Haiti and Chile Earthquakes

Remarks to the Press By Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley Re: Haiti, February 15, 2010

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–January 15, 2010.

MR. CROWLEY: Good morning, happy Friday. So just to give you a flavor for where we are today, as you know, we’ve been working through the inherent infrastructure challenges to be able to deliver more and more assistance to the people of Haiti, and we continue to do that. But obviously, we’ve been reinforced in the last 12 hours or so with the arrival of the Vinson, brings 19 helicopters with it. So now, we have a second significant channel besides the airport to be able to deliver assistance on the ground.
QUESTION: Where are the helicopters landing?
MR. CROWLEY: They’re – my understanding is they’re landing in the vicinity of the airport, and we’re working to create a staging area so that we can effectively move the material that is coming in, and we’ll expand so that it can be more effectively distributed around the city.
So if you think about the airport, up until now, we’ve been able – we’ve been delivering assistance through a garden hose, but now we’re expanding that, obviously, as we kind of work to create a river in terms of the flow of assistance to Haiti.
In terms of the airport, we continue to work to see how we can maximize the – and make the delivery – the landing and offloading of assistance as efficient as possible. We’ve – the Southern Command has assessed that it probably has a maximum capacity of about 90 flights a day. We’re not there yet, so we’re trying to work on how can we create a more efficient system so that airplanes are slotted. We have a firm understanding of the priority tail numbers that we’re looking for that bring in particular capabilities that we think is essential.
QUESTION: P.J., is that just – the 90, is that just cargo flights, or does that include search and rescue for other types of flights?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, that would include – it’s the assessment that that airport, with one roadway and a limited ramp space, can handle 90 landings and takeoffs a day.
QUESTION: So that could include evacuation flights and other things like that?
QUESTION: But you’re not there yet?
MR. CROWLEY: No, we’re not there yet. I don’t have a good number for where we are, but we’re trying to work up to that level.
QUESTION: And that’s landings and takeoffs?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. If there are landings but no takeoffs, eventually the airport ceases to function. The assessment on the port is right now, it is not usable. And that is – it’s a severe handicap, because obviously, at some point, in order to bring in significant quantities of goods, you’d like to be able to have access to the port. So that remains something that our logistics experts are working through.
There is – there are provisions that have been loaded onboard the Vinson, so – medical supplies, water, and those are the kinds of things that we’ll be focusing on today and in succeeding days.
QUESTION: Do you have a number or a figure on – I mean, I saw the USAID fact sheet on food. But is there – are there big —
MR. CROWLEY: Well, in the – we are having multiple interagency conference calls every day. In the most recent one this morning, there is – there’s now not only – there is a focus on what does Haiti need for the next 30 days, what does Haiti need for the next six months. So working with the World Food Program, going to be looking at how to both procure and deliver hundreds of thousands of provisions – MREs – that will provide that kind of basic subsistence for the people of Haiti for an extended period of time. Likewise, the issue of water, not only bringing in water, but bringing in equipment so that you can purify the water sources that do exist in the city already.
QUESTION: Is that there already?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. This stuff is arriving. Even with – the carrier itself has water-making – water-generating capabilities, so – and bringing that ashore. So water is a focus. Medical assistance – you’ve got a number of medical teams, there are four disaster medical assistance teams, I think with about 265 people from the Department of Health and Human Services, one international medical surgical response team.
QUESTION: (Inaudible?)
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a good question. I know in the queue there was a medical unit from Israel. I just – I can’t say that’s the one, but I know that one was in the pipeline as of yesterday.
QUESTION: Body bags, that kind of stuff, mortuary —
MR. CROWLEY: Mortuary affairs, that – we’re obviously working with the Government of Haiti to begin – we will be bringing in body bags and the kinds of materials that will help them deal with the – with those who have perished in this.
QUESTION: That’s the U.S. military doing that, mortuary affairs?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s – this will be – this is a basic function of the Government of Haiti. We’re obviously going to – I mean, no community, no city has the capacity to deal with tens of thousands of deaths all at once. So bringing in all of the materials to allow you to do mortuary affairs is something that is part of our disaster plan.
