Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 25, 2010


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Statement next week on Secretary travel to Kiev, Krakow, Baku, Yerevan, and Tbilisi July 1-5/US has put great deal of energy in normalized relations among Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan/US will have opportunity to continue to talk to Georgia about Afghanistan/US continues to be mindful of the unresolved situation regarding Georgia's territorial integrity
    • Statement on the passage of Iran sanctions by House of Representatives H.R. 2194
    • Secretary met USAID Administrator Shah, Ambassador Goosby, and CDC Director Frieden on Global Health Initiative
    • Secretary called to congratulate President-elect Santos of Colombia
    • US thanks Jamaican authorities for swift transfer of Christopher Coke
    • US following closely the national constitutional referendum in Kyrgyzstan on Sunday
    • US sympathies to families who have lost loved ones due to flooding in China
    • Anniversary of the start of the Korean War
  • SOUTH KOREA
    • Exemplary example of development and democracy in South Korea
    • Time for North Korea to accept full accountability and responsibility
  • PAKISTAN/INDIA
    • US appreciates and certainly endorses increasing dialogue between Pakistan and India
  • AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN
    • US believes any individual or any entity needs to renounce violence, terminate any ties to al-Qaida, and respect the Afghan constitution to have a constructive role in Afghanistan's future
    • US has formed strong dynamic team to oversee the civilian aspect
  • EU
    • US hopeful we can reach agreement on financial messaging data
  • NORTH KOREA
    • US focused on strong international response to Cheonan sinking, implementation of Resolution 1874
    • US encourages North Korea to avoid further provocative actions that increase tensions in the region
  • SAUDI ARABIA
    • US will have discussions with the foreign minister prior to Saudi monarch visit/Defers to the White House in terms of describing goals for the visit
  • ZIMBABWE/KIMBERLEY DIAMOND PROCESS
    • Lengthy and difficult meeting this week/Discussions will continue
  • CHINA/TIBET
    • US regrets crackdown action and it is something US continues to talk to China about
  • SRI LANKA
    • UN independent panel important opportunity to cooperate broadly/Human rights an essential element of Sri Lanka's future


TRANSCRIPT:

1:09 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Okay. You will see, following the briefing, a statement announcing the travel of the Secretary of State to Kiev, Krakow, Baku, Yerevan, and Tbilisi, from July 1st to July 5th. In Kiev, the Secretary will open the second meeting of the Strategic Partnership Commission and meet with government officials, including President Yanukovych and Foreign Minister Gryshchenko, and with civil society and independent media leaders.

In Krakow, the Secretary will celebrate the – participate in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Community of Democracies, an organization initiated by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her Polish counterpart Bronislaw Geremek in 2000. The Secretary will also meet with Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski.

And then will she travel on to Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, where she will hold meetings with government officials and civil society leaders to discuss bilateral, as well as regional peace and stability issues.

You will also see following the briefing, a statement by the Secretary regarding passage of the Iran sanctions legislation. The statement will welcome congressional passage of HR 2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010.

We believe that these new measures, along with action by the European Union and Australia, build on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 and underscore the resolve of the international community to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and hold it accountable for its international obligations.

This morning, the Secretary met with USAID Administrator Raj Shah, Ambassador Eric Goosby, and CDC Director Thomas Frieden. They briefed her on the status of the Global Health Initiative. Since May of 2009, the U.S. Government’s Global Health Initiative has connected existing platforms into a comprehensive approach to save lives and strengthen health systems in the developing world. We have implemented more than – programs in more than 80 countries where the U.S. Government global health dollars are already at work.

Just to reiterate what the Secretary did yesterday afternoon, she finally did connect and offer congratulations to President-elect Juan Manuel Santos and pledged to work very closely on our important bilateral issues in the coming weeks and months.

We note today that in this hemisphere as well, if he hasn’t already, Christopher Coke will be appearing in Manhattan Federal Court. We commend the Jamaican authorities and the government of Prime Minister Golding for their work to support his swift, safe transfer to the United States. Once the legal proceedings were complete, he was transported to the airport in Kingston yesterday by the Jamaica Defense Force and then escorted on a flight from Kingston to New York by the DEA and U.S. Marshals Service. And from this point on, the matter is really now in the hands of the U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of New York.

