Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 2, 2010


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary en route to Brasilia for meetings with President Lula and Foreign Minister Amorim tomorrow/Secretary had meetings with President Bachelet and incoming President Pinera in Santiago today/US donations of assistance in the aftermath of the earthquake
  • INDIA/PAKISTAN
    • US encourages India and Pakistan to continue their dialogue; it is in the long-term interest of both countries/US has no mediation role at this time
  • JAPAN/KOREA
    • US consulting closely with the Japanese Government on the Futenma relocation issue/US believes realignment roadmap is the best plan for reducing the burden on Okinawa/US seeking a decision from the Japanese Government on how they want to proceed and then can look at the implications for the people of Okinawa/Deputy Secretary Steinberg likely to discuss this issue when he is in Tokyo in a couple of days
    • Secretary Clinton and Deputy Secretary Steinberg met with the Korean foreign minister last week
  • UK/MUSLIM OUTREACH
    • US values debate within Muslim majority communities around the world
    • US dialogue with Muslim communities around the world, Farah Pandith at State Department and Rashad Hussain at the OIC
  • CHINA/TAIWAN
    • US values high-level dialogue with China, including meetings by Secretary and Deputy Secretary
  • IRAN
    • US continues ongoing consultations within the P-5+1
    • US must have common understanding re. enforcement if there is a sanctions resolution
    • US has a policy of supporting those who have a legitimate claim to asylum
    • US continues to look for ways to support the Iranian people
  • MIDDLE EAST
    • US receptive to the idea of a Quartet meeting/US has a shared goal of comprehensive peace in the Middle East/US will need strong regional and international support/US thinks timing is useful in terms of comparing notes/US continues intensive discussion with the parties
  • HUMAN RIGHTS
    • US sought to join the Human Rights Council to promote a genuine debate/US wants to move countries toward greater support for and respect for human rights
    • US believes Declaration of Universal Rights has meaning; can serve as a guide; countries have a responsibility to live by it/US welcomes debate/US will challenge countries where performance is inadequate, willing to turn a mirror on ourselves as well
  • TURKEY/ARMENIA
    • US supports the current process that will hopefully result in normalized relations between Turkey and Armenia/Secretary has said there is ample room to evaluate the historical facts/US continues to engage at a high level with both countries and encourages both countries to move forward, not look backward


TRANSCRIPT:

2:13 p.m. EST

MR. CROWLEY: Continuing on with the news from the rest of the world, the Secretary is wheels-up from Santiago en route to Brasilia as we speak. Tomorrow, she’ll have meetings with President Lula and Foreign Minister Amorim of Brazil. Today, she met with President Bachelet and incoming President Pinera in Santiago. She was on the ground for about three hours time. And during that time, they talked about ways in which the United States can be of assistance to Chile.

Just to update the kinds of capabilities that we are talking to Chile about, she brought with her 25 satellite phones on her plane. There are an additional 40 satellite phones en route as we speak. We are moving eight water purification systems, a mobile hospital unit, an autonomous dialysis machine, electrical generators, medical supplies, and portable bridges – what the military calls Bailey bridges. And we’re also looking at providing portable kitchens and helicopters. So that’s the kind of assistance that we are talking to Chile about as we speak.

With that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: P.J, thanks. As far as the talks between India and Pakistan, what role do you think the U.S. is playing or have or has encouraged one or both countries to continue these talks?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as Richard just said, we have encouraged both India and Pakistan to continue their dialogue. They are neighbors. As Richard just said, share the same strategic space. So we will continue to talk to both countries and encourage the very kind of dialogue we saw in recent days.

QUESTION: Okay. But if the U.S. is playing a role other than encouraging it?

MR. CROWLEY: This is about the future relationship between two important allies. It is really for India and Pakistan to establish the kind of dialogue we think is in the long-term interest of both countries.