QUESTION: But I mean, there is no functioning government, is there? I mean, how can they do any of this stuff?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, there is a functioning government, recognizing that government has a limited capacity.
QUESTION: Well, but —
MR. CROWLEY: Let me – I want to make the point – the ambassador will be meeting with President Preval and Prime Minister Bellerive in the next few minutes. They met yesterday. So we are working with the Government of Haiti to try and understand what their priorities are, what their needs are, and then working with the international community, we’re finding ways to provide the assistance that is needed.
QUESTION: But – okay, so the government is – it’s in power, it’s functioning to some extent. Is the government able to provide any basic services for its people? Or is it basically kind of a figurehead government that’s telling you what it needs and you’re doing it?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s not a figurehead government. It is a democratic government and —
QUESTION: I’m not saying it’s not a government.
QUESTION: Is it able to provide any services?
MR. CROWLEY: Hang on a second. I mean, there are important legal issues here. Wait a second. We recognize that —
QUESTION: I’m not saying that you don’t.
MR. CROWLEY: We recognize that Haiti has profound needs. The United States and the international community are doing everything possible to meet those needs. But since Haiti is sovereign, we have to make sure that we are doing what the Haitian Government feels is necessary for their people.
QUESTION: That’s not – that’s not my question.
MR. CROWLEY: It’s – I understand that. But we are doing everything that we can to provide for the Haitian people. We are doing so in cooperation with the Haitian Government. We do not expect the Haitian Government to be able to do these things on its own. It was not able to do everything that it needed to do before the earthquake. But we are working closely with them. They are doing their own assessing of what they feel is necessary, what their priorities are. And we are advising them, based on our assessment teams, what we think urgent requirements are. And together, we are working on this plan and providing the support that is necessary.
QUESTION: That’s not my question. Are the institute – I’m not saying that the government’s not in power. I’m not saying it’s not in power. I’m not saying it’s not sovereign. I’m not saying that you’re not working in cooperation with them. I’m asking if any of the institutions are functioning to provide any services for the people, or is it basically that you are doing just whatever they need at their – in cooperation with them.
MR. CROWLEY: We are doing everything that they would want us to do.
QUESTION: P.J., do you have an update today on American survivors rescued? I’ve seen some reports maybe four were pulled from the rubble. Just wanted to see if there’s a latest figure and any details.
MR. CROWLEY: We’re being very cautious here. Are there American citizens who have perished in this? There are. Are we aware of them? We are. We are trying to match those who have perished with a clear identity before we announce this formally. So –
QUESTION: But without announcing their names, can you just give us numbers of the casualties and the injured and the evacuees?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, on evacuees –
QUESTION: Well, on casualties or fatalities first.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. Right now, we have the one confirmed State Department employee.
MR. CROWLEY: I think – we are aware of five other confirmed deaths.
QUESTION: So that’s six total.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. And that number is going to go up.
QUESTION: Where were the deaths? Do we know?
MR. CROWLEY: In Port-au-Prince. I mean that’s why – we’ll announce these things as we can but we’re being very cautious for obvious reasons.
QUESTION: P.J., the five others are private citizens?
QUESTION: And so one is from the U.S. Government and the rest are private, right?
MR. CROWLEY: The five deaths are private and in addition to the one official. And we’re, I mean, working through this. There’s a larger number of those who are presumed to have perished. But we’re just very cautious.
QUESTION: And what about missing or serious injuries?
MR. CROWLEY: Serious injuries – there were four serious injuries among the U.S. Government contingent. We still – and about 19 serious injuries among private citizens. They have been evacuated. We have –
QUESTION: All to Gitmo or – various places?
QUESTION: Someone said Jackson Memorial.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. It’s hard to say that every single one has gone there, but that is obviously one that’s an option or available.
QUESTION: And all evacuated? All of those 23 total?
MR. CROWLEY: As far as I know, yes.
QUESTION: Are you able to confirm the rescue of some Americans today? The attribution was a State Department —
MR. CROWLEY: I think through the great work of a French search-and-rescue team, there were some Americans rescued at the Hotel Montana. I think, in turn –
QUESTION: How many?
