1:38 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. A few things to go through first.
This evening, the Secretary looks forward to a dinner with National Security Advisor Menon of India. He’s here to review the implementation of initiatives launched during President Obama’s visit to India and discuss developments in our bilateral relationship in preparation for the upcoming Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi this spring. Tomorrow, Under Secretary Bill Burns will have a detailed discussion with the national security advisor and as will – and he will also be at the White House for a series of meetings hosted by Tom Donilon, the U.S. national security advisor. Our U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue is premised on our strong support for India’s role as an important actor on the international stage.
Several of you this morning have asked about Nelson Mandela. We are, obviously, through our Embassy in South Africa closely monitoring his status. He has been in the hospital this week. And we certainly will continue to hope for a speedy recovery. He is one of the world’s statesmen, a truly global citizen in the finest sense of the word, and we – our thoughts and prayers are with he and his family.
QUESTION: Nobody has --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- insight into his condition that you’re willing to share with us?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, I’ll – we’ll defer to the Mandela family. Obviously, at age 92 – we want to make sure that he stays with us for many, many years to come, but certainly being in the hospital for a checkup is certainly understandable.
QUESTION: Is there any reason that you would have any particular insight into his condition?
MR. CROWLEY: No. I think --
QUESTION: Well, when you say closely monitoring his status --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’ve been receiving some calls this morning asking if we can – if we have up to date information on his status and --
QUESTION: Are you monitoring the status of other ailing former world leaders?
MR. CROWLEY: No. But he’s a great --
QUESTION: So do you expect --
MR. CROWLEY: He’s a great friend of the United States. And I was just simply providing a perspective, since several of you called this morning to ask.
QUESTION: But when you say closely monitoring the situation, his status, that means you’re what? Calling the foundation and asking them how he’s doing? Are you doing – I mean, are you doing anything more than what the news media organizations are doing?
MR. CROWLEY: No. Our political section – no. Right. Our political section in the Embassy in South Africa is in touch with the family, and we are just monitoring his condition.
Staying in the region, we are horrified and saddened by the murder of prominent human rights activist David Kato in Uganda yesterday afternoon. And the United States calls on Ugandan authorities to actively investigate David’s murder and bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice. We also call on Uganda’s elected representatives and the Ugandan people to speak out against hatred and bigotry directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. You can expect a statement from Secretary Clinton following this briefing.
USAID Administrator Raj Shah is in Geneva for a two-day visit that includes consultations with global health leaders. Yesterday, he attended the first meeting of the World Health Organization Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health. He also conducted a bilateral meeting with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is the commission co-chair. He took part in discussions with several global health leaders, including WHO, UNAIDS, the Global Fund, GAVI, and the Stop TB Partnership.
Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg met today in Tokyo with Foreign Minister Maehara, following up on his stop in Seoul earlier this week. And he will be in Beijing tomorrow for further regional discussions.
Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell is in Manila, where he is participating in the first U.S.-Philippines bilateral Strategic Dialogue. It’s an opportunity for both countries to work to strengthen our alliance and close partnership built on mutual respect, shared values, and shared responsibilities.
Ambassador Maura Connelly in Beirut met today with Prime Minister Hariri and also Prime Minister designate Mikati. We take notes of various statements by the prime minister and others that pledge that the new government will work on behalf of all Lebanese citizens, it will protect Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty. The Secretary said yesterday that we will judge the new government by its actions, and the prime minister acknowledged that in his discussion with the ambassador a clear test will be the willingness of the new government to continue the support the work of the special tribunal for Lebanon.
QUESTION: Did you say that the United States has taken note of the prime minister’s statements or the prime minister designate’s statements?
MR. CROWLEY: The prime minister designate’s statements.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Another topic?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
MR. CROWLEY: This is a matter for the Egyptian people and how they view his return.
QUESTION: Would you like to see more potential political candidates showing up in Egypt?
MR. CROWLEY: We would like to see political reform in Egypt, as we’ve made clear for a number of years, and a broader opportunity for people to participate in the political process in Egypt. How that – what that actually means in terms of who might run for what office, that’s, again, a matter for the Egyptian people.
