Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 23, 2010


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton returning from ASEAN forum where discussed key regional issues
    • Ugandan Government investigation of terrorist bombings: US rapid deployment team largely finished
    • US Ambassador Roemer signed counterterrorism cooperation initiative MOU with India
    • Assistant Secretary Valenzuela will be traveling to Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago
    • Undersecretary McHale will be traveling to Cali and Bogota, Colombia
  • AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN/INDIA
    • US focused and concerned about activities of the Haqqani Network/US will be engaged with countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India for a long time/Timeline President outlined in December well-known/In US interest to see substantive exchanges, dialogue at a high level between India and Pakistan
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINE
    • There has been no change in the status of the Palestinian mission here in Washington
  • NORTH KOREA/SOUTH KOREA
    • US planned exercises are defensive in nature/US intent to demonstrate that we are committed to the security of South Korea and the region/US does not think it would be fruitful for North Korea to increase tensions
  • COLOMBIA/VENEZUELA
    • US supports what Colombia outlined in the meeting yesterday in encouraging the establishment of an international verification committee to visit and examine the identified camps within the next 30 days
    • US a strong supporter of the OAS, supported yesterday's meeting, thinks that there should be an investigation, thinks that Venezuela itself has responsibilities to be forthcoming in responding to the important information presented yesterday by Colombia, wants to see this resolved peacefully with international effort
  • CUBA/SPAIN
    • Taken question on whether former Cuban prisoner in Spain coming to US
  • FRANCE/MAGHREB
    • Unaware of US participation with France in Maghreb Al Qaida killings/US concerned about entire network
  • BURMA/NORTH KOREA/INDIA
    • US remains concerned about nature of relationship between Burma, North Korea/US will continue to engage Burma at time where we think such a conversation will be fruitful/US would encourage India and other countries to send clear message to Burma that it needs to change its course/US not concerned about proliferation between India and Burma
  • RUSSIA
    • Diplomatic notes exchanged on reported case involving Russian pilot arrested in Liberia/US cooperates with Russia on counter-drug operations around the world/Consular access granted, notifications/US will continue to do whatever is appropriate under our international obligations
  • REGION/CHINA/SOUTH CHINA SEA
    • Re. competing claims, US interest is regional stability, freedom of navigation, respect for national law and unhampered commerce under lawful conditions/Should resolve through collaborative diplomatic efforts
  • CLIMATE CHANGE
    • US has made clear this is a global challenge, will continue to engage internationally
  • JAPAN
    • US continue s to work within the Experts Group on base relocation plans
  • SERBIA/KOSOVO
    • US strongly opposes discussion of partition


TRANSCRIPT:

1:22 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State and happy Friday to all of you. We are joined today I think from – by some students from the University of Wisconsin. So we’re supposed to do a shout-out, "Go Badgers"! Any other Big Ten representations here want to – now is it the Big Ten? It’s the Big Ten plus a couple. (Laughter.) Anyway, we’re happy you’re here.

QUESTION: Let’s start with a question about that. What did they do wrong? (Laughter.) I’m sorry, I tried to make you laugh.

MR. CROWLEY: So the Big Ten has 12 schools, the Big Twelve has 10 schools –

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary is on her way back from the ASEAN Forum. She’ll be in the air virtually all day and early tomorrow morning. But before leaving, she discussed key regional issues with her ASEAN Regional Forum counterparts, including North Korea’s provocative behavior, concerns over Burma’s record on human rights, democracy, and its adherence to international obligations as well as shared international and regional concerns over developments in the South China Sea. She also had the opportunity in Hanoi to meet with her counterparts from China, Russia, and Japan. I haven’t gotten a full readout, since they’re in the air, of those meetings, but fully expect that issues regarding North Korea and Iran and full implementation of Resolution 1929 were among the key issues discussed. And I expect that in her meeting with Foreign Minister Okada they reflected on progress that the experts are doing in terms of the base relocation plan.

