Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 8, 2010


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Promoting Full Implementation of 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan / Referendum in January / Special Envoy Gration Travel to the Region
    • Rising Debt and National Security / Diplomatic Capability
    • Qur'an Burning / Strong Condemnation / Concerns for American Citizens Overseas
    • State Department Glass Contract / Good Received / Contract Not Renewed
  • SUDAN
    • Stability in Darfur / Just Peace between the North and South / Outstanding Issues / Regional and International Partners / Encouraging and Accelerating the Process
  • INDIA
    • Ongoing Strategic Dialogue with India / Partnerships / Anchor of Stability / India's Global Role
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS/EGYPT
    • Ongoing Discussions / Egypt Volunteered to Host Round of Negotiations
  • SOUTH KOREA
    • South Korean Sanctions against Iranian Entities / Growing International Resolve / Additional Pressure
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Workers' Party Meeting / Watching Closely / Leadership
    • North Korea's Action and Policy / Behavior / International Obligations / US Willingness to Engage
  • PAKISTAN
    • Times Square Attack / Faisal Shahzad / Ongoing Investigation / Gratified by Arrests
  • IRAN
    • Stoning Sentencing of Woman / Barbaric and Abhorrent Act / Condemn Prospective Action
  • IRAQ
    • Killing of Two American Soldiers / Still Dangerous Place / Building up Iraqi Capability / Continue to Work with Iraqi Authorities
    • Ambassador Jeffrey


TRANSCRIPT:

1:22 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. You heard during the Secretary’s Q&A at the Council on Foreign Relations this morning that we continue to do everything that we can to promote full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement within Sudan. And after giving her remarks at the Council this morning, the Secretary has just completed phone calls with Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir and Vice President Taha to encourage them to continue everything they can do in the coming weeks and months to promote full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and make preparations for the referendum in early January.

And as a follow-on to those calls, Scott Gration, our Special Envoy for Sudan, will travel to – back to the region tomorrow to continue senior-level dialogue that the Secretary engaged in today.

With that, Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah. Well, just on that very briefly, the Secretary’s comments weren’t – seemed to aim more at – not at an upcoming referendum in January, but an upcoming war. Have you – is that what you’re preparing for?

MR. CROWLEY: We’re not preparing for a war. In fact, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended a conflict and created an opportunity for stability in Darfur and a just peace between North and South. We are very mindful that if, for some reason, full implementation of the CPA is not forthcoming, or if the referendum is not seen as credible, there certainly is the risk of further conflict. So both North and South have a lot of work to do. That was her message to both Vice President Kiir and Vice President Taha. There are outstanding issues that need to be resolved, including border issues – as the Secretary reflected today, understanding on revenue sharing from natural resources. So there’s no time to waste.

QUESTION: Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn't full implementation of the 2005 agreement mean that there will be a referendum?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there is that.

QUESTION: Correct?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes. That’s a dimension, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. And it’s your judgment, the U.S. Government’s judgment, that a referendum, if it is free and fair, that in a referendum that’s free and fair, the South will vote to secede, correct?

MR. CROWLEY: I think it is our expectation – that is obviously a choice for the people of South Sudan.

QUESTION: Right. But your assumption, your working assumption, is that they will vote to secede?

MR. CROWLEY: We have to be prepared for that likelihood.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. CROWLEY: And obviously recognize then that on the timetable that is laid out in the CPA, by this time next year --

QUESTION: Right.

MR. CROWLEY: -- there could actually be --

QUESTION: Well --

MR. CROWLEY: -- the makings of a new country.

QUESTION: But in – so – but in your judgment, if the likelihood is secession, is the likelihood also an inevitable renewed conflict between North and South?

MR. CROWLEY: We do not see renewed conflict as inevitable.

QUESTION: Okay. It sounded like it this morning.

