Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 27, 2009


Index for Today's Briefing
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • In Intense Discussions with Israel, Palestinian Authority and Countries in Region / Senator Mitchell Continues to Work with the Parties / Objective to Get Them Vested in Formal Negotiations / Will Tackle Hard Issues in Formal Negotiations / U.S. Will Not Impose Conditions on Other Countries / Getting to a Successful Conclusion is a Judgment the Parties will Make / Senator Mitchell Ensuring Parties are Putting Forward Political Commitment / Once in Negotiations, Issues Will Be There for Debate, Resolution
    • Position on Settlements Unchanged / In Discussion with Parties on Settlements, Incitement, Security / Ultimately Up to Parties, Together with U.S., to Determine if Conditions Exist for Negotiations to Begin
    • Hoping to Get to Formal Negotiation to See Comprehensive Peace in Middle East / Discussions Are to Create Conditions so that Countries Have Confidence to Start and Complete Negotiations / Must Ensure Parties are Invested in Peace Process
    • Focus on Israeli-Palestinian Element / Recognize Need Support in the Region / Quartet and International Community Important / Upcoming Meeting with Israeli Delegation / Trip to Region before UNGA
  • POLAND
    • Review of Missile Defense Strategy Ongoing
  • CHINA
    • Unable to Confirm Reports Kadeer Family Evicted / Hope Chinese Would Not Undertake Coercive Measures Against Family
  • DPRK
    • Continuing to Evaluate Potential Travel to Region / Will Consult With Key Countries / Will Not Go to North Korea / Have Not Received Formal Invitation
    • North Korea Has Had Discussions with Americans Recently / Would Welcome Bilateral Talks with U.S. / No Decisions Made
  • HONDURAS
    • Unaware of Zelaya Travel Plans / Have Taken Stock of Recent OAS Delegation Trip to Honduras / Position of de Facto Regime Having Consequences / Believe San Jose Accords Right Process to Resolve Situation / Evaluating Options and Consulting with OAS
  • CHINA/TAIWAN
    • Matter Between Dalai Lama and Taiwanese Authorities / Refer to Taiwan Authorities on Any Offer of Travel / Hope that Actions Would Not Result in Tension in the Region
  • SOMALIA
    • Refer to Pentagon for Details / Ongoing Efforts of Combined Task Force Naval Forces in Region / Ongoing Discussions with Somali and Kenyan Officials
  • BURMA
    • Debrief from Senator Webb / Focus on Continued Detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, Political Prisoners ; Continuing Ethnic Conflict; Encouraging Broader Dialogue / Want to See Burma Stabilize, End its Isolation
  • INDIA
    • Congress Will Face Issue / Establish a U.S. Position We Can Take to Copenhagen / Secretary, Todd Stern Talked to China, India about Climate Change / Want to Significant Investment in Copenhagen Process
  • LIBYA
    • Talked to Libyan Authorities About UNGA Plans / Expressed Concerns / Confident Libyan Delegation Will Have Suitable Accommodations and Will Respect Wishes of People in Region
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Will Wait to See Result of Elections / Working with International Community and Afghan Government to Create Institutions to Meet Needs of Afghan People / Will Not Prejudge Leader of Government
    • Have Had Conversations with Authorities for Years About Need for Afghan Government to Perform Effectively, Build Institutions, Deal with Corruption


TRANSCRIPT:

1:25 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Department of State. And for the first time since I’ve been here, we have nothing formal to announce. So against my better judgment, we’ll go right to your questions.

QUESTION: There’s some reports in Israel and elsewhere that in the meeting yesterday in London, that Mitchell agreed to an Israeli proposal that would see a – you know, a temporary freeze in West Bank settlements, but leave out any promises or pledges on East Jerusalem. Is this accurate?

MR. CROWLEY: Matt, I think we’re in intense discussions with Israel, with the Palestinian Authority with other countries in the region, and characteristic of difficult discussions, you’re seeing – you’re hearing a lot of noise coming from a lot of different directions. I’m not going to get into details to say, this one is right, this is one is wrong. There’s a lot of posturing that’s going on. I think what is important here is that Senator Mitchell is work – continues to work with the parties. Our objective is to get them vested in formal negotiations. And in those formal negotiations, we will tackle the hard issues that we know exist, and get not only to the finish line, but get across the finish line.