MR. CROWLEY: I think AFP reported that an American search-and-rescue team was able to recover a French citizen. So there are –
QUESTION: How many Americans?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know. In terms of evacuations –
QUESTION: Can we go back to the rescue –
QUESTION: At Hotel Montana?
QUESTION: You don’t have a number? I was told four Americans were rescued at the Hotel Montana.
MR. CROWLEY: I think AFP reported seven. So that’s why I – I mean, put it this way. You’re going to see through today that a lot of the – as we get a more robust capability and greater activity on the ground in Port-au-Prince, a lot of the details in terms of any particular time, what’s happened with the urban search-and-rescue teams, the information is going to be better sourced from there than from here.
QUESTION: P.J., can I ask you real quick, can you confirm that the President plans to call Preval at 10 a.m.?
MR. CROWLEY: President Obama is very anxious to talk with President Preval and the ambassador is meeting with him in the next few minutes, and we hope to engineer a call but I’ll defer to the White House on that.
QUESTION: So the total number who’ve been evacuated, of Americans –
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve been trying to get there.
QUESTION: And the unaccounted for?
MR. CROWLEY: At this point, we have 846 American citizens who have been evacuated. We have roughly 160 that are standing by at the Embassy as we speak. So – and we expect to be successful in moving them out today. So sometime today, we should cross the 1,000 point of American citizens who have been evacuated.
QUESTION: How many have you reached, like, Americans? Like, I understand that there’s about a thousand that have contacted you to get out. But in the larger community, do you have a number of Americans that you’ve –
QUESTION: There’s something on –
MR. CROWLEY: Can we just finish the point? I mean, we are taking advantage of any aircraft on the ground where we have – we have now teams at the Embassy, teams at the airport, so American citizens can come to either location. We have put out messages that encourage them to come to the airport during daylight hours, and we’re – as planes arrive, if they are U.S. planes or other planes that might have space available, we’re moving these people out.
For the most part, Americans are going to Santa Domingo. But in some cases, we’ve been able to move them back here to the United States directly, to either Florida or, in one case, New Jersey. So we’re doing everything we can, as Americans come to us and indicate that they’re prepared to leave, to make that happen very rapidly.
QUESTION: Do you know the situation of – there’s been these talks about a lot of parents in America have been kind of very far along in the adoption process of Haitian orphans and, apparently, there’s been some meetings at the State Department to either find these or try and help them –
QUESTION: To get these kids special visas to get in –
QUESTION: — to get them special visas to come. Can you – I don’t know if you know that now, but could you check on the status of all of that?
MR. CROWLEY: I will check on that.
QUESTION: And then, do you – what about Aristide? Did you hear that he said that he’s ready to come with his wife, he’s standing by with a plane, with supplies and he’s definitely making a play to come? And it just sounds like the worst time for that to happen?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of that.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of that. Just one other thing –
QUESTION: Can you check on that? Because he’s come – he could be coming, and you could have a –
QUESTION: While we’re on the numbers –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, look. I think – we’re providing the same recommendations within our own government. Right now, the urgent need is to put people with the requisite skills to provide direct assistance to the people of Haiti and to the citizens of the United States and other countries who are there. We’re encouraging – Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates and others have made it clear to their staffs the last thing that we need is to have someone land and put an additional burden in an already stressed situation.
QUESTION: Don’t you think that politically –
MR. CROWLEY: Members have – we’ve sent that same message to our members of Congress. So I think the emphasis right now is on – because you’ve all seen and all reported that there are significant limitations at the airport. We’re trying to create as efficient a logistical system as possible, but the airplanes that land should be ones that provide meaningful capability and meaningful support to the operation. It’s not for me to characterize what former President Aristide wants to do.
QUESTION: But he could get on a supply plane, P.J. It’s not really the idea that he shouldn’t be taking this plane. I mean, he –
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I mean, this is –
QUESTION: With everything, with the political situation and the kind of desperation of the people, as raw as it is right now, and him being such a divisive figure, and the inability – the kind of limitations of the government, I mean, he could really sow a lot of chaos in the country.
