Daily Press Briefing - February 16, 2011
Index for Today's Briefing:
- Secretary Clinton Met with Prime Minister Gruevski of Macedonia / U.S. Expressed Appreciation for Macedonia's Contribution to ISAF
- U.S. Concerned About Aung San Suu Kyi's Safety / Fundamental Responsibility of Burmese Authorities / Legitimacy of the National League for Democracy
- Senator Kerry has Departed Pakistan / Meetings / Strategic Relationship / U.S. Diplomat's Incarceration Improper / Diplomatic Immunity / Hearing Tomorrow / Senator Kerry Reaffirmed U.S. Support for Strategic Relationship / Resolve Case / Pakistan's Obligations Under International Law
- Emergency Law / Matter for Egyptians / Decisions to be Made by Egyptian People
- MIDDLE EAST
- Change is Coming to the Region
- U.S. Remains Committed to Israel's Security
- Issue Raised with Turkey on Detained Journalist / Ambassador Ricciardone / Turkey is an Ally and Friend of the U.S.
- Calderon Government has Stepped Forward / U.S. Expresses Sympathy to Families and Colleagues of Agents / U.S. Cooperating Fully / Incident Under Investigation
- NORTH KOREA
- Standing Concerns About North Korea / Continue to Watch Situation Closely / Do Not Have Food Program with North Korea / North Korea had an Opportunity for Productive Talks with South Korea
- Items Brought into Country Inappropriately Seized / U.S. Will Continue to Engage Argentina / Direct Conversation with Senior Argentine Officials / Fully Prepared to Resolve Any Questions at Working Level
- Strong Indication of Visa Fraud / Matter Still Under Investigation / U.S. Will Work Cooperatively with Government of India / Continue to Welcome Indian Students to Study in U.S. / Working Closely with Department of Homeland Security
- SAUDI ARABIA
- U.S. Recorded Concerns in Annual Human Rights Report / Longstanding Area of Dialogue
- U.S. Voices Longstanding Concerns about Venezuelan Support for the FARC
Daily Press Briefing
1:50 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State for the primary press briefing. Two items before taking your questions. The Secretary met this morning with Prime Minister Gruevski of Macedonia, discussing a wide range of bilateral and regional issues. During the meeting, the Secretary expressed concerns about trends regarding rule of law, independent media, and civil society. She also reiterated our hope that Macedonia and Greece resolve together the longstanding name issue so that Macedonia can move forward on seeking NATO membership and fulfilling its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. At the same time, the Secretary also expressed appreciation for Macedonia’s contributions to ISAF in Afghanistan, recognizing Macedonia as one of the highest per capita troop contributors.
And regarding Burma, we remain concerned about Aung San Suu Kyi’s safety and security. This is a fundamental responsibility of Burmese authorities to ensure her safety and that of all Burmese citizens. Burma needs to recognize the legitimacy of the National League for Democracy, which has struggled for over 22 years to bring democracy to Burma’s people. The regime should immediately release all political prisoners, allow their participation in the political process, and begin a genuine and inclusive political dialogue with ethnic and democratic opposition leaders as a first step towards national reconciliation.
QUESTION: I’m sorry, maybe I’m out of the loop. Was – did something prompt this?
MR. CROWLEY: Within the last few days, there was a veiled threat suggesting that if Aung San Suu Kyi proceeds with her plans to reconstitute the NLD that she could be in some danger.
QUESTION: Ah, okay.
QUESTION: That’s what – you’re referring to the report in the newspaper?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. Do you have any other information that would support the idea that she’s in danger other than just some rhetoric in a newspaper?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, if you look at history, there have been times where she has been released and then they found a way to bring her again under house arrest. We hope that with her release, she’s able to do what she wants to do, which is reconstitute her political party as part of the process of opening up civil society within Burma.
QUESTION: But just so I’m clear, you don’t have any specific information that says there’s a threat to her other than this newspaper report?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the fact that – this story is of great concern to us. We’re acting based on that.
QUESTION: Yeah. Burma --
QUESTION: The story was in a Burmese paper?
MR. CROWLEY: It had some international coverage. Go ahead.
QUESTION: It was on the Burma – Burmese state media.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, yeah, I think it was on --
QUESTION: The – oh, the New Light of Myanmar. So isn’t that exactly the --
QUESTION: That’s the --
QUESTION: I mean, that’s the government mouthpiece. So it’s more of a --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, yes. So one would assume there’s actually something behind this.
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Have you heard back from Senator Kerry yet?
MR. CROWLEY: Layla is the greatest rock and roll song of all time, but we digress. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I have a follow-on.
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, I was going to say - "Further On Up The Road" actually was what I was thinking of, but I – actually, on that, do you have any independent confirmation that Kim Jong-il’s son did, in fact, attend this concert?
MR. CROWLEY: No, it was just a fascinating report, I believe, by AFP.
QUESTION: Have you heard back from Senator Kerry yet about his progress or lack thereof?
MR. CROWLEY: He has departed Pakistan. He did a press availability before he left. I’m not sure that we here have heard back from him. I’m sure Ambassador Munter has been with him and is familiar with what has happened during his stay.