Ultimately, this is not a process by which the United States will impose conditions on Israel, on the Palestinian Authority, on other countries. This is – ultimately, the judgment as to both getting to negotiations and getting to a successful conclusion is something that the parties will have to make. We, the United States, are prepared to help them. So at this point in time, what Senator Mitchell is trying to do is to make sure that all of the parties, all of the vested interests in these negotiations, they have – they are putting forward a political commitment. And we will make the assessment in the coming weeks whether we feel that the conditions are right.

But it’s not about what we’re asking. We’re asking them to meet their commitments under the Roadmap, but most importantly, we’re asking them what they’re prepared to do and to demonstrate the steps that that they are prepared to take that allow us to have confidence that these negotiations can be restarted.

We recognize that once we get into those negotiations, all of the issues that you’re probably hearing in the press will be there for debate, for negotiation, for resolution. But this is not something that we’re imposing on them. This is something that we’re discussing with the parties on an ongoing basis. We’ll do so again next week with the delegation that comes to the United States from Israel. And hopefully through these discussions that will be ongoing in the coming days and weeks, we can get to a point where we have confidence that these negotiations can be restarted.

QUESTION: Well, all of that is fine, but --

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: -- it doesn’t really answer the question. Is the hard and fast position that was stated by Secretary Clinton in May, and again restated from the podium on Monday, I believe, that all means all, in terms of settlements? Is that a negotiable position now?

MR. CROWLEY: The position that the Secretary has stated remains our position. And we continue to discuss with Israel and with the other parties what they have to do on the settlement issue, on other issues, including incitement and security, and the support that we need in the region for us to have confidence that negotiations can begin. Ultimately, it will be up to the United States, together with the parties. We’ll make a collective decision in the coming weeks as to whether – what the various parties have put forth, give us confidence that negotiations can begin.

QUESTION: So that position is not negotiable? That’s what you’re saying.

MR. CROWLEY: What I’m saying is that our position on the importance of settlements, on the importance of the commitments made under the Roadmap remains unchanged.

QUESTION: But that’s not actually what you said. What you said was that the Secretary’s position remains – our position, your position – and the position, as she stated it, was, I think quite categorical in May when she said that all settlements – activity must stop, including so-called natural growth. That is – I’m not talking about the importance of settlement or the importance of the Roadmap or the importance of keeping commitment. That is your – that is and continues to be your – the U.S. Government position that Israel should have a complete, total cease to settlement activity, including natural growth?

MR. CROWLEY: Our position in these discussions remains unchanged. At the same time, ultimately, it will be up to the parties, together with the United States, looking at all of what has been put forward in these discussions to reach a determination whether the conditions exist for negotiations to begin. So that’s why these discussions have been taking place over many months and why we will continue them in the coming days and week.

QUESTION: So it’s --

QUESTION: Does that mean, then, if you can get the Palestinians and the – or the Palestinians particularly, but the Arabs more generally to buy into some kind – something that is less than the Secretary’s position, if you can get them to agree that that’s okay, that you will – that your position is, in fact, negotiable depending on --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, remember what we are trying to achieve here, okay? We are hoping to get to a formal negotiation through which we can reach a resolution between the Israelis and the Palestinians as part of our ambition to see comprehensive peace in the Middle East, okay? The key here is getting to the negotiations, okay? The discussions that we are having are to create the conditions so that the Israelis, the Palestinians, other countries in the region have the confidence that the negotiations can not only be started, but they can be successfully completed.

QUESTION: All right. Well, that sounds like a yes to me.

MR. CROWLEY: Yes to what question?

QUESTION: The question that I asked --

MR. CROWLEY: Which --

QUESTION: -- which was simply that if you can get buy-in from the others on something that is less than your May --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, drawing from --

QUESTION: -- the Secretary’s May demand, that in fact, it is negotiable.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, what I’m saying is we have discussions that are ongoing. We’re going to see how these discussions unfold. Ultimately, it will be up to the United States, and in this case, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, to make an assessment as to whether we believe the conditions are right so negotiations can be restarted. I’m not going to prejudge where these discussions go, and I’m not going to prejudge – ultimately, the judgment that the President, the Secretary, the prime minister, the president of the Palestinian Authority will have to make, together with other countries in the region, whether we think the conditions exist for negotiations to formally start.