QUESTION: No any kind of mediation at this time by the U.S.?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: I want to ask you about the U.S. base in Okinawa. I’m Peter Green from Bloomberg. We had a story with a – a vice defense minister of Japan says that they will sign the treaty to allow the U.S. to keep the base in Okinawa despite the unhappiness of many Okinawans, but he said that the Okinawans would get some carrot as well as the stick. They would get some kind of payments. And I wondered, first off, if you have any word on progress of the talks, and secondly, if those payments would come from the U.S. in some sort of compensation, he called them.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would simply say that this is an issue that Japan and the new government continues to consider. I think that the prime minister has indicated that there’s a process that they anticipate will conclude roughly in May. We are consulting closely with the Japanese Government on the Futenma relocation issue, but beyond that I think this is a decision for Japan to make. I mean, there’s no change in our view that the realignment roadmap is the best plan for reducing the burden on Okinawa while maintaining our treaty commitments and our ability to defend Japan and to maintain peace and security in the region. Deputy Secretary Steinberg will be in Tokyo in a couple of days, and I’m certain that this will be one of the issues discussed.

QUESTION: But can you just answer the question about whether the U.S. would pay any compensation or do any sort of civilian investment there to appease the Okinawans?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think first and foremost, we are seeking a decision from the Japanese Government as to how it wants to proceed on this issue. Once we get that decision, then we can look at what the implications are for the people of Okinawa. But I would not suggest that this will involve any particular payment by the United States.

QUESTION: Speaking of Deputy Secretary Steinberg – he should, I think, have completed his first day of discussions in Beijing.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think so; I think he just got there. I think – yes.

QUESTION: He was getting there this morning --

MR. CROWLEY: I think he --

QUESTION: -- and had meetings for today, no? So he hasn’t had any meetings yet?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t believe so. I think he’s just arrived and the meetings are from this point forward, given the time difference.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Secretary Steinberg visited China and Japan. Why not he didn’t visit to South Korea?

MR. CROWLEY: We addressed this yesterday. Deputy Secretary Steinberg joined Secretary Clinton in a meeting here in the State Department last week with the Korean foreign minister. So – and in fact the Deputy Secretary had his own meeting with the Korean foreign minister following the working lunch with Secretary Clinton. So that actually has been accomplished, but it was accomplished here in Washington as opposed to in Seoul.

QUESTION: P.J., on a different subject, the leader of a global Muslim organization today issued a very rare fatwa condemning terrorism in all its forms. And the reason that’s important is because it’s in Britain, and obviously, there’s been some radicalization of young British Muslims, and the would-be Detroit bomber was one of those people a few years ago. I’m wondering whether this has any significance to the U.S. Government, given that that specific scholar actually has had some – has worked with different parts of the U.S. Government on awareness of Muslim issues in this country as well as others.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think Britain has had a very significant, detailed, extensive counter-radicalization strategy over the last few years. It has done extensive outreach with Muslim communities within Britain. Other countries have emulated that, including the United States. These issues are – at the heart of this, it’s about a very small group of people that have tried to hijack a religion. And we certainly value the debate that is currently underway within Muslim- majority communities around the world about the nature of their religion, the implication and definition of the word jihad, and to kind of take back the good name of Islam.

So I think we welcome these kinds of developments, whether in Britain or elsewhere around the world, as being very important steps in having the Muslims themselves make their own judgment about the vision that al-Qaida and bin Laden have propagated. And anyone who comes forward and rejects that vision, we welcome those steps.

QUESTION: P.J., are you saying that somebody from the Administration is going to reach the Muslim community here in the U.S.? Because many Muslims are also misled here – like you say, a small number. So --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think that’s – here at the State Department, Farah Pandith is our coordinator, with the express task of reaching out to Muslim communities around the world, and including Muslim communities here in the United States. And Rashad Hussain has a similar role within the OIC. So this is – we have sought this in terms of our own dialogue with Muslim communities around the world. It was the vision that the President laid out last year in his important address in Cairo. And there are very affirmative steps that we have taken, but certainly other nations are taking to have a much broader dialogue with Muslims throughout the world. And we think these are very positive steps, and this is one of the cornerstones that will help us ultimately minimize and then defeat these radical movements.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Back to Deputy Secretary Steinberg’s visit to China. After the announcement of arms sales to Taiwan in January, the Chinese Government said they wouldn’t meet with him, and I believe he canceled a trip that was scheduled for early February. So it’s been less than – just a little over a month. I’m curious to know if you have any sense of what led the Chinese Government to change their minds. Is that something--

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I will let my counterparts within the Chinese Government describe what their motivations are. We obviously value the kind of high-level dialogue that the Deputy Secretary will undertake. The same with the Secretary, where she had a meeting here on Friday with the outgoing Chinese ambassador to the United States. And we – if this suggests that we are refocusing on the future and the important issues that we can work on together, I think we are encouraged by this. But this is expressly why we sought this meeting – to be able to refocus on very specific issues, not the least of which is, obviously, our joint concerns about Iran.