QUESTION: All right. What’s the – what’s your latest understanding of what the situation is with Mr. Davis and how he’s being treated?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, but – I mean, just to kind of round it off here, during Senator Kerry’s stay, he met with President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Chief of Staff Kayani, he talked with party leader Nawaz Sharif, and Foreign – former Foreign Minister Qureshi. He reaffirmed U.S. support for the strategic relationship between the United States and Pakistan. He expressed his sorrow at the loss of lives in the January 27 incident, but nonetheless made clear that Pakistan has obligations under international law to release him.
QUESTION: And as far as you know, he has not been poorly treated in custody, has he?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that he has been poorly treated. I think he’s been fairly treated. But just to make the point, we do not believe that his incarceration is proper. Under the Vienna Convention, he should not have been incarcerated.
QUESTION: Have you received any new communications from Pakistani officials regarding his immunity, the status of immunity? There seems to be some question about who can decide that. What’s your – what are you hearing from the government?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we believe that diplomatic immunity is in fact – is a fact. It’s not – from our standpoint, it’s not a matter in dispute. It’s certainly not a matter that should be resolved by courts in Pakistan. That said, there will be a hearing tomorrow and we will present a petition to the court that he, in fact, has diplomatic immunity.
QUESTION: And is it your understanding the Pakistan Government is absolutely on the same side as you are in this – on this question?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think the Pakistani Government will have the opportunity to present its view tomorrow as well.
QUESTION: So could the Pakistani Government request to repeal his diplomatic immunity and this --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t speak for the Pakistani Government. Our view is he should be released.
QUESTION: What – in your view, what would be the process to how to deal with this?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: How would the State Department deal with such a request?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we believe he should be released and we continue to press that point with the Pakistani Government. Now, I think during the course of Senator Kerry’s stay there, we made clear that in – with such incidents, it is the practice of the United States Government to conduct its own criminal investigation, and we intend to follow that practice here. But it is – remains our view he has diplomatic immunity and should be released.
QUESTION: Mr. Crowley, I just wanted to go back to Burma and --
QUESTION: Wait, can we stay on Pakistan?
MR. CROWLEY: All right, hold on. We’ll come back.
QUESTION: Is there any concern on the part of Secretary Clinton that the case and fate of one specific individual may somehow be permitted to affect overriding bilateral issues between this very important country and the United States?
MR. CROWLEY: We want to do everything possible to prevent that from happening. We’re building a strategic relationship with Pakistan. It is in the United States’s interest to do that. We have shared concerns and a shared threat in the extremists who are in Pakistan. That is a threat to Pakistan as well as other countries including the United States. We are committed to build a strong and effective partnership with Pakistan, and we certainly do not want to have issues like this distract us from our joint efforts.
QUESTION: Has that happened so far?
MR. CROWLEY: Not so far. I think – and that’s part of what Senator Kerry did in his trip, was to reaffirm our interest in this partnership, the importance of continuing to work with Pakistan not only to deal with the extremists within its borders, but to build up Pakistani institutions. That is our commitment. We want to and continue to do everything that we can to resolve this case.
QUESTION: So the cases pose no disruption to the bilateral relationship so far?
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t say it has, no.
QUESTION: P.J., can you talk about this investigation? I mean, does an American court have any kind of jurisdiction over something this guy may or may not have done in Pakistan?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think as the Department of Justice has said, we as a normal practice would ourselves investigate incidents involving American citizens overseas where there has been a loss of life, and we’re prepared to do that. And obviously, where that investigation would lead, I can’t say.
QUESTION: Why didn’t the Administration come out and say that, talk about the – an investigation here at the very beginning of this? Is there not some school of thought or school of thinking in this building that saying something like that at the outset might have avoided the dilemma that you’re in now?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the dilemma that we’re in now is because Pakistan has not followed through on its international obligations.
QUESTION: Well, no, no. What --
MR. CROWLEY: Let me – but let – that’s an important point. We continue to stress that he has diplomatic immunity, the issue should not be a matter for the courts, and he should be released. But because we are in the situation that we’re in, we are clarifying that we are prepared to investigate this matter as well.
QUESTION: Yeah, but had you said that at the beginning – had you said that you were prepared to investigate this on your own at the beginning, instead of just slamming the Pakistanis over the head with the idea that he has – the demand that he has to be released, that he has immunity – you’re wrong, we’re right, let our guy go – don’t you think that you could have avoided some of this, or at least tamped down --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, you’re – we’re not --
QUESTION: -- some of the anti-American sentiments?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s not a matter of right or wrong. It is a matter of international obligation. That’s the point --
QUESTION: It is a matter of right or wrong. That’s what you’re saying.
MR. CROWLEY: No, no. We have – Matt, we have made clear that any time there’s a loss of life it is tragic, and we’ve expressed those views, as have our ambassador and consulate officials in Pakistan. That said, there is a very fundamental point here. Countries have to live up to their international obligations, and we do, and we expect Pakistan to as well.
QUESTION: And there was no one in the Administration who was counseling this kind of approach at the beginning?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s an academic point. I --
QUESTION: I think there was, because I’ve spoken to --
QUESTION: Prime Minister Gilani apparently has said that under Sharia law the whole thing could be resolved if there’s compensation offered to the families of those involved who were killed in the attack. Is that something that the U.S. would undertake?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, we’re trying to resolve this case. We’re doing it at every level of government. It’s – I can’t predict at this point precisely what steps will be taken. We just continue to stress that he has diplomatic immunity.
