Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 17, 2010


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton and Indonesia Foreign Minister Natalegawa Meeting / U.S.-Indonesia Joint Commission
    • Secretary Clinton Conversation with Sultan Qaboos bin Said / Thank You to Oman for Help in Release of Sarah Shourd from Prison in Iran / Inaccurate News Stories
    • Secretary Clinton Meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Rao
    • Science Envoys Announced
    • Legal Advisor Joan Donoghue Elected as Judge of the International Court of Justice
    • UN General Assembly Schedule / Secretary Clinton Meeting / P-5+1 Meeting
    • Good-bye to Press Officer Fred Lash
  • IRAN
    • Hikers / Continue to Work Collaboratively with Oman to Seek Release of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer
  • OMAN
    • Military Cooperation
  • JAPAN
    • Foreign Minister Okada / U.S.-Japan Alliance / Bilateral Meetings
  • PAKISTAN
    • Secretary Clinton Meeting on Pakistan Flood Relief
  • HAITI
    • Secretary Clinton Meeting on Haiti Earthquake Recovery
  • INDIA
    • U.S.-India Relationship / Consulates


TRANSCRIPT:

12:28 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Just mentioning a few other things to follow up, Secretary Clinton and Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalegawa are meeting as we speak, leading the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Indonesia Joint Commission. This is a concrete step in our comprehensive partnership with Indonesia, a long-term commitment, to broaden, deepen, and elevate bilateral relations, and our shared democratic values form the basis of our partnership for cooperative action on bilateral, regional, and global issues.

The Secretary, a few minutes ago, did have a brief conversation with Sultan Qaboos bin Said to thank the Omani Government for the role it played in the release of Sarah Shourd from Evin prison in Iran. And they agreed to stay engaged and to work cooperatively to do everything possible to bring about the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. At the same time that the Secretary had the opportunity to thank the – His Majesty for his steady leadership in the region, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the ascension of Sultan Qaboos as the leader of Oman.

And later this afternoon, the Secretary, joined by Under Secretary Bill Burns and Assistant Secretary Bob Blake, will meet with Indian Foreign Secretary Rao to discuss the latest developments in the U.S.-India relationship and preparations for the President’s trip to India later this year. She plays a key role in co-chairing many of our most important bilateral dialogues, including the Strategic Security Dialogue, which addresses our commonly shared nonproliferation, disarmament, and security objectives, as well as the Global Issues Forum, which is dedicated to identifying ways to cooperate on meeting global challenges and embracing global opportunities.

Last night at the George Brown Dinner at the National Press Club, Senator Richard Lugar, who has been a longtime advocate of science diplomacy, announced on behalf of Secretary Clinton our three new science envoys. These three prominent scientists are joining our science envoy program and adding even more stature to the centerpiece initiative to implement U.S. global engagement in science and technology. And the new science envoys are Dr. Rita Colwell of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Gabisa Ejeta of Purdue University, and Dr. Alice Gast, the president of Lehigh University. And we’ll have more details released on what they’ll be doing shortly.

And finally, before taking your questions, I just want to salute our Principal Deputy Legal Advisor Joan Donoghue. She was elected this week as judge of the International Court of Justice. The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations with 15 judges representing all civilized legal systems sitting in The Hague. Judge Donoghue is the seventh American to hold that position. She is a career attorney, has worked at the State Department on international law for nearly a quarter century, and she is now actually on the job and hearing first arguments in her first case, which happens to be the Russia-Georgia case. But this week, along with Judge Xue of China, who also gave her solemn oath this week, there are now two females on the ICJ for the first time in history.

QUESTION: Just on that, you’re probably not the right person to ask about this. There’s 15 judges and they represent all civilized legal systems? There’s only 15 countries with civilized legal systems; is that right? (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: No, but the ICJ, as an organ, represents all civilized legal systems in the world.

QUESTION: But, presumably, there are more than 15 countries that have civilized legal systems.

MR. CROWLEY: Absolutely. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: All right. Another just little point of clarification: On the phone call with Sultan Qaboos, you said they agreed to stay engaged and work cooperatively, meaning the Secretary and the Sultan or --

MR. CROWLEY: Omanis.

QUESTION: -- the Omanis in general?

MR. CROWLEY: The Omanis – well, we appreciate, obviously, as we’ve said before, the role that the Omanis played in the release of Sarah Shourd, and the sultan and Secretary agreed that the United States and Oman would stay engaged and continue to work collaboratively to seek the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.

QUESTION: Okay. But can you be more specific about what that means, to stay engaged and work cooperatively? Do you mean as they have – as you were --

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: -- over the course of the time leading up to Sarah Shourd’s release?

MR. CROWLEY: As we’ve said, Oman has played a leading role in the release of Sarah Shourd. It has strong diplomatic relations with the United States. It has diplomatic relations with Iran as well. And the two leader – the Secretary and the sultan agreed that we would continue to do everything possible to seek the release of the other two.

