Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–June 8, 2010.
|Secretary Clinton Departed Lima, Peru for Quito, Ecuador and Bogota, Colombia / Will Deliver Remarks at Quito’s Metropolitan Cultural Center / Secretary’s Upcoming Itinerary|
|Secretary Clinton Congratulates the People of Slovenia on Ratification of Border Arbitration Agreement with Croatia / Taken Question|
|Applauds Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the Investment of $1.5 Billion for Women and Children’s Health|
|U.S. Expresses Concern Over Increasing Political Repression, Deteriorating Environment for Civil-Political Rights in Khartoum / U.S. Calls on Government of Sudan to Ensure Due Process and Medical Care for Those in Custody / Call to Cease Any Censorship / Concerned by Continued Harassment of Journalists|
|State Department Launches New Mobile Site|
|Response to Alleged Leak of Department Cables and Classified Documents on Wikileaks|
|Expect the First Arrival of Around 9,843 Feet of Boom from Canada to Alabama|
|Breakdown on the Extent of U.S. Humanitarian Assistance to Gaza and West Bank|
|U.S. Response on Potential Request for Extradition Involving a U.S. Citizen, Former Executive of Union Carbide / U.S. Has an Extradition Treaty in Force with India / Do Not Comment on Particular Cases|
|Additional Clarification on the Issue of American Citizens in Custody in Yemen|
|Statistics on American Citizens in Yemen / Mutual Support on U.S. Concerns About al-Qaida and the Arabian Peninsula / Unaware of Any New Arrests of American Citizens on Terrorism-Related Charges|
|U.S. Has Close Cooperation with the Government of Yemen / Continue to Seek Information and Talk to Yemen / U.S. Aware of Three Americans on Terrorism-Related Charges / U.S. Has Received Consular Access / Three Individuals in Custody Apprehended Since the First of the Year|
|Cannot Attest to Authenticity of Iranian Video of an Alleged Kidnapping of Iranian Scientist|
|Status of Sanctions on Iran / Expect a Vote in the UN Security Council Tomorrow / Consequences for Iran / No One Has Kidnapped the Diplomatic Corps of the Government of Iran / Iran Has Been Unwilling to Follow up on Conversation About Its Nuclear Program / Not Closing the Door to Further International Engagement|
|Turkey Has a Role to Play / Turkey’s Mediation Efforts with Iran|
|Breakdown of Humanitarian Assistance / 2009 Pledges / U.S. is Challenged in Getting Assistance to the People of Gaza / Assistance to the West Bank / Political Situation in Gaza / Discussing with Israel and Others on Possible International Participation in the Investigation / U.S. Does Not Have Political Relationship with Hamas|
|South Korean Government Has Sent Letter to the President of the UN Security Council / U.S. Expects Matter to Come Up Within the Council in Next Couple of Weeks / U.S. Expects to Have, Per the South Korean Request, an Appropriate Response from the UN Security Council / Senator Webb Letter to Secretary Clinton re. U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.|
|U.S. Talking to Burma about International Obligations Under 1874|
|Dialogue Between the Two Countries Continues to Expand|
1:24 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State.
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State.
Many, many things to talk about before taking your questions. This morning Secretary Clinton departed Lima for Quito, Ecuador where she is now meeting with President Correa and delivering – and will later on this afternoon deliver remarks at the Metropolitan Cultural Center to a group of approximately 300 people, including alumni of the Embassy Exchange Programs, NGOs, youth and business leaders, members of the media, academics, and diplomats. It will be a major speech on the Western Hemisphere. Its title is “Opportunity in the Americas.”
She will then depart Quito later this evening for Bogota, where tomorrow she’ll meet with President Uribe, sign a bilateral science and technology agreement with the government, and meet with the two presidential candidates to succeed President Uribe. She will then conclude her stop in Bogota with a visit to a USAID-sponsored vocational training center for at-risk youth before proceeding onto Barbados.
Have we released this on Slovenia?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, good. You should be seeing in your Blackberrys – of course, you’re not paying any attention to your Blackberrys. You’re paying attention to this briefing. But the United States – we have just released a statement from Secretary Clinton. The United States congratulates the people of Slovenia on the ratification of the border arbitration agreement with Croatia by referendum on June 6th. By cementing this agreement, the people of Slovenia helped move the region closer to full European integration. We commend the leaders and governments of Croatia and Slovenia for resolving to settle their disagreements and agreeing to arbitration in the spirit of good, neighborly relations. We believe the arbitration agreement is good for Slovenia, good for Croatia, and good for the entire region.
