Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 4, 2011


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Bid Farewell to Public Affairs Officer Ginny Staab and Assistant Secretary Rich Verma
    • Secretary Clinton had a Bilateral Meeting with Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Affairs/Religion Dr. Castro
    • U.S. Concerned Over Continued Post-election Crackdown by Government of Belarus
    • United States Joins the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
  • LIBYA
    • Two C130 Transports Landed in Djerba, Tunisia Delivery of Humanitarian Supplies / Estimate of the International Organization of Migration / Evacuated a Significant Number of People / Best Solution for Libya is for Colonel Qadhafi to Cease Attacks Against His People and to Step Down / No Fly Zone Issue / Evaluate Events in Libya / Developing a Range of Options / Libya's Lethal Overwhelming Force Against Its Population / UN Security Council Resolution / Resolution Makes Clear There will be Accountability / Issues Resolved Through Dialogue, not Violence / An Opportunity for Dialogue / Want to See Genuine Reform / There is Clearly a Political Opposition That has Developed in Libya / Qadhafi Has Been a Brutal Dictator for four Decades / Focus is on Humanitarian Implications in Libya / Emergence of a political Opposition / First Step is in Process is for Libya to Declare Their Representatives / Qadhafi is Responsible for What is Happening in Libya Today / Working Collectively with International Community / Want to See People of Libya Win / IOM, UNHCR / Ambassador Cretz is on the Job Working Hard to Understand What's Happening in Libya
  • MEXICO
    • Ambassador Carlos Pascual / U.S. Understands Challenges with Mexico are Difficult / Understand Revelation of WikiLeaks Cables have Created Tensions
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • U.S. Continues Effort to Pursue Comprehensive Peace in the Middle East / Direct Negotiations / David Hale was in the Region / Upcoming Meetings with Israeli Officials
  • PAKISTAN
    • U.S. Shared Concern About Mr. Davis' Security / Aware of Death Threats / Court Proceedings that are Continuing / March 14th High Court Hearing
  • NORTH KOREA
    • U.S. Consulting Actively within UN Security Council / Mr. Einhorn / Continue to Focus on Full Implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions
    • U.S. Wants to See Any Dialogue be Constructive / A Demonstrated Seriousness of Purpose by North Korea
  • IRAN
    • A Great Deal of Discussion about Human Rights in Iran
  • EGYPT
    • U.S. Taking Steps to Preserve Assets for the People of Egypt / Diplomats in the Court Room Observing Ongoing Legal Process
  • YEMEN
    • President of Yemen Remains / Violence Needs to Stop / Yemen is a Very Important County to U.S. / There is a Genuine Security Concern in Yemen
  • INDIA
    • Tri-Valley Students / An Active Discussion within the Department of Homeland Security


TRANSCRIPT:

1:28 p.m. EST

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Department of State. A couple of things. This – we have – if we could start off with just a brief tribute, today we are saying goodbye to two very good friends within the State Department. Press Officer Ginny Staab in our Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau is leaving Washington shortly. She’s been a great supporter of many of you through the last couple of years. She will be reassigned to Portugal as a cultural affairs officer. We’ll all have to find a reason to go to Portugal and cover cultural affairs there. (Laughter.) But we certainly thank Ginny Staab -- been an outstanding press officer on behalf of Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela and a great friend and colleague of ours in PA as well.

And likewise, shortly the Secretary will bid farewell to Assistant Secretary Rich Verma, who has been a tremendous friend and colleague of all of us for the past couple of years. Most recently, Rich helped the Secretary both in her recent testimony of last week – in fact, today is supposed to be his last day. He’s extending into overtime next week when the Secretary does one more hearing on the Hill. But he certainly helped shepherd the effort throughout the Executive Branch late last year that led to the ratification of the START Treaty. So we will bid a fond farewell to our friend, Rich Verma.

The Secretary this morning had a bilateral meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religion Dr. Rene Castro of Costa Rica. She thanked Foreign Minister Castro for his leadership in the region in working to enhance citizen safety, promote economic development, innovation, science and technology, and ensure environmental sustainability. They discussed closer collaboration through the region. For those of you who saw the press availability afterwards, (inaudible) not only working issues of – to strengthen multilateral organizations within the hemisphere, to work multilaterally and bilaterally on the issue of citizen safety.

Turning to Europe, the United States remains gravely concerned over the continuing post-election crackdown by the Government of Belarus on civil society, independent media, and the political opposition. Through its ongoing detentions, trials, and harsh prison sentences, the government is creating new political prisoners. We urge the unconditional release of those detained in the crackdown without trials and the creation of space for the free expression of political views, the development of civil society, and the ability of citizens to expand their contact with open societies. For example, there were nine presidential candidates for office; two of them are in jail; seven of them have been charged under these draconian actions by the Government of Belarus. They are simply unacceptable.

Turning to the Middle East, the United States today deposited its instrument of acceptance to join the International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA, becoming its 63rd member. IRENA formed in 2009 in response to the growing international interest in the adoption of renewable energy technologies to meet the challenges of sustained economic growth, energy security, and climate change. IRENA’s mission is to support and expedite member-countries’ transition to greater renewable energy use by helping identify and facilitate adoption of appropriate and optimal policies, business practices, and technologies. To date, 148 countries are IRENA signatories. And as I mentioned, the United States is the 63rd to ratify the statute. The IRENA is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates.

As the Secretary mentioned this morning with regard to Libya and Tunisia, that two C-130 military transports have landed in Djerba, Tunisia, delivering humanitarian supplies from the United States Agency for International Development. Each aircraft carried three pallets of aid supplies, including blankets, rolls of plastic sheeting, and water containers. And those supplies have been offloaded and are now heading for the border between Libya and Tunisia.

As we’ve observed during the course of the last 24 hours, flows have appeared to slow somewhat, although that situation could easily change. Our estimate – or the estimate of the International Organization for Migration at this point is that an estimated 200,000 people have fled Libya. Of those, roughly 108,000 have repatriated thus far. There is an international airlift in progress which has significantly helped in easing the crisis caused by the influx of migrants into Tunisia. These C-130 aircraft today are carrying humanitarian supplies. We anticipate that tomorrow they will return and participate in the flow of migrants from Tunisia back to Egypt.

QUESTION: Sorry. On that 108, they are Libyans who repatriated back to their country?

MR. CROWLEY: No, these are third-country nationals. Thank you for the clarification. These are all third-country nationals who – as we’ve said, the estimate is there could be as many as 1.5 million third-country nationals working in Libya, and many of those are still in the process of making their way out of the country.

QUESTION: Also on that, UNHCR, I think, said today that they were concerned that one reason the flow could be dropping was that people are being prevented from crossing the border by guards or militia on the Libyan side. I’m wondering if the U.S. has any evidence of that.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ve seen – we’ve had that same concern. As we mentioned yesterday, we had seen a dramatic drop-off in people at the border and we are – we share that concern that perhaps there are some security elements in Libya that are inhibiting this flow. We’re looking at that. I don’t know that we’ve yet seen any specific evidence, but that remains a concern, yes.

QUESTION: Are you making – are you working with countries bordering Libya to allow passage, like Chad and other places, to (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: Say it again, sir?

QUESTION: Are you urging these countries to allow passage of these people expeditiously?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, no, actually – in fact --

QUESTION: Because some do not have their passport. They’re taken by the employer.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure. But in fact, it is a tribute to both Egypt and Tunisia that notwithstanding their own transitions in each country, they have been able to effectively work with the international community and, broadly speaking, manage this tremendous influx between – out of Libya in both directions. And obviously, the international community, including the United States, is prepared to help them. But I think the situation on both sides of the border – it is a remarkable tribute to both countries.

QUESTION: P.J., is there – there are many Indian nationals in Libya. The Indian Government has asked any help in any way?

MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, I’m not aware of any specific help, but what we have been doing for the past couple of weeks is sharing information broadly across the international community. When we were chartering aircraft up to a week ago, we were opening seats for countries who were able to get their citizens to either the ship dock or the airport. And likewise, in the succeeding week, we have been working with other countries as well, and in a small number of cases, we’ve been able to put Americans on board, ships and aircraft that are leaving Libya. So I’m not aware of any specific requests, but this is something that we are cooperating broadly as much as we can.

QUESTION: Can you shed some light on the possible number of Americans that are working in the remote oil fields? We are told that there a number of Americans who are working in remote oil fields. And what is the status of these oil fields?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have evacuated a very significant number of people, and we have, as a government, but also private companies have also made their own arrangements to take employees out. I don’t know that at this point we are aware of any U.S. citizens who are still in Libya who have not made a choice to stay. But we remain open and continue to work with anyone who is contacting us and seeking assistance in leaving Libya. There are something approaching perhaps 6,000 people in Libya who are dual nationals, U.S citizens as well as having Libyan citizenship, and it is, just from a practical standpoint, more difficult in those cases since Libya, as I understand it, does not recognize dual citizenship. So anybody in Libya who is a dual national has to leave using a Libyan passport, not an American passport.

QUESTION: But you’re not aware of any of the international oil companies that are keeping their employees hunkered down –

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware at this point of any significant number of people that are still in Libya who have not already found ways out.