MR. CROWLEY: And put it this way. That’s the kind of judgment that, if former President Aristide wants to be helpful, he should be communicating with the Haitian Government and determine what the best role is for him.
One thing I wanted to mention in terms of our ongoing fundraising effort with the American Red Cross through the Haiti text to 90999, we’ve now crossed $8 million in terms of contributions.
QUESTION: P.J, could –
QUESTION: Can you give us the UN casualties that we were asking – that I was asking about earlier? You’ve given us the U.S. casualties and injured and –
MR. CROWLEY: I’m probably better off deferring to the UN on that.
QUESTION: P.J., can you discuss anything about the security situation on the ground, specifically policing? Who’s making policing decisions? Who – for instance, we’re hearing about roadblocks that people are setting up because they’re angry, sometimes made out of corpses. Who’s actually trying to establish some basic order at the, sort of, street level?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure. I mean, MINUSTAH is out, providing – supporting the Haitian Government, providing security as they were —
QUESTION: Who is that?
MR. CROWLEY: MINUSTAH – the UN mission as they were before the earthquake. The Brazilian general who is in charge of MINUSTAH is back on the ground and has moved his forces out in the streets. Obviously, we have assets on the ground. The 82nd Airborne is there. Their primary mission right now is humanitarian assistance. And we have discussions going on as we speak with U.S. officials and military officials on how we can be helpful.
QUESTION: So the U.S. troops are not doing security mission, then?
MR. CROWLEY: At this point, I’m not aware that they are.
QUESTION: Is the assessment that the security —
MR. CROWLEY: But obviously, they’re an asset that’s available if that’s the judgment made on the ground. And we have others who are en route. Some Marines are en route. Again, our focus and mission right now is humanitarian assistance, but as we know, as you go through this, security will be an important dimension.
QUESTION: Is it getting worse? I mean, is it stabilizing or is it deteriorating?
MR. CROWLEY: I think there’s going to be a briefing later in the day down in Port-au-Prince with General Keen and Ambassador —
QUESTION: General?
QUESTION: General – what’s the —
MR. CROWLEY: — who is the SOUTHCOM deputy commander and Ambassador Merten. I mean, there – I think you’ve reported some episodic tension rising in the city. That is certainly understandable given the circumstances. We understand that security is important and this will remain a priority.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. looking at setting up mobile platforms like it did in the Aceh case where there were offshore mobile platforms that allowed helicopters to fly in and out constantly? Because at this point, you’re just not able to get the supplies in because of the port and how limited the airport is.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, that’s the – that’s – yeah, I mean, that is the vitally – that’s the value of the Vinson
QUESTION: So why not do that now?
MR. CROWLEY: We are doing that.
QUESTION: I mean, setting up – the mobile platform has been set up?
MR. CROWLEY: Right. Indira, an aircraft carrier is a mobile platform. There’s a Marine amphibious ship en route. That is a mobile platform.
QUESTION: Okay. So that —
MR. CROWLEY: And so what the Navy has done, as General Fraser reported, as the Vinson was steaming south, they were bringing its complement of aircraft off and putting helicopters on. So in essence, with the arrival of the carrier, that gives you a second airport. And so you can expect that the flow of water, food, medical supplies, other gear will begin to increase. On the ground, we’re clearing more roads which then provides the opportunity for effective distribution of goods from the airport out to the city. So —
QUESTION: You’re working on fixing the port?
MR. CROWLEY: And – well, I mean, we have a lot of stuff geared, poised to flow. The limitation right now is the inherent infrastructure in Haiti. We’d love to have access to the port, and right now, there are port assessment teams continuing to study that to see how we can use it. But for the moment, for large ships, the port is unusable.
QUESTION: What about the other airport, Cape Haitian —
QUESTION: — and then using some of the helicopters?
MR. CROWLEY: And we’re looking – I mean, as we’ve been saying for the last couple of days, we’re looking at assets in the Dominican Republic. We are using Guantanamo as a staging area. So in the ideal circumstance, you’d be able to use the logistical infrastructure in the – in Haiti. That – the airport has limits, the port is damaged. So now we’re looking at other possibilities where we can do significant supply drops into the staging bases and then flow that material. That allows us to increase the flow, but obviously it is limited.