And just to highlight a statement by Secretary Clinton last evening where she applauded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the announcement of $1.5 billion for women and children’s health, we share their commitment to making maternal, newborn, and child health a priority. Focusing on women is not only the right thing to do but is also the smart thing to do, because investing in the health of women also improves the health of their families and communities.
Turning to Africa, the United States Government expresses its concern over a pattern of increasing political repression and the deteriorating environment for civil and political rights in Khartoum, including the arrest of opposition leaders, journalists, and peaceful demonstrators. In mid-May, Sudanese authorities arrested two prominent opposition leaders, releasing one after several hours while they continue to hold the other in detention. We are also troubled by the closure of the Rai al-Sha’ab newspaper and the arrests and alleged mistreatment of Rai al-Sha’ab staff members.
Separately, authorities also prevented several activists from departing the country to participate in the International Criminal Court Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda. In June earlier this month, authorities also arrested several individuals in connection with a doctors’ strike, and police reportedly injured at least 12 persons while violently dispersing a related peaceful protest. We call on the Government of Sudan to ensure that those in custody are afforded due process and receive access to medical care. We also call for the Sudanese security agencies to cease any censorship of media. The United States is concerned by the continued harassment of journalists, human rights advocates, and nongovernmental organizations in Sudan and reminds the Government of Sudan of its international obligations to respect human rights, including freedoms of assembly and of the press.
Now, behind – we are just – for those who are aficionados of state.gov, we are pleased to announce the launch of a new mobile site: http://m.state.gov. This site provides a collection of news releases from state.gov optimized for mobile phones and other handheld devices. As you’ll see here, the top stories include Secretary Clinton, country information, daily press briefings, and more news. Today, for example, on the site you can highlight a podcast of a program we had, “Conversations with America,” where, this morning, Bob Blake and former Ambassador Teresita Schaffer had a nice 45-minute discussion of the implications of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue completed last week.
And then just a couple – a few cats and dogs before taking your questions. We were asked yesterday when did we become aware of the leak of – alleged leak of department cables and classified documents on Wikileaks. We became aware of that on May 27.
We were asked regarding potential request for extradition involving a U.S. citizen and former executive of Union Carbide. The United States has an extradition treaty in force with India, but we do not comment on extradition requests for any particular case.
Regarding the Canadian boom, we expect to see the first of somewhere around 9,843 feet of boom arrive this evening by truck in Alabama and we would expect to have two additional arrivals on Wednesday and Thursday.
You’ve been asking in recent days regarding the extent of our assistance of humanitarian aid to Gaza. In terms of the current fiscal year, fiscal 2010, we estimate – we’ve appropriated roughly 400 million in assistance to the West Bank and Gaza and right now we estimate that 45 million is committed for humanitarian assistance activities in Gaza and the West Bank so far, as well as $35 million in support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East, so-called UNRWA. That commitment so far this year is 35 million. If we go back last year, we committed both – close to $200 million in a variety of projects for Gaza and refugee activity and 80 million the previous year. We can go into greater detail if you wish.
QUESTION: Can we go back to the boom – Canadian boom? I think you said delivery in Alabama.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Did you give a more specific or do you have a more specific location?
MR. CROWLEY: No, the trucks are coming from New Brunswick, Canada. All I have is Alabama.
QUESTION: Just Alabama?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, just Alabama.
QUESTION: It’s a big state. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: Actually, it has a relatively small coastline. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: It would be helpful —
MR. CROWLEY: I understand.
QUESTION: — for the obvious reasons. I think they’re obvious.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure. And I would probably send you down there, and we’ll find out if we can find out —
QUESTION: Find the contact.
MR. CROWLEY: — where specifically the trucks are coming.
And finally, I want to give you some additional clarity to a topic of conversation you raised yesterday in terms of American citizens in custody in Yemen. We gave you a figure of 12 yesterday. Talking to the post today, actually that number fluctuates from time to time. It can be as high as 20. That number regards the total number of citizens we are aware of and have consular access to regarding any crime committed – allegedly committed within Yemen.
And we should also note that there may well be some people who have dual citizenship and we may not know the entire population of people who are in custody in Yemen at any particular time. But there was some suggestion that there had been new arrests involving terrorism. We can report to you we continue to check with the Yemeni Government and we are not aware of any new arrests on terrorism charges at this point.