I would reflect that in Kampala, you’ll recall that we had sent a fairly substantial FBI flyaway team to Uganda to help the Ugandan Government with the investigation of the terrorist bombings there recently. The rapid deployment team has largely finished its work. For the most part, it will be returning to the United States today. I think there were like 63 members of the team; roughly 50 will be returning to the United States today. Other investigators will continue to assist the Government of Uganda in this ongoing investigation.

In New Delhi today, U.S. Ambassador Tim Roemer signed a counterterrorism cooperation initiative Memorandum of Understanding with Home Affairs Secretary Pillai, he signed on behalf of India. The signing is the latest evidence of the close and effective cooperation efforts between the United States and India on counterterrorism, information sharing, and capacity building.

In terms of travel next week, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela, will be traveling to the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, and I think we have a call teed up for this afternoon at 3:00 where Arturo will kind of chart out what he has planned on that travel.

And likewise, next week, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale, will be traveling to Colombia. She will first be in Cali where she will deliver the keynote address to the Association of Binational Centers of Latin America, or ALBA Conference. And then she will travel to Bogota for meetings related to our public diplomacy programs that contribute to our U.S.-Colombia bilateral relationship.

And with that I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Bob.

QUESTION: P.J., in London today, Richard Holbrooke was quoted as saying that the Kabul Conference early this week was targeted by Haqqani Network – do you know what he meant by that? Do you have any details? Was there a plot of some kind?

MR. CROWLEY: I think it speaks for itself. I can’t talk about intelligence matters, but we obviously are focused on and concerned about activities of the Haqqani Network and the threat that they pose to regional security, but I won’t go beyond what Richard said.

QUESTION: On this (inaudible) Afghanistan. P.J., Indian Foreign Minister Mr. Krishna said that after U.S. announced what’s going on that the U.S. will withdraw from Afghanistan by the next – by the end of next year and so on. What do you think that the U.S. – he’s urging the U.S. should stay in the area because of finishing their task or work finishing terrorism from the area from Afghanistan and the border into Pakistan – otherwise, there will be a chaos is U.S. leaves the area.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, Goyal, I can’t – I’ll let Foreign Secretary Krishna speak for himself. The fact is we’re not leaving Afghanistan or the region at the end of next year. Our commitment to regional security is a significant one. We are going to be engaged with countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India for a long time, because it is in our interest to do so. We have, per the President’s decision, increased our military capabilities and force levels in Afghanistan.

The timeline that the President outlined back in December is well-known. We’ll have various reviews coming up at the end of the year, both in terms of how NATO evaluates what’s happening in Afghanistan, our own internal U.S. review at the end of this year. As the President said, we see July, 2011 as an important transition point, but remember that we have both a military and a civilian component to our strategy. The military element is not open-ended. As Afghan national security forces increase their capability, we will be decreasing the commitment of U.S. forces and international forces. And as the Kabul Conference indicated, the Afghan plan is to be able to assume security responsibility throughout the country by 2014.

So we are there to help stabilize the security situation in Afghanistan. We are there to begin to grow a legal economy in Afghanistan; increase the capacity of the Afghan Government at all levels – national, regional, local. But our commitment to Afghanistan, we will be there for many, many years.

QUESTION: P.J. –

MR. CROWLEY: But to clarify, in different capacities. Over time, obviously, the military capability – the military element to the strategy will be reduced and the civilian element to the strategy will continue a pace. It’s exactly what’s happening in Iraq for example.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: As for this Kabul Conference is concerned, so many heads of state, I mean, foreign ministers were there, and the whole world was watching. Was there anything new came out or will come out of this conference? And also, if you think you have built a more stable relationship with the Afghani people, which they were hoping that they have to have people-to-people relation as far as fighting corruption and terrorism and other elements.

MR. CROWLEY: It’s a very good question. I think we have sustained a remarkable relationship with the people of Afghanistan. Obviously, the United States and the international forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001. If you look at Afghan history, they have not always been receptive to the presence of foreign forces within their borders. But they recognize the importance of the international forces being there to help stabilize the situation, defeat the insurgency, and give time and space for the Afghan Government to grow its capacity and deliver vital services to the people of Afghanistan.