QUESTION: By supply drops in that case, do you mean like, parachuting supplies down or actual choppers?
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no, no. In other words, you would move – I mean, because we’re talking about purchasing and flowing hundreds of thousands of meals – humanitarian meals ready to eat. So that’s a pretty significant quantity of material. So you’ve got to be able to stage it somewhere and then move it in as you can. And of course, we’re also trying to make sure that we are increasing the absorption capacity of Haiti so that as we deliver assistance, it can more – it can effectively get out and be distributed quickly.
So all of these things – this is where we are right now in terms of having basically established the foundation for the operation. Now we’re gradually starting to see an increase in the flow of material, but we still need to find ways to expand those number of channels and broaden them as we go.
QUESTION: P.J., is there any concern that – I realize it’s early days now, but is there any concern that in some cases, you’re setting up services that didn’t exist before, that you’re essentially delivering things to people that weren’t getting anything even from their own government before? How long is this going to – I mean, how long is this going to continue? How long is Haiti going to be on this lifeline? Because it needed it even before the earthquake. So now you’re setting up structures. Are they ever going to be taken away? It’s not like you can just sort of walk away and leave them.
MR. CROWLEY: Hang on a second. I think that, first and foremost, understand the different phases of this kind of operation. We’re in the emergency response phase. In the coming days, we’ll be shifting our focus to recovery. That means bringing in the basic support to be able to stabilize the population. Then comes the long-term challenge of rebuilding Haiti. So the international community had a robust presence in Haiti on Monday. The international community has a significantly more robust capability in Haiti today. The international community will have to be involved, engaged, and invested in Haiti for months and years to come.
QUESTION: And would you expect the U.S. to play the lead role in that effort for years to come?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we were already – Cheryl Mills and Raj Shah will be coming in today. Cheryl has been directly involved in working on a revised strategy for Haiti, working with the government, trying to reform and improve and change the concept behind international assistance to Haiti. So – and in that role, she was joined by former President Clinton and many, many others. So we’re going to have to revise the planning that we had. We’re going to have to continue to look at how to rebuild and expand Haitian Government capacity.
But clearly, there will be a point where we have to focus on the long term and rebuilding, as Raj Shah said a couple of days ago, Haiti in a way that is far more resilient and far less susceptible to natural disasters, whether they’re earthquakes, hurricanes, or what-have-you.
QUESTION: You said working with the government, but I don’t see any signs of the government there right now. You read the – in the accounts, people are saying, “Where are our government officials?” So how is the U.S. working with the government? Is it with Preval? And where is that happening?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, in fairness to the Government of Haiti and recognizing that the government capacity in Haiti before the earthquake was limited – absolutely right – but if you ask Cheryl Mills later this morning, she will tell you that we felt that we were inching forward with Haiti, improving the ability of the government to meet the needs of its people.
But there – but when you look at the demographics in Haiti, it is an enormously challenged country. The unemployment rate before the earthquake was 70 percent. So as you rebuild Haiti, there’s still some fundamental things that have to change. The illiteracy rate in Haiti before the earthquake was 50 percent. There are some fundamental institutional challenges that’ll have to change.
So this will be a long, arduous, difficult process. But we recognize that we will have to build – rebuild Haiti. We are committed to rebuilding Haiti along with the international community. And we’ll be working closely with the governments of the hemisphere, with the Haitian Government, and directly with the Haitian people not only on the public sector side, but on the – with NGOs and on the private sector side – how can you find a way in this crisis to change the fundamentals that allow you to rebuild a society that is more durable and more successful in the long run.
QUESTION: But for conducting the emergency response, I mean, is it through Preval and the U.S. Embassy there?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I mean, we – I mean, I keep coming back to this point. There is a democratic government in Haiti. It is sovereign. This is their country. We have worked hard over many, many years to help that government to stand up and to progress. It wasn’t too long ago that you had a military dictatorship in Haiti, and we were proud to work with Haiti to return the government to civilian rule. That government has had its ups and downs. It was challenged before the earthquake. It is clearly challenged now. We are there along with our international partners to be as supportive as we can. And going forward, we will help the Government of Haiti reconstruct itself, not only regain its capacity but expand its capacity.