QUESTION: But has the concept of compensation been discussed, do you know?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I just – we’re working as hard as we can with the Pakistani Government to resolve this case.
QUESTION: Can we change topic?
QUESTION: Can I ask another on --
QUESTION: On this, one last thing?
QUESTION: You said to James that there’s been no disruption in relations because of this specific incident. So you’re saying that the postponement of the trilateral talks had absolutely nothing to do with this case?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we stressed in the statement over the weekend, there was a fundamental, practical issue here. Pakistan dissolved its government, and it has not reformed all of – not repositioned ministers in every ministry that would expect to participate in a trilateral meeting. So we’ve postponed it for that reason.
QUESTION: And on Senator Kerry, can you just clear up, did the Administration dispatch him to Pakistan?
MR. CROWLEY: No. He is there in his capacity as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Obviously, he coordinated with us before he left, and he has maintained contact with us throughout his trip.
QUESTION: Did he go at your behest?
MR. CROWLEY: No, this was – he expressed an interest in going. Obviously, anything that he can do to help move this towards a resolution is a welcome step.
QUESTION: Wait, wait, wait. He – the Administration did not ask him to go? Because that flatly contradicts with what his office says.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m – he expressed an interest in going is my understanding, and we --
QUESTION: And you said, yes, would you please go?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we certainly have --
QUESTION: Or did you say no, no, no, please don’t go --
MR. CROWLEY: No. We didn’t say --
QUESTION: -- and he raced over there anyway?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, he is an effective leader in his own right. He felt he could help the situation in Pakistan, and we welcomed his intercession.
QUESTION: The last time you sent a special envoy out to deliver a message, there was somewhat mixed results. You’re pretty confident in Senator Kerry’s going to stay on message? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Wisner was on message. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I want to ask you about something the Secretary said on Monday. In the course of one of her interviews, she was specifically asked when she thought the emergency law should be lifted in Egypt. And in response to two questions about that, she said, one, that it was – this was a matter for the Egyptians, and --
MR. CROWLEY: That’s true.
QUESTION: -- two, that she was not going to substitute her judgment sitting in the comfort and beauty of the State Department for theirs. And she was specifically asked about timing, and she said that was – she just wasn’t going to substitute her judgment on that for theirs. But six days earlier, the White House issued a readout on Vice President Biden’s conversation with President Mubarak in which it said that he told President Mubarak that the United States supported, quote, "immediately rescinding the emergency law." What changed in six days? I mean, the U.S. --
MR. CROWLEY: Nothing has changed in six days.
QUESTION: Well, except that he’s no longer president. (Laughter.) I mean, that’s a pretty big change, isn’t it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, nothing has changed – all right. Thank you. Nothing has changed in the context of what Arshad --
QUESTION: But the U.S. position on February the 8th was that it supported the law being rescinded immediately. The U.S. Government position, as stated by Secretary Clinton on Monday, was this is up to the Egyptians.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, and it is up to the Egyptians. As to specifically what they do and when they do it, it is a matter for the Egyptian Government, working with opposition figures. Clearly, the opposition has pointed to the emergency law as being something they want to see rescinded. The United States position has always been that the emergency law should be rescinded. The President and Vice President reiterated that, as has the Secretary, in comments over the past three weeks. We haven’t changed our view at all.
But the Secretary is simply pointing out that these decisions are part of this transition process. They will be made by Egyptians. But clearly, the opposition has made – has pointed out that it is hard to have an open, credible political process with the emergency law still in effect.
QUESTION: But, P.J., the White House made it very clear – and the White House ultimately is the institution in this government that sets foreign policy – that the policy was – that it should be immediately removed. And six days later, the Secretary --
MR. CROWLEY: Arshad, I know there’s a great --
QUESTION: I don’t understand why.
MR. CROWLEY: There’s a great inside-the-beltway tradition of trying to find infinitesimal peaks of daylight between what is said one day and what is said the next day, what is said by one official and what is said by another official. The position of the United States Government could not be clearer. We’ve called for years for the rescinding of the emergency law. We have not changed that view. The Secretary was reflecting however, correctly, that when and how this is done is a matter for the Egyptians to work through.
QUESTION: It’s not infinitesimal to call for something immediately --
MR. CROWLEY: Arshad, I --
QUESTION: -- and not to call for it immediately. And it’s particularly not infinitesimal if you are being held without charge indefinitely and without trial.
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no. Again, don’t misunderstand what I said. You’re trying to create daylight between the White House and the State Department. There is none.
QUESTION: Are you conducting your diplomacy business as usual with Egypt today? Would you say that you are conducting your relationship and diplomacy with --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, (inaudible), I am not sure that there is anything called business as usual in Egypt today. They are – as the President said yesterday in his press conference, they are working through the specific elements regarding constitution, regarding elections. It’s off to a promising start, but clearly, there’s a lot of work to do.