QUESTION: P.J., the Qadhafi forces are clashing with the rebels in different places and trying to recapture the areas dominated by the rebels, and they are using Grad rockets and helicopter. How do you view these clashes, and how can you help the rebels?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we continue to watch the situation very closely inside Libya, and we do know that there is an ongoing clash between elements that are still supporting or sympathetic with the Qadhafi regime and those who are now in opposition. As the Secretary indicated this morning, we continue to evaluate options as to how the international community might influence the situation inside Libya. Planning continues to provide the President with a range of options. We remain in discussions with allies, including NATO, about possible actions. But as she did again, we affirm that the best solution for Libya is for Colonel Qadhafi to cease his attacks against his people and to step down.

QUESTION: P.J., what –

QUESTION: And update on the no-fly zone issue?

MR. CROWLEY: No update. We continue to have that option under active review.

QUESTION: P.J., what is the –

QUESTION: The difference in tone between the White House and the State Department on one side and the Defense Department on the other, I mean, Obama yesterday said we’re looking at the full range of options. You’re talking about a full range of options here. But the military seems, as Bob Gates says, we need to choke off loose talk, and he’s talking about all the risks of military action.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t see any daylight between those statements. What the Secretary of State rightfully says, as the President emphasized yesterday, is we are developing a range of options and no option has been taken off the table. As Secretary of Defense Gates reminded – he’s absolutely right – that we have to – you have understand the implications of establishing a no-fly zone. It is not something you can do with the snap of a finger. There are implications for this. There are costs for this. And – but that didn’t preclude that this could well develop into an option that we have to seriously consider as things go forward.

QUESTION: P.J., what is –

QUESTION: What kind of discussions took place today between the Secretary and her counterparts in the Defense Department? Any – how did it transpire today? Any –

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of any specific conversations today. I mean, there is – we continue to have an interagency process where we, on an ongoing basis, evaluate events in Libya and continue to develop the options that the President has requested.

QUESTION: P.J., what is your opinion of these rebels that have taken up arms against the Libyan Government? Does the Libyan Government has a right to defend itself against these particular people that have taken arms against them? Do you consider this – him attacking unarmed civilians? Or is there the beginnings of a civil war in the country, where he’s entitled to defend himself and his forces against those who have arms?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the fact that the government has turned lethal overwhelming force against its population is, obviously, of grave concern to us and we think has delegitimized Colonel Qadhafi as a leader for Libya. We have called for him to step down. We are gravely concerned about the ongoing violence, and obviously there is a risk that this violence could deepen into something like a civil war. We want to do everything that we can to avoid that happening. And again, the best solution here is for Colonel Qadhafi to give up the fight, step aside, and open the door for new leadership in Libya.

QUESTION: Yeah, I understand that. But the direct question is he is – I’m not talking about unarmed civilians, which clearly I would understand that you would have an issue against him attacking unarmed civilians and people in the streets. I’m talking about armed rebels that are fighting the government and government forces. Does he – what is your opinion on his military action against them? Is this an act of war? Is this some kind of civil war? Or do you consider it part and parcel of the same thing of his attacking --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the United Nations Security Council resolution passed just about a week ago made clear that the violence needs to stop.

QUESTION: On both sides?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, and, Elise, that is something that we have espoused from the outset of these developments across the region. If you go back to the principles that we have enunciated throughout this, these issues should be resolved through dialogue, not through violence. But it has been Colonel Qadhafi who has chosen to carry the fight to those who have stood up in opposition to him, and he and those around him bear the responsibility. And the UN Security Council resolution made clear there will be accountability based on the actions that have been taken. He could very well have opened the same kind of dialogue with his people that we’re seeing in Bahrain, that we’re seeing in Oman, that we’re seeing in other countries. He chose to turn his weapons on his people, and he will be responsible and accountable for those actions.

QUESTION: But no, let me – this isn’t answering the question, though. I mean, but – if you’re using that argument, then you’re saying that in Egypt or Tunisia or Bahrain or anywhere where those governments have used force against the people, that those people are entitled to use force against them. So are you saying that these rebels in Libya – and while you’ve said it in other countries, you haven’t specifically said in Libya that you would urge both sides to exercise restraint. Are you saying that these Libyan rebels are entitled to carry arms against Qadhafi or not?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it is difficult for me to sit here and characterize – I mean, what might be happening in one corner of Libya is different than what’s happening in another corner of Libya. I mean, it was the Libyan regime that turned its guns on its people, and it is the people of Libya that are forced to defend themselves in light of the aggression that the Libyan regime has carried on, not just by military forces, but by these mercenaries that are in the employment of Colonel Qadhafi.

But there was and remains the opportunity for dialogue. It is Colonel Qadhafi that first chose to claim that the unrest that’s occurring in Libya is because the population is drugged. And then he has claimed that it’s all about al-Qaida. Ultimately, it’s all about him. And these people are standing up and demanding a new day in Libya, and they are entitled to that new day.

QUESTION: But how can you say that there’s room for dialogue and at the same – in the same breath say that he has to go? Who are they – you’re not giving him any space in that dialogue clearly.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we think he’s crossed a line in the actions that he’s chosen to take over the past two or three weeks. And as we look at the situation, we want to see – as the Secretary and the President have said, we want to see genuine reform. And it is clear to us that Qadhafi is not interested in reform.

QUESTION: So that dialogue that you’re proposing would be between whom?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m saying that there was that opportunity. But now it is Qadhafi who has chosen to deepen the violence against his people, and that’s why the Secretary and the President have clearly – and others – have clearly called for Qadhafi to go.

QUESTION: So there isn’t room for dialogue?

MR. CROWLEY: I think there’s room for dialogue to facilitate Qadhafi’s departure from the scene.

QUESTION: And it sounds like you’re saying – just to be clear, it sounds like you’re saying that these rebels are entitled to take up arms against Colonel Qadhafi. Is that true?

MR. CROWLEY: No. I mean, Elise, you’re using one terminology.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you used --

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, there is clearly a political opposition that has developed --

QUESTION: Well, it’s an armed political opposition.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, all right. There is clearly political opposition that has developed in Libya. And there was the opportunity for dialogue involving Colonel Qadhafi. I think we’re likely past that point. At this point, the dialogue needs to be between those who want to see a brighter future for Libya, a democratic future for Libya. And in order to see that happen, as we’ve said, it’s time for Colonel Qadhafi to step aside.

QUESTION: P.J., in principle, does Qadhafi have a legitimate right to self-defense, one? And two, do you know the identity of the rebels?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, in a – I mean, there are rights and there are responsibilities.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. CROWLEY: Qadhafi has been a brutal dictator for four decades. And based on what he has done in turning his weapons against his people rather than engaging them, we believe that he has forfeited the right to lead Libya.

QUESTION: P.J., the rebels are in need for arms to end Qadhafi’s regime and they are asking the United States to provide them with some kind of ammunitions. Are you ready to cooperate with them on this regard?

MR. CROWLEY: Right now, we’re focused on the humanitarian implications of what is occurring in Libya. It may well be the case there are too many weapons in Libya already. We want to see this peacefully resolved. We want to see the violence and the bloodshed stop. We are evaluating a range of options as things develop. But at this point, we – our preference would be to see a peaceful resolution of this.

QUESTION: Providing arms . . .

QUESTION: Do we --

MR. CROWLEY: And that’s why we have called clearly for Qadhafi to step aside.

QUESTION: Providing --

MR. CROWLEY: As being the most likely step that will lead to an end to the current violence.

QUESTION: P.J. --

QUESTION: Providing arms is one of these options?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not ruling anything in, I’m not ruling anything out. We’re quite aware that people have called for arms, weaponry. That – we have made no judgments on those things. But right now, we would prefer to see this resolved. And the best way to resolve this is through Qadhafi’s departure.

QUESTION: Who are the rebels? Does anyone know their identity, their political identity? I mean, how would you --

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, you’re talking about rebels. That has implications. I’m talking about the emergence of a genuine political opposition. There are people who are standing up. They are a range of figures: tribal figures, political figures, military figures, businessmen who are saying that they want to see a different system emerge in Libya. We are reaching out to as many of those figures that we can to both understand what is happening now and understand how we can be most helpful in bringing this current situation to a successful and peaceful resolution. But they are a wide-ranging group, but we see signs that they are beginning to organize and coalesce, and we will be watching and communicating with them and trying to find appropriate ways to be helpful.

QUESTION: Is there a discernable, tangible structure, command and control structure for the rebels –

MR. CROWLEY: Is --

QUESTION: -- that you know of?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, in our conversations there appears to be an emerging structure. But again, this is something that’s still in its nascent stages.

QUESTION: P.J. --

QUESTION: But P.J. --

QUESTION: The Qadhafi government said today that they have appointed a replacement for the UN ambassador who renounced him a couple of weeks ago, a former foreign minister Dr. Treki. My question is: Have you heard anything from them regarding the ambassador in Washington?

MR. CROWLEY: Not since the fax earlier this week.

QUESTION: Which you – which is not anything official in your --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, which – I mean, if – I mean, Libya has the ability to talk to us if they choose.