Under the circumstances, given the ongoing violence there, the Afghan support for international presence has gone up and down at various times, but it has been remarkably stable over a number of years and that is a vital aspect of this. And I think it’s a reflection of the fact that the Afghan people understand the importance of international contributions, force contributions and efforts to build up and stabilize Afghanistan.

Sean.

QUESTION: Sure. First of all, for the record, I’m from Wisconsin, so welcome to our guests.

MR. CROWLEY: Hey, hey.

QUESTION: There was a –

MR. CROWLEY: Are you a badger or – (laughter).

QUESTION: So to speak. Not in the animal sense, but – (laughter). The U.S. apparently this week upgraded the Palestinian delegation here in Washington to the level of general delegation. What are the reasons for that move? What does it mean? Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, was saying that that would mean that say Palestinian diplomats here would have diplomatic immunity. They would be able to have other diplomatic privileges.

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, just to clarify, there has been no change in the status of the Palestinian mission here in Washington. We – it operates under guidance provided by the State Department. It does not have any diplomatic privileges or immunities. At the request of the PLO representative, which we have granted given the improvement in the relations between the United States and Palestinians, they have requested permission to fly the Palestinian flag. And they have requested permission to call themselves the General Delegation of the PLO, which is a name that conforms to how they describe their missions in Europe, Canada, and several Latin American countries. But these steps have symbolic value, they reflect improved relations between the United States and Palestinians, but they have no meaning under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

QUESTION: What was the reason for approving it now? Were requests made in the past under previous administrations?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a fair question. I don’t know. They requested it, we evaluated it, and we recognized its importance to them, and we granted it.

QUESTION: And why weren’t they allowed to fly the flag previously?

MR. CROWLEY: I think under the guidelines that were established when a PLO office was established here in Washington, these were the set guidelines at the time. Over time, in this particular case, we’ve adapted them. But their status as a mission has not changed.

QUESTION: Was there communication with the Israelis on this? And do they have any sensitivities about it?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know. I can’t say.

QUESTION: North Korea?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure. We’ll get to you.

QUESTION: North Korea says that it may have a quote “physical response” unquote to the military exercises. Anything else you want to say about that?

MR. CROWLEY: It would be unwise. Our planned exercises, as we’ve indicated, are defensive in nature. They reflect our important alliance with South Korea. Their intent is to demonstrate that we are committed to the security of South Korea and the region. And as we’ve said, North Korea would be better served by reflecting on the current situation, not taking any further aggressive actions or provocative steps, but rather to take the steps that the Secretary outlined again today in Hanoi to live up to the obligations that they made in 2005, take affirmative steps toward denuclearization, commit to better relations with its neighbors, including South Korea. And if that happens then diplomatic opportunities could potentially open up. But we certainly don’t think it would be fruitful for North Korea to increase tensions in the region at this point.

QUESTION: Mr. Crowley, how much do you believe in the information that the Colombian Government provided yesterday at the Organization of American States in which they confirm or they try to confirm the presence of the FARC members in the Venezuelan territory with the support of the Venezuelan Government?

MR. CROWLEY: In the OAS Permanent Council meeting yesterday, Colombia presented photographs, maps, videos that allegedly prove the presence of – in Venezuela of FARC members and camps. This was important information. It merits further investigation. And we support what Colombia outlined in the meeting yesterday and encouraging the establishment of an international verification committee to visit and examine the identified camps within the next 30 days.

Yes.

QUESTION: Follow-up –

QUESTION: Following up on that – President Lula from Brazil said yesterday to a very important newspaper in Brazil that he preferred the discussion of the debate between Colombia and Venezuela to be held in UNASUR, because according to him, the United States is the main obstacle in the Organization of American States for this debate. What do you think about that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we would take exception to the second half of that comment. We are a strong supporter of the OAS. We supported yesterday’s meeting. We think that there should be an investigation. We think that Venezuela itself has responsibilities to be forthcoming in responding to the important information presented yesterday by Colombia. And we think it would be useful that there be international participation in such an investigation. Now, that can happen through a variety of means. The OAS is one venue. UNASUR would be a different venue. But we think it is expressly this kind of follow-on action investigation that is the best way to resolve the situation.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that.