QUESTION: Okay. More and more it is being perceived that six months being not a long enough time to conduct the election. So there’s a suggestion that perhaps governing should go to a civilian council, sort of council, so to speak. Would you encourage such a --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, at the risk of getting crosswise with Arshad one more time, these are decisions that will be made by the Egyptian people and the Egyptian Government. We want to see an effective transition process, an open process. We want to see broad engagement across all segments of Egyptian society. But ultimately, how this proceeds and on what timeline, these are decisions to be made in Egypt.
QUESTION: But you would prefer to see this transit into a civilian authority as soon as possible?
MR. CROWLEY: As I’ve said from here many times, we always have to look at the finish line, if you will, which is free and fair elections, credible elections that reflect the will of the Egyptian people. And now is the challenge of working through the various issues that get us to that point.
QUESTION: With the assurance that I regard any daylight between you and Arshad to be infinitesimal, P.J. – (laughter) – I think that the question that Arshad posed remains relevant, which is whether it remains the position of the Secretary of State specifically that the emergency law in Egypt should be lifted immediately. That’s the question put to you: Should it be lifted immediately?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, I can reiterate what I’ve said. The position of the United States, long held, is that the emergency law should be rescinded.
MR. CROWLEY: That is something that the – that is a matter for the Egyptian Government. We have indicated that it is important to rescind the emergency law in order to have the kind of open political process that we think is necessary to get to free and fair elections.
QUESTION: So let the record reflect that you’re unwilling to endorse the language of the White House from February 8. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: No, we want – the sooner this can happen, the better. But I don't want to get into a situation where we’re doing daily play-by-play, and at some point in time, if they haven’t done this today or they haven’t done this tomorrow, that indicates there’s a real problem. The emergency law needs to be lifted. That is the view of the Administration. As to the process in transition, as to how that takes place, these are decisions to be made by Egypt. That said, the opposition continues to point to the emergency law as being something they want to see lifted. We agree with that view. The sooner it can happen, the better.
QUESTION: P.J., on the broader – the broader question of daylight here, are you seriously trying to suggest that there were no differences in opinion between the State Department and the White House on Egypt over the past two weeks?
MR. CROWLEY: There’s one foreign policy. There’s one foreign policy of the United States.
QUESTION: Because that’s just simply not true. There was, and we all know it.
MR. CROWLEY: All right, Matt, there’s one foreign policy --
QUESTION: I understand that. But there were – but you told --
MR. CROWLEY: And in the day-to-day interaction, whether it’s in deputies committees or in principals committees, there may well – there were different views on how to accomplish certain things. But that is part of the kind of robust interagency process that is characterized by the Administration.
QUESTION: Right, right. So, in fact --
MR. CROWLEY: But at the end of the day, decisions are made and they’re carried out very clearly, and that’s what we’ve done.
QUESTION: But in fact, when you say that there is no daylight between the State Department and the White House, that is not true, is it?
MR. CROWLEY: It – well, I think that’s too simplistic a view. Across the interagency there are various elements that are paid to look through a particular lens. If you’re focused on a military relationship, you might have one view of events. If you’re focused on a diplomatic relationship, you might have a corresponding view. And if you are focused on democracy and human rights, you will, again, have a corresponding view. All of that feeds into a process where we have to find the right balance in moving forward.
But at the end of this, there’s been a clear policy with regard to Egypt. The President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense all played major contributions in terms of annunciating the policy, helping to encourage Egypt through this last three weeks. We’re encouraged by where we are now, where Egypt is now. But clearly, as the President stressed yesterday, there’s still a lot of work to do.
QUESTION: P.J. --
MR. CROWLEY: Michel.
QUESTION: Something related to Egypt. The Israeli foreign minister has said today that two Iranian warships plan to sail through the Suez Canal on route to Syria, and it’s for the first time since 1979. Are you concerned about this development?
MR. CROWLEY: I believe there are two Iranian warships – or, I mean, I don't know what kind of ships they are. There are two ships in the Red Sea. What their intention is, what their destination is, I don’t – I can’t say.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) question on Egypt?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) would that be a provocation?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we’ve seen the reports, but I don't know that we have any understanding at this point of what those ships are there or where they’re going.
QUESTION: I understand that. My question is more of whether you would regard that as a provocation, whether you would discourage Iran from doing something like that, or that you would not like to see it happen. I mean --
MR. CROWLEY: It’s a hypothetical question.
QUESTION: Well, no, because it seems like they’re going that way. But would you like to see that happen or not?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, look --
QUESTION: That’s not a hypothetical.
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) Look, there are reports that there are a couple of ships in the Red Sea. What they do, where they go, we’ll follow this with some curiosity.
QUESTION: Wait, wait, hold on, just staying with the ships. There are always a couple ships in the Red Sea. I mean, that’s not unusual at all. Are you saying that they’re Iranian ships that you are aware of?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we’ve seen the reports as you guys have checked in with us during the course of the day.
QUESTION: Are they going to --
MR. CROWLEY: I have strong suspicions that we have the ability to identify certain ships. We’ll be watching to see what they do. But at this point --
QUESTION: Right. But you’re watching the Iranian ships?