QUESTION: And secondly, on Dr. Treki would there be any issue in him coming to New York, to the United Nations, any visa problems, anything? I mean, he becomes – if the UN accepts his credentials as the Libyan envoy to the UN, would they – would you --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, that’s the first step. Obviously, we have official responsibilities in supporting the United Nations. There are agreements that guide that support. But the first step in this process is for Libya to authentically and authoritatively declare who their representatives are in this country.

QUESTION: P.J., as far as options are concerned, Mr. Qadhafi still so far is not listening to the United Nations or the international community. One, do you consider him still the president or ruler of Libya? And two, how long is --

MR. CROWLEY: He is responsible for Libya still.

QUESTION: How long these options will go? Because before you say you want to avoid a civil war before more deaths occurs in Libya.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, this is something that we watch closely. It’s an evolving situation, it’s a dangerous situation. Mr. Qadhafi is responsible for what is happening in Libya today, and we in the international community will hold him accountable.

QUESTION: In terms of the evolving situation, I mean, at what point is it deemed a humanitarian crisis. The President said that he’s considering all options, military, non-military. But if – at what point – I mean, people are being fired upon. In your own words, you said that Qadhafi’s unleashed lethal overwhelming force against his people. So at what point – has it deteriorated to the point the U.S. feels it must be compelled to act?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a question that defies an easy answer. We continue to watch the situation closely. We are --

QUESTION: Is there a redline for the United States?

MR. CROWLEY: We are concerned about what is happening. And as the situation evolves, we’ll see the options that the President has called for develop fully, and then we’ll make decisions as appropriate, working collectively with the international community and others in the Middle East.

QUESTION: So is there a benchmark?

MR. CROWLEY: We are watching and developing, and we’re prepared to act and respond as appropriate.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) is Qadhafi winning right now? It seems to me the government doesn’t – your government has no real plan on what’s the next step to raise the pressure on him. The protests aren’t making further inroads right now.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would say what we want to see is the people of Libya win, and they win with Qadhafi’s departure.

QUESTION: The focus remains humanitarian. You said the two C-130s that have landed and unloaded. Will there be any other C-130s leaving the United States or any --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, these were European-based C-130s.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MR. CROWLEY: And as I said at the beginning, today they were delivering humanitarian supplies. I believe tomorrow they will be back on the ground in Tunisia, prepared to move citizens, Egyptian citizens or others, out of Tunisia.

QUESTION: But as the – if there continues to be a flow, although you say it has slowed down --

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, we – I mean, we are – we remain concerned about this flow of people, even if it has eased from levels of earlier this week. The conditions there are still arduous. It’s cold at night. These people are exposed to the elements, and we want to get them back to their home countries. And airlift – particularly in the case – since a very significant number of these people are Egyptians, that remains a major focus. But obviously, we are working with other embassies. And as people come to the border and they identify themselves as citizens of a particular country, IOM and UNHCR, working with the United States and others, will look for ways to ensure safe passage.

QUESTION: Mr. Crowley, on Mexico – different topic – The New York Times is reporting today that the status of Ambassador Carlos Pascual in Mexico was discussed in yesterday’s bilateral meeting at the White House. After that meeting, are there any plans to recall Ambassador Pascual, given – that if he could (inaudible) that President Calderon said, having a relationship with him?

MR. CROWLEY: I know of no plans. Ambassador Pascual and his mission have done and are doing tremendous work to advance U.S. national interest and to support our Mexican partners in addressing Mexico’s security challenges and issues within our bilateral relationship.

QUESTION: But Mr. Calderon mentioned yesterday in an interview with The Washington Post that the relations with the U.S., due to the status of Ambassador Pascual, were very strained. How can you say that relationships – that the relationship is just going naturally when the president of Mexico is saying that the relationship is not particularly good because of the ambassador?

MR. CROWLEY: Look, we understand the challenges that we have with Mexico are difficult. It is putting stress on Mexico and on the United States. We are working hard with Mexico on security issues that are of great concern to both of us. We recognize the extraordinary burden that this has placed on Mexican institutions. That’s why we have the Merida Initiative to help Mexico in every way we can.

As the President said yesterday, we have – we are doing more on our side of the border. We have to keep up the pressure on these international criminal organizations on our side of the border as well as helping Mexico and others in the region. We are doing that. These are hard, difficult challenges. And Ambassador Pascual is working effectively under difficult conditions to manage the – our bilateral relationship and to help deliver the kind of assistance to Mexico that we have pledged.

QUESTION: But can you confirm if it was an issue in the meeting --

MR. CROWLEY: I don't know.

QUESTION: It doesn’t sound, though, as if it’s an issue of that the Mexicans have a problem with U.S. policy or things like that. It sounds like it’s specifically personal to Ambassador Pascual. And you’ve always said that you have relationships with countries, not with individuals. So is that the case in terms of ambassadors? I mean, if a country doesn’t like or doesn’t get along with or doesn’t feel that a particular ambassador has a feel for their country, are you going to let the relationship suffer at the expense of standing by your nominee?

MR. CROWLEY: Well that’s a hypothetical – I mean, that’s a hypothetical question.

QUESTION: It doesn’t sound like it’s a hypothetical question.

MR. CROWLEY: No, but Ambassador Pascual is, in our view, doing tremendous work on behalf of the U.S.-Mexican bilateral relationship, and I know of no plans to adjust his status.

QUESTION: But do you have the idea that maybe this can have damage in the relationship with President Calderon? You have reached an amazing level of cooperation between both countries. Is it possible that maybe due to this lack of confidence of President Calderon in Ambassador Pascual you can start seeing some problems –

MR. CROWLEY: Look, I’ve given you the U.S. perspective. I can’t speak for President Calderon, and I do not know that he was the subject of any discussion yesterday.

QUESTION: But is this wise, P.J.? Is this wise to maintain the ambassador even when the president – he has any good relationship with President Calderon?

MR. CROWLEY: But we have ambassadors around the world to serve our interests. And in doing so, we believe that that serves the interest of the country and the region to which they are assigned. But – and we – as I read that story yesterday, I believe President Calderon raised the issue of WikiLeaks, and we fully understand that the revelations of some of these cables have created tensions. And whether or not that exists in Mexico and other countries as well, we are determined to work with whatever tensions have been created by the emergence of these cables.

That said, without speaking about any cable, what these cables show broadly speaking is U.S. diplomats serving in difficult circumstances all around the world, addressing the common challenges that we have with our partners around the world, and solving problems. That is what Ambassador Pascual and his team is doing in Mexico City. That is what other ambassadors at our embassies are doing every single day, and he and his team are absolutely serving the United States’s interests and, we think, the interests of Mexico and the region as well.

QUESTION: But you withdrew Ambassador Gene Cretz from Libya. Before this whole thing with Libya happened, you withdrew Ambassador Cretz because of the WikiLeaks revelations. He was considered to not be able to do his job in the country. So what’s the standard?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s not the reason we removed –

QUESTION: Well, what is the reason then?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s not the reason we removed – (laughter).

QUESTION: You sure about that? (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: No, I am sure about that. We brought back Ambassador Cretz for consultations because we had genuine concerns about his security.

QUESTION: By the way, does the State Department have full –

QUESTION: But it was related to the WikiLeaks cables.

MR. CROWLEY: I’m just saying – I mean, I’m just saying that – and right now, Ambassador Cretz is on the job working hard to understand fully what’s happening in Libya and to see what we can do to help the people of Libya see a better tomorrow.

QUESTION: By the way –

QUESTION: Do you have any concern –

QUESTION: -- does the Secretary have full confidence –

QUESTION: -- P.J. –

QUESTION: -- in Ambassador Pascual and the job he’s doing?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any concern that maybe this can be taken by the Mexican Government as a challenge to impose somebody whom they do not like and refuse to work?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ve given you our perspective.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: The Palestinian-Israeli issue, do we have an answer on the status of Mr. Rahmah?

MR. CROWLEY: No, I’ve asked the question. I have not received an answer yet.

QUESTION: Okay. I still have a question on that. Have you read or seen the statements made by Dr. Nabil Shaath one of the Palestinian negotiators in Paris.

MR. CROWLEY: I have not –

QUESTION: He said the following, that, quote: “The United States is not to be trusted, and, in fact, it has been lying about its effort to pursue a peaceful settlement and to achieve the goals stated in the September 1 declarations.” What do you say – what is your comment?

MR. CROWLEY: All right. We’re doing what?

QUESTION: He said that, quote, “You are not advancing the cause of peace, and, in fact, that you are lying about your role,” unquote.

MR. CROWLEY: I have not seen those specific comments.

QUESTION: Okay, but he –

MR. CROWLEY: All I can tell you is what the policy of the United States and the Obama Administration is. We continue our efforts to pursue comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We are squarely focused on trying to help the Israelis and the Palestinians achieve a framework agreement and ultimately a two-state solution. We are strong advocates of a viable Palestinian state, and we are strong advocates of a state of Israel that can live in peace and security with its neighbors. We are determined to continue this effort, and the best way that the parties can advance this process is to return to direct negotiations that were – that’s what we’re trying to do.

