on other business sponsored by private organizations. It’s a companion kind of visit to Washington, following a similar visit that, I believe, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright conducted to China. But we value the fact that while he was here, it was useful for him to stop by, and they talked about a range of issues related to the U.S.-China relationship. North Korea was one of them.
QUESTION: I had asked a question at the beginning of the week, that I believe you said you would take, on a report that we carried out of Kabul. It said that senior Afghan Government officials, including the president, had been involved in releasing insurgents either for political reasons or other reasons. And Canada commented yesterday on the story, and I believe they said they found it very disturbing that this should be transpiring. Do you have any comment on it?
MR. CROWLEY: I do remember that coming up. I just have not seen an answer forthcoming. We’ll get you one.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. I don't remember that one. We’ll --
QUESTION: That was the -- and the question about whether you still wanted them to sign the NPT or to --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. We answered that. That was last week.
QUESTION: And your refusal – and their refusal to do so, how you can support them for UN Security Council permanent membership if they did not sign onto these two major international arms control agreements.
MR. CROWLEY: And I believe we answered that question.
QUESTION: No, sir.
QUESTION: No, you didn’t.
QUESTION: Yeah. Do you think WikiLeaks documents can or will create any sort of confusion or increased tension between Pakistan and the U.S. Army? And these documents --
MR. CROWLEY: Between Pakistan and the?
QUESTION: U.S. Army.
MR. CROWLEY: And the U.S. Army.
QUESTION: And these documents can affect the joint effort by those countries going off toward the terrorist groups to destroy them.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll tell you what. First, once again, we’ll put the documents aside.
We are building a strategic partnership with Pakistan, and that’s manifest in the strategic dialogue that we’ve had on multiple occasions this year in Washington and in Islamabad. Our partnership has multiple dimensions. One, on the military side, there is extensive cooperation between the Pakistani military and the United States military, and we would expect that to continue.
And on the civilian side, we are building up – helping to build up the capacity of the Pakistani Government to deal with a range of challenges, not the least of which is recovering from the recent flooding. This is in our national interest. It is in Pakistan’s national interest. President Zardari once again affirmed the importance of our cooperation and the support and partnership that we – that is involved in our relationship, and we would expect that to continue.
QUESTION: You – just to follow up on that. You said that -- let’s leave the cables aside.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: What was the Secretary expressing her regret to President Zardari? What was the – you said she called --
MR. CROWLEY: She called to regret the --
QUESTION: Regret about what?
MR. CROWLEY: Regret the fact that cables were released.
QUESTION: But we don’t want to discuss cables, you said.
MR. CROWLEY: And I’m not going to discuss the particular cables.
QUESTION: Some of the governments that have been mentioned in these cables are heavily censoring press in terms of releasing some of this information. How do you feel about that? (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: The official position of the United States Government and the State Department has not changed. We value a vibrant, active, aggressive media. It is important to the development of civil society in this country and around the world. Our views have not changed, even if occasionally there are activities which we think are unhelpful and potentially harmful.
QUESTION: Do you know if the State Department regards WikiLeaks as a media organization?
MR. CROWLEY: No. We do not.
QUESTION: And why not?
MR. CROWLEY: WikiLeaks is not a media organization. That is our view.
QUESTION: So P.J., going back to the answer to your last question, have you contacted governments that have been censoring this to protest that – or sites that they have --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not in a position to say what governments have done or what conversations have occurred between governments and media. There’s – certainly, there are countries around the world that do not have as robust a focus on these issues as ours does. That’s probably not a surprise to us, and when we do meet with these governments, we talk about media issues among key human rights issues. Our dialogue is not going to change over this.
QUESTION: P.J., on that subject of WikiLeaks, Amazon, as we know, did have them on their server for a time and then stopped doing that. And there’s a human rights group that says that Amazon was directed by the U.S. Government to stop that relationship. Do you know anything –
MR. CROWLEY: All I can say is I’m not aware of any contacts between the Department of State and Amazon.
QUESTION: Or the U.S. Government or just State?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not in a position on this particular issue to talk about the entire government. I’m just not aware of any contacts directly.
QUESTION: From your perspective, what is WikiLeaks? How do you define them, if it is not a media organization, then?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as the Secretary said earlier this week, it is – one might infer it has many characteristics of some internet sites. Not every internet site you would call a media organization or a news organization. We’re focused on WikiLeaks’s behavior, and I have had personally conversations with media outlets that are reporting on this, and we have had the opportunity to express our specific concerns about intelligence sources and methods and other interests that could put real lives at risk.
Mr. Assange, in a letter to our Ambassador in the United Kingdom over the weekend, after documents had been released to news organizations, made what we thought was a halfhearted gesture to have some sort of conversation, but that was after he released the documents and after he knew that they were going to emerge publicly. So I think there’s been a very different approach. And Mr. Assange obviously has a particular political objective behind his activities, and I think that, among other things, disqualifies him as being considered a journalist.
QUESTION: What is his political objective?
QUESTION: The same letter --
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: What is his political objective?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, his – I mean he could be considered a political actor. I think he’s an anarchist, but he’s not a journalist.
QUESTION: So his objective is to sow chaos, you mean?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, you all come here prepared to objectively report the activities of the United States Government. I think that Mr. Assange doesn’t meet that particular standard.
QUESTION: But just so I understand, P.J., what – I mean you just said the – that you thought he was --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, but I mean – let me – he’s not a journalist. He’s not a whistleblower. And there – he is a political actor. He has a political agenda. He is trying to undermine the international system of -- that enables us to cooperate and collaborate with other governments and to work in multilateral settings and on a bilateral basis to help solve regional and international issues.