QUESTION: Speaking of high-level – your value of high-level dialogue with the Chinese, do you yet have a date for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, or for President Hu to pay a reciprocal visit to the United States?

MR. CROWLEY: I will defer to the White House on a visit by President Hu. We have a prospective date from the Chinese on the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. It’s not something we can announce at this point.

QUESTION: Within the next few months?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible). (Laughter.)

QUESTION: There is a press report in the Middle East that --

MR. CROWLEY: Sooner rather than later.

QUESTION: There is a press report in the Israeli press that the U.S. presented kind of a draft of the Iran resolution to the countries of the Security Council.

MR. CROWLEY: I think I would just simply say that we continue our ongoing consultations within the P-5+1 on the nature of sanctions that we might at some point put before the Security Council. We have no particular timetable for that. Obviously, the Secretary has indicated we hope to move as rapidly as possible, but also we want to make sure at the end of this process there is effective sanctions that we think will apply the kind of pressure on the Iranian Government and its components that we want to achieve.

QUESTION: The UN just announced that there will be a meeting of the Quartet in Moscow on March 19th. So can you tell us more about what the American expectations would be at this meeting, and whether the Secretary will attend?

MR. CROWLEY: As you know, this came up during a conversation she had last week with Foreign Minister Lavrov. I think we are receptive to having the Quartet get together. I’ll defer only because there are four components; I’m not sure we’ve heard from the EU yet. But that – if everyone is agreeable, the Secretary will be there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On Zimbabwe, do you have any reaction to the law that just came into effect yesterday regarding the ownership of foreign firms in the country?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take the question. I’m not familiar with it.

QUESTION: Can you address – there’s still a question about what you expect out of a Quartet meeting. Why is it necessary now or helpful now? I note this is happening a couple of weeks, I think, before the Arab League summit in Tripoli. Is this related? I mean, why now? The Russians have been trying to get a Quartet meeting in Moscow for years, as I recall, so what do you hope to get out of this?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, our – we have a shared goal of comprehensive peace in the Middle East. And we think we are at a point in time where there’s some reason to believe that the parties are getting closer to the kind of discussions that we think will lead to resolving the complex issues that they face. And in any negotiation that might take place, we will need strong regional support and we will need strong international support.

And the UN, EU, Russia have been supportive of this process. We think that the timing is very useful in terms of comparing notes on where we are, the various discussions that have occurred in – among each of these players, and to have a common understanding of the way forward.

QUESTION: And – sorry, what --

QUESTION: Can you expand on the reason to believe that they’re closer? What in the world would give you that reason? (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: We continue our intensive discussions with the parties, and we are in a better place, we think, than we were late last year. And we hope to see the parties engage in discussions soon.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Steinberg for a second? How do you expect – what does he expect from Tokyo in terms of Iran and how they can help out on that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we will – if we get to a sanctions resolution, we have to have a common understanding on enforcement. Japan has a major economy. It has relations with Iran. I think we’re comparing notes in terms of the kinds of actions that we expect to be a part of this resolution. And just as we’ve seen in the effective enforcement of 1874 regarding North Korea, we will see – need to have the same international commitment and resolve to be able to send the right signal to Iran.

(Inaudible).

QUESTION: Can I ask about Iranians seeking political asylum in the United States? I hear there’s many of them, thousands perhaps, that have left Iran since the election and might be looking for political asylum in the United States in countries like Iraq and Malaysia and such. And I’m just wondering if you guys have let any of them in.

MR. CROWLEY: On that last question, I think that will be one to ask the Department of Homeland Security. Obviously, we have a policy in the United States of supporting those who have legitimate claims of asylum.

On your broader point, clearly, there is a dynamic that Iran is still trying to cope with. There’s a fracture in the relationship between Iran, the government, and the Iranian people. You’ve seen it even in the last 24 hours in terms of Iran’s attempts to shut down certain media outlets. They’re denying their people the kind of information that we think is a universal right.

