Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–June 14, 2010.
|Diplomacy Conference on sub-Saharan Africa|
|USAID’s Dr. Shah Spoke in Senegal|
|US/Russia Adoption Talks|
|US/Russia Co-Chairing Arms Control Working Group in Moscow|
|US/Turkmenistan Bi-Annual Dialog Talks|
|Secretary Clinton Spoke with Kazakh Foreign Minister about Kyrgyz Republic|
|US Ambassador to OSCE Participated in an Emergency Meeting Regarding the Kyrgyz Republic|
|Assistant Secretary Campbell Traveling to South Korea and Japan|
|US Contacted the Egyptian Government Regarding the Death of Khaled Said|
|Secretary Met with UAE Trade Minister|
|US Welcomes Convening of Iraqi Council|
|Ambassador Benjamin in Israel for Joint-Counterterrorism Conference|
|Venezuela Arrest of Guillermo Zuloaga|
|US Officials Reaching Out to Kyrgyz Republic/ US Wants to Work Through OSCE/ Manas Operating Russia Part of OSCE Meetings|
|Arrest of Venezuelan|
|Welcome Release of Sigler in Cuba/ Prisoners of Conscience Should be Released Immediately|
|Years to Turn Afghan Minerals into Wealth/ Lack of Infrastructure and Investment Capital/ Untapped Mineral Wealth/ US Working Closely with Afghan Ministry of Mines/ Would Help to Establish a Legal Economy in Afghanistan/ Corruption is a Significant Issue in Afghanistan/ One of Many Challenges/ Strong International Commitment to Afghanistan/ In Touch with EU About Support in Afghanistan/ Peace Jirga an Afghan Led Process|
|No Additional Offers of Assistance or New Offers of Requests/ Assistance Sought When the Scale of the Disaster was Understood/ Unified Command Structure Supervising Assistance/ Grateful for International Assistance|
|Gaza Flotilla Investigative Commission Established by Israeli Government/ Commission Led by Respected Israeli Jurist and International Participants/ Israel Has the Capability and Institutions to Conduct a Transparent Investigation/ US Supportive of the UNSC Presidential Statement/ Israeli Commission a Step in This Direction/ Turkey Has a Right to Conduct its Own Investigation/ US Will Oppose Biased Investigations/ UN Secretary General Has Yet to Make Decisions/ Continue to Work with Israel and Egypt on Expanding Assistance to Gaza/ Iran Does Not Have a Constructive Role in Gaza/ Intentions Not Humanitarian/ Land Routes More Effective Way|
|No Information on Meetings with Indian Ministers|
12:47 p.m. EDT
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, continuing on, a number of things to talk about before taking your questions. This afternoon here at the Department in the Loy Henderson Conference Room, we are sponsoring the second in a series of diplomacy conferences for the benefit of key constituencies who have interest in regional affairs around the world. This conference is on sub-Saharan Africa. You’ll hear from the Secretary this afternoon along with a number of key figures that are working on Africa policy here at the Department. Johnnie Carson, Melanne Verveer, Deputy Special Envoy Tim Shortley will focus on Sudan. USAID Counselor James Michel and Under Secretary Judith McHale will all be talking to roughly 275 NGO representatives, think tank experts, business representatives, and others who’ve – African-American community leaders.
Staying in Africa, today USAID Administrator Raj Shah spoke at the opening ceremony of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, Food Security Investment Forum in Dakar, Senegal. ECOWAS is hosting a high-level event for several of its member-states in the region to present their country and regional investment plans and technical review outcomes. But Dr. Shah will also participate while in Senegal in a roundtable discussion with a group of African private sector leaders and meet with USAID mission directors from the region.
Here at the State Department, we have beg un the third round of U.S.-Russia adoption talks. The U.S. delegation is led by Managing Director of the Office of Overseas Citizen Services Mary Ellen Hickey, and also includes representatives from U.S. Citizen Immigration Services and the State Department Bureaus of Consular and European Affairs and our Legal Advisor Office. The Russian side is led by Elina Levitskaya, director of government and children’s welfare in the Ministry of Science and Education. And the agenda is to continue expert-level meetings to negotiate an agreement that provides greater safeguards for children and families in the adoption process between the two countries.