Charlie.

QUESTION: Can I try this slightly a different way? So it is possible, I would understand from what you’ve said, that the U.S. position may not be relevant, in fact, if the Palestinians and Israelis can agree to start negotiations on whatever basis?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I understand the fascination, Charlie. Maybe I think we’re – what we’re trying to do is get everyone back on the highway towards a formal negotiation. You’re talking about characterizing the activity where various people are driving around the parking lot. I mean, that’s not the point. The point here is ultimately, we have to find a way back to negotiations, and we have to have confidence that when those negotiations start, that all of the parties – the Israelis, the Palestinians, the rest of the region – is invested in this peace process.

We have seen negotiations in recent years where the negotiations took place, but there was no real investment by the parties in the process. We’re trying to make sure that in the discussions that Senator Mitchell is leading right now, that the parties are sufficiently invested in this process. They’re putting real skin into the game so that when we get to those negotiations, there is this confidence that they can start, they can be meaningful, and that they can reach a successful conclusion. I’m not going to prejudge the judgments that will have to be made as these discussions continue as to whether we have reached those conditions.

Our objective is to reach the conditions that – and we have our ideas, and we put forward our ideas publicly and privately about what it will take for negotiations to be restarted. But ultimately, it’ll be up to the parties themselves, with our help, to determine whether that threshold has been met.

Yes.

QUESTION: So do you see, like, a situation or a possibility of where total freeze of settlement is not achieved, but at the same time, there’s a possibility to resume negotiations? Is that a possibility?

MR. CROWLEY: All right. Try me again?

QUESTION: Do you see – do you foresee, like, a situation or a possibility in the future where the Israelis actually don’t freeze total – have total freeze on settlements, but at the same time, there’s a place to resume negotiations?

MR. CROWLEY: I see a situation some weeks from now where the President of the United States and the Secretary of State and Senator Mitchell, together with the Israelis, the Palestinians, and others in the region, will make a fundamental judgment, at the conclusion of this phase of the process, after many discussions over many months, the question we put on the table: Do we feel that the conditions are sufficient so that a formal negotiation can begin?

That will be a judgment that everyone I just enunciated will have to make. Now where we are when that point is reached, I can’t predict. That’s why this process is continuing. It’s why Senator Mitchell met with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, why we continue to consult with the Palestinians and other countries in the region. We have to see how this plays out. We have to get to a point where you reach that fundamental judgment.

As I said, we, the United States, have outlined in these meetings what we feel is necessary for those conditions – for the atmosphere to be such, for the investment to be such that a formal negotiation can begin and can be successful. But ultimately, this will be judgments that are made not just by the United States, but by Israel, by the Palestinian Authority, by others. And let’s wait till we reach that point.

Yes.

QUESTION: Just to follow up, you said the decision will be made by those in the U.S., Palestine, Israel, and those in the region. What about the Quartet? Do you envision that the Quartet will be part of this decision-making process of whether the conditions are suitable for talks? And also, when you’re referring for the conditions to be suitable for talks, are we talking about Palestinian-Israeli talks, or are we talking about talks for all those involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict?

MR. CROWLEY: I think right now, our focus, obviously, is on the Israeli-Palestinian element. Our desire is for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We recognize that over time, we will hopefully address the other issues that exist within the region. Right now, our focus is there. But we recognize that obviously, drawing from our experience over 15 or 20 years, that for this to be successful we have to have significant support by the region. That was what was missing, say, in 2000. So that’s why George Mitchell has been talking not just to the Israelis and Palestinians, but a wide range of other leaders who will need to be involved in this process as we go forward.

I think that obviously, as we get into a formal negotiation, the role of the Quartet and the international community will be vitally important, because whatever negotiation is ultimately – if a negotiation is ultimately successful, it will have to have significant support – both political, financial, other diplomatic, so – but our focus right now is in this particular phase. We’re in the homestretch, we hope. We hope that we can get to a point where we can make that fundamental judgment that a negotiation can be restarted and we have prospects for success.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes. May I ask you about a slightly different subject?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s see. Is anyone – are we – go ahead.