MR. CROWLEY: We always watch what Iran is doing. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: But I’m just trying to make sure that the – what the Israeli foreign minister is talking about is the same thing you’re talking about.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: On the protests that we’re seeing in different countries today, first, with respect to Libya, how do you characterize those protests? And is Muammar Qadhafi properly characterized as a dictator?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, there are events going on across many countries in the region today. As the President made clear yesterday, change is coming to the region and it’s important for governments – plural – to stay ahead of this trend. The Secretary made clear in her comments in Doha, reiterated them recently in Munich, countries across the region have the same kind of challenge in terms of the demographics, the aspirations of their people, the need for reform. And we encourage these countries to take specific actions that address the aspirations and the needs and hopes of their people. Libya certainly would be in that same category.
QUESTION: Is Qadhafi a dictator? You have no answer to that question?
QUESTION: He (inaudible) stumping --
QUESTION: Are you stumped?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not stumped.
QUESTION: So what’s your answer to the question? Is he a dictator?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think he came to office through a democratic process.
QUESTION: Let me just follow up (inaudible), one on Egypt, one on Pakistan. Egypt, what steps the U.S. is taking as far as to protect the interest of Israel and also --
MR. CROWLEY: You’ve lost me already, Goyal.
QUESTION: -- interest – what steps the U.S. is taking as far as to protect the interest of Israel and also interest of free flow of oil so that Egypt doesn’t become another Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: Actually, if I’m not mistaken, there’s a pipeline that connects Egypt and Israel and that’s one of the outside sources of energy for Israel. Look, we – first of all, we remain committed to Israel’s security. It is important. We were encouraged by statements by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in Egypt that they intend to respect the treaty which has benefited Israel, Egypt, and the region as a whole. Even as these – this dynamic unfolds in the region, I’m not aware of anything that points to a potential disruption of energy flows that are vital to the region and to the rest of the world.
QUESTION: As far as Pakistan, just to follow, let me put this again – are you saying that Senator John Kerry, who had been in Pakistan many, many times and had – has very good relations with the Pakistani officials, including military, he was not carrying any message from the Secretary? And second, things have little bit changed in Pakistan because of his visit, and also yesterday the President’s very blunt message to Pakistan that they should follow Vienna Convention. And third, Pakistani ambassador in Washington, Ambassador Haqqani, had said that Mr. Raymond Davis had or was issued officially – official visa by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington. So where do we stand now from all these billions of dollars aid going to Pakistan and then anti-India – anti-Pakistan -- or Pakistanis are anti-U.S. every day?
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, you have loaded so much on that question – (laughter) – I’m not sure how it can possibly stay upright. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Why don’t you just answer the actual question, which was, "Was he carrying a message from Secretary Clinton," and then maybe we can move on?
MR. CROWLEY: The senator reiterated the view of the United States Government during the course of his visit to Pakistan.
QUESTION: One more on Pakistan, please. As we write our stories, some of us are challenged in defining exactly how to describe Mr. Davis. Could you – I know he is a diplomat.
MR. CROWLEY: He’s a U.S. diplomat. It’s very simple.
QUESTION: Yes, I know. He is a U.S. diplomat. But in other paragraphs, we have to say other things. What – how exactly do you describe him? I mean, is he a contractor? Is he a consular employee? What is he?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, he is a U.S. diplomat currently incarcerated in Pakistan who has diplomatic immunity and should be released.
QUESTION: And what exactly was his job?
MR. CROWLEY: I can go back. He has technical – provides technical services to the – a member of the administrative and technical staff of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
QUESTION: And is --
QUESTION: Is he (inaudible) diplomat?
QUESTION: Is it correct that --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to go any further than that.
QUESTION: But just one thing, he – the reports say that he was carrying a gun. Obviously, he shot the two guys. Is that standard --
MR. CROWLEY: I think that’s a safe assumption.
QUESTION: Is that standard operating procedure, that diplomats carry guns?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, there are people with diplomatic status in countries around the world who are authorized to carry weapons.
QUESTION: Can we switch subjects?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on the contractor issue and whether a contractor for the embassy would be --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to go any further. I’ve given you everything I’m going to give you on that.
QUESTION: But, no, no, just as a more basic – we talked about it last week as a more basic idea of whether contractors – going back to Blackwater in Iraq, State Department contractors – whether they’re eligible for diplomatic immunity in a case of murder.
MR. CROWLEY: Contractors – if you’re talking about a global issue, contractors can be given diplomatic status.
QUESTION: The other day, P.J., on Monday, I believe, the journalists --
MR. CROWLEY: All right, hold on, hold on. Is this on Pakistan?
MR. CROWLEY: All right, hold on.
QUESTION: Excuse me --
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. First, unlike the White House, we actually do orderly briefings here. (Laughter.) Are we done with Pakistan? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: There was the day --
MR. CROWLEY: Oh, no, there’s daylight between me and Jay Carney. (Laughter.) We wish him well, by the way, on his first day.
QUESTION: On Turkey --
QUESTION: The state media --
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on a second. If we’re done with Pakistan, I do go back to Burma first.
QUESTION: The state media reported that it predicts a tragic end for Aung San Suu Kyi and her opposition party, the NLD, for speaking up on sanctions. So I have two questions and it’s about the U.S.’s position in ensuring Aung San Suu Kyi’s safety as well as the National League of Democracy, as well as I want to follow up – okay.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, just to stop you there for a second. That’s exactly why I said what I said at the opening of the briefing.
MR. CROWLEY: This is a Burmese responsibility. This is their government’s responsibility to protect Aung San Suu Kyi and those she chooses to associate with.