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Having in mind that the FARC is an organization qualified as terrorist by the State Department, do you have any message for the Venezuelan Government?

MR. CROWLEY: Of course, Venezuela among other states in the region have very clear responsibilities to combat terrorism in the region and to support efforts within the OAS and within the UN to fight terrorism wherever it is, expressly because of our concerns about the links between Venezuela and the FARC that we have not certified Venezuela in recent years as fully cooperating with the United States and others in terms of these antiterrorism efforts. So yes, absolutely, Venezuela has clear responsibilities here. These were serious fact-based charges that Colombia made yesterday at the OAS and they deserve to be fully investigated.

QUESTION: President Chavez – one more (inaudible). President Chavez and the Venezuelan Government has already said that they’re not going to open their barriers for an investigation or something or some group with international –

MR. CROWLEY: That’s unfortunate. It’s an unfortunate response. It was a petulant response by Venezuela to cut off relations with Colombia. We would hope for a more constructive response by Venezuela to this meeting yesterday. But obviously, if Venezuela fails to cooperate in whatever follow-on steps are made, the United States and other countries will obviously take account of that.

Kirit.

QUESTION: Speaking of --

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll come back to you, Kirit. Same topic?

QUESTION: Stay on that.

QUESTION: Same topic.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Considering that the justification to go to Afghanistan was based on the fact that it was harboring terrorist organizations there, what do you think would be the reaction if it is proven, in fact, that Venezuela is also harboring terrorist camps?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, that’s a hypothetical situation. I would remind that the United States and other countries went to Afghanistan in response to a clear and compelling attack on 9/11. So we had obviously had conversations with the then-Afghan Government prior to 2001, knowing that al-Qaida was present in Afghanistan and those terrorist activities had not stayed in Afghanistan.

But we obviously want to see this resolved peacefully. Venezuela has clear responsibilities. Colombia has put forward serious charges; they deserve to be investigated. And everyone in the region has a responsibility to work constructively to not only resolve these questions, but more importantly to reduce the threat of terrorism in this hemisphere and anywhere in the world.

Kirit.

QUESTION: There’s some reports out there that one of the individuals freed from a Cuban prison and brought to Spain plans to come to the United States. Do you have anything about that?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. I’ve just got to get some details. We have – haven’t taken action on one individual. I’ll get you the specifics.

QUESTION: Sorry. You have taken action on one of the individuals? What does that mean?

QUESTION: Granted a visa.

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll – I think the answer is yes, but I’ll – I don’t have anything in my book on that. Let me check.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Was there any announcement at having killed six members of al-Qaida in the Maghreb region with a joint operation with France? Does the United States – participated in this operation?

MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: North Korean Foreign Minister Pak is going to Yangon, Myunmar early next week and it was said he will discussed North Korea’s plans for nuclear technology to – in exchange for food. Any comment on that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m not aware of travel to Rangoon by North Korean officials. We – as we’ve said many times, we remain concerned about the nature of the relationship between Burma and North Korea. And as the Secretary reminded this week that all countries in the region, including Burma, have clear responsibilities in terms of full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: I had asked yesterday, and I think you said you would look into it, whether there were any contacts between senior U.S. officials and the delegation from Myanmar at ARF, and if so, what the substance of the exchanges were.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as you know, delegations were together in – around the table during the course of the conference, but there were no substantive – so I can’t say whether somebody bumped into somebody and said hi during the course of the conference, but there were no substantive exchanges between our delegation and the Burmese delegation during the course of the meeting.