QUESTION: Was there a particular significance to Secretary Clinton’s language yesterday when she said that “Egypt had an opportunity for political, economic, and social reform at this moment in time”? Normally, your exhortations for political reforms in other countries, and particularly in Egypt, are much less specific in terms of time. Was she trying to signal a particular urgency because of the protests?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is actually not necessarily a new issue. We’ve had – this has been part –
QUESTION: I didn’t say it was a new issue.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I know that. And –
QUESTION: Then why are you saying it’s not a new issue? I didn’t say it was, right?
MR. CROWLEY: Let me continue.
QUESTION: Please do.
MR. CROWLEY: This is an issue that we have talked at length with Egypt for quite some time. We have made investments over the years to try to help expand Egyptian civil society. Clearly, what you are seeing this week is very significant public protests in Egypt. As the Secretary made clear, we want to see Egyptian authorities allow and enable those protests to occur peacefully. We’ve also made clear that we want to make sure that there’s no interference with the opportunity for the Egyptian people to use social media. But to the extent that we obviously see that, country by country across the region, people are watching what has happened in Tunisia, country by country, population by population, they are drawing lessons from what is happening.
Now, what happens going forward will be something that develops indigenously, country by country. We’re not looking at this as – there’s a regional dynamic, if you will, in the sense that many – as the Secretary said in her speech in Doha, across the region from the Middle East to North Africa, countries do face similar demographic challenges – young populations, highly educated, very motivated, looking for jobs, looking for opportunities, and quite honestly, frustrated by, depending on the country, what they see as a lack of opportunity. This is bringing more people out into streets. This is bringing forward public calls for a greater dialogue, greater opportunity. And the Secretary, given what we are seeing and observing in Egypt, was responding to current events.
QUESTION: So that phrase implies that she does indeed see a greater – see the need for reform with greater urgency because of the protests and violence?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, because of – everyone has been watching what’s happening in Tunisia, drawing lessons from what’s happening in Tunisia, it has created an opportunity. It’s an opportunity that presents itself in Egypt. It’s an opportunity that presents itself in Yemen. And we believe that governments need to take advantage of this opportunity to expand their dialogue with their populations and respond to the aspirations of their people.
QUESTION: Wouldn’t you have preferred – I mean, presumably they’ve had this opportunity for many years, not just in the last three, four weeks. Wouldn’t it have been better if these governments had taken advantage of this – of these important opportunities before blood was shed in the streets?
MR. CROWLEY: Well – and obviously, we deplore the deaths that have occurred among protesters and the security forces. I mean, I think we need to be careful here. Obviously, there is a dynamic that is underway within the region. But the – what happens from this point forward will rely on indigenous actions that happen country by country. The solution in Tunisia is not the solution in Egypt is not the solution in Yemen. And yet because people are observing what’s happening, they’re reacting to what’s happening, it is an important moment for these countries to find ways to respond. And that was the message that the Secretary gave to leaders in Doha. And we’re clearly seeing that there’s an opportunity here, and it will be best for these countries if they actively respond at this time to obvious concerns and the voices of their people.
QUESTION: All right. And so you --
QUESTION: Are you simply telling the Egyptian Government that you need to reform to stay in power? Are you getting --
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: -- that specific?
MR. CROWLEY: This should happen because it’s important for these countries to reform and evolve. This has not happened because we, the United States, are telling any country what to do. We see a dynamic in the region, as the Secretary said. The status quo in the Middle East and North Africa is not sustainable. The fact is that they have young populations that are looking for more than their respective countries and governments are currently giving them. And it is better for governments to respond when moments like this occur.
So we think that this can happen, change can happen, in a stable environment. In fact, if you look at Tunisia, even though protests do continue, in order to get to where the people of Tunisia want to go – to credible peaceful elections – you’re going to have to have calm in society so that these events can be generated. Jeff Feltman is on his way back from Paris and will be looking at how can we contribute expertise to help build a credible process so the Tunisian people can have the opportunities – opportunity to influence their future. But obviously, it has to be a peaceful environment for things like this to occur.