Of the people who are currently in custody, we can tell you that there are three citizens, three U.S. citizens currently in custody that we are aware of associated with charges of terrorism, and we have consular access to each. But the one caveat is those people have been arrested in the last couple of months, and so we are not, at the present time, aware of any new arrests regarding terrorism in Yemen.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: These three or perhaps, if you – others that have been released or whatever, or arrested, did the U.S. ask the Yemenis to arrest them based on suspicions that you had on terrorism?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll just repeat what I said yesterday. We have close cooperation with the Government of Yemen, mutual support regarding our concerns about al-Qaida and the Arabian Peninsula. And beyond that, I will not comment on the nature of our exchange of information.
QUESTION: Have these three citizens been interrogated by the FBI?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not know.
QUESTION: Can you take the question?
MR. CROWLEY: You can ask the FBI.
QUESTION: On the 12, I mean, yesterday, you were firm about the number. Someone asked you and you said 12; you didn’t qualify it in any way.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I mean, and the —
QUESTION: Where did that come from?
MR. CROWLEY: Huh?
QUESTION: Where does that come from? Three is a lot different than 12.
MR. CROWLEY: The three – I have my sources. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Apparently not very good.
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no. But I was very careful yesterday to say that I was not suggesting that the 12 that we are aware of were all associated with terrorism. In fact, you asked me that question. I said I’m not going to go into the details. Just in light of the coverage that we’ve seen —
QUESTION: You didn’t (inaudible) conflicting (inaudible).
MR. CROWLEY: Well, in the light of the coverage that we’ve seen, I can tell you that right now, we are only aware of three American citizens in custody, in Yemen, on terrorism charges. We are continuing to seek information from Yemen as to whether there are additional American citizens in custody that we’re not aware of.
QUESTION: Are you seeking the extradition of these three U.S. citizens back to the United States?
MR. CROWLEY: Extradition?
QUESTION: Well, I guess that indicates that they’ve been —
MR. CROWLEY: I —
QUESTION: But are you asking them to be deported back to the United States?
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge. I don’t know, but not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: Do you know (inaudible) Americans have been released recently in recent days in Yemen that were associated with any terrorism charges?
MR. CROWLEY: How far do you want to go back? I mean, have people been detained, questioned, and released on a variety of issues? The answer is yes. But again, I wouldn’t necessarily tie that flow to any particular —
QUESTION: To these three? I mean, are they associated at all with the arrests of these three individuals that you’re speaking of?
MR. CROWLEY: Try me again, Justin.
QUESTION: I’m asking if any Americans have been released around the same time frame that these three individuals were arrested.
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t go back and say when was the last time an American citizen in Yemen was detained for questioning and released. I don’t know.
QUESTION: Can I just clarify, real quick, because I think that’s a different take on this question. When you said that there have been none recently, within your definition of recently, have there been any released on (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, let me get to the more specific. There was some reporting that started yesterday that there had been a fresh group of individuals arrested on a terrorism charge. We are unaware of a new wave of arrests in recent days in Yemen.
QUESTION: Let me ask this, then. Does – for a part of a broader context for reporting, saying that there have been 50 Westerners detained on terrorism charges and among those there was some reporting that there were Americans, you’re saying there’s no Americans. Are you aware of broader arrests of other Westerners?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m saying at this point, again, there are three Americans that we are aware of who are currently in Yemeni custody on terrorism charges. We are still seeking information from the Yemeni Government as to whether there have been any new arrests. We are not aware of any new arrests of Americans.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any other (inaudible) as you —
MR. CROWLEY: That would be a question to – I mean, there’s no – there would not necessarily be a reason for we at the State Department to know if there have been arrests of citizens of other countries. I mean, we are cooperating intensively with Yemen on counterterrorism matters. We – and we have a mutual concern about al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. I’m not going to get into the particulars of that cooperation, but we remain in contact with Yemen. And if there are – if we ascertain any additional Americans in custody on terrorism charges, we’ll —
QUESTION: So you’re —
QUESTION: So for clarification, I’m still a little confused. The three Americans you are aware of have – were not arrested recently.
MR. CROWLEY: Correct. All since the first of the year.
QUESTION: And they were —
QUESTION: Since the first of the year.
QUESTION: Did they share with you nature of the charges?
QUESTION: Excuse me.
MR. CROWLEY: We have had consular access to all three.