QUESTION: Well, the reason I’m asking is because the Omani foreign minister has been out saying to various people that they’re not doing anything in particular for the other two.

MR. CROWLEY: Actually, when we saw that piece emerge earlier this morning, our ambassador checked back in with the Omani Government, and they indicated that there are a number of inaccuracies in that story. For specifics I’ll obviously defer to the Omani Government, but in that story it alluded to a call between the sultan and the President, and we’re not aware of any such call. So I would just tread cautiously on that particular piece.

From our standpoint, the proof is in the very strong engagement that we’ve had with Oman and the work that both Oman has done and Switzerland has done and other countries that resulted in the release of Sarah Shourd. And today’s call was just to reaffirm that those efforts will continue to seek the release of the other two hikers.

QUESTION: Well, can you be a little bit more specific about what was inaccurate about it? I mean, are they saying that they --

MR. CROWLEY: Well --

QUESTION: Is it just the phone call, or is there something else that was inaccurate about the story?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there was a suggestion that there was not strong consultation between our two countries over the past year plus regarding this case, and in fact, there’s been very significant and regular dialogue between the United States and Oman as well between the United States and Switzerland on this case. So the suggestion that there was not an emphasis within our government to seek their release till recently is actually quite false.

QUESTION: In one – in fact, there were several stories about this. In one of them, it said that there wasn’t particular interest in Washington for a swap involving Mr. Amiri, that the Omanis had thought that that might be a good way to get the release of the three.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, and in fact, we would certainly.

QUESTION: Is that not correct?

MR. CROWLEY: We would not characterize the return of Mr. Amiri as a swap because this was not something that we engineered; this was something that he decided to do.

QUESTION: P.J., if the ransom was paid, don’t you think it’s sending a wrong signal? Because between the two countries, you don’t pay ransom, but only the crooks or terrorists they always demand money in order to release if they have kidnapped somebody. It’s sending a wrong signal around the globe.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, Goyal, you’ve actually – there are two pieces that I would differ with you on. First, this was – this is a case where three hikers crossed the border into Iran, so they were not kidnapped; we’ve never claimed that they were. And secondly, what was provided in this case through the efforts of the Government of Oman was bail. So that was not a ransom. And as Iran has indicated, there is still an ongoing legal process both regarding Sarah Shourd and also Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. So I would just differ with you on how you characterized both of those activities.

QUESTION: Does that mean that you just – does that mean that bail was paid? You’re finally acknowledging that it was?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as to the specifics of the arrangements, again, I’ll defer to the Omani Government. But we are, as I said, familiar with the details of the arrangements.

QUESTION: Are you going to bring this issue at the United Nations at the international level, what Iran is doing, and this can happen to any country to anybody in the future?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we do continue to raise the case of the two hikers, both through public and private statements. We are gratified that a number of countries across the – around the world that have diplomatic relations with Iran have pressed Iran to resolve the case of these three hikers, and as well as other Americans with whom we have concerns. So we will continue to press that case and we’ll continue to be grateful that other nations on our behalf are sending that same message to Iran.

QUESTION: Did the sultan, regarding his contacts with Iran, give you anything specific that gave you cause for hope for the release of the two others?

MR. CROWLEY: It was a relatively brief phone call. So I would just think that there was a pledge to continue to work hard – as hard as we can for their release.

QUESTION: Is Sarah Shourd – she’s still in Oman?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: And what is she doing there? Do you have any more details?

MR. CROWLEY: She will return to the United States. But as to the timing of that, I’ll defer to the family.

QUESTION: P.J., you’re probably going to say this question is for the Defense Department. But just off the top of your head, is the U.S. still making any use of the military bases in Oman as in the past? Do you have any agreements with them?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we have military cooperation with Oman as we do with many countries in the GCC, but I’ll defer the specifics to the Pentagon.

QUESTION: On Japan. Do you have any comment on new Japanese foreign minister? And is Secretary going to have a bilateral meeting with him next week?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we appreciated Mr. Okada’s many contributions to the U.S.-Japan alliance in his role as foreign minister, and we look forward to working with him in his new capacity as general secretary of the DPJ. And we will, obviously, continue to work closely with the Government of Japan and Foreign Minister Maehara across a broad range of issues between our two nations.

I’m confident that there will be high-level meetings with Japan coming up next week, and – but I’ll defer to announcements that others will make about specifics on bilaterals.

QUESTION: I thought you – we were just told, before you got up here that you were going to be making that announcement.

MR. CROWLEY: No, no. There are some meetings that the Secretary will have; there are some meetings that the President will have.

QUESTION: Can you go through the Secretary’s meetings as they are scheduled for right now?