MR. CROWLEY: No, but we recognize that absent effective action by both North and South, conflict looms out there as a – unfortunately, as a possibility.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: P.J., all experts probably expect Sudan to break up, maybe not into two but actually three countries or three governments and so on. Now, you said that they have a lot of work to do on outstanding issues. Can you be more specific what they really need to do, not only just in revenue sharing and oil between South and North, as the Secretary mentioned today?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, given the possibility or the probability that South Sudan will vote to secede, it’s one of the reasons why we have beefed up our presence in Juba to begin to help South Sudan with a – what we know will be a lengthy process of building up institutions to be able to effectively govern itself. There is a lot of work to do to prepare for the referendum. In the most recent round of elections, there were, obviously, irregularities. We hope that the parties will learn from – take advantage of lessons learned from the recent elections. There’s election rolls, polling places – all of the arduous work of preparing for a credible referendum. There is the question of Abyei, there is the question of borders, as I mentioned before. Recognizing that most of the oil resources are in the South, most of the oil infrastructure is in the North, how are these two entities, if secession is the judgment of the people of South Sudan, how are they going to cooperate and then how are they going to share these revenues for the benefit of the people of Sudan, both North and South?

So there are a number of issues, and we do recognize that effective action leading to implementation of the CPA, a credible referendum, are the most effective means to be able to forestall a renewal of conflict. And we also believe that there are steps that need to be taken to continue to stabilize the situation in Darfur.

QUESTION: Are you in any kind of dialogue or coordination or discussions with the African Union or the Arab League on this particular issue?

MR. CROWLEY: This is certainly not an issue that we are confronting alone. We do have regional and international partners who are investing a great deal of energy. I believe Norway, for one example, is working very diligently in terms of helping to build and improve governing capacity within South Sudan, as just one example.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary, when she spoke with Taha, say whether there are any consequences if the North doesn't follow through on some of these commitments; for instance, the referendum not only in the South but in Abyei?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, at this point, the representatives have been meeting. We are seeing some steps taken. The Secretary’s call was to encourage and accelerate this process.

QUESTION: Different topic. In the Q&A which you alluded to earlier, Mr. Crowley, Secretary Clinton said that our rising debt poses a national security threat. That echoes comments from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. The President is traveling to Cleveland today, in part, to lobby for an additional $50 billion in infrastructure spending. So why is there this disconnect between Clinton and Mullen saying that our rising debt is a problem versus the President going and advocating for more spending?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t think it’s a disconnect at all, and I’ll defer to other economists. I think there’s a distinction between short-term stimulus as a necessary element to help the economy grow out of the current recession, and then there’s the longer term structural debt that can be a potential constraint to effectively funding our national security. And with that, I’ll defer to others within the government who do this day in and day out.

But I think what the Secretary was referring to is the long-term implications that while we do, in fact, here at the State Department and elsewhere, make sure that we are effective stewards of the taxpayers’ money, we have to make sure in the future that we are able to make the needed investments not only in our diplomatic capability and our development capability, but also investments in critical areas around the world to shape the world as we would like to see it, help build partners who can shoulder their share of the responsibilities. And we think that these investments are in our long-term interest.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton in her speech this morning, she said that the government is laying the foundation for an indispensable partnership with India. But in the last few weeks there have been certain developments in which the businesses from both the countries are concerned about, like, the increase in visa fee or the banning of outsourcing by Ohio governor, the passing of a liability bill by the Indian parliament which you said yesterday (inaudible) they’re concerned about. Are these the kind of foundations or the issues which are laying the foundation for the Indo-U.S. partnership?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, first of all, we do have an ongoing Strategic Dialogue with India. We do believe earnestly that the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy have a great deal in common. And in fact, India can be, as the Secretary said in her remarks today, developing new partners who are able to assume greater responsibility for critical issues in the future.

Certainly, from a bilateral standpoint, we will have issues that crop up from time to time, and we are in an effective dialogue to resolve those issues. But we’d also recognize that India is an anchor of stability in a critical part of the world. India will have to play a significant role in the global action to combat climate change. And India can play a leading role in terms of the institutions that the Secretary talked about today, the regional architecture that we hope to build in different parts of the world to be able to address regional and global issues more effectively.