Also focused on Russia, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov will be co-chairing this week the Arms Control and International Security Working Group. You’ll recall last year President Obama and President Medvedev established a bilateral presidential commission to improve cooperation between the Governments of Russia and the United States across a range of issues, and the Secretary Tauscher will be in Moscow starting tomorrow to co-chair this working group as they prepare for the June 24 meeting between President Obama and President Medvedev here in Washington.
Also in travel, Assistant Secretary Bob Blake and Assistant Secretary Mike Posner met today with President Bermiduhamedov – Berdimuhamedov in Turkmenistan —
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you very much. And as they inaugurated the U.S.-Turkmenistan Annual Bilateral Consultations. The two-day consultation will focus on all aspects of the U.S.-Turkmen relationship. Today’s sessions focused on Afghanistan, security cooperation, and energy cooperation, with planned sessions tomorrow on economic, social, and human rights issues.
Speaking of that region, the Secretary spoke a short time ago with Kazakh – the Kazakh foreign minister on the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic. We are maintaining very close touch with the Provisional Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, the UN, the OSCE, and the Russian Federation as we seek a coordinated international response to the ongoing violence there.
But I know our ambassador to the OSCE Ian Kelly participated in an emergency session of the OSCE in Vienna today. I believe there’ll be a briefing by UN Under Secretary Lynn Pascoe on the current situation. We, along with other international donors, are in the process of providing humanitarian aid and we are in discussions with the provisional government regarding their humanitarian requirements.
Also on travel, Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell will be in the region later this week. He will depart Washington tomorrow, arrive on Seoul on Wednesday, June 16. We’re going to meet with senior Korean officials, including officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense, and then he will depart and arrive in Tokyo on June 17, where he’ll consult with Japanese officials.
Turning to the Middle East, the United States is concerned about the death of Khaled Mohammed Said at the hands of Egyptian security forces in Alexandria on June 6th. We have been in touch with the Egyptian Government on this matter. We welcome the Government’s announcement of a full investigation and we urge that it be done transparently and in a manner consistent with the serious allegations that have been made.
The Government of Egypt last week supported a UN Human Rights Council universal periodic review recommendation that it investigate police abuse allegations effectively and independently to prosecute offenders. We believe this case is an opportunity to immediately demonstrate this commitment. We urge the Egyptian authorities to hold accountable whoever is responsible.
The United States believes that all individuals should be allowed to exercise freely the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This belief is central to our values system and to our foreign policy.
Here at the Department, today Secretary Clinton and Under Secretary Bill Burns met with Sheikha Lubna al Qasimi, UAE trade minister, this morning. They discussed a wide range of issues, including our strong and broad bilateral relations and expanding trade partnership. They also touched on the recently adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1929.
Also in the region, we welcome today’s convening of the Iraqi Council of Representatives in Baghdad. This event demonstrates that Iraq’s electoral processes are working following the successful March 7th elections. We hope this positive development will lead to formation of an inclusive and representative government to work on behalf of the Iraqi people. Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman is en route to Iraq and will have meetings with senior Iraqi officials later this week.
And finally, a couple of things before taking your questions. Ambassador Dan Benjamin is in Israel for the annual counterterrorism consultation. Although Israel and the U.S. work regularly on terrorism issues, the Joint Counterterrorism Working Group is an opportunity to formally review the full range of counterterrorism issues that are of concern to both of our countries.
And finally, we are seriously concerned in Venezuela about the arrest order for Guillermo Zuloaga. This is the latest example of the Government of Venezuela’s continuing assault on the freedom of the press. We urge again the Venezuelan Government to honor its commitment under the Inter-American Democratic Charter to uphold the principle that respect for human rights, including freedom of the press, is essential to representative democracies.
QUESTION: Back to Kyrgyzstan for a second —
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any requests from the provisional government for military – for non-humanitarian assistance from the U.S. to deal with this unrest?
MR. CROWLEY: I am not. I mean, we have been in touch with them through our post. I think Assistant Secretary Bob Blake is – while traveling is reaching out to the provisional government to determine what it might need. I can’t say whether the Kyrgyz Government have asked us for direct intervention.