QUESTION: P.J., that was a fine answer, but I’m not sure it was the answer to Lachlan’s question. (Laughter.) His question was are you telling the Egyptian Government --
MR. CROWLEY: I heard fine answer.
QUESTION: Are you telling the Egyptian Government that they need to adopt reform? That was his question.
MR. CROWLEY: No, we’re --
QUESTION: And – hold on a second. As the Secretary said yesterday --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as a friend, we’re --
QUESTION: Wait, wait, wait --
MR. CROWLEY: We’re offering our advice to Egypt. But what they do is up to them.
QUESTION: Well, fair enough. But what the Secretary said yesterday was reform must be on the agenda for the Egyptian Government. How is that not telling them that they should reform, enact reforms?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’re giving Egypt and other countries our best advice.
QUESTION: Okay. So you are telling them that they should reform.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’re – no, I didn’t hear that. I thought – I thought was there a particular – was there something in particular that we wanted to see Egypt do.
QUESTION: I think the transcript will reflect that what Lachlan asked was: Are you urging the Egyptian Government to reform to stay in power?
QUESTION: That’s correct.
MR. CROWLEY: This is not an either/or proposition. It’s not up to us to determine who, in the future, will lead the people of Egypt. That is a choice for the people of Egypt. We want to see political, economic, and social reform that opens up the opportunity for Egyptian people, just as the people of other countries, to more significantly influence who will lead their country in the future and the direction of that country and the opportunities generated in that country.
QUESTION: Could you be a little more specific, like would you recommend that they hold elections the way the Tunisians are heading, that they need some credible elections after the ones in November that you didn’t like?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, that’s an important distinction. We encourage reform. We want to see greater opportunity generated. How that happens will be something that develops country by country. We are willing, as a partner and a friend and an ally of Egypt, to help in that process if Egypt is willing. But as the Secretary said, we definitely believe that reform is needed. No question about that.
QUESTION: But are you talking about elections with them? Are you getting that specific?
MR. CROWLEY: We have always talked to Egypt about elections and the character of the elections that they have had and concerns that we’ve had about who gets to run and the dynamic and the environment surrounding elections.
QUESTION: And in light of the --
MR. CROWLEY: We did not hesitate earlier this year to express – or last year express our concerns about that.
QUESTION: So you must be urging them to do a better job next time, and you might be telling them maybe to do it sooner rather than later?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as I said, we’re encouraging reform, clearly. But exactly what the government does and how they do it and on what timeline, that is a matter for the government to work with its own population.
QUESTION: All right. And so at the risk of you just dropping the word “Egypt” and substituting “Yemen” in everything you’ve been saying for the last 15 minutes --
QUESTION: Can I ask – can I stay with Egypt for just one last one?
QUESTION: Well, this is going to be – all right.
QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on something from yesterday. You mentioned that there were several overtures from U.S. officials to the Egyptian Government about the detention of journalists and about stopping social media sites. I was curious if you were satisfied with any --
MR. CROWLEY: I believe the journalists have been released, by the way.
QUESTION: -- satisfied with any response that you – or reaction that you’ve seen from the Egyptian Government since then.
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, at this point, I did ask if we had any high-level conversations with Egypt over the last couple of days. I’m not aware of any. Our interaction has primarily been through the Embassy. But I’m not aware that we’ve had any particular feedback from Egypt at this point.
QUESTION: Okay. No, but in their actions, I guess I was referring to, regarding the detention of journalists that they --
MR. CROWLEY: Like I say, I can’t speak for whatever discussions have happened with the government and our ambassador and embassy staff in Cairo, but I believe I saw a report earlier today that my counterpart in Egypt, or one of my counterparts in Egypt, has acknowledged that there is a need for a dialogue with those who are protesting. And that would be the kind of thing that we would encourage.