QUESTION: How do you plan to address the concerns of the businesses from both India and U.S.? They have expressed --

MR. CROWLEY: We will do it by what we’re doing now. We’ve been focused on this for a long time. We believe that this agreement and its full implementation is in both the interest of the United States and India. We’ve – we are having discussions with India about what just passed the parliament. We recognize that there are others – both other countries and businesses within India that have raised similar concerns. And we’ll work with the Government of India to address those concerns.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: New topic? Peace talks? P.J., both Palestinian and Israeli sources say that Prime Minister Netanyahu suggested to President Obama that the settlements be maintained, but maintained under Palestinian sovereignty in the event that there is a Palestinian state. Is that an option that you are discussing?

MR. CROWLEY: All I’ll say is that we will continue our discussions next week. I’m not going to get into any details.

QUESTION: But you’re not aware of – this is something that is being floated --

MR. CROWLEY: Just as a matter of broad principle, we’re not going to get into any – anything, any issues that may or may not have been discussed last week.

QUESTION: Sorry, just to follow up. The Secretary’s going to be in Sharm el-Sheikh on the 14th and then she’s going to Jerusalem on the 15th. Any reason why the peace talk has been split between Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem, considering all the parties will be in one place in Sharm el-Sheikh?

MR. CROWLEY: This was something that was brought up last week, and I mean, I kind of addressed it yesterday. But the Egyptians have volunteered to host a round of direct negotiations and – but during the course of the discussions last week, we agreed to the arrangement that we’ll see next week.

QUESTION: P.J., the South Koreans have just – or earlier announced sanctions against a bunch of Iranian entities. I’m wondering if you have anything to say about that.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we welcome the action by the government – by the Republic of Korea, and it demonstrates the growing international resolve to – and by the international community, sending a very strong signal to Iran that not only do we continue to have concerns about the nature of its nuclear activities, but we’re taking aggressive action to further isolate Iran. And we believe that this concerted action in terms of full implementation of 1929, as well as national steps that have been announced by the United States, by Japan, now today by Korea, will put additional pressure on Iran to, we hope, come to the table prepared to engage constructively and address the concerns that the international community has.

QUESTION: Do you – are you aware of any movement at all in that – getting them to the table?

MR. CROWLEY: Not at this point.

QUESTION: And then just moving North from South Korea, do you have any expectations at all of what is going to come out of this Workers’ Party meeting that the North – that is being held – that’s going to be – that’s either being held now or will shortly be held?

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll be watching closely to see whatever does happen and what the potential consequences are.

QUESTION: And would – does it make any difference to U.S. policy – would a leader change – a change in leadership or a definition of succession change or affect U.S. policy in any way toward North Korea?

MR. CROWLEY: It’s hard to project.

QUESTION: So, in other words, if something was done --

MR. CROWLEY: Well --

QUESTION: -- in terms of identifying the future leadership at this congress, it might not have any impact on your policy?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, there – I mean, leaders of all stripes change around the world. Leaders don’t live forever. So at some point, whether it’s sooner --

QUESTION: Tell that to Castro.

MR. CROWLEY: -- whether it’s later – hmm? There will be a change of leadership. What we’re looking for is a change in the direction of North Korean policy and North Korean actions. Whether that can be done by the present leadership or it can be done by a future leadership is really difficult, if not impossible, for us to --

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. CROWLEY: -- fully appreciate.

QUESTION: But, basically, you want the same thing no matter who’s in charge?

MR. CROWLEY: Correct.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. considering any policy change toward North Korea in a new approach in the North Korean policy? U.S. will be changing to the future --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure I understand “new approach.”

QUESTION: I mean, the U.S. have maybe a previous policy toward to other – maybe you thinking different, like maybe more friendly approaching instead of aggressive approaching policy?

