Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
February 18, 2010


Index for Today's Briefing
  • TIBET/CHINA
    • US has ongoing concerns about human rights conditions among the Tibetan areas of China/At the same time, US considers Tibet to be a part of China/US supports the dialogue that has resumed recently between Tibet, the Dalai Lama and China/Human rights of vital importance to the United States and is an issue in the ongoing relationship with China/US has repeatedly shown concerns about human rights with respect to China, whether it's the unjust prosecution and jailing of political figures in China or activities that restrict the availability of information to the citizens of China/US relationship with China broad, deep, and complex
  • AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN/REGION
    • Secretary's trip to the US-Islamic Forum in Doha continued the engagement of US with Muslim-majority countries throughout the world/Secretary Clinton has been in a range of countries in Middle East, Asia, and other areas
    • US sees a very determined, patient operation in Afghanistan and not declaring victory at this point/US must continue to expand the zone of security to various parts of Afghanistan to demonstrate that, with the Government of Afghanistan, we can deliver better services more relevant to everyone's daily lives than the Taliban could/US sees determined action on the Pakistani side of the border/ US adapting assistance programs to Pakistan to make sure that we are delivering the kind of assistance that is directly relevant to the lives of average Pakistani citizens
  • INDIA/PAKISTAN
    • US encouraged that the tragic attack in India is not derailing important dialogue between Pakistan and India/US believes this is a vitally important relationship to stability in the region
    • US has a significant military relationship and provides security assistance to Pakistan/US has restructured the nature of the assistance so that more of it is civilian in nature, particular emphasis on energy and the delivery of electricity/US has a different balance than in the past in terms of helping Pakistan with security needs and helping the Government of Pakistan with the delivery of services that can improve the lives of the average Pakistani citizen, the best way to combat extremism
  • IRAN
    • US believes the latest periodic IAEA report on Iran is consistent with what Secretary Clinton was saying in the region this week/US has ongoing concerns about Iran's activities and cannot explain why Iran refuses to come to the table and engage constructively to answer the questions that have been raised
  • GUATEMALA
    • US, like Guatemala, has recognized the new Honduras government/US believes Guatemala's leadership in Central America is going to be vitally important moving forward to show our support for the government of President Pepe Lobo/US sees very promising signs in terms of the early action of President Lobo to form his new government/US recognizes that the former Vice President of Guatemala will be leading the truth commission, which is another important element in terms of helping Honduras move forward/US will continue dialogue within the OAS and within the region to help support Honduras but clearly Honduras has additional steps it has to take/US will continue our discussions with Honduras and our support of Honduras
  • HAITI
    • US, like France, has a very special relationship with Haiti/We are going to need significant and sustained international support as Haiti stabilizes and recovers/US continuing to work with the international community as we move towards the formal donors conference in late March or early April
    • US gratified Haitian Government has released eight Americans/US will continue to provide the same kind of consular assistance to the two remaining/US will continue to monitor the legal process


TRANSCRIPT:

QUESTION: Change of subject – Dalai Lama? Different.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: What is the Administration’s opinion, view on the popular Tibetan demand of more autonomy from the Chinese rule? And also a lot of Tibetan youths have been demanding for freedom from the – from China.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we have ongoing concerns about human rights condition among the Tibetan areas of China. At the same time, we consider Tibet to be a part of China, but we will talk about those conditions. And I think, as the President stressed, we will continue to support the dialogue that is – that has resumed recently between Tibet – between the Dalai Lama and China and continue to encourage both sides to continue with that dialogue and continue to support the cultural and rights of Tibetans within China.

QUESTION: So you are opposed to any freedom movement by the Tibetans?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we’re – we are supportive of dialogue and non-violent resolutions of the issues that they have.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: P.J., there’s a Pew study out showing that support for al-Qaida and other radicals Islamic ideologies are falling out of favor with mainstream Muslims. Do you think that’s the case? And what is the State Department doing to foster that sort of turning the tide against supporting Muslim – radical Muslim ideologies?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, actually that was one of the major aspects of the Secretary’s trip to the U.S.-Islamic Forum in Doha – to continue the engagement of the United States with Muslim-majority countries throughout the world. It’s why, over the past year, you’ve had the Secretary in a range of countries – not only in the Middle East, but also in Asia, in Indonesia, other countries – and this is vitally important. And I think we share that perspective that you have a very, very small, virulent minority who have tried to hijack a great religion. They are isolated, literally and philosophically. And you’re seeing the kind of dialogue within Muslim communities around the world on the implications of the perverted vision that al-Qaida has tried to propagate.

And in countries such as Afghanistan, while there are issues involving concerns that Afghan citizens have about the presence of international forces there, at the same time, that there is declining – I mean, single-digit support for al-Qaida and the Taliban, expressly because these people want what we all want – a chance to practice religion in all of its forums, have a pluralistic kind of society, not another rigid vision of how Islam – of Islam, and then have the opportunity to give education to all citizens, not just half of the citizens of society.