QUESTION: But he said that in the context of pushing the Europeans to go their own, so to speak – on their own and recognize a Palestinian state. Would you support that kind of independent –

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, our view is that the only way to resolve the core issues is through direct negotiations. And any other efforts are sideshows that we don’t think will be successful.

QUESTION: And finally, would you discourage the Palestinians from going to the General Assembly to pursue the reinstatement of Resolution 181 which, in fact, created the state of Israel?

MR. CROWLEY: We do not believe that will be a successful strategy.

QUESTION: P.J., how are you continuing your efforts regarding the peace process? And it’s been a long time since we’ve seen Senator Mitchell went to the region.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we had David Hale yesterday in the region. I believe he had meetings with Palestinian officials. We expect to have meetings in the coming days with Israeli officials. We haven’t stopped doing what we’re doing. You may not see – it may not be evident every single day, but we continue to work with the parties to try to narrow the existing differences. We understand that they exist. We understand this is going to be hard.

QUESTION: Are you going to --

MR. CROWLEY: But just because we’re – there are fewer formal meetings than might have been the case six months ago, it doesn’t mean that we’re still not determined to try to move this process forward.

QUESTION: Is Senator Mitchell still working on --

MR. CROWLEY: Every day.

QUESTION: Did Mr. Hoff go to Syria recently?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll check that. We’ll take that question. I don't know what Fred has been up to lately.

QUESTION: P.J., on Pakistan, there are reports that the United – that the State Department, in fact, recommended that this minority minister be given an armored vehicle in the weeks before he was assassinated. Can you confirm that, and can you say what the holdup was?

MR. CROWLEY: I will not comment on that other than to say that we shared our genuine concerns about his security, but beyond that, I won’t comment.

QUESTION: Can you say whether any efforts that you would have recommended at the very least were held up by any snags in the U.S.-Pakistani bilateral relationship?

MR. CROWLEY: I would not tie that to the case of Mr. Davis. We are quite aware that he had received multiple death threats. We are concerned about his security, as we would be for any government official or prominent individual subject to those death threats. And we encouraged the Government of Pakistan to do everything possible to provide for his security. But beyond that, we won’t comment. And he – tragically, his funeral was – Mr. Bhatti’s funeral was today. Ambassador Munter and other members of the Embassy staff attended.

QUESTION: Just to follow up, as far as Mr. Davis case was concerned, yesterday he appeared in the court and Pakistanis are now saying that they will bring murder charges against him unless U.S. swapped with the doctor that – Aafia that have been held here. I mean, where does this case will continue now and – as far as the relations are concerned, according to my colleague, and as far as this – what they are saying, swapping with the – one of the Pakistani nationals held here?

MR. CROWLEY: Okay. I mean, as we explained yesterday, there are court proceedings that are continuing. We look forward to a March 14th High Court hearing and we hope that this – we continue to work with the Government of Pakistan and hope to resolve this as quickly as we can.

QUESTION: Same issue.

MR. CROWLEY: David.

QUESTION: It follows, then, that you don’t believe that the Pakistan Government did enough to protect Bhatti?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m not going to comment on his security. As the Secretary and others have made clear, this is a great tragedy for Pakistan, and we remain concerned about issues related to tolerance in that country.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

QUESTION: On Iran --

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you. May I confirm your statement yesterday on North Korean uranium enrichment program? You said you’re seeking for a United Nations Security Council reaction, but you didn’t say, like Mr. Einhorn said in Seoul, that you’re seeking for a chairman statement. Does it mean that you’ve toned down what you’re seeking for? Do you have a set official standpoint of what you’re seeking specifically at this --

MR. CROWLEY: No, what I said was that we are consulting actively within the Security Council, and as Mr. Einhorn said, one of the possible outcomes of that consultation could be a presidential statement.

QUESTION: Another thing: Why did it come up at this point of time that you suddenly started raising this as a loud voice? Does it do – anything to do with, like, the Chinese Government taking – I mean, sitting as the chairman position at the Security Council this week*?

MR. CROWLEY: I don't know that there’s any particular timing of it. We just simply made clear that we continue to focus on full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions. We want to see North Korea undertake all of its international obligations. And we have made clear that, in our view of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, that has to take into account the uranium enrichment program. That’s the position of the United States and that’s something that we continue to talk to others about.

QUESTION: Same topic --

QUESTION: How is your talk with China?

MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?

QUESTION: Have you been trying to – I mean, I know you’ve --

MR. CROWLEY: Have we talked to China about this program? Yes.

QUESTION: Same topic.

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Chinese nuclear envoy Mr. Wu Dawei said in an interview with Xinhua that nobody wants to put any preconditions on the resumption of Six-Party Talks. What’s your response?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we want to see any dialogue be constructive, so I don’t – I’m not sure you call it a precondition. We just want to make sure that there’s a firm understanding among all of the parties and an expectation that progress can be made. And as we’ve said, one of our indicators to demonstrate that it will be fruitful to have these kinds of conversations would be a seriousness of purpose – a demonstrated seriousness of purpose by North Korea. And one way to demonstrate that would be to improve and reduce tensions that currently exist between North and South Korea.

QUESTION: And one more on North Korea. A South Korean high-level intelligence official told the lawmakers in Seoul that Kim Jong-un has been officially invited by China to visit Beijing. We don’t know when. Are you concerned about the report?

MR. CROWLEY: I don't know why we’d be concerned about reports.

QUESTION: Any response --

MR. CROWLEY: North Korean leaders go to China all the time.

QUESTION: But it’s Kim Jong-un, not Kim Jong-il.

MR. CROWLEY: I understood what you said. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Is the U.S. promoting or supporting an initiative to suspend Iran’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council?

MR. CROWLEY: There has been a great deal of discussion within the UN Human Rights Council about Iran’s abysmal human rights record. I don't know of any specific plans for suspension at this point.

QUESTION: But will you support such a --

MR. CROWLEY: Again, it’s a – I don't know that there is any initiative being put forward at this time.

QUESTION: Is there --

QUESTION: P.J., on Egypt? P.J., Zahi Hawass is probably the most ubiquitous Egyptologist and the – formerly the minister of antiquity – resigned saying there is a great deal of looting and he cannot control the situation. Is the United States or the State Department in any way involved in the preservation or the prevention of looting of Egyptian antiquities from Egyptian museums?

MR. CROWLEY: I don't know of any kind – I just can’t say that there have been any specific discussions with Egypt on this subject. I would say that our approach here, whether – in the case of Egypt and in the ongoing efforts that we’ve done with the international community to preserve assets of Egypt – we’re taking steps to preserve assets for the people of Egypt, for the people of Libya, for others, and we certainly think that these are cultural assets that belong to the Egyptian people. They should be protected. And – but I’m not specifically aware of the --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: -- concern or theft of antiquities at this point.

QUESTION: P.J., have you got any update from your diplomats in the courtroom on Havana on the case of Alan Gross?

MR. CROWLEY: We have diplomats in the courtroom observing the ongoing legal process. I haven’t gotten any readout from them today yet.

QUESTION: Yemen; just wondering if you can update. There continue to be protests there, obviously. If the Salih government falls, what will that mean or will it have any impact on the U.S. pursuit of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and its security interests there?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there’s a presumption behind your question. The president solidly remains the president of Yemen. He has, in fact, opened up a dialogue with his opposition. There’s some fairly public negotiating going on. But this is exactly the kind of give-and-take that we believe is necessary so that governments can be seen as responding to the will of their people.

QUESTION: P.J., you called --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry. What?

QUESTION: What about the protestors who were killed in Yemen?

MR. CROWLEY: We are – there have been some fresh reports of protestors killed. The Embassy there is trying to verify those reports. We have been monitoring the clashes between pro-government and anti-government protestors that’s been going on for some time. As we’ve made clear, even as we support dialogue between governments and opposition figures, we want to see these efforts done peacefully and in the pursuit of more responsible and representative government. Violence needs to stop.

QUESTION: Lawmakers on the Hill, though, deemed this one of the greatest concerns to national security for the United States in Yemen right now. Where does that – does that unrest impact all of those concerns? Is it something that the U.S. is worried about?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure I get the link between the Hill and – what concerns are they? I mean, I’m a spokesman for the Executive Branch, not for the Legislative Branch.

QUESTION: I’m well aware of that. (Laughter.) I mean, I think it’s fairly obvious what I’m asking is that the United States obviously has a concern in Yemen. This has been prioritized by a number of officials, including the State Department --

MR. CROWLEY: Yes. I mean, Yemen is a very important country to the United States.

QUESTION: So what impact does this unrest have on that security concern?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, they’re not mutually – they’re not mutually exclusive. In other words, there is a genuine security concern in Yemen that is a concern for Yemen and for the United States.

QUESTION: So nothing changes?

MR. CROWLEY: Since – in the last handful of terrorist attempts in the United States, they had links back to Yemen directly or indirectly. So we are working with Yemen and have been for some time to improve its counterterrorism capabilities, and we are cooperating fully in that.

QUESTION: Thank you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Time to go.

QUESTION: It’s time to go. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: P.J., can you take – P.J.?

MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. This is fascinating. We’re in the dark at the State Department. (Laughter.) That said, part of the solution to – part of the solution to Yemen is more effective governance, a broader economy, greater opportunity for the – for people who live in Yemen so that they’ll choose constructive pursuits and not extremism. So these two things go hand in hand.

QUESTION: P.J., there have been several reports over the past few days about the possibility of establishing a Taliban diplomatic office in Turkey, and I just wondered what your position might be on that.

MR. CROWLEY: A what?

QUESTION: A Taliban diplomatic – a representational office in Turkey.

MR. CROWLEY: Who would establish that?

QUESTION: Well, probably the Turks would allow it to happen --

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know anything about it.

QUESTION: Okay. But do we have any position on it? I mean, it’s --

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know anything about it.

QUESTION: So is it a --

MR. CROWLEY: So it’s hard to have a position on something that I’m unfamiliar with.

QUESTION: P.J., a quick one on that Tri-Valley University students are still worried and Ambassador of India Meera Shankar wrote to the Secretary, the Secretary wrote her back, and what students are asking the State Department these conversations will not help what is our future.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think the focus right now on issues regarding how – what happens for students who are not implicated in the ongoing investigation, those are matters under active discussion within the Department of Homeland Security.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: P.J., I just want to know what’s happening with sending an ambassador to Venezuela. Is there any news?

MR. CROWLEY: No news. Have a nice weekend.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:18 p.m.)

1:28 p.m. EST

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Department of State. A couple of things. This – we have – if we could start off with just a brief tribute, today we are saying goodbye to two very good friends within the State Department. Press Officer Ginny Staab in our Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau is leaving Washington shortly. She’s been a great supporter of many of you through the last couple of years. She will be reassigned to Portugal as a cultural affairs officer. We’ll all have to find a reason to go to Portugal and cover cultural affairs there. (Laughter.) But we certainly thank Ginny Staab -- been an outstanding press officer on behalf of Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela and a great friend and colleague of ours in PA as well.

And likewise, shortly the Secretary will bid farewell to Assistant Secretary Rich Verma, who has been a tremendous friend and colleague of all of us for the past couple of years. Most recently, Rich helped the Secretary both in her recent testimony of last week – in fact, today is supposed to be his last day. He’s extending into overtime next week when the Secretary does one more hearing on the Hill. But he certainly helped shepherd the effort throughout the Executive Branch late last year that led to the ratification of the START Treaty. So we will bid a fond farewell to our friend, Rich Verma.

The Secretary this morning had a bilateral meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religion Dr. Rene Castro of Costa Rica. She thanked Foreign Minister Castro for his leadership in the region in working to enhance citizen safety, promote economic development, innovation, science and technology, and ensure environmental sustainability. They discussed closer collaboration through the region. For those of you who saw the press availability afterwards, (inaudible) not only working issues of – to strengthen multilateral organizations within the hemisphere, to work multilaterally and bilaterally on the issue of citizen safety.

Turning to Europe, the United States remains gravely concerned over the continuing post-election crackdown by the Government of Belarus on civil society, independent media, and the political opposition. Through its ongoing detentions, trials, and harsh prison sentences, the government is creating new political prisoners. We urge the unconditional release of those detained in the crackdown without trials and the creation of space for the free expression of political views, the development of civil society, and the ability of citizens to expand their contact with open societies. For example, there were nine presidential candidates for office; two of them are in jail; seven of them have been charged under these draconian actions by the Government of Belarus. They are simply unacceptable.

Turning to the Middle East, the United States today deposited its instrument of acceptance to join the International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA, becoming its 63rd member. IRENA formed in 2009 in response to the growing international interest in the adoption of renewable energy technologies to meet the challenges of sustained economic growth, energy security, and climate change. IRENA’s mission is to support and expedite member-countries’ transition to greater renewable energy use by helping identify and facilitate adoption of appropriate and optimal policies, business practices, and technologies. To date, 148 countries are IRENA signatories. And as I mentioned, the United States is the 63rd to ratify the statute. The IRENA is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates.

As the Secretary mentioned this morning with regard to Libya and Tunisia, that two C-130 military transports have landed in Djerba, Tunisia, delivering humanitarian supplies from the United States Agency for International Development. Each aircraft carried three pallets of aid supplies, including blankets, rolls of plastic sheeting, and water containers. And those supplies have been offloaded and are now heading for the border between Libya and Tunisia.

As we’ve observed during the course of the last 24 hours, flows have appeared to slow somewhat, although that situation could easily change. Our estimate – or the estimate of the International Organization for Migration at this point is that an estimated 200,000 people have fled Libya. Of those, roughly 108,000 have repatriated thus far. There is an international airlift in progress which has significantly helped in easing the crisis caused by the influx of migrants into Tunisia. These C-130 aircraft today are carrying humanitarian supplies. We anticipate that tomorrow they will return and participate in the flow of migrants from Tunisia back to Egypt.

QUESTION: Sorry. On that 108, they are Libyans who repatriated back to their country?

MR. CROWLEY: No, these are third-country nationals. Thank you for the clarification. These are all third-country nationals who – as we’ve said, the estimate is there could be as many as 1.5 million third-country nationals working in Libya, and many of those are still in the process of making their way out of the country.

QUESTION: Also on that, UNHCR, I think, said today that they were concerned that one reason the flow could be dropping was that people are being prevented from crossing the border by guards or militia on the Libyan side. I’m wondering if the U.S. has any evidence of that.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ve seen – we’ve had that same concern. As we mentioned yesterday, we had seen a dramatic drop-off in people at the border and we are – we share that concern that perhaps there are some security elements in Libya that are inhibiting this flow. We’re looking at that. I don’t know that we’ve yet seen any specific evidence, but that remains a concern, yes.

QUESTION: Are you making – are you working with countries bordering Libya to allow passage, like Chad and other places, to (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: Say it again, sir?

QUESTION: Are you urging these countries to allow passage of these people expeditiously?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, no, actually – in fact --

QUESTION: Because some do not have their passport. They’re taken by the employer.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure. But in fact, it is a tribute to both Egypt and Tunisia that notwithstanding their own transitions in each country, they have been able to effectively work with the international community and, broadly speaking, manage this tremendous influx between – out of Libya in both directions. And obviously, the international community, including the United States, is prepared to help them. But I think the situation on both sides of the border – it is a remarkable tribute to both countries.

QUESTION: P.J., is there – there are many Indian nationals in Libya. The Indian Government has asked any help in any way?

MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, I’m not aware of any specific help, but what we have been doing for the past couple of weeks is sharing information broadly across the international community. When we were chartering aircraft up to a week ago, we were opening seats for countries who were able to get their citizens to either the ship dock or the airport. And likewise, in the succeeding week, we have been working with other countries as well, and in a small number of cases, we’ve been able to put Americans on board, ships and aircraft that are leaving Libya. So I’m not aware of any specific requests, but this is something that we are cooperating broadly as much as we can.

QUESTION: Can you shed some light on the possible number of Americans that are working in the remote oil fields? We are told that there a number of Americans who are working in remote oil fields. And what is the status of these oil fields?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have evacuated a very significant number of people, and we have, as a government, but also private companies have also made their own arrangements to take employees out. I don’t know that at this point we are aware of any U.S. citizens who are still in Libya who have not made a choice to stay. But we remain open and continue to work with anyone who is contacting us and seeking assistance in leaving Libya. There are something approaching perhaps 6,000 people in Libya who are dual nationals, U.S citizens as well as having Libyan citizenship, and it is, just from a practical standpoint, more difficult in those cases since Libya, as I understand it, does not recognize dual citizenship. So anybody in Libya who is a dual national has to leave using a Libyan passport, not an American passport.

QUESTION: But you’re not aware of any of the international oil companies that are keeping their employees hunkered down –

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware at this point of any significant number of people that are still in Libya who have not already found ways out.

QUESTION: P.J., the Qadhafi forces are clashing with the rebels in different places and trying to recapture the areas dominated by the rebels, and they are using Grad rockets and helicopter. How do you view these clashes, and how can you help the rebels?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we continue to watch the situation very closely inside Libya, and we do know that there is an ongoing clash between elements that are still supporting or sympathetic with the Qadhafi regime and those who are now in opposition. As the Secretary indicated this morning, we continue to evaluate options as to how the international community might influence the situation inside Libya. Planning continues to provide the President with a range of options. We remain in discussions with allies, including NATO, about possible actions. But as she did again, we affirm that the best solution for Libya is for Colonel Qadhafi to cease his attacks against his people and to step down.

QUESTION: P.J., what –

QUESTION: And update on the no-fly zone issue?

MR. CROWLEY: No update. We continue to have that option under active review.

QUESTION: P.J., what is the –

QUESTION: The difference in tone between the White House and the State Department on one side and the Defense Department on the other, I mean, Obama yesterday said we’re looking at the full range of options. You’re talking about a full range of options here. But the military seems, as Bob Gates says, we need to choke off loose talk, and he’s talking about all the risks of military action.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t see any daylight between those statements. What the Secretary of State rightfully says, as the President emphasized yesterday, is we are developing a range of options and no option has been taken off the table. As Secretary of Defense Gates reminded – he’s absolutely right – that we have to – you have understand the implications of establishing a no-fly zone. It is not something you can do with the snap of a finger. There are implications for this. There are costs for this. And – but that didn’t preclude that this could well develop into an option that we have to seriously consider as things go forward.

