Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
May 11, 2010


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton and President Karzai Launched Strategic Dialogue with Afghanistan / Presentations / Working Groups / Clear Plans for Reversing Momentum of Insurgency and Transitioning to Afghan Lead / Critical and Long-Term / Not Abandon Afghanistan / Economic Assistance and Training / End of Sanctuary for al-Qaida / Bilateral Meeting
    • Secretary Clinton's Speech at CARE National Conference / Under-Nutrition around World / New Appbroach on Nutrition / Focusing and Scaling up Our Investments / Focusing on Women
    • USAID Administrator Shah Travel to Africa / Development and Progress on Global Health Initiative and Food Security Initiative
    • Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell in Beijing to Discuss Preparations for Upcoming Strategic and Economic Dialogue
    • Assistant Secretary Phil Gordon Travel to Kosovo / Meetings with Senior Leadership and Civic Leaders
    • Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller and Ambassador Antonof Joint Briefing on START Treaty in New York / Commitments of the United States and Russia
    • Reestablished Peace Corps Program in Colombia / English Teachers
    • Joint Quartet Statement / Proximity Talks / Step Towards Direct Bilateral Negotiations
  • CHILE
    • Explosive Traces Found on Man at Embassy Santiago / Coming in on Consular Issue / Arrested by Local Authorities / U.S. Cooperation / Investigation / Pakistani Citizen / Clarifying Information
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • U.S.-Afghanistan Relationship / Long-Term / Transition / Afghanistan Goals / Kabul Conference in July / Parliamentary Elections in September / More Work to be Done / Focused on Next Immediate Steps / Transit Trade Relationship / Growing the Afghan Economy / Delivering Services
    • Karzai Visit / Aggressive and Board Agenda / Good for Afghan and American People
    • Possible Capture of Mullah Omar
    • Corruption / Building Strong Institutions / Rooting Out Corruption / Channeling Aid Through Reviewed and Effective Ministries
  • EGYPT
    • Extension of Egyptian Emergency Law / Disappointment / Pledges by the Egyptian Government
  • PAKISTAN
    • Possible Designation of Pakistani Taliban as Foreign Terrorist Organization / Deliberative Process / Meeting Specific Legal Criteria / Investigation / Actively Considering / Focused on Group for Some Time
    • Satisfied with Cooperation in Would-Be Times Square Bombing Investigation / Sea Change of Attitudes
    • Terrorism is a Major Topic of the Strategic Dialogue
  • INDIA
    • Indian Court Sentencing / Indian Legal Proceeding / Assistance to India with Investigation / Fair and Transparent Legal Process
  • INDIA/PAKISTAN
    • Dialogue / U.S. Welcomes Dialogue and Better Relations
  • MIDDLE EAST
    • Exchanging Letter between Hamas and the Administration / False
    • Active Role in the Peace Process
  • EAP REGION
    • Secretary Clinton's Travel to Asia
  • BRAZIL
    • President Lula's Visit to Iran / Engagement Track / Need for a Constructive Direction
  • IRAQ
    • U.S. Considering Delaying Troop Withdrawal / Plans Unchanged at the Moment
  • CHINA
    • Ambassador Sung Kim and Assistant Secretary Campbell in Beijing / Position on Resumption of Six Party Talks
  • BURMA
    • U.S. Security Council Resolution 1874


TRANSCRIPT:

1:27 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon. Welcome to the Department of State. Lots and lots to talk about before taking your questions.

Secretary Clinton and President Karzai launched our strategic dialogue with Afghanistan this morning. The assembled Afghan and U.S. officials made brief presentations to President Karzai and Secretary Clinton and then after the opening plenary session, we broke into working groups led by Afghan ministers and their U.S. counterparts. And those working groups included foreign policy and strategic issues, economic development, agriculture and rural development, human resource development, governance, social issues, and women’s rights and security. We have clear plans for reversing the momentum of the insurgency and transitioning to Afghan lead. The Afghans came here with clear plans to strengthen their institutions and make durable gains and security economic progress and governance, including anti-corruption efforts.