MR. CROWLEY: We will – as we talked about yesterday, we’ll be continuing our consultations with key countries in the upcoming days. We’re looking for specific actions by North Korea. We are willing to engage North Korea. But there are things we want to see in terms of a seriousness of purpose, and then we’ll respond to what North Korea does.

QUESTION: So what is your view of the North Korea? You think future more --

MR. CROWLEY: Cloudy. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I have two more – one more – (laughter) --

QUESTION: A chance of rain?

QUESTION: More carefully or even a more friendly --

MR. CROWLEY: Again, we will continue to do what we think needs to be done. We’re prepared to engage North Korea, but we don’t rely on just one tool. We are aggressively applying sanctions against Korea. What we announced late last month is a step in that direction. We want, ultimately, North Korea to change its behavior. And we are prepared to adapt as we see change in North Korea’s behavior.

But as I’ve said many, many times, the onus is on North Korea to take steps to show its commitment to the – to its international obligations, to be a more constructive neighbor. And as we see those kinds of steps by North Korea, we will be prepared to respond appropriately.

QUESTION: P.J., but do you have any analysis of the Kim Jong-un character? I mean, he’s 28 years old. Is he predictable, not predictable? Is he erratic? What kind of a leader is he likely to be? Are you prepared for that eventuality?

MR. CROWLEY: I have no – about – to – who knows exactly what’s going to be happening in the coming days in Pyongyang? But I would assume that there are many, many eyes that will be fixed on Pyongyang and – to try to understand what the implications are.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Pakistani Government’s announcement that it’s going to go ahead and try three people related to the Times Square attack – failed Times Square attack?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we indicated in the aftermath of the failed Times Square attempt, we believe strongly that Faisal Shahzad had help within Pakistan, and we have worked very extensively and closely with Pakistani authorities. There is an ongoing criminal investigation, but we are gratified that Pakistan have made some arrests in this case. But obviously, the fate of those particular defendants is in the hands of the Pakistani judicial system.

QUESTION: All right. And then also on the law and order theme, there was a bit of a – more outcry over the stoning sentence for this Iranian woman. You came out yesterday with some pretty tough language about it. Do you have anything more to say from this end, from --

MR. CROWLEY: We would expect Iran to live up to its international obligations. The --

QUESTION: Can I ask -- can I just stop you there?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Why would you expect Iran to live up to its international obligations? They’ve never done it before, according to you guys. They have never – they haven’t lived up to a --

MR. CROWLEY: Well --

QUESTION: -- single international obligation that it’s had. Why should they – why do you expect them to in this case?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, what they will do is up to Iranian authorities. But Iran is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. There are international standards when it comes to transparency and due process. We don’t think that those standards have been met in this case. Stoning is a barbaric and abhorrent act. We have joined with many, many voices around the world in condemning this prospective action by Iran. But ultimately, this is in the hands of Iranian authorities.

QUESTION: Okay. I have one more, but I can wait.

QUESTION: P.J., I have a question about the Qu’ran burning issue. Given the past experience of the Danish cartoon incident a few years back and then the film that was made and the consequences of that, could it – could the Administration be possibly considering meeting with the pastor and trying to convince him to not go ahead with this idea?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I believe a lot of people have either talked to him, called him. I think he’s very well aware of the political and religious voices that have – that were very compellingly suggested to that community that they not take this proposed action this weekend. I think Cardinal McCarrick, I thought, said it compellingly yesterday, “America is not a country that is built on hate.”

The pastor will do whatever he and his community decide to do. I’m not aware that we have any particular plans to talk directly with him. I think there are local authorities who have done so. There are local authorities who are voicing their very strong concerns. The Secretary talked again about this issue today. I think we are encouraged that while the world is paying very close attention to this particular case, the commentary thus far has been very straightforward, I think particularly in Muslim majority communities around the world. They have heard our statements of strong condemnation. And we continue to hope that not only on the one hand, we can resolve this satisfactorily within our own country, but should we fail to do so, as we said yesterday, that we hope that the world will appreciate that this is the action of a very small fringe group and does not represent the views of the United States or Americans as a whole.