QUESTION: P.J., what is –

QUESTION: What kind of discussions took place today between the Secretary and her counterparts in the Defense Department? Any – how did it transpire today? Any –

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of any specific conversations today. I mean, there is – we continue to have an interagency process where we, on an ongoing basis, evaluate events in Libya and continue to develop the options that the President has requested.

QUESTION: P.J., what is your opinion of these rebels that have taken up arms against the Libyan Government? Does the Libyan Government has a right to defend itself against these particular people that have taken arms against them? Do you consider this – him attacking unarmed civilians? Or is there the beginnings of a civil war in the country, where he’s entitled to defend himself and his forces against those who have arms?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the fact that the government has turned lethal overwhelming force against its population is, obviously, of grave concern to us and we think has delegitimized Colonel Qadhafi as a leader for Libya. We have called for him to step down. We are gravely concerned about the ongoing violence, and obviously there is a risk that this violence could deepen into something like a civil war. We want to do everything that we can to avoid that happening. And again, the best solution here is for Colonel Qadhafi to give up the fight, step aside, and open the door for new leadership in Libya.

QUESTION: Yeah, I understand that. But the direct question is he is – I’m not talking about unarmed civilians, which clearly I would understand that you would have an issue against him attacking unarmed civilians and people in the streets. I’m talking about armed rebels that are fighting the government and government forces. Does he – what is your opinion on his military action against them? Is this an act of war? Is this some kind of civil war? Or do you consider it part and parcel of the same thing of his attacking --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the United Nations Security Council resolution passed just about a week ago made clear that the violence needs to stop.

QUESTION: On both sides?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, and, Elise, that is something that we have espoused from the outset of these developments across the region. If you go back to the principles that we have enunciated throughout this, these issues should be resolved through dialogue, not through violence. But it has been Colonel Qadhafi who has chosen to carry the fight to those who have stood up in opposition to him, and he and those around him bear the responsibility. And the UN Security Council resolution made clear there will be accountability based on the actions that have been taken. He could very well have opened the same kind of dialogue with his people that we’re seeing in Bahrain, that we’re seeing in Oman, that we’re seeing in other countries. He chose to turn his weapons on his people, and he will be responsible and accountable for those actions.

QUESTION: But no, let me – this isn’t answering the question, though. I mean, but – if you’re using that argument, then you’re saying that in Egypt or Tunisia or Bahrain or anywhere where those governments have used force against the people, that those people are entitled to use force against them. So are you saying that these rebels in Libya – and while you’ve said it in other countries, you haven’t specifically said in Libya that you would urge both sides to exercise restraint. Are you saying that these Libyan rebels are entitled to carry arms against Qadhafi or not?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it is difficult for me to sit here and characterize – I mean, what might be happening in one corner of Libya is different than what’s happening in another corner of Libya. I mean, it was the Libyan regime that turned its guns on its people, and it is the people of Libya that are forced to defend themselves in light of the aggression that the Libyan regime has carried on, not just by military forces, but by these mercenaries that are in the employment of Colonel Qadhafi.

But there was and remains the opportunity for dialogue. It is Colonel Qadhafi that first chose to claim that the unrest that’s occurring in Libya is because the population is drugged. And then he has claimed that it’s all about al-Qaida. Ultimately, it’s all about him. And these people are standing up and demanding a new day in Libya, and they are entitled to that new day.

QUESTION: But how can you say that there’s room for dialogue and at the same – in the same breath say that he has to go? Who are they – you’re not giving him any space in that dialogue clearly.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we think he’s crossed a line in the actions that he’s chosen to take over the past two or three weeks. And as we look at the situation, we want to see – as the Secretary and the President have said, we want to see genuine reform. And it is clear to us that Qadhafi is not interested in reform.

QUESTION: So that dialogue that you’re proposing would be between whom?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m saying that there was that opportunity. But now it is Qadhafi who has chosen to deepen the violence against his people, and that’s why the Secretary and the President have clearly – and others – have clearly called for Qadhafi to go.

QUESTION: So there isn’t room for dialogue?

MR. CROWLEY: I think there’s room for dialogue to facilitate Qadhafi’s departure from the scene.

QUESTION: And it sounds like you’re saying – just to be clear, it sounds like you’re saying that these rebels are entitled to take up arms against Colonel Qadhafi. Is that true?

MR. CROWLEY: No. I mean, Elise, you’re using one terminology.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you used --

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, there is clearly a political opposition that has developed --

QUESTION: Well, it’s an armed political opposition.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, all right. There is clearly political opposition that has developed in Libya. And there was the opportunity for dialogue involving Colonel Qadhafi. I think we’re likely past that point. At this point, the dialogue needs to be between those who want to see a brighter future for Libya, a democratic future for Libya. And in order to see that happen, as we’ve said, it’s time for Colonel Qadhafi to step aside.

QUESTION: P.J., in principle, does Qadhafi have a legitimate right to self-defense, one? And two, do you know the identity of the rebels?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, in a – I mean, there are rights and there are responsibilities.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. CROWLEY: Qadhafi has been a brutal dictator for four decades. And based on what he has done in turning his weapons against his people rather than engaging them, we believe that he has forfeited the right to lead Libya.

QUESTION: P.J., the rebels are in need for arms to end Qadhafi’s regime and they are asking the United States to provide them with some kind of ammunitions. Are you ready to cooperate with them on this regard?

MR. CROWLEY: Right now, we’re focused on the humanitarian implications of what is occurring in Libya. It may well be the case there are too many weapons in Libya already. We want to see this peacefully resolved. We want to see the violence and the bloodshed stop. We are evaluating a range of options as things develop. But at this point, we – our preference would be to see a peaceful resolution of this.

QUESTION: Providing arms . . .

QUESTION: Do we --

MR. CROWLEY: And that’s why we have called clearly for Qadhafi to step aside.

QUESTION: Providing --

MR. CROWLEY: As being the most likely step that will lead to an end to the current violence.

QUESTION: P.J. --

QUESTION: Providing arms is one of these options?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not ruling anything in, I’m not ruling anything out. We’re quite aware that people have called for arms, weaponry. That – we have made no judgments on those things. But right now, we would prefer to see this resolved. And the best way to resolve this is through Qadhafi’s departure.

QUESTION: Who are the rebels? Does anyone know their identity, their political identity? I mean, how would you --

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, you’re talking about rebels. That has implications. I’m talking about the emergence of a genuine political opposition. There are people who are standing up. They are a range of figures: tribal figures, political figures, military figures, businessmen who are saying that they want to see a different system emerge in Libya. We are reaching out to as many of those figures that we can to both understand what is happening now and understand how we can be most helpful in bringing this current situation to a successful and peaceful resolution. But they are a wide-ranging group, but we see signs that they are beginning to organize and coalesce, and we will be watching and communicating with them and trying to find appropriate ways to be helpful.

QUESTION: Is there a discernable, tangible structure, command and control structure for the rebels –

MR. CROWLEY: Is --

QUESTION: -- that you know of?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, in our conversations there appears to be an emerging structure. But again, this is something that’s still in its nascent stages.

QUESTION: P.J. --

QUESTION: But P.J. --

QUESTION: The Qadhafi government said today that they have appointed a replacement for the UN ambassador who renounced him a couple of weeks ago, a former foreign minister Dr. Treki. My question is: Have you heard anything from them regarding the ambassador in Washington?

MR. CROWLEY: Not since the fax earlier this week.

QUESTION: Which you – which is not anything official in your --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, which – I mean, if – I mean, Libya has the ability to talk to us if they choose.

QUESTION: And secondly, on Dr. Treki would there be any issue in him coming to New York, to the United Nations, any visa problems, anything? I mean, he becomes – if the UN accepts his credentials as the Libyan envoy to the UN, would they – would you --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, that’s the first step. Obviously, we have official responsibilities in supporting the United Nations. There are agreements that guide that support. But the first step in this process is for Libya to authentically and authoritatively declare who their representatives are in this country.

QUESTION: P.J., as far as options are concerned, Mr. Qadhafi still so far is not listening to the United Nations or the international community. One, do you consider him still the president or ruler of Libya? And two, how long is --

MR. CROWLEY: He is responsible for Libya still.

QUESTION: How long these options will go? Because before you say you want to avoid a civil war before more deaths occurs in Libya.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, this is something that we watch closely. It’s an evolving situation, it’s a dangerous situation. Mr. Qadhafi is responsible for what is happening in Libya today, and we in the international community will hold him accountable.

QUESTION: In terms of the evolving situation, I mean, at what point is it deemed a humanitarian crisis. The President said that he’s considering all options, military, non-military. But if – at what point – I mean, people are being fired upon. In your own words, you said that Qadhafi’s unleashed lethal overwhelming force against his people. So at what point – has it deteriorated to the point the U.S. feels it must be compelled to act?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a question that defies an easy answer. We continue to watch the situation closely. We are --

QUESTION: Is there a redline for the United States?