Our partnership in all of these areas will be critical to progress increasing stability and defeating extremism for the Afghan people and the American people. The Secretary spoke today of a long-term partnership and reiterated what she and Secretary Gates have often said, that the United States will not abandon Afghanistan again. She noted that our economic assistance and training for Afghan forces will go on after our combat forces depart. This dialogue is part of shaping that long-term relationship to ensure our interest in a secure Afghanistan regional stability and an end of any sanctuary for al-Qaida.

Later today, President Karzai and the Secretary will have a bilateral meeting to discuss progress made during the day. And I think you’ll have the opportunity to hear the Secretary again with some remarks to a reception following that bilateral.

The Secretary also spoke this morning at CARE’s national conference. She spoke about new U.S. efforts to combat under-nutrition around the world. Few issues provide a more direct, affordable, and effective way to save and improve lives and communities as governments and organizations search for strategic interventions in the fight against poverty. In places where our money and effort can make the biggest and most lasting difference, nutrition represents a ripe opportunity.

The Secretary discussed the Obama Administration’s new approach on nutrition. The United States is focusing our investments on the critical 1,000-day period that starts with pregnancy and continues through year two of a child’s life, during which nutrition has the biggest impact on a person’s life-long health. We are scaling up our investments in research and development, from new techniques for measuring under-nutrition, to new supplements, to new bio-fortified crops. We’re focusing on women who often make the difference between a successful program and one that falls short.

And we’re putting nutrition at the intersection of two major new policy initiatives – the Global Health Initiative, a six-year, $63 billion effort to strengthen our health systems of our partner countries, and Feed the Future, our hunger and food security initiative of at least three years and $3.5 billion to improve agricultural systems from farms to market. As the Secretary said, the Obama Administration aims to reduce child under-nutrition by 30 percent in our partner countries.

Turning to travel by key State Department officials, USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah will make his first trip to Africa as Administrator this week, visiting both Kenya and Sudan. His six-day visit will center on the development and progress of President Obama’s Global Health Initiative and Food Security Initiative while gaining a deeper understanding of U.S. bilateral and regional investments in agriculture, health, and democracy and governance. He will engage with USAID and U.S. Government country and regional team officials and staff and discuss the context of Sudan’s humanitarian development and peace-building missions. USAID is also launching its new impact blog today and you can get updates from the Administrator on his trip at blog.usaid.gov.

Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell is on his way home from China. He was in Beijing to discuss preparations for the upcoming Strategic and Economic Dialogue as well as other important bilateral and multilateral issues. He met with Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai and other senior Chinese officials. He should be back in Washington later on today.

Assistant Secretary Phil Gordon arrived in Kosovo today. He visited one of the border crossings with Serbia in the north and municipal preparation team members in Mitrovica. Tomorrow, he will meet with the country’s senior leadership and civic leaders to encourage continued strengthening of Kosovo’s institutions while reiterating that the status of Kosovo is settled. He will also meet with a group of Kosovo’s Serb mayors before visiting the U.S. KFOR troops at Camp Bondsteel.

I think as we speak, Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller and Ambassador Anatoly Antonof, the U.S. and Russian chief negotiators of the new START treaty, are conducting a joint briefing for delegates at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference and representatives from nongovernmental organizations accredited to the conference in New York. The briefing demonstrates the commitments of the United States and Russia to meet our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and to advance our shared interest in strengthening this vital treaty. And I think Rose will have a media availability after that briefing.

Here in Washington, Colombia Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaime Bermudez and Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams today signed an understanding to reestablish a Peace Corps program in Colombia. I think the program was last active in that country in 1981. The volunteers will work as English teachers in primary schools, secondary schools, teacher training institutions, and community organizations. And we anticipate the first group of approximately 20 volunteers arriving in Colombia later this fall and will serve in communities along the Atlantic coast.

There was a statement issued in New York a short time ago by the Middle East Quartet. That includes the United Nations, European Union, Russian Federation and the United States. In the text, the Quartet welcomed the first round of proximity talks between Israelis and Palestinians. These talks are a significant step towards direct bilateral negotiations and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, based on the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its neighbors. The Quartet called on the parties to pursue these talks in good faith and offer its support for their efforts.

QUESTION: So it sounds like --

MR. CROWLEY: With that, I’ll --

QUESTION: -- you’ve lost the argument.