So we’ve seen this now coming on nine months, this fundamental split between the regime and the people, and we certainly continue to look for ways to support the Iranian people in their efforts. They seek a different kind of relationship. They seek the ability to influence their leaders. And – but they also seek the fundamental freedoms of expression and association that we think apply universally around the world.

QUESTION: But is giving them political asylum in the United States one of those ways that we could support them?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not – I can’t – I have not heard of an uptick in those seeking asylum, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

QUESTION: P.J., a question on human rights. During the human rights week in Washington, so much happened at Freedom House and Carnegie and so forth. But the most discussion that was there that as far as UN Security Council is concerned, most of the members over there, they elect (inaudible) those who do not believe in human rights and they do not want their citizens to practice. So what is the future as far as the UN Security Council is concerned?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me shift gears. There – also this week, obviously, we have the reconvening of the Human Rights Council. Under Secretary Maria Otero is there and gave an intervention yesterday. It’s one of the reasons we sought to join the Human Rights Council so that we could promote a genuine debate within the Human Rights Council, obviously, which influences the rest of the UN system. And we think that the kinds of issues that have been tackled within the Human Rights Council over the past few months redeem that judgment that we want to be inside that room, part of that debate, and moving countries towards greater support for and respect for human rights.

QUESTION: Yeah, but what I’m saying is, let’s say as far as human rights in Iran is concerned, they have influence on countries who need their oil, and that’s why those countries then support those who do not really care for human rights. So how do you – like Russia and China and all – though they need their oil and that’s why they might support Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm. I mean, we happen to believe that the Declaration of Universal Rights has meaning. It is not something that’s just words on a piece of paper. It is something that all countries have a responsibility to live by and serve as a guide. And we welcome this debate. I think that’s one of the reasons why we feel confident about where we are with respect to Iran.

I think people can see what has occurred in Iran on the ground over the past nine months and they understand the changing nature of the government in Iran, that it is less and less divinely inspired and more and more representing a police state. And so – but we welcome this debate, and we will, as we have, challenge those countries where we believe their performance is inadequate. And we will, obviously – or as the Secretary has said, we’re willing to turn a – look ourselves in the mirror and find where – in some cases, where we have fallen short as well.

QUESTION: I have a question on Armenian genocide resolution which will be discussed on Thursday on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Last week, Secretary Clinton made a statement on this issue and she said that the United States is supporting the peace process ongoing between Armenia and Turkey.

MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But the problem is Turks are claiming that she supported Turkey, and some Armenians is claiming that – or claim they supported Armenians diaspora. Will State Department redefine his position on this issue or that’s all that --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, I think we have supported the current process that we hope will result in normalized relations between Turkey and Armenia. And within that process, as the Secretary said last week, we think that there is ample room for Turkey and Armenia to evaluate the historical facts as to what happened decades ago. So we haven’t changed our view, but we continue to engage at a high level with both countries and to encourage them – having worked to reach the agreement in Switzerland last year to see it implemented on both sides.

QUESTION: So Turks or Armenian are right on the comment?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I – (laughter) – I think I would borrow a phrase from what Richard just said the different context, is – is I think this is clearly to see the advancement of normalized relations between Armenia and Turkey is in the interest of both countries. It’s in the interest of the region as well. We cannot afford to look at this in zero sum terms, that somehow scoring a point on one side is a loss for the other. So I would just say that we continue our high-level – we’ve had intensive conversations at high levels. The Secretary has been directly involved extensively and repeatedly. Deputy Secretary Steinberg, Under Secretary Burns, Assistant Secretary Phil Gordon have all been directly engaged with the leadership in Turkey and Armenia. The Secretary had a meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan in Doha talking about this issue.

So we continue to encourage both sides. We understand how difficult this is, how emotional this is. There’s not a common understanding of what happened 90 years ago. But we value the courageous steps that both leaders have taken, and we just continue to encourage both countries to move forward and not look backward.

QUESTION: Just to follow up.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Do we have any scenario over the – if the resolution passes by the committee, do we have a scenario about the relation with Turkey, because there is a Turkish group – parliamentary group here in the town and they are – they have meetings with congressmen in the House, and they are saying that we are allied, and if this resolution passes, some things will change. Did you get any feedback from Turkish foreign ministry on the resolution about – if the --

MR. CROWLEY: I think we have a pretty good understanding of how everyone feels on this issue.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:38 p.m.)

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - March 2]