MR. CROWLEY: We are concerned about what is happening. And as the situation evolves, we’ll see the options that the President has called for develop fully, and then we’ll make decisions as appropriate, working collectively with the international community and others in the Middle East.

QUESTION: So is there a benchmark?

MR. CROWLEY: We are watching and developing, and we’re prepared to act and respond as appropriate.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) is Qadhafi winning right now? It seems to me the government doesn’t – your government has no real plan on what’s the next step to raise the pressure on him. The protests aren’t making further inroads right now.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would say what we want to see is the people of Libya win, and they win with Qadhafi’s departure.

QUESTION: The focus remains humanitarian. You said the two C-130s that have landed and unloaded. Will there be any other C-130s leaving the United States or any --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, these were European-based C-130s.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MR. CROWLEY: And as I said at the beginning, today they were delivering humanitarian supplies. I believe tomorrow they will be back on the ground in Tunisia, prepared to move citizens, Egyptian citizens or others, out of Tunisia.

QUESTION: But as the – if there continues to be a flow, although you say it has slowed down --

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, we – I mean, we are – we remain concerned about this flow of people, even if it has eased from levels of earlier this week. The conditions there are still arduous. It’s cold at night. These people are exposed to the elements, and we want to get them back to their home countries. And airlift – particularly in the case – since a very significant number of these people are Egyptians, that remains a major focus. But obviously, we are working with other embassies. And as people come to the border and they identify themselves as citizens of a particular country, IOM and UNHCR, working with the United States and others, will look for ways to ensure safe passage.

QUESTION: Mr. Crowley, on Mexico – different topic – The New York Times is reporting today that the status of Ambassador Carlos Pascual in Mexico was discussed in yesterday’s bilateral meeting at the White House. After that meeting, are there any plans to recall Ambassador Pascual, given – that if he could (inaudible) that President Calderon said, having a relationship with him?

MR. CROWLEY: I know of no plans. Ambassador Pascual and his mission have done and are doing tremendous work to advance U.S. national interest and to support our Mexican partners in addressing Mexico’s security challenges and issues within our bilateral relationship.

QUESTION: But Mr. Calderon mentioned yesterday in an interview with The Washington Post that the relations with the U.S., due to the status of Ambassador Pascual, were very strained. How can you say that relationships – that the relationship is just going naturally when the president of Mexico is saying that the relationship is not particularly good because of the ambassador?

MR. CROWLEY: Look, we understand the challenges that we have with Mexico are difficult. It is putting stress on Mexico and on the United States. We are working hard with Mexico on security issues that are of great concern to both of us. We recognize the extraordinary burden that this has placed on Mexican institutions. That’s why we have the Merida Initiative to help Mexico in every way we can.

As the President said yesterday, we have – we are doing more on our side of the border. We have to keep up the pressure on these international criminal organizations on our side of the border as well as helping Mexico and others in the region. We are doing that. These are hard, difficult challenges. And Ambassador Pascual is working effectively under difficult conditions to manage the – our bilateral relationship and to help deliver the kind of assistance to Mexico that we have pledged.

QUESTION: But can you confirm if it was an issue in the meeting --

MR. CROWLEY: I don't know.

QUESTION: It doesn’t sound, though, as if it’s an issue of that the Mexicans have a problem with U.S. policy or things like that. It sounds like it’s specifically personal to Ambassador Pascual. And you’ve always said that you have relationships with countries, not with individuals. So is that the case in terms of ambassadors? I mean, if a country doesn’t like or doesn’t get along with or doesn’t feel that a particular ambassador has a feel for their country, are you going to let the relationship suffer at the expense of standing by your nominee?

MR. CROWLEY: Well that’s a hypothetical – I mean, that’s a hypothetical question.

QUESTION: It doesn’t sound like it’s a hypothetical question.

MR. CROWLEY: No, but Ambassador Pascual is, in our view, doing tremendous work on behalf of the U.S.-Mexican bilateral relationship, and I know of no plans to adjust his status.

QUESTION: But do you have the idea that maybe this can have damage in the relationship with President Calderon? You have reached an amazing level of cooperation between both countries. Is it possible that maybe due to this lack of confidence of President Calderon in Ambassador Pascual you can start seeing some problems –

MR. CROWLEY: Look, I’ve given you the U.S. perspective. I can’t speak for President Calderon, and I do not know that he was the subject of any discussion yesterday.

QUESTION: But is this wise, P.J.? Is this wise to maintain the ambassador even when the president – he has any good relationship with President Calderon?

MR. CROWLEY: But we have ambassadors around the world to serve our interests. And in doing so, we believe that that serves the interest of the country and the region to which they are assigned. But – and we – as I read that story yesterday, I believe President Calderon raised the issue of WikiLeaks, and we fully understand that the revelations of some of these cables have created tensions. And whether or not that exists in Mexico and other countries as well, we are determined to work with whatever tensions have been created by the emergence of these cables.

That said, without speaking about any cable, what these cables show broadly speaking is U.S. diplomats serving in difficult circumstances all around the world, addressing the common challenges that we have with our partners around the world, and solving problems. That is what Ambassador Pascual and his team is doing in Mexico City. That is what other ambassadors at our embassies are doing every single day, and he and his team are absolutely serving the United States’s interests and, we think, the interests of Mexico and the region as well.

QUESTION: But you withdrew Ambassador Gene Cretz from Libya. Before this whole thing with Libya happened, you withdrew Ambassador Cretz because of the WikiLeaks revelations. He was considered to not be able to do his job in the country. So what’s the standard?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s not the reason we removed –

QUESTION: Well, what is the reason then?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s not the reason we removed – (laughter).

QUESTION: You sure about that? (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: No, I am sure about that. We brought back Ambassador Cretz for consultations because we had genuine concerns about his security.

QUESTION: By the way, does the State Department have full –

QUESTION: But it was related to the WikiLeaks cables.

MR. CROWLEY: I’m just saying – I mean, I’m just saying that – and right now, Ambassador Cretz is on the job working hard to understand fully what’s happening in Libya and to see what we can do to help the people of Libya see a better tomorrow.

QUESTION: By the way –

QUESTION: Do you have any concern –

QUESTION: -- does the Secretary have full confidence –

QUESTION: -- P.J. –

QUESTION: -- in Ambassador Pascual and the job he’s doing?

MR. CROWLEY: Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any concern that maybe this can be taken by the Mexican Government as a challenge to impose somebody whom they do not like and refuse to work?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ve given you our perspective.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: The Palestinian-Israeli issue, do we have an answer on the status of Mr. Rahmah?

MR. CROWLEY: No, I’ve asked the question. I have not received an answer yet.

QUESTION: Okay. I still have a question on that. Have you read or seen the statements made by Dr. Nabil Shaath one of the Palestinian negotiators in Paris.

MR. CROWLEY: I have not –

QUESTION: He said the following, that, quote: “The United States is not to be trusted, and, in fact, it has been lying about its effort to pursue a peaceful settlement and to achieve the goals stated in the September 1 declarations.” What do you say – what is your comment?

MR. CROWLEY: All right. We’re doing what?

QUESTION: He said that, quote, “You are not advancing the cause of peace, and, in fact, that you are lying about your role,” unquote.

MR. CROWLEY: I have not seen those specific comments.

QUESTION: Okay, but he –

MR. CROWLEY: All I can tell you is what the policy of the United States and the Obama Administration is. We continue our efforts to pursue comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We are squarely focused on trying to help the Israelis and the Palestinians achieve a framework agreement and ultimately a two-state solution. We are strong advocates of a viable Palestinian state, and we are strong advocates of a state of Israel that can live in peace and security with its neighbors. We are determined to continue this effort, and the best way that the parties can advance this process is to return to direct negotiations that were – that’s what we’re trying to do.

QUESTION: But he said that in the context of pushing the Europeans to go their own, so to speak – on their own and recognize a Palestinian state. Would you support that kind of independent –

MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, our view is that the only way to resolve the core issues is through direct negotiations. And any other efforts are sideshows that we don’t think will be successful.

QUESTION: And finally, would you discourage the Palestinians from going to the General Assembly to pursue the reinstatement of Resolution 181 which, in fact, created the state of Israel?

MR. CROWLEY: We do not believe that will be a successful strategy.

QUESTION: P.J., how are you continuing your efforts regarding the peace process? And it’s been a long time since we’ve seen Senator Mitchell went to the region.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we had David Hale yesterday in the region. I believe he had meetings with Palestinian officials. We expect to have meetings in the coming days with Israeli officials. We haven’t stopped doing what we’re doing. You may not see – it may not be evident every single day, but we continue to work with the parties to try to narrow the existing differences. We understand that they exist. We understand this is going to be hard.

QUESTION: Are you going to --

MR. CROWLEY: But just because we’re – there are fewer formal meetings than might have been the case six months ago, it doesn’t mean that we’re still not determined to try to move this process forward.

QUESTION: Is Senator Mitchell still working on --

MR. CROWLEY: Every day.

QUESTION: Did Mr. Hoff go to Syria recently?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll check that. We’ll take that question. I don't know what Fred has been up to lately.