MR. CROWLEY: Pardon?

QUESTION: You lost the argument on whether this was the first round of proximity talks or not.

MR. CROWLEY: I think it was the first round of substantive dialogue.

Anyway, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, before we get to Afghanistan, is there anything you can tell us about this incident in Chile involving a Pakistani who apparently went in to apply for a visa and there were explosives – or explosive traces – traces of explosives were discovered on him?

MR. CROWLEY: The individual’s name is Muhammad Saif-ur-Rehman Khan.

QUESTION: Spelling, please?

MR. CROWLEY: M-u-h-a-m-m-a-d; S-a-i-f- hyphen-u-r-hyphen-R-e-h-m-a-n; Khan, K-h-a-n. He came to the U.S. Embassy in Santiago yesterday afternoon for a consular issue, and during a routine visitor screening evidence of explosives was detected. He was subsequently arrested by local authorities.

QUESTION: So what is the State Department’s role, if anything, now in dealing with this?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we’ll cooperate fully in the investigation by Chilean officials. Obviously, it demonstrates that our security in and around our embassies works very effectively.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, this is U.S. soil, so did he commit a crime?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we turned him over to Chilean official – to the Chilean authorities. I mean, we’ll be – we will obviously have our own investigation of this individual.

QUESTION: And who --

QUESTION: Is it a crime to have traces of explosives on you? I mean, for all you know, he’s a guy who works at a construction site where they dynamite stuff. Is there a reason to believe that he committed a crime, and is that why you turned him over? Or --

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, this is all – it’s a fair question, but this is all something that will come out while we’re reviewing during the course of the investigation.

QUESTION: And to go to Matt’s question, because it is U.S. soil, is there any belief that a U.S. law was violated? Is there any reason to believe that a U.S. law was violated?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’ll see. I mean, I think that at this point, we have – we don’t think that this was a spurious hit on our detection system.

QUESTION: So the Chilean authorities --

QUESTION: What does that mean?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: If you don’t think it’s spurious, what does that mean? I know what the word means, but what do you mean by that?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. Well, no, you hinted that this might just be somebody who was working in the yard.

QUESTION: I didn’t hint that. I mean, I said this is a guy who could work in a construction site where he works with dynamite, which is a perfectly legitimate thing to do. It wasn’t a hint. But --

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So your point is that you don’t think that he had a legitimate reason for having traces of explosives on him? Is that your point?

MR. CROWLEY: Say it again?

QUESTION: You don’t think he had a legitimate reason for having traces of explosives on him?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we are obviously – this is something that we will investigate and Chilean officials will investigate. That’s all I’ll say about it.

QUESTION: Can I just --

MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.

QUESTION: He – this guy was coming in for a visa?

MR. CROWLEY: This guy was coming in on a consular issue.

QUESTION: A consular what?

MR. CROWLEY: Issue.

QUESTION: What does that mean?

QUESTION: Don’t you have to be a citizen?

MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?

QUESTION: Don’t you have to be a citizen to get services from a consulate?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Is he --

QUESTION: So what does it mean?

QUESTION: Well, is he --

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) to apply for a visa or you want American citizen services for some reason, right? So he is not an American citizen?

MR. CROWLEY: Right. This individual is not a U.S. citizen.

QUESTION: He’s a Pakistani citizen, yes?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you give us any details of --

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: -- the routine --

MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?

QUESTION: Could you give us any details, please, of the routine screening that led to this?

MR. CROWLEY: Define routine – I’m trying – I’m not quite able to define --

QUESTION: You mentioned – your phrase was “routine screening.”

MR. CROWLEY: No, my phrase was a consular issue.

QUESTION: No, I understand that. But in – but after that, the routine security screening.

MR. CROWLEY: Was this a routine screening? The answer is no.

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: Huh?

QUESTION: No, no, no. The security – when he walked into the --

QUESTION: We’re talking about different things here.

MR. CROWLEY: All right, look --

QUESTION: How did – how were the explosive traces detected?

MR. CROWLEY: We had information – we have information on this individual. We had brought him – invited him to come to the Embassy to clarify the information that we had on this individual. And as he came into the Embassy, our explosive detectors went off.