QUESTION: On to Yemen?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have any specific Yemen – concerns about Yemen that are not applicable to Egypt or Tunisia or Algeria or wherever else about --
MR. CROWLEY: Not specifically. I mean, again, the solution for Yemen or decisions made will be specific to Yemen. But clearly, there’s – we’re aware that there are protests in Sana’a and other Yemeni cities, and our message is the same: We support the right of the Yemeni people to express themselves and assemble freely, and we will continue to monitor the situation there.
QUESTION: But given the crucial role that Yemen plays in the war on terrorism and particularly in fighting AQAP --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, this is not as zero-sum or either/or.
QUESTION: I’m not suggesting it’s zero-sum. I’m just wondering --
MR. CROWLEY: No, I --
QUESTION: -- if you have any greater or different concern about Yemen than you --
MR. CROWLEY: No, in fact, for those of you who were on the trip with the Secretary to Yemen, we do have important counterterrorism cooperation with Yemen. But at the same time, part of the solution to combating violent extremism in Yemen is political and economic reform. And that was the message that the Secretary carried to Yemen in her meetings with leaders there.
QUESTION: Well, and so you’re saying that concern is the same as in Tunisia and in Egypt?
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: Or is that specific to Yemen because of the role that they are playing and the presence in Yemen of all these --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, I certainly – it’s very difficult to compare the situation in Egypt from the situation in Yemen.
QUESTION: I know. I’m trying to get you to differentiate.
MR. CROWLEY: Yemen is the poorest country in the region. The challenges there – Yemen has a broad range of challenges. But clearly, the – a solution for Yemen may or may not specifically apply to another country in the region. Yemen has a host of challenges, from running out of water to a – the remnants of a – of multiple conflicts within its borders.
QUESTION: Are there any high-level contacts with the Yemeni Government today?
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: And then just one last thing on this theme: Do you have any specific response to the resignation of the Tunisian foreign minister who had been, up until as recently as this past weekend, the Secretary’s main interlocutor?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the Secretary did speak to the foreign minister the last week or so and has also spoken to the prime minister. Again, the particular structure of the interim government is a matter for Tunisia. We want to see a process continue that leads to democratic elections. Stemming from Jeff Feltman’s visit to Tunisia this week, he – I believe he was the first foreign diplomat to visit Tunisia in the aftermath of the transition there. We’ll look to see what kind of assistance we can provide that uses the expertise that does exist within the United States to help them prepare the way for credible elections.
QUESTION: A new topic?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: A new topic. What can you tell us about this Raymond Davis, the – who works at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore and who apparently shot and killed two would-be robbers? What’s his position there? Does he have diplomatic immunity?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me say three things. First, I can confirm that an employee at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore was involved in an incident today. It is under investigation. We have not released the identity of our employee at this point. And reports of a particular identity that are circulating through the media are incorrect.
QUESTION: What does that mean? You mean the name?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean the name’s wrong.
QUESTION: The name that – the name that Michele --
MR. CROWLEY: The name that’s out there is wrong.
QUESTION: The name that was just mentioned?
MR. CROWLEY: Including that one.
QUESTION: The one that I just used --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: -- is wrong?
QUESTION: Is wrong?
MR. CROWLEY: Not correct.
QUESTION: But what – this – the incident involved, you say, an employee of the consulate. But is this someone who has diplomatic immunity? Is this a diplomat?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m going to leave it there for the moment. As we are able to share greater details with you, we will.
QUESTION: Okay. You said you --
QUESTION: And do you know what this individual was doing out and about that day, why he was driving around?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, this is a matter under investigation.
QUESTION: You said you would say three things. You only said two.
MR. CROWLEY: I said three.
QUESTION: What was the third?
MR. CROWLEY: Confirm the employee – there’s --
QUESTION: One, you confirmed an incident.
MR. CROWLEY: It was an employee working at the consulate.
QUESTION: And two, the identities out there are wrong.
MR. CROWLEY: Two, the matter is under investigation, and --
QUESTION: Well, that doesn’t count. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: All right.