QUESTION: The meeting is next week?

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll come back to you.

QUESTION: The meeting is next week? Any location?

MR. CROWLEY: The meeting is next week. Details are still to be determined. I don’t know when, don’t know where.

QUESTION: It’s going to be in New York, right?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know when, don’t know where.

QUESTION: Do you know who is coming from the Israeli side?

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll let the Israelis announce their delegation.

QUESTION: And then one other one on this.

QUESTION: New York is too (inaudible).

QUESTION: What talks, if any, does Senator Mitchell have planned, either with the Palestinians or with officials from other Arab states, over the next couple of weeks? We know about the Israeli team coming here, and I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu said he expected – or briefed reporters traveling with him that he expected Senator Mitchell back in Israel in September. What else – you know, what are the Arab – what’s the Arab side of the coin here?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. It’s a fair question, Arshad. I – as far as I know, the next step in the process is receiving the Israeli delegation next week. It wouldn’t surprise me if, once we get beyond Labor Day, that there’s another trip to the region before the UN General Assembly, but I don’t know that.

QUESTION: Can you check on whether there are any plans to talk to Arab officials over the next couple of weeks? It’d just be useful to have a sense of who else he’s talking to.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Well, I’m still confused. People, and I think the media, as well, understood that the total freeze of settlement was an American precondition to resume talks. And now you’re saying probably it’s up to negotiations and what the different factor agree on. Is that a change in the – in your stance? Do you think that what you announced in the beginning, that total freeze of settlement was not realistic because the Israelis will not accept it?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think you’re prejudging the outcome. I was clear. The United States position on settlements – we’ve said it many times. We haven’t changed it. Now, that is the American position in a discussion that we’re having among our friends in Israel, also our friends with the Palestinian Authority. But our discussions are based on the need to create conditions to get to a negotiation. And it will be a collective judgment based on what Israel has put on the table, based on what the Palestinians have put on the table, based on what other countries in the region have put on the table, is what on the table sufficient to get to where we really want to go, which is back into a negotiation where all of these issues – in terms of borders, refugees, and so forth – can be successfully resolved. I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of the discussion that leads to the judgment – that hopefully leads to the negotiation. That process is continuing.

QUESTION: Would you – one last question. Would you quibble with or dispute the statement that in all the words that you’ve said over the last few minutes, that you have left the door open to a resumption of peace negotiations, absent a total and absolute halt to settlement activity? It seems to me you’ve left that door wide open.

MR. CROWLEY: What I am saying is the United States of America is working with the Israelis, Palestinians, other countries in the region to get to a negotiation, to restart negotiations and bring them to a successful conclusion. And we are earnestly working presently, and will continue to work in the coming days to create the conditions that gives us confidence, gives the Israelis confidence, give the Palestinians confidence, gives the region confidence that a negotiation can be successfully started and successfully concluded.

QUESTION: Even in the absence of a total freeze.

MR. CROWLEY: And I – again, I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of the discussions that are ongoing. I’m not going to comment on the noise that’s coming – the posturing that’s coming from various places; only to say that ultimately, we’ll reach a point hopefully soon where we, together with the Israelis, together with the Palestinians will say, based on everything we know, based on what everyone has told us, based on the commitments that they’ve made, is this sufficient to get us into a negotiation?

QUESTION: So your position is not a hard and fast condition?

MR. CROWLEY: Our position is to get to negotiations. We’re doing that --

QUESTION: Your position on settlements is not hard --

MR. CROWLEY: -- through the process that we’re – that is currently ongoing.

QUESTION: So your position on settlements – the U.S. position on settlements, as you’ve restated here from the Secretary’s – what the Secretary said in May, is not a condition?

MR. CROWLEY: The United States has stated its position on settlements based on commitments made --

QUESTION: And that position is not a condition. Is that correct?

MR. CROWLEY: That position is our position, and that position is the position that we took into the discussions that we hope will lead to a negotiation.

QUESTION: Took half a chance.

MR. CROWLEY: Let’s go to a different subject.