QUESTION: He was not applying for a U.S. visa? He was not applying for a U.S. visa?

MR. CROWLEY: So he was not applying for a U.S. visa. He already was in possession of one.

QUESTION: So now --

QUESTION: So you said that he was invited to come in?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: So the U.S. Embassy reached out to him and said --

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: -- come in and have a cup of tea or something? I mean, what was the reasoning?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we – as I said, we had information on this individual and wished to clarify the information that we had on him.

QUESTION: So in other words, he was coming in – he was going to have his visa taken away?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not projecting what action --

QUESTION: You were going to revoke his visa?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not projecting what action we’re going to take. Let me talk in a broader set of circumstances. When information come – let’s say we get information on John Smith. There may be a hundred John Smiths in our files. We will reach out to all John Smiths to clarify whether the information that we have is that John Smith or that John Smith or that John Smith. So we’re not presupposing any particular action or anything about this particular individual. We were clarifying information about him. And during the course of this, obviously, this episode took place.

QUESTION: Has the visa – has the visa been revoked since he showed up with explosives?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll – specific information like that is privileged.

QUESTION: Was this done in conjunction with the FBI and is there any connection --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: Was this done in conjunction with the FBI? Is there any connection with the Times Square incident and that investigation?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t – I’m not aware there was any connection with the Times Square situation.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea where he was coming from or ever – if he was ever before in the U.S.?

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t answer that question. I don’t know.

QUESTION: P.J., was – the issues that you wanted to clarify, were they related to his visa or another consular issue, or were they related to activity outside the consular realm?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure I get the question, Nick.

QUESTION: Were the clarifications you’re seeking linked to his visa or other consular issue, or was it some sort of activity he engaged in that had nothing to do with his visa? In other words, were there any terrorist ties or any links or anything that prompted you to do this, or was it his visa that was the issue?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll decline to answer that.

QUESTION: Can you – how do you know he was in Chile?

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Did he obtain the visa in Chile?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll see if I can answer that question. Again, there – in some cases, visa issues have certain confidentiality. I’ll see if I can answer that one.

QUESTION: Does that mean that he was the John Smith that you were looking for?

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: How many people with that name are there?

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) Well, I’m not sure how many John Smiths trip our explosives detection equipment as they come into the Embassy.

QUESTION: Since you’ve turned him over to the Chileans, you’re not interested in him anymore?

MR. CROWLEY: I didn’t say that. I just said that there will be an investigation with the Chilean authorities --

QUESTION: Joint --

MR. CROWLEY: -- and we will continue to look at him as well.

QUESTION: Is it a joint investigation or is it – at this point, is it joint or is it just a Chilean investigation?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we’re obviously going to cooperate fully with Chilean officials.

QUESTION: So something you were talking here – another young Pakistani, and yesterday, Ambassador Holbrooke spoke at the Foreign Press Center when he was asked about that. And he said that two speeches given by the Secretary or the President may not make a difference, or we have to find another route or way to bring these people, misguided or whatever, Pakistanis who are maybe many here or abroad around the globe. So where do we do --

MR. CROWLEY: Again, Goyal, you’re going to have to learn to phrase countries in a way that doesn’t indict the population of an entire country. I’m not going to go there.

QUESTION: P.J., you said the search on this man was not routine. Was the information you had or that you were seeking, was that what caused you to do a non-routine search, a special search of this person?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not saying we were doing a search. I’m saying that we invited him to come to the Embassy to clarify the information that we had on him.

QUESTION: Right. But then once he got there, you suggested it wasn’t routine, the --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the moment the metal detectors – or the explosive detectors went off, I assure you it wasn’t routine.

QUESTION: So it was – he was doing everything else – anybody else would have done in going to the Embassy?

MR. CROWLEY: Right.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: And you don’t know where he got the explosives from?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, let’s not get ahead of the investigation. The machines went off and we’re going to investigate that, as will Chilean authorities.