QUESTION: Well, extremists have taken actions continuously against the U.S., mostly overseas. Should this become an excuse for them to take another action, wouldn’t this be considered against the national interests of the U.S. if he goes through with his idea and instigates --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we spoke to that yesterday. General Petraeus spoke about his concern about his troops. We have broader concerns about the welfare of diplomats and American citizens traveling around the world who might be caught in a tragic reaction to whatever might happen this weekend. That’s expressly why we’re voicing as strongly and clearly as we can to this community and to others that might be able to communicate with this community that we do not want to take actions that, rather than fighting extremism, actually provide an excuse or feed extremism around the world.

QUESTION: Iraq?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: P.J., the killing of two American soldiers yesterday by an Iraqi soldier, is that likely to impact the proximity of American and Iraqi military personnel?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think as the President and others have said last week, we have moved beyond the combat phase in Iraq, but Iraq is still a dangerous place, and we will continue to work closely with the Iraqi Government to take action to try to make Iraq as secure as it can be. But we recognize that there are extreme – there are insurgent elements within Iraq who will continue to attack Iraqi institutions and American soldiers in the process.

QUESTION: But considering that Iraqi military is dependent on the American military for training and equipping and all that, is that likely to impact where they are, how they stay together and so on?

MR. CROWLEY: No, that’s expressly why we have not only maintained 50,000 troops in Iraq to continue to support the Iraqi military and increase the capability of the Iraqi military as it assumes more and more responsibility. But as the Secretary said this morning, on the civilian side, we’re doing comparable things to build up the capacity of the Iraqi police and the Iraqi Government. So we are committed to Iraq in terms of full implementation of the Status of Forces Agreement and the Strategic Framework Agreement. We have another 16 months in this particular phase of our operation, but we are going to continue to work closely with Iraq to help them secure Iraq for their citizens and to be a stabilizing force in the region.

QUESTION: Could you share with us any diplomatic engagement between the American ambassador in Iraq and the government formation process?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m sure that our ambassador, Jim Jeffrey, is in daily contact with the Iraqi Government, but I’ll defer to Baghdad.

QUESTION: Yeah. Back to stewardship of taxpayer dollars in the glass contract, are you concerned that a $5 million – that State gave a $5 million contract to a contractor who allegedly used fraud to get another government contract?

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t speak to that other government contract. All I can say is that we engaged in a contract, we received the goods and services that were called for under that contract, and that contract was not renewed.

QUESTION: But do you want to try to find out whether it was earned or awarded under false pretenses? Do you want to examine it or find out how it was offered?

MR. CROWLEY: To the extent that the circumstances surrounding our contract will play a role in this legal case, we’ll support whatever the government is trying to do. All I can tell you is that we had a contract, it called for delivery of glassware, and we received what was called for under the contract.

QUESTION: How much have you received or do you have a –

MR. CROWLEY: I understand your fascination about this.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: All I can tell you is that the contract was there, we got what we paid for, and there’s no longer a contract.

QUESTION: And last one. Has DOJ asked, or any other government entity asked for details of the contract or asked questions about it?

MR. CROWLEY: I can’t say. I’ll refer to DOJ.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: P.J., do you have a schedule for Mr. Robert Einhorn’s travel to China?

MR. CROWLEY: I do not.

QUESTION: Also –

MR. CROWLEY: He will be traveling soon to China. I’ll see if I can formally get his itinerary.

QUESTION: And do you have any comment on South Korea’s announcement on new sanctions on Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: I already covered that.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to comments by the prime minister of Lebanon basically saying that his government’s past accusations that Syria was behind the assassination of the late prime minister were political, now we’re withdrawing them –

MR. CROWLEY: We’re going to defer comment until the tribunal announces its results.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m.)

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - September 8, 2010]