What he’s doing is damaging to our efforts and the efforts of other governments. They are putting at risk our national interest and the interests of other governments around the world. He is not an objective observer of anything. He is an active player. He has an agenda. He’s trying to pursue that agenda, and I don’t think he can – he can’t qualify as either a journalist on the one hand or a whistleblower on the other.
QUESTION: Sorry. What is that agenda, that political agenda? Can you be more --
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll leave it for Mr. Assange to define his agenda. He has been interviewed by some of your news organizations. He has the ability to talk for himself. But you asked -- I was asked a specific question, “Do we consider him a journalist?” The answer is no.
QUESTION: In the same letter, he said that U.S. is trying to suppress the whole thing about human rights abuses. And do you agree with his contention that the U.S. is --
MR. CROWLEY: I found very little that Mr. Assange has said that we agree with.
QUESTION: I got two.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Two very brief ones, one that’s somewhat tangentially related to WikiLeaks and Russia as well. And that is there were some allegations about Russians trying to bribe Thai officials in the Viktor Bout case.
MR. CROWLEY: Again, Mr. --
QUESTION: Going back without --
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no, no. Mr. Bout is here in the United States. He is facing charges in the United States. As to how Russia feels about that, you’re asking the wrong government.
QUESTION: Right. Well, I’m just wondering, how concerned were you by any attempt by the Russians to subvert the Thai legal process?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we --
QUESTION: And the case is actually --
MR. CROWLEY: We understood that Russia was focused on this case. He is a citizen of Russia. We understand that. But he is here facing justice in this country. We are keeping Russia fully informed. They have the ability under – to have consular access to him. And we will continue to keep Russia fully informed as his case unfolds.
QUESTION: Well, my question is, going back to earlier this year, how concerned were you by Russian attempts to potentially – to subvert the Thai justice --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we believe we made – we made the case to the Thai Government and to the Thai courts, and we’re gratified that Thailand recognized not only the case made and the evidence presented, but also abided by the terms of our extradition treaty, and Mr. Bout is here in the United States.
QUESTION: Okay. And then I have one more, but --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Has there been any request or demand from any foreign government for the withdrawal or recall of a U.S. diplomat (inaudible) figuring in the WikiLeaks? A demand or request from a foreign government for the withdrawal or recall of a U.S. diplomat figuring in WikiLeaks?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m having trouble hearing.
QUESTION: Any --
QUESTION: Has there been a demand --
QUESTION: He said has any foreign government asked or demanded that you withdraw a diplomat because of the WikiLeaks.
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Yet there is strong thinking developing in Pakistan or minds in Pakistan – people of Pakistan that Washington does interfere in Pakistani politics, or in the past, they have been doing so. Do you have any comments on that?
MR. CROWLEY: The United States very clearly supported a return to civilian government in Pakistan. We spoke openly. We spoke for the record. Everyone can go back and see clearly that the United States was encouraging Pakistan to move and to return to civilian rule, and we are gratified that Pakistan has done that. And we believe that Pakistan is stronger as a result. The United States Government didn’t dictate who the candidates were. The United States government didn’t dictate the result.
We are working closely with President Zardari and, of course, President Zardari is in his position not because the United States dictated it; because tragically his wife was killed while campaigning for a high office. We work effectively with Prime Minister Gilani. Prime Minister Gilani was not placed in this position by the United States. He was elected as a member of parliament and through the parliament – through the Pakistani political system.
We have an effective relationship with President Zardari, and that will continue. We have a close relationship with Prime Minister Gilani, and that will continue. We engage directly and frequently with Foreign Minister Qureshi. Those three individuals and others, they are serving the national interest of Pakistan. It is not for the United States to dictate who will be a president, prime minister, or a foreign minister. These are choices made within these countries, and we will work with the leaders that are chosen by the people of Pakistan, in this case, and anywhere where there is a democratic process that produces a government that we have the ability to work effectively with and on local, regional, and national issues.
QUESTION: P.J., are you --
QUESTION: Secretary Gates, during his press conference on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said that the U.S. is an indispensible country and other nations work with us on three – for – because of three reasons: out of fear, out of respect, and out of need. Where will you place India and Pakistan in these?
MR. CROWLEY: We are building strategic relationships with both countries because they are important not just to our interests, but most importantly they’re – as you chart the future course of developments in the world, Pakistan and India will have an impact on those developments.
QUESTION: Let us see if we can follow up on that. Can you rate every country in the world along those lines?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll get right on that, Matt.
QUESTION: Thank you. (Laughter.) I do have --
MR. CROWLEY: One more, yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: -- one real question here. Are you aware of the standing up of a private anti-piracy force in Somalia in the breakaway state of Puntland? It’s an effort that seems to be going on with the advice of at least two former senior U.S. officials who have not – one a former CIA guy and one a former State Department official --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- who have spoken on the record about this. Can you – do you know anything about this, what it is?
MR. CROWLEY: We are aware that Puntland authorities have contracted with a private security company to assist them with counter-piracy operations in the region. We were not consulted about this program. We are not funding it. And we are concerned about the lack of transparency regarding its funding objectives and scope.
QUESTION: So you don’t know who is funding it, but you are definitely not?
MR. CROWLEY: We have not been involved. We might have some awareness of who is involved.
QUESTION: Well, then what kind of transparency are you worried about?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as I said, our concerns are funding objectives and scope.
QUESTION: I mean, who is doing – who is behind them or who is behind it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, for example, we’ve seen the reports. We’re checking into them. I’m not sure that we know much more at this point.
QUESTION: One more question on Julian Assange, actually. There’s been an Interpol request for his arrest. Do you have any comment on what you think – and he is believed to be in the UK. Do you have any comment on what you think the UK authorities should do in this case?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to them. They’re a nation of laws.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:37 p.m.)
DPB # 196