So I think, broadly speaking, in Muslim communities around the world, you see a rejection of that rigid image and vision of Islam. And we are happy through our various – Farah Pandith, Rashad Hussain, now the new envoy to the OIC, to – and the Secretary herself, and certainly the President in terms of continuing to follow through on the vision that he enunciated last year in Cairo to do everything we can to engage in a variety of ways and encourage the kind of debate that you’re seeing now.

QUESTION: Follow-up?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you have the recent developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan where top Taliban leaders have been arrested or captured? Do you think you are moving towards a situation where you can declare victory against them in the war (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think anyone’s declaring victory at this point. You’re seeing a very determined, patient operation in Afghanistan. But clearly, we’re encountering some level of resistance. It will be incumbent upon us as we continue to expand the zone of security to various parts of Afghanistan that we move aggressively in with – to demonstrate that with the Government of Afghanistan, for example, we can deliver better services more relevant to everyone’s daily lives than the Taliban could. And likewise, we see determined action on the Pakistani side of the border. And again, we are adapting our assistance programs to Pakistan to make sure that we are delivering the kind of assistance that is directly relevant to lives of average Pakistani citizens.

I think we’re also encouraged that notwithstanding the tragic attack in India, that this is not derailing important dialogue between Pakistan and India. So I think if – this indicates that we have momentum on our side, that there are lots of things to be encouraged by, but I don’t think we’re at the point where we can declare victory.

QUESTION: On Iran, do you have anything on the latest IAEA report that says that Iran has been enriching uranium at higher levels? And also, it raises concern about kind of undisclosed activities regarding nuclear payload for a missile, a lot of concerning things from this report.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure. This was a periodic report that the IAEA puts out on Iran. I think there was also a report today on Syria. But this was the first report by Director Amano, but also the first report since the revelation of the secret facility in Qom. There is no explanation for that facility that is consistent with the needs of a civilian nuclear program. And it characterizes the way in which Iran has conducted its relations with the IAEA and its failure to satisfactorily explain what its activities and ambitions are in the nuclear sphere.

So I think the conclusions of the report are consistent with what the Secretary was saying in the region this week. We have ongoing concerns about Iran’s activities. We cannot explain why it refuses to come to the table and engage constructively to answer the questions that have been raised, and you have to draw some conclusions from that.

Yes.

QUESTION: I’m Doja from Radio Free Asia. So Secretary Clinton is going to meet the Dalai Lama shortly, so what this meeting is going to be about and what they will discuss about?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we – I just explained that early on. I think we’ll be happy to answer questions afterwards about the specific things discussed. But we would – certainly, I think the Secretary will look forward to hearing from the Dalai Lama about the recent dialogue between Tibetan representatives and the Chinese Government. She’ll welcome his thoughts on the current situation within China. We will continue to encourage dialogue but will also recognize that we have ongoing concerns about human rights of Tibetans within those areas of China.

QUESTION: On her early – on her first visit to China, Secretary Clinton stated that human rights issue shouldn’t be interfering to larger issue in dealing with China. So today’s meeting, is it a reversal of earlier stand?

MR. CROWLEY: No. I think there’s been a gross misreading of what she said back in February. What the Secretary said was human rights is of vital importance to the United States and it is an issue in our ongoing relationship with China. And we have shown repeatedly that where we have concerns about human rights with respect to China, whether it’s about the unjust prosecution and jailing of political figures in China or it’s about activities that restrict the availability of information to the citizens of China, we are going to speak out forcefully when we have these kinds of concerns.

What she said in February was exactly that: We have a very broad relationship with China; human rights is a dimension of it and vitally important, but so are regional security issues, such as North Korea, such as Iran; and we have ongoing concerns and discussions about the global economic situation. It wasn’t – that statement was not discounting the importance of human rights; quite to the contrary, it was recognizing that the relationship between the United States and China is broad, it’s deep, it’s complex, but human rights will always be a dimension and something that we are prepared to address whenever we have concerns.

Yes.

QUESTION: So will there be a joint --

MR. CROWLEY: It’ll be in the – upstairs on the seventh floor.

QUESTION: Will there a joint set of – a press address after the meeting?

MR. CROWLEY: No, we will release an official photo.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, I didn’t catch you. Apparently, great significance is attached to where these meetings are held, if there’s a sign of official recognition, et cetera. You know what I mean. So it’s important, I think, to --

MR. CROWLEY: I think it will be in the Secretary’s outer office. And this is fully consistent with the manner in which past Secretaries of State have greeted the Dalai Lama here at the White House – here at the State Department, going back to Secretary Rice, Secretary Powell, Secretary Albright, Secretary Christopher.

QUESTION: But it hasn’t – we can’t say it’s a fact yet? They haven’t met yet?

MR. CROWLEY: I think they’ll be meeting in about 15 minutes or so.

QUESTION: Will you issue any readout after the meeting?

MR. CROWLEY: If you want to call us, we’ll provide – we’ll go down the list of what was discussed.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

QUESTION: Talking about the meeting today with the President of Guatemala, did they talk about Honduras and the position --

MR. CROWLEY: They did.