QUESTION: What are you prepared to offer? What are you prepared to offer them?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think what we’re looking at right now is how we can work within the OSCE and internationally to provide assistance and help the provisional government stabilize the situation.
QUESTION: What kind of assistance would that be?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, primarily it’s – there have been a number – you’ve seen stories of people who have been displaced, are moving throughout the region. Obviously, there’s a growing humanitarian need. But I think we will listen to what the Kyrgyz Government might ask, but I think right now we’re focused on how can we respond effectively within the region internationally. I don’t think we’re looking at any unilateral steps by the United States at this point.
QUESTION: P.J., is the U.S. State Department involved in any discussions with that interim government about how this might have an effect on the U.S. base?
MR. CROWLEY: As far as I know, the U.S. – or the Manas Transit Center continues its operations. But I – my understanding is that the violence is some distance from the base and has not interfered with operations there.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. take any position on the appeals by the Kyrgyz Government for Russian help directly, that they want the Russians to intervene? Is that – are they the appropriate first responders in this case?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I – it’s up to the Russian Government to describe what it might be able to provide. But I think we are – the Russians were part of the OSCE meeting today. We are in touch with the Russian Government as well and looking to see how collectively through the UN, through the OSCE, we can help the people of Kyrgyzstan.
MR. CROWLEY: Change of subject.
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Regarding what you say on Globovision, the harassment on – against Globovision, it is something that the U.S. is planning to bring to the OAS, or how do you foresee the outcome? What will be —
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I can’t say on this particular issue, but we have had discussions within the OAS about having the OAS play a more active role in terms of reporting on situations which we feel are in contravention of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
QUESTION: I’ll go back to the Friday answer of yours. I have the extradition treaty and I was wondering – you said that this says that confidentiality. I did not find the confidentiality clause in this that this treaty – extradition treaty between India and U.S. is – that it’s confidential.
And my second question is: There is an Article 12 which offers provisional arrest pending extradition request through diplomatic channels. Have you received such a request from India? And if received, what will be your response to that?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. Well, I haven’t changed since my answer since Friday.
QUESTION: The second question, please?
MR. CROWLEY: And as I said on Friday, extradition requests, if we have received them, are confidential.
QUESTION: No, it’s not about extradition.
MR. CROWLEY: Right.
QUESTION: It’s about provisional arrest.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, if – the United States has no – the United States State Department has no law enforcement authority within the United States. So that perhaps is a better question posed to the Department of Justice.
QUESTION: P.J., Cuba over the weekend released one of the 75 prisoners arrested in the 2003 crackdown. And they appear to be working with the Roman Catholic Church to perhaps ease the situation regarding political prisoners who are hospitalized. Is – any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure. Well, first of all, we welcome the news that Ariel Sigler Amaya has been released from prison in Cuba and we view this as a positive development. And we hope that this will lead to the release of additional prisoners of conscience. Prisoners should be released immediately and unconditionally. But we certainly respect the positive role played by those working for the improved treatment or release of political prisoners, including the Catholic Church.
QUESTION: P.J., on this story about the minerals in Afghanistan, has Ambassador Holbrooke been involved in any of the – looking at the implications of this? And does the U.S. have any opinion – the State Department have any opinion on what this could mean for Afghanistan and perhaps the conflict?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure. I mean – (laughter).
QUESTION: Well, good.
MR. CROWLEY: This government has opinions on lots of things.
QUESTION: We’re glad. They don’t always share them, but —
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, turning the potential of Afghans’ – Afghanistan’s mineral wealth into actual revenue will take years. And mineral extraction faces numerous but not insurmountable challenges. We know that the extraction efforts are challenged by remote locations, some of which are in areas controlled or at least threatened by the insurgency. There’s weak infrastructure. This is obviously something that we are trying to expand for the benefit of Afghanistan’s economy. And if, over time, minerals become a growing part of that economy, I think that is – would be significant. And of course, there’s the issue of a lack of investment capital.
So this is an uphill climb for Afghanistan, but there have been a number of studies that have shown that there is a great untapped mineral wealth in Afghanistan. And obviously, we are working closely with the Afghan Ministry of Mines to support development in this sector. A lot of work done by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Commerce, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, USAID, DOD, and, of course, main State.