QUESTION: That doesn’t tell us anything.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve given you everything I’ve got.
QUESTION: But this is a very sensitive country.
MR. CROWLEY: He is a U.S. national.
QUESTION: But this is a very sensitive --
MR. CROWLEY: That’s three. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- a sensitive issue, a sensitive country where anti-Americanism is rife, so --
MR. CROWLEY: I – completely. This is a matter under investigation, and we’ll let the investigation work its course.
QUESTION: And when you say an employee of the consulate, this is a civilian employee, yes? This is not a military person?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: And who is doing the investigating? U.S., Pakistani, or both?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this happened within Pakistan. There’s a Pakistani investigation. We will cooperate fully.
QUESTION: Can you say whether this person was authorized to be carrying a firearm?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to say anything else.
QUESTION: Is this person still in Lahore or has he left the country?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of any movement.
QUESTION: I’m sorry, one final one. Is this person currently in detention at all, can you say?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, there are lots of questions. I’d rather have you direct the questions to the Embassy in Islamabad. They’re – they’ve got, obviously, much more up-to-the-minute situational awareness than I do.
QUESTION: Well, where was he before you came in here, then? I mean --
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Was he detained or --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, all I can tell you is that the individual is still in Pakistan.
QUESTION: P.J., the South Korean --
QUESTION: Wait, wait, wait, still on this. Recognizing that the incident is under investigation, can you even provide the barest details, like – and was he alone in his car?
MR. CROWLEY: I actually have the virtue of not knowing the details.
QUESTION: South Korean Government and the North --
QUESTION: Well, I’m sure that’s a virtue for the spokesman. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: Hey, it works for me. (Laughter.) Go ahead.
QUESTION: South Korea said North Korea’s apology for the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of the Yeonpyeong Island, that it’s not an – a precondition for the resumption of Six-Party Talks. So do you support that position?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let us say I believe next month, around – what, February 11, I think – believe the date has been scheduled for the military talks between South Korea and North Korea. We welcome inter-Korean dialogue. We think it’s an important step in the process. But we would like to see North Korea take responsibility for recent provocations and the impact that they have had in increasing tensions in the region. But we’ll wait to see what happens in this meeting.
QUESTION: In Palestine papers, Saeb Erekat is quoted in today’s Guardian as saying that he’s asked the U.S. Government for assistance in trying to interview or bring in, for some sort of deposition, an American citizen who may have been involved in the leaking of these papers. Can you confirm that Erekat has made such a request, first off?
MR. CROWLEY: We have not yet received a specific request.
QUESTION: Would that be something that the U.S. Government would quickly undertake?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, it’s – if there is a specific request, we’ll consider it.
QUESTION: What does that mean, “not received a specific request?”
QUESTION: You’ve gotten a general request?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we’ve seen the public comments, but --
QUESTION: And what’s the – right.
MR. CROWLEY: -- there’s not yet a specific request, “Can we talk to individual X or individual Y and individual Z.” We just haven’t received anything like that yet.
QUESTION: And what kind of assistance would the U.S. provide if another government, or, in this case, the PA were to ask for assistance for bringing someone in –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, it depends on what is the – what’s the nature of the request, who’s the individual, and what are you asking (inaudible). If it’s a private individual, that may or may not be a matter that we, the government, would get involved in. If it’s – so if there’s a specific request, we’ll be happy to consider it.
QUESTION: Now, is this individual a private individual?
MR. CROWLEY: I say, I don’t know. We don’t know --
QUESTION: I asked this exact question yesterday –
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: -- and there was some talk that he was a former U.S. Government employee. Is that correct?
MR. CROWLEY: There is one individual who has been mentioned who is – was previously an employee of the State Department, yes.
QUESTION: What was the – what was his position? And we’re talking about the same person whose name I can’t remember right now?
QUESTION: Clayton Swisher.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. Yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah, Swisher.
MR. CROWLEY: Again, there’s – there are privacy considerations here. I mean, all I’m saying --
QUESTION: Well, would he have been in a position to have access to documents?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, that’s a very good question, which I suspect might be the nature of the question --
QUESTION: All right.