QUESTION: -- and the position of the U.S. toward Honduras?

MR. CROWLEY: And we – no, actually, I think Guatemala, like the United States, has recognized the new government. The Secretary expressed her appreciation to that. President Colom indicated that he is in active dialogue with his fellow presidents within Central America, and we think that that kind of leadership in Central America is going to be vitally important moving forward to show our support for the government of President Pepe Lobo and to – and it’ll be that kind of leadership in the region that will – we will pledge to work with President Colom and others to help Honduras reintegrate itself into the inter-American community.

QUESTION: Yes, because yesterday there was a meeting in the American Organization of States between Canada and the Secretary Insulza because Canada also is pushing that maybe Honduras comes back to the American Organization of States. I want to know, the U.S. is also maintaining that position, so Honduras is recognized again like a full member in the --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – as we’ve said, we’ve been very clear that we recognize and support the new government, but – and we certainly see very promising signs in terms of the early action of President Lobo to form his new government. We should also recognize that I think the former Vice President of Guatemala will be leading the truth commission, which is another important element in terms of helping Honduras move forward. And we will continue dialogue within the OAS and within the region to help support Honduras. But clearly, Honduras has additional steps it has to take. And we will continue our discussions with Honduras and our support of Honduras.

Yeah.

QUESTION: On Haiti?

MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: On reconstruction, do you have any comment on the announcement yesterday by President Sarkozy to pledge 326 million euros for reconstruction there?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, France, like the United States, has a very special relationship with Haiti. And we are going to need significant and sustained international support as Haiti stabilizes and recovers. The Secretary had the opportunity to talk directly with President Sarkozy when she was in Europe recently, and I think this is just the kind of international support that we think will be vitally important. We are continuing to work with the international community as we move ahead towards the formal donors conference that we’ll have in late March or early April.

QUESTION: I have two questions related to India and Pakistan.

MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: One question is about upcoming February 25th meeting between foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan. How do you view this in view of the --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we touched on that a minute ago. This is vitally important. There have been times in the past where India and Pakistan have had formal and informal dialogue. We think that this is a vitally important relationship to stability in the region and we’re most pleased with the political courage showed by leaders on both sides that notwithstanding the attack which was directly aimed at derailing this dialogue, that there is this political commitment to move forward with talks. And we think that’s going to be extremely important.

QUESTION: What would be your expectations from this meeting?

MR. CROWLEY: I think the real key is: What are the expectations on both sides? But we think that there are significant issues. There are tensions, obviously, in the relationship, but they can be best resolved through dialogue. And India and Pakistan share a threat of extremism and we think that – we are totally supportive of these meetings and look forward to seeing the results.

QUESTION: And secondly on – you have – the Administration has been giving lot of foreign aid to Pakistan, civilian and military. But this Ambassador – Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Husain Haqqani recently in a speech in Lahore, he said that they need two things from USA: one is more military aid so that they can come at par with Indian military sites; and they also need a civilian nuclear deal just like the U.S. had with India. How do you address these two questions?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, and in fact, we are addressing them specifically. We have a significant military relationship and provide security assistance, but we are – we have restructured the nature of our assistance so that more of it is civilian in nature, particular emphasis on energy and the delivery of electricity. Perhaps it’s time to get our energy czar back down here to talk about where that has – how that has progressed.

But we are, in fact – we have a different balance than we have in the past in terms of making sure that not only can we help Pakistan meet its security needs, but more importantly, we’re helping the Government of Pakistan with the delivery of services so that we can improve the lives of the average Pakistani citizen, and in doing so not only – in all parts of Pakistan. That is going to be, in the long term, the best way to combat extremism.

QUESTION: Is civilian nuclear deal is being considered by the Administration with Pakistan?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m – I don’t know.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can you – what’s your understanding of the last two Americans that are still being held in Haiti, their status?

MR. CROWLEY: I think they are – I believe the Haitian Government has indicated that while eight Americans were released – and we’re gratified for that – at the same time, they have lingering questions regarding two citizens and are – have ongoing legal process there. So we will continue to provide the same kind of consular assistance to the two as we did for the ten. I think consular officials met with all ten yesterday before Haiti made its announcement. And we will continue to monitor the legal process as it continues.

QUESTION: Where’s the – what’s the status of the eight? Are they on their way back or --

MR. CROWLEY: I believe they are now here in the United States.

QUESTION: Have the last two – the women who are still in detention or custody, have they asked for any additional help since the --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that we’ve --

QUESTION: Legal help?

MR. CROWLEY: -- had a meeting with them today. We met with them yesterday.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: A question that was asked yesterday about the meeting between Taliban and Afghanistan Government in Maldives, do you have anything on that? Are you supporting of that peace talks between Taliban and Maldives in – between Taliban and Afghan Government in Maldives?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t have anything further.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:04 p.m.)

DPB # 23

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[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - February 18 [Part 2]]