QUESTION: Okay, and then about sanctions – because she is threatened because of her stance on Western sanctions – since then, has there been any modifications on U.S. sanctions on Burma?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: On Turkey?
MR. CROWLEY: Turkey.
QUESTION: I asked on Monday about the journalist who got detained. Do you have anything on that now?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are watching this case very closely. I don’t have a particular comment other than to say we do have ongoing concerns about trends regarding treatment of journalists within Turkey. We’ve raised that with the Turkish Government, and we’ll be watching this case very closely.
QUESTION: So you have engaged with Turkish Government so far?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know that we have engaged in this particular case, but this is an issue that we have raised with Turkey and will continue to do so.
QUESTION: U.S. Ambassador in Ankara Ricciardone gave a couple of statements on the issue – I have the quotes – and there was a quite strong reaction from Turkish administration saying that nobody should be interfering with the Turkish domestic situation because of ambassador statement.
MR. CROWLEY: Again, obviously, Ambassador Ricciardone – we stand by his statement. But as I say, we do have broad concerns about trends involving intimidation of journalists in Turkey, and we have raised that directly with the Turkish Government and we’ll continue to do so.
QUESTION: You said --
QUESTION: Can I stay on this?
QUESTION: Oh, I’m sorry. Please.
QUESTION: Also, AKP -- the vice president of ruling party AKP said that ambassadors has limits, so was Ricciardone out of his limits by having such a statement?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure what you mean by limits.
QUESTION: I’m not sure, too. He said ambassadors have limits. So regarding this subject, regarding Ricciardone’s --
MR. CROWLEY: You’re saying that Ambassador Ricciardone used the term "limits"?
QUESTION: No, no, vice president of AKP said --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, it’s not for me to parse the language used by Turkish officials. We stand by the ambassador’s statement.
QUESTION: There is some strong arguments in Turkey that the U.S. approach so far to Turkish Government, strong Turkish Government, kind of appeasement policy to --
MR. CROWLEY: What kind of policy?
MR. CROWLEY: Appeasement?
QUESTION: Yes, to Turkish Government. Not – there’s my newspaper’s editorial yesterday, so I’m just (inaudible) message what would be your --
MR. CROWLEY: It’s hard for me to put that in context. Turkey is an ally and friend of the United States. But as we’ve made clear, anytime that we think that a friend or ally or adversary has crossed a line and – in terms of respect for universal principles, we will not hesitate to raise our voice.
QUESTION: And --
QUESTION: On Mexico, two ICE agents, American ICE agents, were shot and killed in that country. First, is the State Department involved in liaison with Mexican authorities in relation to this? And secondly, do you have full faith in the ability and will of the Mexican authorities to investigate this properly and bring justice to the perpetrators?
MR. CROWLEY: Absolutely. The Calderon government has stepped forward very courageously in recent years. They are, with the United States help, taking aggressive action against the perpetrators of this kind of violence. Clearly, this was a horrible act, and we express our deepest sympathy to the families and colleagues of these agents. We are cooperating fully with Mexican authorities in investigating this, and the full resources of our government are at the disposal of our Mexican partners in this investigation.
QUESTION: And then just one other subject – I know somewhat randomly – but in Yemen, where we saw the sixth straight day of protest today and reportedly the first fatality associated with them, President Saleh commented that he believes this to be the work of, quote, "suspicious foreign agendas." Do you agree?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, these – let me make a broader statement. Every indication that we have, these are spontaneous, these are indigenous, these are people across the region standing up and demanding more of their governments. I have no reason to sit here and think that – and in fact, in Yemen, you’ve got a clash of protestors who want change and protestors who want the status quo, but I have no reason to suspect that these are being perpetrated by outside --
QUESTION: I have a question on Mexico, actually.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) for Mexico, please?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Last week, the DNI Director Clapper had mentioned that U.S. agents were vulnerable to attacks in Mexico if the drug smugglers realize how important is the military and the police assistance of the U.S. to the success of the war on drugs. Do you think this case is maybe concerning one that can be followed by maybe some other attempts to attack them – to attack U.S. agents?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, tragically, this is not the first instance where our citizens or our government officials have been attacked or killed in Mexico. This is a shared challenge that Mexico, the United States, and other countries in the region face. That’s why we have put forward significant support and assistance to Mexico. We have responsibilities on our side of the border as well. But we will do everything that we can to support Mexico as it deals with these violent groups.
QUESTION: But I think it’s the first one since the attack to Kiki Camarena. I think it’s the first one since Enrique Camarena, the DEA agent, was killed inside the Mexican border.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. But I’m saying this is horrible, but unfortunately, it’s not unprecedented.
QUESTION: On the same topic?
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Mexico.
QUESTION: Yeah. There’s one report that they were – they had diplomatic plates on the car that they were driving – the two agents. Do you know if that’s the case and do you have any --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, probably when you start down into the specifics, I probably would defer to ICE and DHS.
QUESTION: Do you have any sense that they may have actually been targeted, though? Do you --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, these are issues that we clearly will be investigating.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. CROWLEY: Mexico?
QUESTION: It is confirmed that in this crime Colombian criminal organizations participate?