QUESTION: Polish newspapers are reporting from Washington that Obama Administration changed its position on ABM, that Obama Administration will not place elements of ABM in Poland and Czech Republic and will stick to some other option, and that this decision has been almost made. Do you have any comments about that?

MR. CROWLEY: I would call that report inaccurate. Our review of our missile defense strategy is ongoing and has not reached completion yet.

Yes.

chinaQUESTION: Do you have statement today on whether you can substantiate these reports about Rabiya Kadeer’s house being demolished in China?

MR. CROWLEY: We have not yet been able to independently confirm that the family has been evicted. As a general matter, we hope that the Chinese would not undertake coercive measures against her family, and we continue to look at this very closely.

QUESTION: And then just to follow up, do you have any update on Bosworth’s trip to the region?

MR. CROWLEY: We are continuing to evaluate his potential trip to the region. We have nothing to announce, but I would expect that the ambassador will travel to the region for consultations in the coming days.

QUESTION: Are you in a position to acknowledge that you, in fact, have received an invitation from the North Koreans for him to visit?

MR. CROWLEY: We have received a number of – let me start again.

QUESTION: Why don’t you just say, no, I’m not in a position to confirm what we all know, then?

(Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: What you just said. Ambassador Bosworth will be going to the region. We’ll announce his travel when that decision has been made. He will go to consult with others in the region. He will not go to North Korea. We understand that North Korea would like to engage in discussions with the United States. There’s nothing new there. We haven’t received a formal invitation. But obviously, one of the purposes of potential travel to the region will be to consult closely with the key countries on where we are and where we go from here.

QUESTION: Listen, two things here. You just said he will not go to North Korea, as a flat statement.

MR. CROWLEY: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay. So on whatever trip he might make upcoming, he’s not going to North Korea?

MR. CROWLEY: We have not made a decision yet on potential travel. It is being discussed if and when Ambassador Bosworth goes to the region. And that decision will be made in the coming days. He will not go to North Korea.

QUESTION: Okay. And then secondly, even if he does not go to North Korea, can you rule out his talking to North Korean officials elsewhere in the region?

MR. CROWLEY: This trip, when it happens and when that decision is made, will be to consult with the key countries in the region who have been part of the Six-Party process. And it – I do not envision that it will include discussions with anyone from North Korea.

QUESTION: Okay. And then – can I ask one more on this, please? Just – you said that we have not received a formal invitation. I mean, that’s sort of a curious qualification, a “formal invitation,” like it needs to be engraved on buff-colored, you know, paper. I mean, have you received any sort of an invitation from the North Koreans for Bosworth, either to visit North Korea or to have talks with their officials elsewhere?

MR. CROWLEY: We – as we have said many times from this podium, we have the ability to communicate with North Korea. North Korea has had discussions with various Americans in recent days and weeks. And would they welcome bilateral discussions with the United States? Of course, they would. They have made no secret of that. And – but we have made no decisions on that. The travel that is being contemplated right now would have Ambassador Bosworth go to the region some time soon, and he will consult with the key countries in the region and will not talk to North Korea.

QUESTION: P.J., on Honduras, is President Zelaya coming here next week? And is there anything else new on the --

MR. CROWLEY: I have not heard what President Zelaya is – has any travel plans to the United States. I wouldn’t rule it out. We obviously have taken stock of the recent OAS delegation in his trip to Honduras. We’re very mindful of the judgment that at least has been set up to this point by the de facto regime, but they have no plans to agree to the San Jose Accords. We still think that that is the right process to help to resolve this situation. And we are evaluating our options based on the activity this week. And I think we’ll make some decisions in the next couple of days.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Decisions on further sanctions?

MR. CROWLEY: On further steps. Obviously, the position that the de facto regime has taken, you’ve already seen that it’s having consequences, not just in actions that the United States has made, actions that others in the region have made or are beginning to make. But we are very – we’ll obviously watch very closely this week. The OAS delegation went there this week, made what we thought was a very direct offer and a treaty to Honduras, to the de facto regime, that they should sign on to the San Jose Accords. They’ve made it categorical that they have...as far as their position today is, they have no plans to do that. And we are now evaluating, based on what we have heard since the delegation has come back to the OAS, and we’re consulting within the OAS. We’re taking that – stock of that, and we’ll make some decisions here very soon.