QUESTION: And you’ve had consular access to those three who were not arrested recently. Now, in regards to the group, the reporting you referred to of an arrest of a large group of people from various nations, in your talking to the Post, there’s been – I mean, what’s the reaction to that story?
MR. CROWLEY: What story? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: The story of the arrest of a large group of people involving as many as 12
MR. CROWLEY: All right. This is what I want to get at. The reporting yesterday suggested that we were aware of a new arrest of 12 Americans on terrorism-related charges. We are not aware of a new arrest of any American citizen on terrorism-related charges.
There are a number of people in custody. Twelve’s a good number. If we probably counted them up, it could actually be higher than 12. They’re – they’ve been arrested on a wide range of charges. Ordinary crimes – one has been arrested for murder, three have been arrested on terrorism-related charges. So I’m trying to put – I want to tamp down the idea that there are a fresh batch of 12 Americans arrested in Yemen on terrorism charges.
We are still talking to Yemen. We are asking them if they – to clarify if we have any additional Americans in custody on terrorism charges. At the present time, there have been no new arrests of American citizens, to our knowledge.
QUESTION: But these three —
QUESTION: Did they share the nature of these charges with you?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Did they share the nature of these charges with you? Specifics?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – I mean, in that respect, our post in Sana’a is doing what our posts in any capital do. They look after the welfare of American citizens. We have had consular access to them. We’re making sure that their rights are being fully protected. So we are familiar with the charges against them and making sure that they have full rights and – going forward.
QUESTION: Are these three arrested in kind of the crackdown of Yemen after the Abdulmutallab case? Apparently, they’re connected to these kind of language schools and never – and failed to kind of show up to the schools. And you had talked with the Yemenis right after Abdulmutallab about kind of cracking down on these people that you didn’t – that were suspect and you didn’t know their whereabouts. Is this connected with that?
MR. CROWLEY: All I will say is that the three in custody have been apprehended since the first of the year. And I’m not going to go into greater detail about who and what they were necessarily doing from here.
QUESTION: Why have you taken till today to correct the incorrect impression that you left with us yesterday that there were 12 American citizens who were in custody as a result of recent arrests?
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that that was an impression that was left from yesterday’s briefing and I had the opportunity personally to communicate with post this morning and am clarifying it for you.
QUESTION: Because we take our reputations for getting things right very seriously. We quoted you on the record. I have the transcript. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of ambiguity here. And I think if you realize that there’s an error, it’s your obligation to make that public immediately, not wait 18 hours to fix something.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. And I take that responsibility seriously as well. And I’m fixing it at the first opportunity.
QUESTION: The thing I don’t understand is where the 12 number.
MR. CROWLEY: But I wasn’t responsible for the reporting. Just – I mean, I —
QUESTION: You said, and I’m very happy to read you the transcript if you want –
MR. CROWLEY: Fine. I did –
QUESTION: — because it’s on the website —
MR. CROWLEY: I never said —
QUESTION: You suggest —
MR. CROWLEY: Arshad, I never said that the 12 people in custody were all on terrorism-related charges. I never said that. I specifically avoided that question.
QUESTION: But it was – so there are – you said yesterday there were 12 Americans in custody. So it’s fair to say that there are 12 Americans that are in custody, that three of them are terrorism-related charges, then, right?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. Yes.
QUESTION: That’s —
QUESTION: And as many as 20 for various charges —
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, the number goes up and down. The number may actually have fluctuated over the past 24 hours. The reporting yesterday was focusing on the prospect of 12 new arrests based on terrorism charges. And I want to make sure that I put that in proper context.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. CROWLEY: Michel, go ahead.
QUESTION: Iranian state television showed a video yesterday of a man identified as a missing nuclear scientist who said he had been abducted and taken to the United States. He claimed the Saudi intelligence cooperated with U.S. intelligence in his abduction. The television said that the video was recorded on April 6 in Arizona. Have you seen this —
MR. CROWLEY: In light of some of that coverage yesterday, a number of people reviewed that video and we are unable to attest to its authenticity.
QUESTION: So are you denying that the U.S. and the Saudis colluded to kidnap an Iranian nuclear scientist?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not commenting on where that individual may be. All I know is that as to whether that particular video depicts a specific individual, we’re unable to —
QUESTION: Well, did the U.S. and the Saudis collude to kidnap the Iranian nuclear scientist?
MR. CROWLEY: We are not in the habit of going around the world and kidnapping people.