MR. CROWLEY: We’re reluctant to do that only because – what we’ve done in the schedule –

QUESTION: Well, I understand that P.J., but it’s Friday. She’s going to be there on Sunday.

MR. CROWLEY: Let me finish my answer before you express your dissatisfaction --

QUESTION: You must have some idea --

MR. CROWLEY: -- with my answer.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering. I mean, does she not know what she’s doing? I think that she probably does; it’s only three – two days away.

MR. CROWLEY: No, we – you have been through these before. We have a very lengthy list of meetings that we’d like to have. We are double-checking schedules. During the course of the week, there’ll be meetings that might be scheduled for 10 a.m. that’ll happen at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. There are meetings that, because of logistics, may be on the schedule for a formal sit-down and may end up being a pull-aside just because of the movements about town of the Secretary and others. So that’s why we’re reluctant to say, “We currently have a meeting scheduled with this leader, Monday at 11 o’clock in the morning,” and quite honestly that – it may happen then, it may not happen until later in the week. So --

QUESTION: You’re not – I’m not asking you for that level of specificity.

MR. CROWLEY: Okay.

QUESTION: I mean, she knows who she wants to see, right? So who is confirmed that she’s going to see? I don’t need a time or even a date at this point.

MR. CROWLEY: We’re – we will go through with you day by day what our expectations are on bilaterals. I mean, quite honestly, there are still blocks that we’re still working to check the availability of.

QUESTION: Okay, fair enough. But Assistant Secretary Brimmer talked about a P-5+1 meeting and then she didn’t want to say that it was at the principals level? I mean, that’s even – is there some chance –

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: -- that Ban Ki-moon is not going to show up for –

MR. CROWLEY: On the schedule there is a P-5+1 meeting that currently is slated to involve the Secretary plus Under Secretary Burns. And so we would anticipate a leader at the ministerial level plus the political directors.

QUESTION: Okay. And then, like, the NATO-Russia, is there some suggestion that Lavrov is not going to be there for this?

MR. CROWLEY: No.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, then – the Pakistan meeting. The Secretary said that she and the Australian were going to be there.

MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary will be meeting on Sunday to discuss Pakistan flood relief, and I know that that will include the Secretary on our side, plus Ambassador Richard Holbrooke who’ll just be back from Pakistan. On Monday, there will be a session on Haiti recovery that the Secretary will co-chair along with Prime Minister Bellerive, President Preval, and former President Clinton.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no. Hold on. We got other – Samir.

QUESTION: The prime minister of Kuwait is meeting with the Vice President today and General Jones at the White House. Will anybody from State Department be meeting with him and –

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know that there’s a separate meeting. It’s possible that we’ll just have a State Department representative in that meeting, but we’ll try to check that.

QUESTION: P.J., do you have (inaudible) – Ambassador Bosworth’s trip to Seoul again? Do you think he met with South Korean officials today?

MR. CROWLEY: Do we think he what?

QUESTION: He met with South Korean officials today?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware – I mean, he was back from the region, I believe, late yesterday, but I’m not aware of what his schedule is today.

Goyal.

QUESTION: P.J., thank you. A general question because --

MR. CROWLEY: I’ve got one thing I want to say --

QUESTION: What’s that?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ve got one tribute to give you before I wrap up.

QUESTION: A general question in order to this Indian delegation here, which is most of the meetings are closed press. My general question is that in 2007, it was decided that two Indian consulates will be opening in the U.S. Now, Indian-American community is growing and we’re getting a lot of calls that they have to travel miles and miles, hundreds of miles to Washington for consulate affairs, from Florida, from Seattle, from Boston, to Atlanta. Now, what’s happening those – because they’re now U.S. citizens, and they require also many consulate services. Where are we standing on it? Because our calls to Indian Embassy is not – they’re not giving call back –

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: -- and also, they don’t talk about this issue.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, actually, we talk about this issue with India on a regular basis. As we broaden our relationship, we are evaluating on our side whether our current posture in India meets the requirements of an expanding relationship. And likewise, India is doing the same thing in terms of its network of consulates. In this country, this is an issue that we continue to have negotiations with with India.

Before we wrap up, I just want to say – this is Fred Lash’s last day here at the Department of State. The Marine Corps has called him back to duty and has lured him away from the State Department to return to Quantico.

When’s the first time you set foot on Quantico?

MR. LASH: Monday I start.

MR. CROWLEY: No, but when was the first time that you –

MR. LASH: Oh, 44 years ago next month. (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: But it’s great to have a Marine on your staff. They’re – no better officer do we have. But we just want to pay tribute to Fred Lash for great work here at the Department of State, and our loss is the Marine Corps’ gain once again.

QUESTION: Here, here.

(Applause.)

QUESTION: Thank you. All the best.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:47 p.m.)

DPB #153

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