QUESTION: P.J., on the same subject?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Would these additional actions be just by the United States or collectively with some other countries?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m sure – obviously, what Honduras has done has obviously already had consequences, including their suspension from the OAS, and there are implications from that. But I would say that probably collectively, I think the Central American Bank for Economic Integration has frozen credit as a result of the current situation. The United States has suspended its visa processing as a result of what’s happened. And we obviously have our other steps that we can take and there are consequences from that – those steps. But given the de facto regime’s refusal this week to meet the demands of the OAS delegation, we will make some judgments based on that, and we’ll announce them very shortly.

QUESTION: On a different topic, China has been quite upset by the decision of Taiwan to let the Dalai Lama visit. Does the United States have a position on that and whether the Dalai Lama should be allowed to travel freely to Taiwan?

MR. CROWLEY: The Dalai Lama is an internationally respected religious leader who travels internationally on a regular basis, and I would refer you to Taiwan authorities as to any offer of travel they have made.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. concerned that this could have a negative impact on cross-strait budding relations or improved ties?

MR. CROWLEY: This is, first and foremost, a matter between the Dalai Lama and Taiwanese authorities. We don’t think there would be any cause for any particular tension in the region.

QUESTION: Well, wait – you don’t think it would be, but it is.

MR. CROWLEY: Well --

QUESTION: It already has caused tension, and he’s not even there yet.

MR. CROWLEY: Put it this way, I think it – I mean, these entities should make their own judgments on what they want to do. And we would certainly hope that actions should – would not result in any increased tension in the region.

QUESTION: But you don’t think that a visit by the Dalai Lama to Taiwan should provoke tensions – should stoke tensions between China and Taiwan?

MR. CROWLEY: We believe that the Dalai Lama is a respected figure and he --

QUESTION: Well, he’s not so respected in China.

MR. CROWLEY: – and he travels regularly and we do not believe that this should result in increased tensions in the region.

QUESTION: Can you see if any U.S. officials have called any Taiwanese officials or Chinese officials on the issue?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that we have.

QUESTION: Another topic?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Anything – any reaction to Somali pirates, the firing on a U.S. Navy helicopter?

MR. CROWLEY: I think specifically, on that particular incident, I think there was a report on that. And the helicopter evaded that fire without incident. I will refer you to the Pentagon for any specific details on that incident. But obviously, the last time Somali pirates engaged with the United States Navy, it didn’t go well for them..

QUESTION: It’s been four months since Secretary Clinton was so outspoken about bringing 21st century tools to bear against a 17th century threat of holding the emergency session of countries to combat terrorism off the Somali coast. Does this show that that has – that course has failed or –

MR. CROWLEY: No, quite the opposite. The fact that that helicopter was there, I think it was shadowing a vessel that had been seized by pirates, but you’ve got the ongoing efforts of the Combined Task Force naval forces in the region. We’ve had ongoing discussions not only with Somali officials, also with Kenyan officials. There have been a number of meetings, multilateral meetings both on the military side and the commercial side. So a lot is being done.

The issue here is that these things are ongoing and the international efforts to combat piracy is ongoing. It’s just sporadic in terms of sometimes these incidents are going to bounce up and – but we have had a number of actions, outlined by what she said back in the spring, to make – to try to strengthen our ability to respond to this.

QUESTION: A different topic, on Burma. On Burma, there have been accounts of some fighting in northern Burma, the Kokang region, and that some refugees have gone on to China. Is this something the U.S. is following closely? And how could this potentially impact the review on Burma policy?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, we’re taking stock of recent developments. We’ve had the opportunity, or the Department has, to get a debrief from Senator Webb in recent days since he returned from the region. Obviously, our focus on Burma has multiple dimensions. Obviously, one of the – one dimension is their continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, 2,100 other political prisoners. Our second dimension is the ethnic conflict that continues in Burma and what we could do to try to encourage a broader dialogue within Burma.

It’s all part of efforts of our understanding that there are significant issues with respect to Burma. We have an interest in seeing Burma stabilize. We have an interest in seeing Burma end its isolation. How we do that is a subject of review. I would expect that in light of recent developments, we would advance that review and reach some judgments in the next few weeks.