We are, obviously, following closely preparations for Sunday’s National Constitutional Referendum in Kyrgyzstan. We hope for a fair and transparent referendum that can be an effective step in the path towards democratic governance in Kyrgyzstan. And we hope that this important step happens in the – in an atmosphere of mutual respect and stability. The embassy – our Embassy in Bishkek will have a small team of monitors. In addition, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, a coalition of Kyrgyz NGOs, will field approximately one thousand domestic monitors, including in the south, and they will issue a preliminary report. On Monday, the OSCE is monitoring with 30 long-term monitors who have been on the ground for over a month. The U.S. has been providing assistance to the Central Election Commission, including training of local election officials, in an effort to help ensure proper conduct of the referendum.

We are – in China, we are, obviously, saddened by the loss of over 200 lives of the flooding in southern and central China. And our sympathies go out to the families of the victims and to the nearly 30 million residents affected by these heavy rains. We salute the tireless efforts of the thousands of Chinese emergency response personnel who have worked to move people to safety, distribute relief supplies, and fortify levees.

Today, the government – we announced a donation – we are announcing a donation of $50,000 to assist China with provision of emergency relief supplies in response to a domestic appeal by the Red Cross Society of China. And we’ll be looking to see whatever additional assistance might be necessary to combat the effects of the flood.

And finally, we note that today is the anniversary of the start of the Korean War, and we reaffirm the strong and enduring alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea. Our partnership is stronger than ever. We remember the extraordinary sacrifices made by individuals in the armed service during that tumultuous time, and they have our enduring gratitude and respect.

I would note there was an interesting commentary in today’s Global Times in Beijing, where it was suggested that the Korean War was – and I quote from the commentary – “a costly zero”. And it is true that the war started and the conflict that concluded at the 38th parallel, but I think there is a significant achievement in terms of the economic development of South Korea over these previous decades. Once a recipient of international assistance, and now a leading member of the OECD and donor in its own right. In the 1970s, the GDP of South Korea and North Korea were roughly the same. Now there are two compelling stories for dramatically different reasons: South Korea today is the sixth largest trading nation in the world. It has the second and third largest producers of cell phones, for example; the first and second largest manufacturers of televisions. And tragically, the South Korea GDP is now six times that of North Korea, which is, for all intents and purposes, an economic basket case.

So we think that – we’re very proud of our partnership with South Korea over the past six decades. And we certainly hope that North Korea will look at the exemplary example of development and democracy in South Korea and choose a different course than the one that it is currently on.

QUESTION: Can you --

QUESTION: So you’re auditioning for a job with the South Korean foreign ministry? Why would you say that it’s tragic that South Korea’s economy is --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s a tragedy for North Korea. And there’s no difference between the people and the capabilities of the people on both sides of the 38th parallel. There is a dramatic difference in the responsibility and capability of the respective governments.

QUESTION: Right. But, hold on a second, how many rounds of international sanctions is South Korea under?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, and the rounds of international sanctions are because of one reason: the behavior of the Government of North Korea. Certainly – look, the current situation in North Korea is not because of actions that the international community, including South Korea and the United States have done. It is expressly because of the policies of North Korea. And so, it is time for North Korea to accept full accountability and responsibility for what has transpired over the past six decades. And rather than presenting a preposterous bill to the United States of what --

QUESTION: 65 trillion --

MR. CROWLEY: $65 trillion. As we’ve said and stressed many, many times, there is a choice that is available to North Korea. It has been there for some time. If it chooses a constructive path, it can envision and anticipate more normal and constructive relations with its neighbors. But if it continues its provocative path, then there are consequences to that, as we’ve stressed many, many times.

QUESTION: Can you expand any more on the reasons for the Secretary’s trip to Azerbaijan and Armenia and also her visit to Georgia? In the first two is she going to get involved at all on Nagorno-Karabakh? Is that going to come up? And on Georgia, what’s the main purpose of the trip?