QUESTION: P.J., on Pakistan, there are reports that the United – that the State Department, in fact, recommended that this minority minister be given an armored vehicle in the weeks before he was assassinated. Can you confirm that, and can you say what the holdup was?

MR. CROWLEY: I will not comment on that other than to say that we shared our genuine concerns about his security, but beyond that, I won’t comment.

QUESTION: Can you say whether any efforts that you would have recommended at the very least were held up by any snags in the U.S.-Pakistani bilateral relationship?

MR. CROWLEY: I would not tie that to the case of Mr. Davis. We are quite aware that he had received multiple death threats. We are concerned about his security, as we would be for any government official or prominent individual subject to those death threats. And we encouraged the Government of Pakistan to do everything possible to provide for his security. But beyond that, we won’t comment. And he – tragically, his funeral was – Mr. Bhatti’s funeral was today. Ambassador Munter and other members of the Embassy staff attended.

QUESTION: Just to follow up, as far as Mr. Davis case was concerned, yesterday he appeared in the court and Pakistanis are now saying that they will bring murder charges against him unless U.S. swapped with the doctor that – Aafia that have been held here. I mean, where does this case will continue now and – as far as the relations are concerned, according to my colleague, and as far as this – what they are saying, swapping with the – one of the Pakistani nationals held here?

MR. CROWLEY: Okay. I mean, as we explained yesterday, there are court proceedings that are continuing. We look forward to a March 14th High Court hearing and we hope that this – we continue to work with the Government of Pakistan and hope to resolve this as quickly as we can.

QUESTION: Same issue.

MR. CROWLEY: David.

QUESTION: It follows, then, that you don’t believe that the Pakistan Government did enough to protect Bhatti?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m not going to comment on his security. As the Secretary and others have made clear, this is a great tragedy for Pakistan, and we remain concerned about issues related to tolerance in that country.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

QUESTION: On Iran --

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you. May I confirm your statement yesterday on North Korean uranium enrichment program? You said you’re seeking for a United Nations Security Council reaction, but you didn’t say, like Mr. Einhorn said in Seoul, that you’re seeking for a chairman statement. Does it mean that you’ve toned down what you’re seeking for? Do you have a set official standpoint of what you’re seeking specifically at this --

MR. CROWLEY: No, what I said was that we are consulting actively within the Security Council, and as Mr. Einhorn said, one of the possible outcomes of that consultation could be a presidential statement.

QUESTION: Another thing: Why did it come up at this point of time that you suddenly started raising this as a loud voice? Does it do – anything to do with, like, the Chinese Government taking – I mean, sitting as the chairman position at the Security Council this week*?

MR. CROWLEY: I don't know that there’s any particular timing of it. We just simply made clear that we continue to focus on full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions. We want to see North Korea undertake all of its international obligations. And we have made clear that, in our view of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, that has to take into account the uranium enrichment program. That’s the position of the United States and that’s something that we continue to talk to others about.

QUESTION: Same topic --

QUESTION: How is your talk with China?

MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?

QUESTION: Have you been trying to – I mean, I know you’ve --

MR. CROWLEY: Have we talked to China about this program? Yes.

QUESTION: Same topic.

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Chinese nuclear envoy Mr. Wu Dawei said in an interview with Xinhua that nobody wants to put any preconditions on the resumption of Six-Party Talks. What’s your response?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we want to see any dialogue be constructive, so I don’t – I’m not sure you call it a precondition. We just want to make sure that there’s a firm understanding among all of the parties and an expectation that progress can be made. And as we’ve said, one of our indicators to demonstrate that it will be fruitful to have these kinds of conversations would be a seriousness of purpose – a demonstrated seriousness of purpose by North Korea. And one way to demonstrate that would be to improve and reduce tensions that currently exist between North and South Korea.

QUESTION: And one more on North Korea. A South Korean high-level intelligence official told the lawmakers in Seoul that Kim Jong-un has been officially invited by China to visit Beijing. We don’t know when. Are you concerned about the report?

MR. CROWLEY: I don't know why we’d be concerned about reports.

QUESTION: Any response --

MR. CROWLEY: North Korean leaders go to China all the time.

QUESTION: But it’s Kim Jong-un, not Kim Jong-il.

MR. CROWLEY: I understood what you said. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Is the U.S. promoting or supporting an initiative to suspend Iran’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council?

MR. CROWLEY: There has been a great deal of discussion within the UN Human Rights Council about Iran’s abysmal human rights record. I don't know of any specific plans for suspension at this point.

QUESTION: But will you support such a --

MR. CROWLEY: Again, it’s a – I don't know that there is any initiative being put forward at this time.

QUESTION: Is there --

QUESTION: P.J., on Egypt? P.J., Zahi Hawass is probably the most ubiquitous Egyptologist and the – formerly the minister of antiquity – resigned saying there is a great deal of looting and he cannot control the situation. Is the United States or the State Department in any way involved in the preservation or the prevention of looting of Egyptian antiquities from Egyptian museums?

MR. CROWLEY: I don't know of any kind – I just can’t say that there have been any specific discussions with Egypt on this subject. I would say that our approach here, whether – in the case of Egypt and in the ongoing efforts that we’ve done with the international community to preserve assets of Egypt – we’re taking steps to preserve assets for the people of Egypt, for the people of Libya, for others, and we certainly think that these are cultural assets that belong to the Egyptian people. They should be protected. And – but I’m not specifically aware of the --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: -- concern or theft of antiquities at this point.

QUESTION: P.J., have you got any update from your diplomats in the courtroom on Havana on the case of Alan Gross?

MR. CROWLEY: We have diplomats in the courtroom observing the ongoing legal process. I haven’t gotten any readout from them today yet.

QUESTION: Yemen; just wondering if you can update. There continue to be protests there, obviously. If the Salih government falls, what will that mean or will it have any impact on the U.S. pursuit of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and its security interests there?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there’s a presumption behind your question. The president solidly remains the president of Yemen. He has, in fact, opened up a dialogue with his opposition. There’s some fairly public negotiating going on. But this is exactly the kind of give-and-take that we believe is necessary so that governments can be seen as responding to the will of their people.

QUESTION: P.J., you called --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry. What?

QUESTION: What about the protestors who were killed in Yemen?

MR. CROWLEY: We are – there have been some fresh reports of protestors killed. The Embassy there is trying to verify those reports. We have been monitoring the clashes between pro-government and anti-government protestors that’s been going on for some time. As we’ve made clear, even as we support dialogue between governments and opposition figures, we want to see these efforts done peacefully and in the pursuit of more responsible and representative government. Violence needs to stop.

QUESTION: Lawmakers on the Hill, though, deemed this one of the greatest concerns to national security for the United States in Yemen right now. Where does that – does that unrest impact all of those concerns? Is it something that the U.S. is worried about?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure I get the link between the Hill and – what concerns are they? I mean, I’m a spokesman for the Executive Branch, not for the Legislative Branch.

QUESTION: I’m well aware of that. (Laughter.) I mean, I think it’s fairly obvious what I’m asking is that the United States obviously has a concern in Yemen. This has been prioritized by a number of officials, including the State Department --

MR. CROWLEY: Yes. I mean, Yemen is a very important country to the United States.

QUESTION: So what impact does this unrest have on that security concern?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, they’re not mutually – they’re not mutually exclusive. In other words, there is a genuine security concern in Yemen that is a concern for Yemen and for the United States.

QUESTION: So nothing changes?

MR. CROWLEY: Since – in the last handful of terrorist attempts in the United States, they had links back to Yemen directly or indirectly. So we are working with Yemen and have been for some time to improve its counterterrorism capabilities, and we are cooperating fully in that.

QUESTION: Thank you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Time to go.

QUESTION: It’s time to go. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: P.J., can you take – P.J.?

MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. This is fascinating. We’re in the dark at the State Department. (Laughter.) That said, part of the solution to – part of the solution to Yemen is more effective governance, a broader economy, greater opportunity for the – for people who live in Yemen so that they’ll choose constructive pursuits and not extremism. So these two things go hand in hand.

QUESTION: P.J., there have been several reports over the past few days about the possibility of establishing a Taliban diplomatic office in Turkey, and I just wondered what your position might be on that.

MR. CROWLEY: A what?

QUESTION: A Taliban diplomatic – a representational office in Turkey.

MR. CROWLEY: Who would establish that?

QUESTION: Well, probably the Turks would allow it to happen --

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know anything about it.

QUESTION: Okay. But do we have any position on it? I mean, it’s --

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know anything about it.

QUESTION: So is it a --

MR. CROWLEY: So it’s hard to have a position on something that I’m unfamiliar with.

QUESTION: P.J., a quick one on that Tri-Valley University students are still worried and Ambassador of India Meera Shankar wrote to the Secretary, the Secretary wrote her back, and what students are asking the State Department these conversations will not help what is our future.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think the focus right now on issues regarding how – what happens for students who are not implicated in the ongoing investigation, those are matters under active discussion within the Department of Homeland Security.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: P.J., I just want to know what’s happening with sending an ambassador to Venezuela. Is there any news?

MR. CROWLEY: No news. Have a nice weekend.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:18 p.m.)

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - March 4, 2011]