QUESTION: You mean under this Administration? No, I mean, there is – actually, there is quite a history of the U.S. in the last several years kidnapping people and taking them to various – are you saying that —
MR. CROWLEY: I —
QUESTION: Are you saying —
MR. CROWLEY: No, no.
QUESTION: Are you saying that the U.S. —
MR. CROWLEY: I will be as specific as I can. If the question is have we kidnapped an Iranian scientist, the answer is no.
QUESTION: Is there any asylum case on this case?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, asylum issue – requests that any individual may proffer to the United States, those are also confidential.
MR. CROWLEY: Jeff.
QUESTION: Change of subject.
QUESTION: Can we stick with this (inaudible)?
QUESTION: Okay. You said you haven’t kidnapped any Iranian. What do you make of Iran’s claim that this man was kidnapped? Is that simply false?
MR. CROWLEY: As to the circumstances of that individual’s – I mean, as I understand it, based on media reports and nothing else, that individual made a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and that was the last that the Iranians were aware of him. I can tell you that – did the United States kidnap him from Saudi Arabia? The answer is no.
QUESTION: Or from anywhere else? I don’t mean to parse things, but I want to be sure I get this right.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that. I just made a categorical statement.
QUESTION: No, you made a categorical statement with regard to Saudi Arabia, not with regard to anywhere else in the world.
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I – based on the media reporting, this individual was in Saudi Arabia and the question is: Did the United States kidnap him from Saudi Arabia? The answer is no.
QUESTION: Well, now the question is: Did the U.S. kidnap him at all?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Is he in the United States?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to comment further. I don’t – I personally don’t know where he is.
QUESTION: New subject. P.J., I was hoping to get a readout on two meetings. First the talks in Geneva on security in the Caucasus, Assistant Secretary Gordon is there. He met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin earlier today.
And second, Secretary Hormats met with the president of American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, Andrew Somers, presumably they discussed economics and trade, Jackson-Vanik Amendment. I believe (inaudible) have something on that.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not equipped to answer either one of those. We’ll take both those questions.
QUESTION: P.J., just —
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, Jeff.
QUESTION: I just wanted to come to the sanctions, Iran sanctions, UN Security Council. Can you confirm on the record that there’s pretty much a clear – clear shot at a vote tomorrow with no veto and that the U.S. has a view on it or is on board with it?
MR. CROWLEY: We expect that there will be a vote in the UN Security Council tomorrow.
QUESTION: Well, can I follow up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: You may.
QUESTION: The – Ahmadinejad is obviously on the record as well saying that this is not going to work, you’re forcing this issue. In fact, he’s specifically quoted saying that, “The U.S. Government and its allies are mistaken if they think they can brandish the stick of a resolution and then sit down and talk with us, such a thing will not happen.”
So is this going to work at the end of the day? I mean, even if you get this all passed, no vetoes, where is this going?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no one has kidnapped the diplomatic corps of the Government of Iran. We did have what we thought was an encouraging meeting with an Iranian diplomat on October 1st of last year and there has been no direct follow-up since then. We have been encouraging through a variety of means – the United States, the EU, other countries – to have a direct conversation about Iran’s nuclear program and encourage Iran to answer the questions that the international community has and to meet its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions and IAEA obligations.
It is Iran that has been unwilling to follow up on that conversation about October 1st – from last October 1st, and tomorrow Iran will understand that there are consequences for its failure to come forward.
QUESTION: Right. But Ahmadinejad said that Iran will not – if you continue to sanction them, Iran will pull out of any hope of having these P-5+1, six-party, whatever you want to call them, talks.
MR. CROWLEY: No, Six-Party is a different country.
QUESTION: Well, but there’s still six parties, so whatever. Will pull out of the talks.
Now, Turkey – prime minister is trying to convince Ahmadinejad not to abandon the talks whatsoever. Do you think Turkey has a role to play here?
MR. CROWLEY: Of course, Turkey has a role to play. Turkey as a direct neighbor of Iran will be among the first countries to feel whatever the effects of international action are. Turkey itself has been very clear it does not desire to have a nuclear Iran right next door. We are all committed to diplomacy. As the United States has indicated very strongly, we do not see that Iran is going to change course based on words alone. We are going to vote for the UN Security Council resolution tomorrow. Other members of the Security Council will have the opportunity to vote as well. And we hope that that will be a strong, compelling, direct international message to Iran that it has to change course. As to what Iran does in light of tomorrow’s vote, that will, of course, be up to Iran.