So this is part of the long-term commitment that we have to Haiti. As the President said, Haiti is in our neighborhood and we have a special relationship with Haiti. And together with our partners in the hemisphere, we feel we have a special responsibility to help Haiti recover and rebuild. That is a long-term challenge, but we have the immediate challenge that we’re focused on, not just today but the next 30 days, the next six months, and making sure, first and foremost, that you’re bringing in the basic elements to allow the Haitian people to stabilize. And then at that point, you can start to look to what are the – over the long-term how can you put together as effective a plan as possible given the devastation that Haiti has experienced.
QUESTION: P.J., real quick, just one more Preval today. I had heard that the Embassy was going to station somebody with him today because you’ve had such a hard time getting in touch with him through the week. Is that true —
MR. CROWLEY: I think when the ambassador was moving over to meet with President Preval today, as he did yesterday, I think we’re bringing some communications capability with him so that President Preval has the opportunity to talk to us and to others as he needs to. As we said —
QUESTION: Is there an official? I mean, are you going to —
MR. CROWLEY: A couple of days ago, we indicated that we were bringing in a communications capability to be able to help the Haitian Government function more effectively, and this is a manifestation of that.
QUESTION: He’s still not set up —
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
MR. CROWLEY: I would – yeah, I mean, I —
QUESTION: Is there going to be an official –
MR. CROWLEY: It’s been an hour since we got off the phone. But as of an hour ago, that was one of the things that we hoped to accomplish this morning.
QUESTION: But I just want to know about if you’re going to keep an official with him from the Embassy. That’s specifically what I had been told.
MR. CROWLEY: He will have communications personnel attached to him so that he has the ability to do what he feels he needs to do.
QUESTION: Communications?
QUESTION: A U.S. communications person?
MR. CROWLEY: In other words – yeah.
QUESTION: But – communications?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, we’re prepared to put communications personnel with him so that he has contact with us and with others.
QUESTION: Do you mean members of his own government? I mean, it doesn’t sound like he has even contact with them.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m the spokesman for the United States Government. I’m not the spokesman for the Government of Haiti.
QUESTION: When you say –
QUESTION: Yeah. But you’re helping them set up —
QUESTION: When you say communications personnel —
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: — does he also have, kind of beyond the communications piece, other Embassy, USAID personnel, like, with him all the time? Or are there any – does he have a team of U.S. officials at his disposal?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, not – I don’t know that they’re with him all the time. But as we have been reporting, we are meeting with him now.
QUESTION: I understand.
MR. CROWLEY: We met with him yesterday. And that will continue.
QUESTION: I’m – I guess I’m asking, like, is there – you know, I don’t know where the government has, like, set up itself, but is there a team of U.S. officials there working, you know, hand-in-glove? I’m not saying that you’re not meeting with them or that you’re not communicating with them, but you know what I’m talking about.
MR. CROWLEY: We can beat this horse all you want.
QUESTION: But you’re not answering the question is all.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we are meeting with President Preval. We are meeting with other ministers of government. As to how they are interacting, I will defer to the Haitian Government to describe how their government is functioning. I have a hard enough time trying to describe to you how our government is functioning.
QUESTION: P.J., is there any U.S.-provided security for President Preval or the prime minister or any Haitian officials?
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge. I mean, obviously, the international community, through the UN, is committed to help with the security of Haiti writ large. How that pertains to the Haitian Government, I don’t know.
QUESTION: One last thing. When I drove in this morning, I saw – I did not see the flag at half staff, which I kind of expected, in memory of Victoria DeLong. Is there a protocol issue with that? Is that not done? I thought it was.
MR. CROWLEY: Let me take the question. It’s a fair question. And I know that we have been working through (inaudible).
QUESTION: Has the Secretary spoken to her family, by any chance?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, she spoke to her family.
QUESTION: And do you have the numbers, P.J., of the total air assets you have there in terms of planes and helicopters?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the Pentagon for air assets.