I think what will be of great challenge to Afghanistan is, at the point at which this develops over time, that there be an effective plan so that the revenues that are generated from this are for the benefit of all Afghan citizens. So it is a potentially important development. We’re not underestimating the challenges involved here. But obviously, if these things can be developed over time, that offers the ability for Afghanistan to have the resources necessary to develop a modern economy, a legal economy, as opposed to the economy they currently have now, which is heavily dependent on narcotics.
QUESTION: And is the State Department actually involved in some of this discussion about what potentially or how it potentially —
MR. CROWLEY: Oh, certainly. Well, I mean, Jill, I think I would call this a subset. We’ve recognized from the outset of our direct involvement in Afghanistan that Afghanistan needs to develop a legal economy. To the extent that we see that there are resources here that offer potential for Afghanistan, that is certainly welcome news. But pick your number, but at least half of the current GDP of Afghanistan is generated through illicit means as opposed to legal commerce. That’s one of the reasons we’re trying to develop Afghanistan’s agricultural sector.
But to the extent that we can add a second pillar to an Afghan economy that – able to draw out the mineral resources that are available there, that – certainly, this is something that we’ll be discussing directly or have already have been discussing with the Afghan Government.
QUESTION: And just one more on that.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: You know, people of the cynical state of mind would say this news comes out – which is pretty positive news – at the very moment where there’s a lot of negative news about Afghanistan. And some cynical people say that this is an attempt to brighten the picture of what’s going on in Afghanistan.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, as to the emergence of this, I think we have been focused for many years on how to develop effective government. Any effective government has to have resources to be able to sustain itself and provide effective services to the Afghan people. So this is a welcome development but on a thread that has been central to our strategy since the United States has been in Afghanistan, how you develop an effective government, and then how, over time, do you transition so that you take a country that is heavily dependent on foreign assistance and allow it to be able to sustain itself over time?
And so naturally, part of the effort of trying to figure out how you develop effective governance at the national level and at the local level is to figure out how, over time, do you increase the revenues that are available to the Afghan Government? And how do you martial those resources to the benefit of the Afghan people? So, I mean, let’s not underestimate this. This is going to be a long-term proposition. And we – and it will be central to develop the effective processes of government so that resources aren’t to the benefit of the few; they’re to the benefit of the many.
Certainly, we’re very mindful of the fact that around the world, you have a number of countries that are blessed with natural resources and they become a source of conflict and corruption. We want to be sure that we have helped Afghanistan develop effective institutions of government so that, as it’s able to develop its mineral and mining sector, that it’s generating revenue that can be turned into greater prosperity and shared opportunity for the Afghan people.
QUESTION: P.J. —
MR. CROWLEY: Wait.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: A follow-up. You’ve spent four or five minutes and finally, the word “corruption” sort of got into the conversation. How big a concern is corruption in the development of this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, that is obviously a significant issue in Afghanistan. But I would say that it’s one of a number of different challenges. If you’re going to develop something like this, infrastructure is going to be critically important. You’ve got to have security if you’re going to attract the kind of international investment that will help Afghanistan draw on those resources. And naturally, you’ve got to have systems of accountability and transparency within government so that everybody knows where the money is going and for – and who is benefiting from that revenue.
So this is fundamental to the future of Afghanistan, whether we’re talking about the development of an agricultural sector on apples and pomegranates or you’re talking about a mineral sector based on lithium. At the heart of this, you need to have an effective, transparent government working on behalf of its people.
QUESTION: P.J., speaking of —
MR. CROWLEY: Wait. Hold on.
QUESTION: Speaking of the extraction of hidden natural resources, can you give us an update on the offers of assistance for the oil spill? And has the U.S. actually made requests of foreign governments for —
MR. CROWLEY: I haven’t – nothing new that I’ve learned today. We did have – I think, Matt, while you were traveling the —
QUESTION: Right. You accepted the Canadians’ —
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, the Canadians, and those booms have arrived in Alabama. We have been surveying other countries, those who have made formal offers of assistance and others that we think have capabilities that may be useful over the long term. But I’m not aware that we’ve had any additional offers of assistance or, as of this point, we have accepted any additional offers of assistance.
QUESTION: How about requests?