MR. CROWLEY: -- that if we’re asked, we’ll be happy to respond to.
QUESTION: When – and when was this person an employee?
MR. CROWLEY: I don't have specific information for you.
QUESTION: But is no longer an employee?
MR. CROWLEY: He – no longer an employee of the State Department.
QUESTION: One other question: Is there an investigation underway here at the State Department or anywhere within the U.S. Government about the leaking of these documents? And if so, what’s the status of the investigation?
MR. CROWLEY: I don't know why we would investigate documents that are not ours.
QUESTION: But given that the U.S. has been centrally involved in the overall Mideast peace process, wouldn’t the U.S. have a vested interest in trying to find out whether this sort of private communication might actually impede the progress of the negotiations?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, that’s a different question. I mean, we have an ongoing investigation of the leak of our documents. But as to – we certainly are in touch with officials around the region to assess the potential impact of this action on something which is of vital interest to the United States, which is the pursuit of Middle East peace. We’ve been holding conversations on a regular basis. Nothing that we have seen, without commenting on any particular document, changes our understanding of the challenge and it doesn’t change what we’re prepared to do.
Our conversations are ongoing as we prepare, for example, for the Quartet meeting next week. Both the Secretary and Foreign Minister Judeh talked about that yesterday. But I know of no investigation of the leak of documents that are not U.S. documents.
QUESTION: Okay, so just to be – just to make it very plain, as of right now, as far as you know, there is no investigation undertaken by the U.S. Government in connection with this particular set of documents?
MR. CROWLEY: And the key word is investigation. Are we – has this matter come up in our ongoing conversations with leaders in the region? It has.
MR. CROWLEY: But it is not an investigation.
QUESTION: P.J., South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said yesterday that North Korea’s uranium enrichment program should be discussed at the UN Security Council. So any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this was a matter that was referenced in the joint statement when President Hu Jintao was here with President Obama. It is, we believe, a relevant fact in assessing North Korea’s lack of compliance with its international obligations, and that certainly is a matter that the UN Security Council continues to evaluate.
MR. CROWLEY: Our Consulate General in Matamoros is in contact with the next of kin and providing consular assistance to the family. We have expressed our deep condolences to the Davis family and condemn this crime in the strongest possible terms. And we are in contact with Mexican authorities and will assist and support them to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
QUESTION: Can I – just – the next of kin are in Mexico? My understanding was they were in Texas. How does the --
MR. CROWLEY: Well – but our consular officials are in touch with the family in Texas and relaying information to them as we have it on the ongoing investigation for the --
QUESTION: Relaying information from the Mexican authorities to them?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. Yeah. In other words, we --
MR. CROWLEY: Usually, if a tragedy happens outside the United States, our consular officials closest to where that tragedy took place are the ones who are in touch with the family.
QUESTION: Does this murder raise any concerns about whether or not Americans should be traveling to Mexico for any reason: missionary work, tourism, business?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have a very substantial economic and social and cultural relationship with Mexico. So if you’re at the border, you recognize that people are traveling back and forth in very significant numbers to Mexico every day. But certainly, those who are contemplating travel to Mexico obviously need to keep in mind our Travel Warnings on Mexico and the dangers that are unfortunately, still very relevant to day-to-day life.
QUESTION: Yeah, please, to the (inaudible). In the point of the Department, please can you explain as what do you expect from the trip of Mr. Obama to the (inaudible) in March?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the President did announce in his State of the Union address that he will be making a trip to the region. I’ll defer to the White House on the specific details of his travel.
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, but I think that you shared the idea of going there. The Department shared the idea of going there.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we obviously support the President in his travel, just as the Secretary has made multiple trips to the region over the first couple of years. To have the President in the region is a sign of our reengagement with Central and South America and the importance of our relationships with the countries in the region. But again, as we get closer to the trip in a couple of months, we’ll have more details about what we hope to achieve.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:12 p.m.)
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