QUESTION: Okay. Meaning no bilateral ones?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Okay. And was that sort of a deliberate snub? I mean, the Administration had – has made a significant and deliberate effort to reach out to authorities from Myanmar to try to nudge them along toward greater democratization and freeing Aung San Suu Kyi and so on. Did you choose not to meet them partly because you’re not satisfied with what they’ve done on the election preparations and on Aung San Suu Kyi?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have met with Burmese officials. There is a – there has been a channel that has been designated for the dialogue between the United States and Burma, so I don’t know if the appropriate official or officials were in Hanoi. I wouldn't call it a snub per se, but obviously, we carefully chose the bilaterals that the Secretary both needed to undertake and had time to undertake. We will continue to engage Burma at a time where we think such a conversation will be fruitful.

QUESTION: On the same subject?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments on the visit of Burmese officials to India?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we think as the Secretary said in Hanoi, other countries in the region and around the world share the same interest in regional stability and others who have relationships with Burma share a responsibility to communicate directly and forcefully to Burma about its responsibilities, whether they’re protecting the region against the risk of proliferation or telling Burma directly that it should more constructively engage its opposition and other ethnic groups within Burma. India is one of those countries. It has a relationship with Burma and we would – and as we have talked to India in the past, we would encourage India and other countries to send a clear message to Burma that it needs to change its course.

QUESTION: You mentioned proliferation. Do you – are you afraid that there could be some from India to Burma?

MR. CROWLEY: Am I afraid of what?

QUESTION: About nuclear proliferation.

MR. CROWLEY: Are we afraid that there’s proliferation between India and Burma? Not at all. That is not something that concerns us.

QUESTION: Follow-up in Colombia and Venezuela issue. Colombia has stated that it is planning to go to the International Court in the Hague. Would the United States support such a move by Colombia? Would you provide information or other resources for such an endeavor?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we think that there should be an international effort to resolve the questions raised by Colombia yesterday, but it is for Colombia to choose what the appropriate forum is.

QUESTION: Yes, on the Russian pilot. The Russian ministry said that this case demonstrates that – they called it a kidnapping and abduction since they were not informed about it. And the Russian ministry said that that illustrated open lawlessness. I’m just wondering what you have to say about that or comments coming from the Russian ministry.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there was a statement. We certainly would not agree with that charge. We’ve had an exchange of diplomatic notes with Russia on this. I think that the issue came up briefly in the Secretary’s conversation today with Foreign Minister Lavrov. We actually cooperate very significantly with Russia on counterdrug operations around the world. This was – this individual was arrested in connection with a counterdrug operation. I explained yesterday that we made every effort to do the notifications that we are required to do. We made a mistake in the middle of that process, but the individual who is now in New York has had consular access and we will continue to do whatever is appropriate under our international obligations.

QUESTION: How long did it take for the Russians to be notified?

MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?

QUESTION: How long did it take for them to be notified?

MR. CROWLEY: It took close to a week, which was beyond the normal time. Go back to the transcript yesterday. We went through this in some detail.

QUESTION: And could I just say one more thing?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: We actually interviewed a Russian diplomat at the UN, and he said it’s hard to say what the true reasons of such behavior of the American side, especially consider the fact that they are – that we are here at the consulate; we still don’t have the official information from our American colleagues on the matter in question.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that’s true.

QUESTION: Which means that they didn’t --

MR. CROWLEY: That’s not true.

QUESTION: -- get those notes. So you’re saying that you have – those notes were exchanged?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have – not only has the Russian side had consular access to this – now, I will be – very important. Now, I can’t speak to interaction since the case began, whether the Russian Government is fully apprised of whatever charges. I can’t say that. But all I can say is we have had multiple exchanges with Russia on this case. He has had – Russian diplomats have had consular access to this individual. So I believe we have done what we need to do in terms of facilitating these kinds of contacts under our diplomatic responsibilities. Whether Russia feels it has all of the information about this case that it feels it needs, that’s in a different law enforcement channel than this diplomatic channel.