MR. CROWLEY: Let me – it’s a fair question. We’re going to have a couple of briefers for you early next week and then go into this in greater detail. We have, obviously, invested a great deal of energy in normalized relations among Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. This is a reflection of our commitment to work to resolve outstanding issues that have prevented normalized relations among those countries.

In this particular trip, the Secretary will have the opportunity to visit two of those countries and we will further the discussions that we’ve had with Azerbaijan and Armenia, I think most recently on the margins of the nuclear security summit.

QUESTION: And how about – can you give us just a sentence on Georgia?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure. Georgia is a very important ally, particularly in the context of Afghanistan. I think it’s safe to say, if I recall, that Georgia on a per capita basis has made the most significant national contribution to the mission in Afghanistan, so we’ll have the opportunity to continue to talk to Georgia about that. We continue to be mindful of the unresolved situation regarding Georgia’s territorial integrity, and I’m sure that the Secretary’s trip there will be a tangible manifestation of our ongoing commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity.

QUESTION: Is it also to reinsure Georgia that the relationship with Russia is going much better?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we do not see a zero-sum game here. That’s what we’ve been stressing to many countries in the region. We can have constructive and ongoing relations with Georgia, and they do not come – it does not come at the expense of Georgia that we have constructive relations with Russia. As you saw yesterday, there was a lengthy list of accomplishments in terms of the bilateral with President Medvedev and President Obama.
But just as we are improving Russian, relations with Russia and cooperating on an increasing range of issues. Obviously, we will continue to stress the importance of resolving the lingering conflict in the Caucasus.

QUESTION: Can I ask you a housekeeping question?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: On the Secretary’s statement about the passage of the Iran sanctions, what do you see the utility as – of releasing a statement like this the day after it happened; particularly when it was done yesterday?

MR. CROWLEY: It was done yesterday.

QUESTION: Can you explain –

MR. CROWLEY: But the statement wasn’t done yesterday.

QUESTION: No, no, the statement was done yesterday.

MR. CROWLEY: Look, the vote happened late last night.

QUESTION: No, no. But what happened before 7:00 p.m.?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we could have put the statement out late last night. We held it until today.

QUESTION: Can you explain –

MR. CROWLEY: I -- look.

QUESTION: Can you explain why it was held?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: The NSG meeting is now over. Did you receive the clarification from China on sale of nuclear power plants to Pakistan which you had sought –?

MR. CROWLEY: Let me take the question. I asked right before I came down if we had any feedback on the meeting. I haven’t received it yet, so –

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan is being held in Islamabad (inaudible) foreign secretary and then now the interior, home minister is there in Islamabad having talks. Do you have any take on that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, just as we’ve said many, many times, we appreciate and certainly endorse increasing dialogue between Pakistan and India. It is in their self-interest and our larger interest to see dialogue that can help to resolve tensions that exist between the two countries.

QUESTION: And finally, the New York Times today reported that the Pakistan army has offered to mediate for peace talks with the Taliban and also with the Haqqani network. Is the offer with you?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we’ve said many times, this is an Afghan-led process, but obviously there are discussions going on between Afghan officials and Pakistani officials, and we certainly want to see ways in which Pakistan can be supportive of this broader process.

QUESTION: Do you see the Haqqani network coming – sharing power with the Afghan Government? Do you support that?

MR. CROWLEY: We have been very clear in terms of the conditions that any individual or any entity need to meet in order to have a constructive role in Afghanistan’s future: renouncing violence, terminating any ties to al-Qaida, and respecting the Afghan constitution. Anyone who meets those criteria can play a role in Afghan’s future.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MR. CROWLEY: Afghanistan’s future.

QUESTION: There was a suggestion by Senator McCain to bring back Ambassador Ryan Crocker from retirement and team him up again --

MR. CROWLEY: I think Senator McCain also indicated that he doubted that Ryan enjoying retirement –

QUESTION: But still (inaudible) I understand that he said.