MR. CROWLEY: What’s that? Are we on Mexico or are we on Colombia?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: It is confirmed that in this crime Colombian criminal organizations participate?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, it is under investigation. We are cooperating in that investigation. We are willing to do everything that we can to help with that investigation.
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on, hold on, hold on.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Have you seen the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran nuclear program, and is it going to be published – publicized before the next March IAEA meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know.
QUESTION: New subject?
QUESTION: North Korea?
QUESTION: I have --
QUESTION: I just have two quick ones on North Korea. The first one, the latest satellite imagery indicates that they have completed a second, more modern missile launching facility. Do you have a comment about that? Are you concerned?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have standing concerns about North Korea. It’s hard to comment on specific things without getting into intelligence matters. But North Korea has obligations. It has to follow through on commitments that it’s made. We expect them to follow through on their commitments.
QUESTION: And the second one is on food aid. You said you had an update on whether you were evaluating the resumption of that two days ago.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we continue to watch the situation closely. We have our policies with respect to providing assistance to North Korea, among them that there would have to be clear needs assessment and careful monitoring to ensure that the food – if any were to be provided – would get to the neediest recipients. At this point, we don’t have a food program with North Korea. It was abruptly ended a little over – just about two years ago. But we just continue to evaluate the situation. But beyond that, nothing more I can say at this point.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
QUESTION: Can we stay on North Korea?
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Stay with North Korea for a second.
QUESTION: There was a news report by the South Korean media that North Korean scientists were in Atlanta over the last several days.
MR. CROWLEY: North Korean scientists were in Atlanta?
QUESTION: Yes, yes. You’re not familiar with it? I was going to ask you if you know – (laughter).
MR. CROWLEY: Does the blank look on my face give you any hint? I’m not – I have no information on that.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
QUESTION: On North Korea, it is reported that United States will propose to hold Three-Party talks consist of North Korea, South Korea, and United States. Can you verify this?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, we’ve made clear there are things that North Korea has to do to create the right kind of environment where we think any kind of dialogue would be useful. Unfortunately, as we said last week, North Korea had an opportunity to have productive talks with South Korea. No indication that those talks were productive. North Korea abruptly left those talks. So – but North Korea has to demonstrate to the United States and others that it is serious about following through on its commitments. Should they demonstrate that seriousness of purpose, then we’ll see what might be appropriate.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. CROWLEY: Argentina.
QUESTION: On the – United States has asked Argentina to release the cargo that has been seized in Ezeiza. Now, the Argentinean Government is saying – said this morning that under the Argentinean law they could destroy it. So I would like to have your reaction.
And second, I would like to know – there was – the foreign minister presented a formal complaint to the State Department. I would like to know if there was an answer.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s see. I don’t know that we have information that the items were destroyed. That would be unfortunate. These items, as we have said before, were routine materials that would normally be brought into a country during a training program of this nature, and we believe these items were inappropriately seized. We have a long history of close cooperation with Argentina, so we remain surprised and concerned by the ongoing Argentine reaction. Beyond that, we continue to engage Argentina to try to resolve this case.
QUESTION: Was there any formal answer to the complaint of the foreign minister? They were asking, like, kind of an apology from the United States.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – first of all, we have nothing to apologize for. But we continue to engage Argentina, and we’ll continue to work as best we can to resolve this case.
QUESTION: P.J. –
QUESTION: Hold on.
QUESTION: P.J. –
QUESTION: No, no, no, no. Let’s –
QUESTION: Change of subject.
QUESTION: Let’s stay on Argentina for a second.
MR. CROWLEY: Let – hold on. Hold on. We’ll get there Tejinder. We’ll get there.
QUESTION: Can we stay on Argentina for a second?
MR. CROWLEY: Argentina.
QUESTION: A lot of these questions have been about if you have received a complaint from the Argentines, a formal complaint –
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: -- and what your response has been.
MR. CROWLEY: Well –
QUESTION: Have you actually – I mean, it seems to me that the aggrieved party here, at least in your view, is you. Have you formally complained to them about storming this plane and taking –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have had direct conversations with senior Argentine officials. We may well have further high-level conversations about this situation. I don’t know that we’ve resolved – we’ve sent a formal note of our own. We have received one from Argentina, and it was our view all along that to the extent there might have been small technical issues in how certain material was manifested, they could have easily been resolved at a working level. We do not know why Argentina decided to make a federal case out of this. But our interest is in trying to resolve this situation.
QUESTION: P.J. –
QUESTION: A follow-up on Argentina?
MR. CROWLEY: Argentina. Argentina for $600. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: The U.S. is urging Argentine authorities to immediately return all U.S. materials, but the minister of – the foreign affairs minister of Argentina said that the Government of Argentina asked the cooperation of the U.S. Government. And apparently they didn’t receive any help or cooperation from the U.S. Can you comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, in Argentina, we’re fully prepared to resolve any questions at the working-level. In our view, this was escalated to higher levels, and we’re still confused as to why Argentina has taken this approach.
QUESTION: Can we do Colombia?
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Before we go to Colombia, I promised Tejinder.
QUESTION: What is the State Department doing about the status of Tri-Valley University students?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first, it remains under investigation, and we have ongoing concerns both in this case and more broadly about instances of visa fraud. And we need to continue to investigate how these things happen and try to do everything we can to prevent them from occurring in the future.