QUESTION: P.J., do you know what kind of explosive it was?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Are certain nationalities subjected to a certain special screening at that embassy or other embassies?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Change of subject? Afghanistan – quickly on Pakistan? On this morning’s meetings --

MR. CROWLEY: Wait, hold on. I mean, if that’s a change of subject, then we’ll go to Michel and come back to you.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: That’s okay. Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask, with these working groups that you talked about earlier – and this is a broad strategic dialogue and we understand that – but are there any specific issues that the Administration is raising with the Afghans beyond sort of the broad commitment on the aid that will continue after the troops leave? Because it – you’ve seen the coverage so far of the so-called charm offensive, and so I wonder if there is anything more specific to it.

MR. CROWLEY: Let’s not get over-simplistic here. We are talking about a long-term relationship between the United States and Afghanistan, and it’s between our country and Afghanistan. So we are beginning to bring into shape and focus what are our – what are the long-term aspirations of Afghanistan and its government, and how do we get from here to there, and how the United States can be most helpful to Afghanistan going forward.

So, this is about the transition that we envision, just as we have done a transition in Iraq from a relationship that is heavily reliant on military force to a relationship that is more strategic and more long-lasting and more closely resembles the same kind of relationship that we have with other allies around the world. And so – but at the same time, in the Secretary’s bilateral with President Karzai, we are going to get into specific issues.

Obviously, as a number of briefers have said in recent days, the next major event in Afghanistan will be the peace jirga that President Karzai will call later this month. We want to fully understand what his goals are for that meeting and how we can be supportive of that. Then we have the Kabul conference coming up in July, and what do we want to accomplish there? We have parliamentary elections scheduled for Afghanistan in September.

So there is a lot of specific work to be done, but – and during the course of the Kabul conference, I think the – President Karzai will put forward a more detailed plan based on the framework that was established at the London conference back in January. So there’s a lot of work to be done here. We will be focused on those next immediate steps. But this is really about a strategic dialogue that gives shape and direction and substance to our long-term relationship.

QUESTION: P.J., if – is there any talks going on during this visit that massive aid or massive construction, just like in Pakistan and Afghanistan also? Because it’s millions of people, young people, are out of jobs or they’re – so you can bring them into the mainstream of – so that way --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, in the breakout sessions, we’ve gone through a number of things. Among the topics discussed of more regional significance is; what is the status of the transit trade relationship with Pakistan and how that can benefit the region as a whole.

You’ve heard a couple of times here at this podium from Agriculture Tom Vilsack. He is leading one of the groups in terms of continuing to figure out how we continue to grow the Afghan economy. I thought it was very impressive when President Karzai this morning talked about there’s a long way to go in terms of the Afghan economy, but clearly, it is significantly larger than it was just a few years ago. So there is progress being made, but obviously, there’s more work to be done.

So this is about some – understanding a long-term agenda and then beginning to put into place what we – the United States can do together with the international community to help Afghanistan grow. And clearly, over all of this, is – at the heart of this is the ability of the Afghan Government at the national level and the local level to deliver services to the Afghan people. As I think Ambassador Eikenberry said yesterday, ultimately, that is the key customer for Afghanistan is the people and having a government that they believe in and a government that they deserve.

Lalit.

QUESTION: I still have questions on Afghanistan – today’s talks. What’s the status of the transit trade agreement you referred to – where we are now?

MR. CROWLEY: It is a subject that comes up on both sides of that border. We have talked to Afghanistan about it. We talked during the strategic dialogue last month with Pakistan about it. It’s still a subject being negotiated.

QUESTION: So what are the hurdle statements? What are the bottlenecks? Why it’s not being signed? You know, in the first trilateral agreement – tripartite talks which were held last year, it was signed there and was he told to become prepared to sign --

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t speak to specific – what the specific issues. It is something that we hope that the two sides – two countries can agree to as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: And secondly, you spoke about peace jirga, which is being held later this month.

MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What are the expectations from this peace jirga?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, that’s part of what we’re discussing now.

QUESTION: One question, please, on the fact of the thing you mentioned before about the Chilean situation. Have – I’ll go back and make and make it two questions. I want to know if there is a --

MR. CROWLEY: I will go to Michel next, I promise.

QUESTION: Did they find also that this guy also was alone or he has like a network?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, you’re jumping ahead of what I know.