QUESTION: Will you support —
QUESTION: Wait, wait, wait. Let me follow up, please. Will you support Turkey’s continued mediation efforts even after the UN Security Council resolution?
MR. CROWLEY: As we’ve said all along, we have two tracks. We have a diplomacy track and we have not ever closed the door to further international engagement. We’d like to see Iran —
QUESTION: I’m talking about Turkey specifically.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that. So is the diplomatic track still available? Of course. But at the same time, we are going to apply greater pressure on Iran to make clear that its failure to meet its obligations does have consequences.
QUESTION: But Iran has inferred that new sanctions mean confrontation.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, this is Iran’s choice. I mean, this is not about the United States singling out Iran. This is about Iran as a signatory to the Nonproliferation Treaty that has a nuclear program and has failed over a number of years to satisfy the international community that that program is civilian and peaceful in nature. So Iran wants to portray itself as the victim here. Iran is not the victim. Iran is an actor in this play and it’s Iran that has failed to come forward and meet its international obligations. And what we are saying is that failure has consequences. We are not closing the door to any step beyond the sanctions vote tomorrow.
If Iran, after the sanctions vote tomorrow, is willing to come forward and answer the international community’s question, engage within the IAEA, that would be a welcome step. If Iran fails to engage, then we’ll take light of Iran’s response.
But tomorrow, there’s going to be a vote, and every country in the Security Council is going to have to stand up and say this is what we think of the current situation and we expect to have a successful vote that makes clear there are consequences to Iran for its failure to meet its international obligations.
QUESTION: P.J., I guess the logical follow-up, then, is can’t – don’t you see it wise to sort of put the brakes on the sanctions process when you have – you talked about Turkey being a very affected neighbor. And yet in conjunction with Brazil, it is – they’re fighting like cats and dogs to try to create a mediation here. They’re trying to create a different track.
Wouldn’t it be wise to say, okay, let’s pump the brakes on the sanctions, let Turkey and Brazil work – try their mediation track and see what happens? Because a sanctions regime clearly seems to be, you know, in the eyes of Iran, to be counterproductive.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June – for nine months, Iran has had the opportunity to engage the international community, following up on the meeting of October 1. It has failed to do so. Nobody has prevented Iran from picking up the phone, calling the EU or the IAEA and coming forward. Only recently, when they understood that a sanctions resolution was clearly going to be put on the table, they even bother to respond formally to the IAEA on the proposal that they had in their hands from October 1. So the reticence here is not the responsibility of the international community. This is all about Iran and its failure to engage significantly.
But in terms of mediation, we’re not ruling out mediation, but this is not a either/or situation. These two tracks work in parallel. We would like to see Iran come forward and engage constructively, and we happen to believe that putting additional pressure on Iran is the right step to take at this time.
QUESTION: P.J., the UN Security Council president did just announce the vote tomorrow as well up at – in New York. Can you tell us anything more now about what is in the annexes specifically, what some of the terms of the sanctions will be for —
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to get into the particulars of the resolution or the sanctions. They’ll be voted on tomorrow and then I would assume that some details will become available.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
QUESTION: Change of subject?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) there’s already reporting out that the annexes designate one individual and 41 entities. Can you confirm that?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to talk about them.
QUESTION: On Gaza aid?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: P.J., you said that thus far, the aid package this year to the West Bank in Gaza is $400 million. Could you tell us exactly how much went to Gaza?
MR. CROWLEY: Of the $400 million proposed for 2010, roughly 45 million has gone to Gaza for humanitarian assistance, and another 35 million to support the UNRWA. So, a total of 80 roughly has been committed so far.
QUESTION: Does that aid go directly to Gaza or it goes through the PA?
MR. CROWLEY: I believe the aid goes to – which one are you talking about? The refugee assistance or the —
QUESTION: The 45 – not UNRWA, the 45 million.
MR. CROWLEY: On the 45 million, I think it goes – it’s a mix. It goes to the Palestinian Authority and I believe to specific NGOs working on AID projects in Gaza.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) to give that some sort of meaning among others, I put a question to you days ago —
MR. CROWLEY: Right.