That said, we do understand that there are students who have been caught up in this. It has been, as you know, the subject of discussions with Secretary Clinton and others, and also with the Indian Embassy here, our Embassy in India. We will work as cooperatively as we can with the Indian Government as we move ahead here, but it’s hard to know exactly what is possible because the matter is still under investigation.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, Indian Foreign Minister Krishna in New York over the weekend and Indian Foreign Secretary Rao yesterday told India today that the State Department has promised help. What – has promised help to – what exactly, like beyond statements? Can you give me practical input?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no. We – again, I can promise you that we are going to work as cooperatively as we can, both with the government and also to help resolve these cases. We do understand – I mean, India has made the point, and we understand it fully, that students caught up in this, the risk is that they’ll lose a year of schooling and go through great inconvenience as this matter is being investigated. We do understand that and we have pledged our cooperation. But we do recognize that there’s – are strong indications of visa fraud, and we don’t know who is involved, we don’t know how they got involved, but this has to be investigated fully, and we will do that.
That said, I think the Embassy in Delhi has also issued some statements that reiterate that the Embassy is available as a resource to help students who want to apply to come to schools in the United States, and we will make sure that whoever is interested in coming to the United States – and we continue to welcome Indian students to study here – that they avail themselves of all the available information on how to do this, and alert them to the potential for fraudulent institutions that are trying to do these kinds of things.
QUESTION: Just a last follow-up: Has there – you said about the investigation going on from the ICE and Homeland Security – has the Department approached you or have you been in touch with them? What is the status on that cooperation?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, we are working very closely with the Department of Homeland Security as it conducts this investigation.
QUESTION: One follow-up just quickly.
QUESTION: P.J., yesterday, Foreign Secretary – India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama met with the Secretary here at the State Department. One, what assurance she was given? And two, you just said about – the students are living now under fear here and also those who want to come for higher study to the U.S., and they had a very high interest and also trust in the U.S. educational and official system that the U.S. will be fair, and they will be not subject to arrest and all that.
So what message do you think Secretary has for them and for those who are here?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, we have reiterated over the course of the last several days our commitment to work very closely with the Indian Government. We understand the concerns the government has. We want to resolve these cases. And those that are just ensnared in somebody else’s fraud, we understand that they have been put in kind of a limbo status as a result of this. We regret that very much.
That said, there – we have strong suspicions that visa fraud has occurred. It is a matter of great concern to us as a country. It’s a matter of great concern to India as a country. And we will seek to resolve this as quickly as we can. We’ll pledge to keep Indian authorities fully informed, but we have to go through this investigation first.
QUESTION: One more quickly. When you say visa fraud, is that visa fraud by the university, by the students, or by some agency in India at the U.S. Embassy?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, that is exactly what we’re investigating.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: P.J. on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Desert Storm, (inaudible) wrote an article yesterday that paints a very abysmal picture of human rights conditions, the levels of poverty, repression in Saudi Arabia, the hegemony of the royal family. So in 20 years, there’s been no reforms. How do you address these issues with the Saudis?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have recorded our concerns in our annual Human Rights Report. We do have a dialogue with Saudi officials about the need for reforms. Our message – the message that the Secretary gave in Doha was to the region as a whole, that the people have aspirations, they want to have a job, and governments are not producing enough economic and political and social opportunity for their people. And the Secretary did not exclude any country in her remarks.
QUESTION: But considering how – the vitality of U.S.-Saudi relations and so much at stake, are you not pressing the situation now more urgently with all that is happening?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, this has been a longstanding area of dialogue between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Iran, the national intelligence report? Some reports say that member of Congress have been briefed on it by the intelligence community. Can you --
MR. CROWLEY: Have been briefed on what? I didn’t catch the first part.
QUESTION: NIE on Iran.
QUESTION: On the national intelligence --
MR. CROWLEY: Again --
QUESTION: Are you aware if the Secretary has read it?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not briefed today on the status of the NIE.
QUESTION: P.J., do you have anything more to say about North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s son in Singapore for concert?
MR. CROWLEY: I think I’ll let my Tweets speak for themselves. I think the family should get out more. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on your Tweet, P.J.?
QUESTION: Two different topics about Colombia, please. First, yesterday, Mr. Arturo Valenzuela said in a hearing in Congress that U.S. Government believes that Venezuela continues to support the FARC. What concrete evidence you have about it?
MR. CROWLEY: All right, I’m sorry. You lost me. Try again.
QUESTION: Valenzuela said that Venezuela continues to support the FARC. What concrete evidence do you have to back that up?
MR. CROWLEY: Venezuela and its activities – it remains a matter of concern. We have voiced our longstanding concerns about Venezuelan support for the FARC. We stand by what Assistant Secretary Valenzuela said.
QUESTION: On the second topic, please. Yesterday, in the Supreme Court of Colombia, officials from the U.S. Embassy delivered a video recorded in a cafeteria in the state of Virginia. This video shows an attempted rape on Mr. Ramon (inaudible) while arrest – was arrested in Bogota. Will the U.S. Government ask to extradite Mr. (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not familiar with that.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment or observation on Japan’s decision to suspend the whale hunt?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:45 p.m.)