QUESTION: Because this also --

MR. CROWLEY: We are looking --

QUESTION: Authorities of all the surrounding countries of South America, have you been in touch with them also for security reasons?

MR. CROWLEY: This just happened yesterday afternoon. I don’t know how – what kind of detailed discussions we’ve had.

QUESTION: Egypt has extended the emergency law for two years. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. CROWLEY: We are disappointed.

QUESTION: Why? Why are you disappointed?

MR. CROWLEY: Why are we disappointed? Well, I mean, we have questions about how this fits with pledges that the Government of Egypt has made to its own people to try to find a way to move beyond the emergency law.

QUESTION: Change of subject – back to Pakistan. Senators Schumer and four other Democratic senators today sent a letter to Secretary Clinton asking for the Pakistani Taliban to be designed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Have you – well, first of all, had a chance to look at the letter, and are you considering putting them on the list of foreign terrorist groups?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are considering the question of designating the Pakistani Taliban, as you would envision. There’s a deliberately – or intentionally deliberate process that we go through, and it – any group that is to be designated must meet very specific legal criteria. But it is something that we are considering in light of what happened. And obviously, the investigation will yield information that might give us greater clarity.

QUESTION: And when do you think you’ll make a decision on that? When did you start investigating or looking into putting them on that list? Was that after the Times Square incident?

MR. CROWLEY: It is a group that we have been focused on for some time, but I think, in light of the Times Square attempt, is something we’re looking at very closely.

QUESTION: Well, when you say for some time, for how long have you been focused on them?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I can’t recite the history of this particular group. As a group, it has not been in existence for that long. But obviously, it has come into sharp relief in light of the Times Square bombing, and this is something that we are actively considering.

QUESTION: But I guess that – which just begs the question: Why are they not already on the FTO list?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, there’s a lengthy, deliberative process that goes into designating an individual or a group as a terrorist group, a terrorist – a Foreign Terrorist Organization. So we are working through a process based on the criteria in the law.

QUESTION: But in – while this lengthy, deliberative process is going on, though they are not subject to any kind of sanctions by the U.S., so presumably Americans can still send them money, they can – if they have any assets in U.S. jurisdictions that are not frozen, they can travel here.

MR. CROWLEY: Which is a – which is not an inconsiderable point.

QUESTION: Right, exactly. So I mean, perhaps – has there been – I mean, I guess your critics – I haven’t heard any of them yet, but I can rest assured that there will be some – who say that, you know, you’re basically dithering here and allowing this group to get stronger.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think we’re dithering at all.

QUESTION: So is something imminent?

MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?

QUESTION: Is action imminent?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I’m not going to – I mean, the question was asked: Are we considering this? And the answer is we are considering this. But there is a legal process that we go through both to designate an organization or, at times, to take somebody off that list.

QUESTION: You said you’re going through the lengthy, deliberative process. How far along are you? I mean, you said that you’ve been looking at this for a while, so are you close?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’ve been focused on the Pakistani Taliban for some time. But obviously, we are gleaning information in this investigation based on the information that the suspect is providing us.

QUESTION: Would it be fair to say then that this group’s kind of slipped through the cracks when it comes to being on FTO list? Why was it not on there a couple of years ago? I mean, would that be a fair assumption? People are surprised that it’s not on there.

MR. CROWLEY: Sue, Sue, Sue, as you all have reported, in a number of ways, we have been focused on this group for some time. You will understand that it has gone through some leadership changes that we have helped them with. So the idea that we have not been focused on this group as part of our broader struggle against political extremism is not true.

QUESTION: Hold on a second.

QUESTION: Can I just ask --

QUESTION: Leadership changes that we have helped them through? (Laughter.) P.J., that’s –

MR. CROWLEY: Charley.

QUESTION: What does that mean?

QUESTION: Doesn’t it –

QUESTION: You know, that – are you trying to say –

MR. CROWLEY: Charley, I’m not – go ahead, Charley.