QUESTION: — about the $900 billion figure that was given out by the President. Is the rest of this aid coming? And when and to —
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, we got to be careful about – there’s aid to Palestinians including Gaza and the West Bank, and then there’s a narrow slice of that that is focused on Gaza. We – the 2009 pledges have allowed the United States – the U.S. Government to exceed its $900 million pledge made at the Sharm el-Sheikh Gaza donor conference. So that goes to the Palestinians writ large primarily through the Palestinian Authority. But there is a slice of aid to Palestinians that does go to Gaza.
QUESTION: Right. Ultimately, I think the question is: Is any of this aid really getting on the ground? Is this really making it to the people? Because you have the humanitarian situation, which the Secretary herself spoke of, and everybody else.
MR. CROWLEY: And the short answer is yes. Through the UN, this aid does in fact get to the people of Gaza. We have particular aid projects that are underway in Gaza and we continue to evaluate how we can expand our own assistance and – but clearly channel it so that it gets to the people of Gaza without benefiting Hamas.
QUESTION: Well, can I ask you something —
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: — a bit more theoretical? I mean, I know that you know and the Secretary has said and everyone said that the situation in Gaza is unsustainable. But do you really have a handle on the situation in Gaza, considering that no U.S. diplomats are allowed on the territories? I mean, do you really understand what the situation is on the ground, or you just know that it’s bad?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – I mean, we have diplomats there in the —
QUESTION: In Gaza?
MR. CROWLEY: In – not in Gaza, but we – that’s why we rely on, among others, Tony Blair. We have – are deeply involved and engaged with the UN. They have people on the ground in Gaza. So yes, you’re right. Do we have American diplomats in Gaza? We do not. Do we understand the current situation in Gaza from a variety of sources? We clearly do.
But more importantly, as the Secretary has indicated, in virtually every conversation we have with a Middle East leader, the issue – the situation of Gaza comes up. We share the concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. We want to see aid expanded to the people of Gaza. We’re committed to that. We’re working through and are working on some ideas on how to expand the aid. At the same time, we want to make sure that Israel’s legitimate security interests are protected.
QUESTION: Well, as you kind of work through a new paradigm for Gaza, do you think it’s something that you should consider, that U.S. diplomats should have a presence on the ground there?
MR. CROWLEY: If – I think we would welcome the opportunity to have a presence in Gaza but that is not possible in the current situation.
QUESTION: Why? I mean, John – there have been senators —
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: — that have been on the ground.
MR. CROWLEY: That – on a case by case basis, Americans have set foot in Gaza. We understand that. John Kerry is one. I think Jimmy Carter is another, if I’m not mistaken. But in order to have diplomats on the ground engage with authorities in Gaza, we need to have a different political situation in Gaza.
QUESTION: And do you think that if U.S. diplomats wanted to go to Gaza and (inaudible) consular office, that Hamas would prevent them from doing so?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no. But as we’ve made clear, we will engage with any political group that is willing to meet our basic red lines for playing a constructive role in the region. Those red lines are clear. Hamas has made clear they have no intention at the present time of agreeing to those. And as a result, we do not have a political relationship with Hamas.
QUESTION: P.J., you expected yesterday a strong statement on North Korea from the UN Security Council. Does that mean you expect a (inaudible) presidential statement rather than a resolution?
MR. CROWLEY: I – just to clarify, to be sure that you didn’t mis-hear me, we – the South Korean Government has sent a letter to the president of the Security Council. We do expect the matter to come up within the Council in the next couple of weeks. We would expect to have, per the South Korean request, an appropriate response from the UN Security Council. But what that specific response is will be a part of the upcoming debate.
QUESTION: P.J. —
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Senator Jim Webb today wrote a letter to Secretary Clinton calling for the passage of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
MR. CROWLEY: Calling for the passage of the —
QUESTION: Of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the appointment of a special envoy to Burma immediately, as well as – and increased East Asia Bureau funding here. So do you – have you seen the letter or do you intend to respond to it soon?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, of course we will respond to it. I’m not aware that we’ve seen the letter yet.
QUESTION: Could I just come back to a Gaza-related issue —
MR. CROWLEY: Nice to see you here, by the way.
QUESTION: (Laughter.) Thank you. But about the Turkish American that was shot on the flotilla, do you have any further information on whether this investigation is underway, what the U.S. knows about this, et cetera?
MR. CROWLEY: No change from what I’ve said before.
QUESTION: None? So you don’t know about the circumstances of the shooting and how —
MR. CROWLEY: We – as we’ve said, we want – we are ascertaining facts. We want to have not only our concern about our citizen but everyone who was killed and injured on those ships – we want a full understanding of what happened. And we’re talking to Israel and others about how to best accomplish that.