Yes.

QUESTION: On climate change, the Indian environment minister has said in an interview that India and China have come together to withstand any pressure which comes from the West at Copenhagen. What do you expect from India and China at Copenhagen? And do you think – what are the chances of its success – India and China coming together?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, we have worked very hard in the last few months not only to try to construct a position within the United States – obviously, when Congress comes back into session in September, one of the crucial issues that they will face besides the obvious ones that they have on their plate right now is what to do about climate change, to establish a U.S. position that we can take to Copenhagen later in the year.

But you will remember, in the Secretary’s trips to the region, she talked to China about climate change, she talked to India about climate change, as has Todd Stern and others. What we want to see from India and China is a significant investment in the Copenhagen process. They have to be part of the solution if we’re going to make progress in dealing with greenhouse gases. So that was the tone of our discussion with those countries. They’ve got to be invested in this process. They’ve got to bring meaningful positions to the table when we convene in Copenhagen, and we continue to have that dialogue with them.

QUESTION: P.J., what’s the latest installment in the saga of the Libyan colonel’s tent?

MR. CROWLEY: In what respect?

QUESTION: Well, has there been any decisions made by either you or the local authorities or the Libyan Government about what to do about this delicate situation?

MR. CROWLEY: We have talked to Libyan authorities about their plans for the – for UNGA, and we have expressed the concerns that we have and that the American people have about this. We believe that the Libyans understand those concerns. And I think we are confident that when the UNGA – when the UN General Assembly convenes, that the Libyan delegation will have suitable accommodations and that they will respect the earnest wishes of the people of the region.

QUESTION: Does that --

QUESTION: The New Jersey region?

QUESTION: Does that mean they’re getting a – that he’s going to stay in a hotel in Manhattan?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we are confident that when this process is done, it will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

QUESTION: You mean the people of the Jersey region? Is that what you meant?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes. We believe that when this is done --

QUESTION: The Tri-State Area Region?

MR. CROWLEY: We believe that when this is done, it will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

QUESTION: Can I just ask --

QUESTION: Do you think – well, you know what? I mean, there are a lot of people, particularly around the Englewood area, who won’t be satisfied unless he is kept out of the country. That’s not going to be satisfying to them.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – as we’ve tried to detail you in recent days, we have obligations when it comes to --

QUESTION: Well, I know, but you said you think – you were confident that this could be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and it --

MR. CROWLEY: I – we – I think we are confident that ultimately, the Libyan delegation will find suitable accommodations.

QUESTION:
Can you just – quickly on a New York Times piece today on Afghanistan and Muhammad Fahim, one of the things that it said in the piece was that Hillary Clinton had advised Karzai not to select him as her running mate and that the U.S. was considering personal sanctions against him. Do you have any guidance on that?

MR. CROWLEY: I would say that obviously, we’re in a delicate time here. We’re going to wait and see what the result of the elections are. We’re going to wait and see what the composition of the Afghan Government is. As a strategic imperative, we are working hard with the international community, with the sitting Afghan Government to create institutions that will meet the needs of the Afghan people who want to see an Afghan Government that progresses, that deals with the issue of corruption, that deals with the issue of narcotics, that is able to build a government that the people can have confidence in, that can build an economy that is legal and legitimate.

These are significant issues. They are issues that we are going to continue to address with the new Afghan Government. But I don’t want to prejudge who will be the leader of that government and who will be the various ministers.

QUESTION: A follow-up to this?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Did the Administration at any point consider imposing sanctions against Muhammad Fahim?

MR. CROWLEY: I think you can – all I will say on this is that we have had a number of conversations with Afghan authorities going back a number of months and years about the need for the Afghan Government to perform effectively, to build effective institutions, to deal with the issue of corruption, and ultimately to be a government that the international community can work with, and the people of Afghanistan can respect. And that remains our – that’s something we’re going to work hard on. But let’s see what the new government looks like, who’s in it, and then we’ll draw some conclusions from that.

QUESTION: Well, maybe I missed this in your answers, but what are the U.S. concerns about Fahim?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to talk about the individual here.

QUESTION: So the U.S. has no concerns about him?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to talk about an individual here.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:03 p.m.)

DPB # 146

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - August 27]