QUESTION: I fear my question is in the same –

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going --

QUESTION: -- same vein. (Laughter.) Is it – can you help us understand –

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: -- the apparent disconnect between –

MR. CROWLEY: There’s no disconnect. We --

QUESTION: -- military attacks –

MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, I mean --

QUESTION: -- against a group and the –

MR. CROWLEY: To the specific point, we have been focused on this group for some time. And without being specific, we have been working with our Pakistani counterparts and we have taken appropriate action to diminish the capabilities of this group and others in the region. I’m not going to go any further, but to the idea that we have not been focused on the threat that has been emanating from this particular group, the answer is that’s not true. It’s patently not true.

QUESTION: Why can the United States launch drones or take --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to --

QUESTION: -- covert military action on one hand –

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going – having a discussion --

QUESTION: -- but on the other hand, take months to reach a deliberation of designation?

MR. CROWLEY: -- of specific actions.

QUESTION: P.J., on the Karzai visit – back to that – it feels like one of the warmest receptions a foreign leader could receive from the United States when you consider the scope of the various officials he’s meeting with and the amount of time he’s here. And I’m wondering, is this – is it fair to call it a new approach after, perhaps, some tough love a couple of months ago? Help me understand this.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think it’s a new approach. It’s the approach that we’ve been taking since the Afghan election. As the Secretary and others have said, President Karzai set out an aggressive and broad agenda in his inauguration speech and this is part of that process of translating that vision into very specific, long-term programs that will help Afghanistan progress in ways that are good for the Afghan people and good for the American people.

QUESTION: May I go on India, please? Indian court sentenced one of the members which belongs to the groups in Pakistan and if there was consultation in any way from the U.S. before the courts or during this deliberation?

MR. CROWLEY: This was part of an Indian legal proceeding. Obviously, we have encouraged India to – and at times, in the aftermath, we have assisted India with the investigation, but this was the result of an Indian fair and transparent legal process.

QUESTION: So the assistance will continue in the future? Because there are many more groups and many more threats against India as far as terrorists is concerned and many of those terrorists are based –

MR. CROWLEY: As I’ve said many times, Goyal, we have extensive cooperation with India on counterterrorism and that will certainly continue.

Lalit.

QUESTION: It was announced today that the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan will be meeting in July – mid-July sometime in Islamabad. How do you see the development there and how is it helpful to your efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we always welcome dialogue and better relations between India and Pakistan, but the pace, the scope, and the character of that dialogue is obviously for the Indian and Pakistani Governments to decide. But they do have some meetings coming up in the near future. We certainly welcome that dialogue.

QUESTION: Do you see any role for the U.S. in this?

MR. CROWLEY: This is – I mean, we have a strong relationship with India. We have a strong relationship with Pakistan. But we’ve encouraged better relations between the two countries. But the nature of that relationship is ultimately up to them. They are neighbors.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied –

MR. CROWLEY: Samir.

QUESTION: -- with this pace at which they are moving ahead in reducing the tension?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, those are decisions for the governments to make.

Samir.

QUESTION: There is a report in the Middle East that Hamas is exchanging letters with the Administration.

MR. CROWLEY: That report is completely false.

QUESTION: Can I ask another report that’s in the – about Mullah Omar that he’s been captured? There’s a report out on the internet that he’s been captured.

MR. CROWLEY: Hope it’s true. I’m not aware if it is, but that would be welcome news.

QUESTION: Will the Secretary be planning to travel to South Korea in the near future, specifically after the strategic dialogue?

MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary is planning to travel to Asia this month and we’re still working on her schedule.

QUESTION: One more?

QUESTION: Iraq questions?

MR. CROWLEY: Hold up. Hold up.

QUESTION: Separate. Brazil. I’m wondering if you could comment on Lula’s – President Da Silva’s visit to Iran and whether his increasing closeness with Iran is affecting his stature.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ve gone through this a number of times. The Secretary, when she was in New York last week, met with Foreign Minister Amorim. They talked about this upcoming trip. The Brazilians are still pursuing the engagement track. We respect that. If President Lula can turn Iran in a constructive direction, we’d obviously welcome that result. But let’s see what happens this weekend.

QUESTION: Iraq question?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: There were reports out of Baghdad that the U.S. is considering delaying the troop withdrawal. I recognize that’s not your lane.

MR. CROWLEY: That’s true.