QUESTION: Speaking of which, there is the IDF investigation, which we all found out about last night, which, again, seems to close the door on the notion of international participation. Are you concerned that the notion of transparent international participation is not going to happen in terms of this —
MR. CROWLEY: I think we understand that international participation in investigating these matters will be important to the credibility that everybody wants to see as we understand fully what happened last week.
QUESTION: The ambassador —
QUESTION: So you’re going to have U.S. monitors?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m saying we are discussing with Israel and others the prospective nature of international participation in the investigation. And we’re sharing different ideas on how to best accomplish that, and that conversation is ongoing.
QUESTION: P.J., one related to that, the foreign ministers of Germany and Italy said today that they believe that the Quartet should be involved in the investigation to help its credibility. Do you like that idea? Does that seem like a plausible —
MR. CROWLEY: There are – Arshad, there are a variety of ways to accomplish this. I don’t think we’ve centered on any particular way at this point.
QUESTION: Do you have any favorite way?
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) No. I mean, ultimately —
QUESTION: That the United States would like to see?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, you’ve got to work backwards. We want to see an impartial, credible, prompt, thorough investigation, and we are talking about the best way to get from here to there. And we recognize that international participation, which lends itself to countries and entities being able to vouch for the results of the investigation, that will be an essential element to putting this tragedy behind us and then, hopefully, creating some additional trust and momentum to get us to our ultimate destination, which is an agreement that ends the conflict once and for all.
QUESTION: But the ambassador – respectfully, Ambassador Oren’s been all over the airwaves, all but saying that everything’s going to be internal. And there’s nothing impartial about an internal investigation.
MR. CROWLEY: And we’re in conversation with the Israelis and others about how to best accomplish this.
QUESTION: So you’re saying there still is a possibility of international participation in the investigation itself?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Change (inaudible) topic?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. All right, hold on.
QUESTION: I’d like to – returning to the beginning of the briefing, to the Western Balkans, there’s a new event today. Croatia and Serbia have signed agreement about the military cooperation 15 years after they finished the brutal war. And could you comment on that? And do you consider these positive events result – as a result of the stronger engagement of U.S. Administration —
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m just not familiar with that agreement. It sounds like it’s a constructive step.
QUESTION: I’d like to follow up on Burma.
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The same letter – Senator Webb also says that the State Department is not willing to share more information on Burma’s violation of 1874, which Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell has said during his – one of his meeting that —
MR. CROWLEY: That is something that we watch very carefully. We are talking to Burma, reminding Burma about its international obligations under 1874 and other resolutions. As to what – the nature of our conversations, we – obviously, Senator Webb, we’ve had many conversations with him about Burma. It’s a country of – that he recognizes is of significance. And I’m sure that we will continue our conversations with Senator Webb and others on the Congress about the best way forward.
QUESTION: And is the appointment of a special envoy for Burma – is under consideration? Do you consider this as a viable option for —
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: And secondly, the prime minister of India went to the state of Jammu and Kashmir today and he offered peace talks with the separatist and extremist elements with two conditions: that they should abandon violence and should abide by the Indian constitution. How do you view the situation there and the president – prime minister’s proposal for Kashmir?
MR. CROWLEY: I think all I would say is that we recognize that this is a very, very important issue between India and Pakistan, and as the dialogue between India and Pakistan continues to expand, including at the leader level, that we would hope that India and Pakistan can make progress in understanding this issue and moving forward, just as they did a few years ago.
QUESTION: One —
QUESTION: Just one small one. There are reports in Mexico that a U.S. border patrol guard accidentally shot a 14-year-old Mexican boy yesterday in Juarez. Do you have anything on that?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t.
QUESTION: Can you —
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll see what we can find out. It may well be, since it’s a border guard, that DHS is a better source, but I’ll see what we can find out.
QUESTION: Sure. Thank you.
QUESTION: Can I – I just have a random one. This Mr. Van der Sloot was arrested in Peru for the – confessing for murdering this Peruvian woman, but now it’s kind of opened up a lot of questions as to whether he’ll be charged in the Natalee Holloway murder. And there are some reports that perhaps the Aruban authorities have been notified where Ms. Holloway’s body is by Van der Sloot, and I was wondering if the U.S. Embassy has been notified or anything.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll check. We’ll take that question as well. I’m not aware that we have, but I’ll take it.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:08 p.m.)