QUESTION: And to help President Preval even get around, could you provide any assets in that —
MR. CROWLEY: Again, at the risk of incurring the wrath of Elise, the purpose of our meetings with the – with President Preval and other officials in the Haitian Government is to identify what are the priorities on the ground. The Haitian Government tells us based on their assessments what they need. We communicate to them based on our assessments what we think priorities should be. And we are working very closely together. If the president has particular concerns or things that he needs, we are, of course, going to provide whatever support we can. Those are the kinds of things, I think, starting today, we’ll have a better texture. As I said, I think your colleagues on the ground will hear from Ambassador Merten today. And I think over time, describing the day-to-day dynamic on the ground between our Embassy and the Government of Haiti, better described down there than up here.
QUESTION: What are you going to do about the weekend?
QUESTION: Do you know what time Ambassador Merten’s – his conference is planned to be?
QUESTION: Do you know what time?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve heard 2 o’clock. My esteemed colleague, Denis McDonough, from the White House is now in the ground and is working through these issues.
QUESTION: Are there Haitian officials at all working out of the U.S. Embassy? Any ministers, I mean?
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge. But I – I mean, whether they come over, I can’t tell you. But not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. have an estimated total causality figure at this point?
MR. CROWLEY: For Haiti?
QUESTION: What are your plans for the weekend? Are you going to do a call or what? Are you going to be here?
MR. CROWLEY: Let’s kick that around at the end of the day. We’ll do – do we have a time for the –
STAFF: 11:30.
MR. CROWLEY: 11:30 for Raj Shah and Cheryl Mills.
QUESTION: Not 12:15?
MR. CROWLEY: 11:30, and the spokesman blesses himself. (Laughter.) And then we’ll do the daily press briefing later on around 4:00, as we did yesterday. And then you tell me what you think you need, but I think that if we are successful in doing a daily media encounter from Port-au-Prince, I think, as from my experience in the past, at some point you kind of shift the information flow properly down onsite, and I think that’s where it belongs when they are ready.
QUESTION: It would be helpful to have at least a conference call with Raj Shah and Cheryl Mills tomorrow.
QUESTION: Over the weekend.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. I mean, I’m not again coming down and doing one of these bullpen sessions. We’ll see where Raj is. But we will have a 24 —
QUESTION: I think some of us, at least, will be here tomorrow.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand. And we will have a 24/7 operation here tomorrow, so let’s – that’s a fair question. We’ll try to sort that out.
QUESTION: One non-Haiti question?
QUESTION: Google. The Times said that Secretary Clinton herself spoke to Chinese diplomats yesterday. Is that so? Who did she speak to? What did she say? And they’re also saying that there’s a demarche expected shortly. Any progress on that?
QUESTION: We pretty much said yesterday that there was going to be a demarche.
MR. CROWLEY: I thought I read the story this morning. I’m not sure I saw – I mean, Secretary Clinton has spoken to this publicly. We will be issuing a formal demarche to the Chinese Government in Beijing on this issue in the coming days, probably early next week.
QUESTION: Saying what? Simply put, saying what?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll describe it when we present it to them.
QUESTION: So Hillary herself talked —
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it will express our concern for this incident and request information from China as to an explanation of how it happened and what they plan to do about it.
QUESTION: But she herself hasn’t talked to – directly to Chinese diplomats or officials here or in Beijing?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, the Secretary – I’ll take that question. The Secretary has had a conversation with Foreign Minister Yang this week. I just don’t know if this was one of the issues discussed.
QUESTION: Just one on Yemen. Have you talked to the Yemenis about this air strike? Apparently, one of the senior AQAP leaders was killed this morning?
MR. CROWLEY: Why don’t you ask me about that later. I’ll see what I’ve got.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary going to give a speech on internet freedom and security?
MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary will be giving a speech on internet freedom next Thursday, the 21st, at the Newseum.
QUESTION: At the what?
QUESTION: At the Newseum.
QUESTION: I thought you said New Zealand. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: For us who were on that trip and really expecting to go to another museum. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you.
Source: state.gov