QUESTION: But I’m wondering if the ambassador has expressed concern with the security situation and whether he may be on board with the idea of perhaps keeping U.S. troops there longer.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll point to the Pentagon. But I think there have been a number of comments by senior Pentagon officials that have said right now our plans are unchanged.

Back in the back.

QUESTION: I have a question on North Korea. Sorry. Campbell visited Beijing today. We assume that he also talk about North Korea nuclear issue, because Ambassador Sung Kim was there.

MR. CROWLEY: Ambassador Sung Kim did join Assistant Secretary Campbell in Beijing, yes.

QUESTION: Right. So has there been any change in North Korean position on the resumption of Six-Party Talk recently?

MR. CROWLEY: If they have changed their position, it’s not evident to us.

QUESTION: One more question on North Korea. In Burma, in his statement, Secretary Campbell mentioned – urged that Burma’s leadership to abide by its own commitment to fully comply with U.S. Security Council Resolution 1874 which is on North Korea.

MR. CROWLEY: That’s correct.

QUESTION: And he also mentioned that recent developments called into question that commitment of Burma’s leadership.

MR. CROWLEY: That is correct.

QUESTION: So could you elaborate about these recent developments? Is it –

MR. CROWLEY: That would involve intelligence matters.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Israeli Government’s announcement that the weapons seized in Bangkok in December were actually bound for Hamas and Hezbollah?

MR. CROWLEY: The – which –

QUESTION: The Israeli Government’s announcement today.

MR. CROWLEY: About which shipment? The shipment that was intercepted in Thailand?

QUESTION: The North Korean shipment.

MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?

QUESTION: The North Korean shipment – arms, weapons –

MR. CROWLEY: Do I have a comment on that? No.

QUESTION: -- in December.

MR. CROWLEY: Michel.

QUESTION: Russian president has called in Syria today for a more active U.S. role in the peace process and saying that the situation in the Middle East was very bad. Do you have anything?

MR. CROWLEY: I think – (laughter). I think we have a pretty active role in the peace process right now. And as – I think George Mitchell has, in fact, returned to the United States, having been delayed in coming back from proximity talks, first round or second round. And we are obviously intensively engaged in trying to move the parties towards direct negotiation, which I think everyone supports, including the Quartet.

QUESTION: Has he met with (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: No, not yet.

QUESTION: I just had a quick general question as far as corruption. We talk about corruption in Afghanistan, corruption elsewhere, wherever U.S. giving money or aid, so --

MR. CROWLEY: We hate corruption everywhere, Goyal.

QUESTION: Yeah. What I’m asking is that – have you made any changes since Afghanistan – Afghan president and his delegation is here, ministers are here, and we’re talking about corruption. Have you made any changes as far as accountability of the – by the U.S. wherever they give money?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s turn that around. Part of our discussion today will be continuing to build strong institutions of government in Afghanistan. Dealing with corruption is a dimension of that. I think as Ambassador Eikenberry talked about, we’re encouraged recently by the Karzai government’s appointment of a commission to look at and root out corruption, and that commission has been given a high degree of independence.

QUESTION: So most of the money can be spent on the development for the people?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, well, in our own provision of aid to Afghanistan, we are channeling that aid through the specific ministries that we have reviewed and consider effective and relatively free of corruption.

QUESTION: Talking about money and about the interview of Hillary Clinton in the program 60 Minutes, in --

MR. CROWLEY: What’s that got to do with money?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Some congressmen have said that if Pakistan is not cooperating, it is time for the U.S. to cut all the subsidies and all the help, aid that Pakistan is receiving.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as the Secretary said in that very interview, we are satisfied with the cooperation that we’ve received from Pakistan in this investigation. As she said, we’ve seen a sea change in change of attitudes within Pakistan over the last couple of years, but that we have – we want and expect more from Pakistan going forward.

QUESTION: So the matter is – this was the matter of the conversation?

MR. CROWLEY: This was what?

QUESTION: In between the talks that the U.S. is having with Pakistan, this was in the conversation, that the U.S. may cut all these --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, at – no, no, no, no, no, no. In the recent strategic dialogue with Pakistan, terrorism was a major topic of discussion because it is a shared responsibility and a shared threat. So this is part of our ongoing discussion with Pakistan.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:06 p.m.)

DPB #71

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - May 11]