MR. CROWLEY: -- as he is was prompted to do that.

QUESTION: Is that the kind of thinking that maybe is being discussed or debated at the State Department?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, Ryan Crocker is one of our most distinguished diplomats; did heroic work in Iraq. Before that, he was our ambassador in Pakistan, so he certainly knows the region. But we do not anticipate any changes in our civilian lineup at this point led by Ambassador Holbrooke, Ambassador Eikenberry, and another collection of ambassadors that we’ve formed a very, very strong dynamic team to oversee the civilian aspect of our joint civilian military strategy.

As the Secretary and the President have stressed in the last couple of days, we’re focused on the task at hand. Richard Holbrooke is in Brussels today and has been briefing the NAC on the results of his trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are focused on the way forward. We see very strong indicators as we outlined a couple of days ago that show that on the ground things are improving. We are very mindful of the difficult security situation; nobody is suggesting otherwise. But we have a strong team, we have the right strategy, and we’re focused on carrying that out. I think Ambassador Eikenberry himself, in comments yesterday, stressed that while there can be debates behind closed doors, he feels strongly that we do have the kind of unity of effort that the President and Secretary have a right to expect.

QUESTION: So there is full confidence in Ambassador Eikenberry’s –

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: You mentioned Brussels. Are you updated on the agreement that they came to yesterday on the FMDA, on the Financial Messaging Data Agreement, which the council is considering today?

MR. CROWLEY: We have had ongoing discussions with the European Union, and we think we are – we have reached an understanding that the council is considering this today. We anticipate that the European parliament will be considering it in the next – early next month. But we are hopeful that we can reach an agreement, and this is obviously in the significant interest to us and to the countries of Europe.

QUESTION: Now you have agreed to the minor details –

MR. CROWLEY: But we have – we have been working on this for quite some time. There have been times where we have reached a tentative agreement. Obviously, the European parliament has to agree as well, but we are hopeful that at this point our current understandings, which are being considered by the council today and will be considered by the European parliament -- we’re not counting any chickens at this point, as we would say in America -- but we are hopeful that both the council and the parliament will agree to the understandings that we have reached in recent negotiations.

QUESTION: Okay –

MR. CROWLEY: Hold on, we’ve got two more hands here.

QUESTION: Sanctions on North Korea. Does the U.S. have any separate plan to initiate financial sanctions against North Korea even before UN Security Council resolution comes in place?

MR. CROWLEY: I think right now we are focused on discussions in New York regarding a strong international response to the sinking of the Cheonan. As always, we are – continue to be focused on implementation of Resolution 1874, and that work is ongoing. As to any additional steps that the United States or other countries can take. I think there are sufficient authorities that reside around the world to send a clear message to North Korea. But I – at this point have nothing specific I can point to.

QUESTION: But U.S. economic sanctions is pending in one more year.

MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t – pending is a strong word. We have the ability and have in the past, and this is a tool that we have available to us if we see the need to take further steps, but I have nothing to announce at this point.

QUESTION: The head of the South Korean delegation for Six-Party Talks will be in Washington next week meeting with State Department officials. Do you know who he’ll be meeting with and when?

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll try to have an announcement for you on Monday on that.

QUESTION: North Korea has (inaudible) in the Yellow Sea. So do you see any sign of North Korea conducting missile tests?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there’s a limit to what we can say on these matters. They do involve intelligence. But we certainly would say that North Korea should refrain from actions that aggravate tensions. And we are aware of this notification. But at this point, this is certainly not the kind of step that we want to see North Korea take. We’d rather see them take concrete steps – irreversible steps towards fulfillment of the 2005 joint statement, comply with international law, including UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874, cease provocative behaviors, and take steps to improve relations with its neighbors. I suspect that further missile launches is not a step in that direction.

QUESTION: What provocative action have they taken?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there’s a no-sail --

QUESTION: I know.

MR. CROWLEY: -- notification, which –

QUESTION: Exactly, that’s provocation now?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, in the past it has sometimes been followed by missile launches. We would hate to see North Korea go through with another round of missile launches.