QUESTION: Do you understand why they’re concerned with this case and why they’re bothered that they weren’t informed in that week period, and why --

MR. CROWLEY: Again, as I said, we tried to fulfill our obligations. We made one mistake and pressed the wrong button on a fax machine that delayed the formal notification of the arrest of this individual. We have had other communications through other channels. We have kept Russia fully appraised of this case. The Secretary and Foreign Minister Lavrov talked about this case today. So we feel that we are – we have an ongoing dialogue with Russia on this matter and we’ll continue to have a dialogue with this matter. So I understand that there are concerns, some of them expressed publicly, some expressed privately, but we will continue our discussions with Russia as questions come up.

QUESTION: Which embassy did you send the fax to?

MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead. Hold on.

QUESTION: Just a small one on this.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Colombia for a second?

MR. CROWLEY: Hold on a second. No, no, we’re on this.

QUESTION: Let me just – can we close out with this?

QUESTION: Which embassy it was sent to incorrectly.

MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?

QUESTION: Which embassy you sent that fax to.

MR. CROWLEY: I have declined to comment on which embassy received the fax erroneously.

QUESTION: Can we just close out on this? You said that there was a brief exchange between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Lavrov on this. Did the Secretary apologize for --

MR. CROWLEY: I --

QUESTION: -- did she say sorry that happened?

MR. CROWLEY: Arshad, I just know that simple fact. I had a briefing conversation with the plane, asked that question, and I said did it come up. And the answer was yes, it did.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Colombia for a second? The evidence that Colombia presented showing the FARC rebels inside Venezuelan territory, do you know or are you able to tell us whether any of that intelligence came from U.S. sources? Was it entirely from Colombian reconnaissance and Colombian sources, or were – did any of it come from U.S. resources?

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t comment on that.

QUESTION: P.J., new subject. As far as India-Pakistan meeting was in Islamabad, even though the two nations met in Islamabad, but they are too far away from shaking hands for a lasting peace because, one, Delhi called – has issued warrants for two Pakistani major generals in the Pakistani army serving now and several other individuals in Pakistan. At the same time, Pakistan’s president Mr. Zardari said that Pakistan will not hand over that – those terrorists wanted by India in November 26 Mumbai attacks. So what role you think now U.S. is playing or will play? Where is the confidence-building measures that U.S. was talking about between two nations?

MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, you’ve loaded a lot on that question. Look, these are fundamental issues ultimately for India and Pakistan. They are both friends and allies of the United States. It is in our interest to see the kind of substantive exchanges and dialogue that is occurring at a high level between the two countries now on a regular basis. That is very encouraging. We understand that there are difficult issues that will over time be a subject of that ongoing dialogue. But we can certainly continue, as we always have, to encourage India to sit down, talk at high levels, engage in the issues that have created tensions between the two countries in the past. We certainly want to see both India and Pakistan cooperate together along with other countries in the region to fight – to combat terrorism, which is a threat to all of us. But ultimately, how this proceeds, at what pace – these are decisions to be made respectively by Pakistan and India.

QUESTION: One more quick one, P.J. Terror warning from the State Department to Pakistan – is there a new kind of threat received by the Department?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that there’s a new threat. There’s the – obviously, there is an ongoing threat to Pakistan and the region and we remain concerned about it.

QUESTION: On a similar note in Pakistan. The Pakistani Government extended the term of the army chief, Mr. Kayani, for three years, I believe it was. What’s the U.S. view on this? Does this provide some continuity or are there concerns that this could impede civilian rule?

MR. CROWLEY: It was matter for and a decision by the civilian Government of Pakistan.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) for a second? Okay. So, President Clinton – sorry, Secretary Clinton – (laughter) – in Hanoi made a statement that she --

MR. CROWLEY: Now, he could have said something too, but --

QUESTION: Yeah. That the U.S. is seeking a multilateral solution to territorial disputes in the South China Seas. My understanding is that the U.S. has more or less kept its nose out of this issue until now. Why call for a multilateral solution now?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is an issue of importance to the region. There are a number of countries that have a stake in how these competing claims are resolved. Our interest is regional stability, freedom of navigation, respect for national law, and unhampered commerce under lawful conditions. That’s what the Secretary emphasized today in Hanoi. But obviously, when you come to a gathering like the ASEAN Regional Forum, we take stock of the issues that are of concern to other countries. We know this is a concern and we think that there are ample opportunities to resolve these concerns through collaborative diplomatic efforts.