QUESTION: Do you have any –

MR. CROWLEY: It’s not the steps that they need to take.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that that’s what this –

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to get into intelligence matters, as I said.

QUESTION: Well –

MR. CROWLEY: Matt, I’m done. Go ahead.

QUESTION: How are – you can’t be –

MR. CROWLEY: Hold on a second. I got a question here.

QUESTION: I’m changing topics, though.

MR. CROWLEY: Fine.

QUESTION: Okay, can we go to the Saudi monarch visit to Washington?

MR. CROWLEY: He will be here next week –

QUESTION: His offices won’t --

MR. CROWLEY: We will have discussions with the foreign minister prior to that, but I will defer to the White House in terms of describing its goals for the visit.

QUESTION: But are they likely to discuss with the Secretary of State the Arab peace plans?

MR. CROWLEY: I certainly – I would certainly – I mean, there are enduring issues that we talk with the leaders of Saudi Arabia with on a regular basis. When the Secretary was in the region earlier this year, she had a lengthy bilateral with King Abdullah. Many of you were there for the meeting or for the lunch. And we talked about the situation with respect to Iran. We talked about the status of the peace process including the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative. We talked about relations that Saudi Arabia has with other countries in the region including Iraq. I would certainly expect all of those issues to be on the agenda next week.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: South Korean parliament – National Assembly’s intelligence committee briefed that North Korea might have the capability to miniaturize the warheads, the nuclear warheads, in one or two years. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. CROWLEY: I – there’s no – I’m not here to validate that report, but there’s no way I can answer that question.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) P.J., about the failure of a round of talks on the Kimberley Diamond process – the conflict diamond process –

MR. CROWLEY: I haven’t had a specific readout. Obviously, a very lengthy and difficult meeting this week, a lot of discussion about the international response to Zimbabwe and its threat to sell diamonds outside the Kimberley Process. And as I understand it, our discussions will continue.

QUESTION: What about – a Tibetan environmental figure was given a prison sentence by a Chinese court. It’s viewed as further crackdown on prominent Tibetan figures.

MR. CROWLEY: We certainly regret that action and it is something that we continue to talk to China about.

Lalit.

QUESTION: The Sri Lankan Government has refused to give visas to the independent panel appointed by the UN on human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Are you in touch with the Sri Lankan Government on this issue? What’s your take on that?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take the question as to whether we’ve had a particular discussion on this subject. Certainly, as we’ve stressed in Sri Lanka many times, it has – there’s an important opportunity here to change its relations with its population and subgroups within its population. Human rights is an essential element of Sri Lanka’s future and it should take the opportunity, cooperate broadly, and establish a new dynamic and relationship with its people.

QUESTION: Do you think at this point of time it’s right for the UN to go in and have its own investigations?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a matter for the UN.

QUESTION: P.J., on the North Korea no-sail announcement, is it – is that in itself provocative?

MR. CROWLEY: What’s that?

QUESTION: The – putting out the notice.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it has the potential to increase tensions in the region. Clearly, Japan is concerned. South Korea is concerned. This is a time for North Korea to take steps to reduce tensions in the region. Declaring no-sail zones, which at least raises the – given past North Korean behavior, raises the potential that they might use this notification to – for a missile launch. That would certainly be a step in the wrong direction and we would discourage North Korea from taking that step.

QUESTION: But isn’t an announcement like this actually the responsible thing to do if such a –

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, obviously it depends –

QUESTION: (inaudible) exercise is planned?

MR. CROWLEY: -- on what the notification is for. But certainly, we wish to make clear that further – we would encourage North Korea to avoid further provocative actions that increase tensions in the region. Now is the time to take steps to improve relations with its neighbors and cease any provocative behavior.

QUESTION: Former President Clinton was in South Africa. Was he also carrying any diplomatic message for the region?

MR. CROWLEY: I think he was there on a private visit. And I understand he lost his voice when the United States scored its winning goal. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Have a nice weekend.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:36 p.m.)
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