QUESTION: In her meeting with Yang Jiechi, did she discuss the issue?

MR. CROWLEY: It wouldn't surprise me.

QUESTION: Perhaps you can elaborate. Is the U.S. concerned about the threat that poses to al-Qaida in the Maghreb to the United States?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, the threat in the Maghreb is a threat, first and foremost, within the region. We’ve seen over time that threat emanate to portions of Europe. Of course, it has the potential to threaten the United States as well. We are concerned about this entire network, not only al-Qaida in its form in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but anyone who chooses to affiliate themselves with al-Qaida, this network, and its ideology. So it is something that is vitally important to us. It comes up in our regular contacts with governments in the Maghreb and across North Africa. It is a significant aspect of our ongoing efforts in that region.

So yes, it is vitally important. We have exchanged intelligence and security – intelligence information and security and cooperation with these countries because we see this as a common threat.

QUESTION: Can I ask something different? The Senate yesterday, Senator Reid, indicated that climate legislation is –

MR. CROWLEY: Of Nevada or Rhode Island?

QUESTION: Of Nevada – indicated that climate legislation isn’t a go for now. From the State Department’s perspective negotiating in international talks leading up to Cancun and trying to get a post-Kyoto treaty, is there a concern that this impedes the U.S. hand, that this reduces U.S. credibility?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have made clear all along that there’s a lot to do. This is a global challenge and we have to resolve it through global cooperation and joint action by all of the key countries and key emitters. We are one of them. And central to our ability to do our part is passing climate and energy legislation. So we will continue not only to engage internationally to strengthen our ability to reduce emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels, but we will also continue to engage the Congress. This is a priority for the Administration. It is a difficult political challenge in this country. We’re not going to step away from it. We’re actually – but we recognize that there’s only so many legislative days in the calendar.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: One more.

QUESTION: Just a couple of quick ones.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: There were Japanese newspaper reports that the United States plans to delay moving 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam beyond the 2014 target. Any truth to that? Has any such decision been made?

MR. CROWLEY: We continue to work within the experts group on the relocation plans. I’m not going to dissect any particular aspect of it at this point.

QUESTION: And then I’ve got one other one.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure. Yes.

QUESTION: The Bosnian Serb leader was today talking about secession and specifically referenced the International Court of Justice’s decision on Kosovo. It seems that he drew exactly the opposite lesson that you might have wanted from the court’s finding that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence was not in violation of international law. What do you think about the renewed secession talk by the Bosnian Serbs? And are you reaching out to them to try to quell this?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the United States strongly opposes any discussion of partition or status. Partition is in no one’s interest and would undermine stability in the entire region. Kosovo’s status and borders are clear, and there is no reason or place for partition or redrawing of those borders. I think it’s important for all of –

QUESTION: When you said Kosovo’s borders, did you mean Bosnia’s?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry, you’re talking about Bosnia?

QUESTION: Bosnia, yeah.

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. All right. I’ll take that question.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just a final – one quick question, might be a consular affairs question or diplomatic. Many Indian Americans feel threatened when they travel to India because, one, because the new rules and regulations by the Indian Government, visa and other rules, but also, one case – one Indian American with, of course, a U.S. passport went to – or he (inaudible) to come to Delhi by his in-laws. He went there, then they snatched his passport, that unless until he pays $50,000 to $60,000, which he paid, his family from here, then he was allowed to leave the U.S. with his U.S. passport and otherwise, he was threatened to be jailed by the Indian authorities in Delhi and – because the new laws goes in favor of the woman in India. Have you received any of those complaints? Because these are ongoing and growing pains between Indian Americans traveling to India. And this is a real, true story. I have met the family there.

MR. CROWLEY: Tell you what, let’s do this offline. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: All right, thank you. Have a nice weekend.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:02 p.m.)

DPB # 121


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[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - July 23]