MR. CROWLEY: I still think we’re talking about the 17 – in terms of formal requests —
QUESTION: No, no, no, no. You requesting, you actively —
QUESTION: Just a follow-up, please?
MR. CROWLEY: Wait. Hold on.
QUESTION: Can you just explain, for people that may not understand, why it took several weeks, over a month, for foreign offers of assistance to be accepted?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would – I think I can give you two or three reasons. First of all, the offers came in. Some of those offers were specific; some of those offers were general. Secondly, the United States Government was looking to see what are immediately available sources of relevant equipment and technology there in the Gulf region.
But as we understood that the – this was going to be a disaster of a lengthy duration, where domestic sources would at some point exhaust themselves, at that point we began to accept, directly through BP or by the U.S. Government on a government-to-government basis, assistance from Norway, Canada, Mexico. And those – we would expect that this is going to be a situation that will last months, if not years, and as we are able to and need – identify a need to draw upon foreign sources, will not hesitate to do that.
QUESTION: Wasn’t that – those offers were only accepted, I think – was in the past three weeks. Is that correct? The first —
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think so. We have – you also have this unified command structure with the United States Government, led by the Coast Guard, overseeing both public and private aspects. BP, I think, has been drawing upon foreign assistance – not just government assistance, but also foreign expertise through the private sector. So – but I was saying this was something that took some time to identify the specific needs that exceeded domestic sources. And as we identified those longer-term needs, we reached out, either through BP or in the case of Canada, directly on a government-to-government basis.
QUESTION: Can you – and you may not have this immediately, though, but if you’d take the question, could you provide us a timeline of accepting those offers of assistance?
MR. CROWLEY: The only reason I’m hesitating is because this is not a process that we at the State Department lead. But let me see what I can do.
MR. CROWLEY: Josh.
QUESTION: Thank you. The Government of Israel, according to the White House yesterday, took an important step forward in proposing an independent public commission to investigate the circumstances of the recent tragic events aboard the flotilla headed for Gaza. Could you please explain for us why this independent public commission is an important step forward? Was that something that the U.S. side had encouraged the Israelis to unveil? And what would be the U.S. involvement in that commission going forward?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, this commission was set up by the Israeli Government. We’ve had conversations with the Israeli Government about how to assure the credibility and partiality that were called upon in the presidential statement of the UN Security Council. But these were Israeli decisions. I think the commission is – will be led by a respected Israeli jurist. There will be international participation through the – a Nobel Laureate from Northern Ireland and a judge advocate from Canada.
So we believe that Israel certainly, as a government, has the institutions and certainly the capability to conduct a credible, impartial, and transparent investigation. So I think this is an important step forward in what is called for in the UN Security Council presidential statement. That said, we’re not going to prejudge the process or the outcome.
QUESTION: Wait. Just to be clear, you said that the U.S. encouraged – spoke with the Israelis about ways to encourage international participation?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we were completely supportive of the UN Security Council presidential statement calling for a transparent, impartial, credible investigation. And we think what Israel announced yesterday is a step in that direction.
QUESTION: On the same topic? The Turkish Government said today they were not satisfied with this commission. The Turkish Government, they were not – they are not satisfied with it because they are not party to it.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, Turkey, as any sovereign country, has a right to conduct its own investigation. I’m not aware that Turkey has reached its own judgment on how to proceed. But I think this is precisely why, in our discussions with the Israeli Government, we understand that there are a number of countries, the United States included, that are looking for an impartial, credible, and transparent investigation. Certainly, we continue to believe that Israel is fully capable of conducting one.
QUESTION: Wait, so you think that the Turks should be allowed – should go out and conduct an investigation if they want?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the Turks have that right.
QUESTION: Well, what do you mean that they have that right? So, what if Iran wants to conduct an investigation? Is that okay, too?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, this was an event that directly affected Turkish citizens. We understand that.
QUESTION: Yeah, but the reason I’m – because you voted against the resolution at the Human Rights Council which called for – which sent – which is, actually, since it passed, sending a team to look into this. So I’m just —
MR. CROWLEY: Well —
QUESTION: It’s okay with you if the Turks want to get in the game here?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, what we are looking for in – with any country that decides to conduct an investigation is an impartial, is credible, is a transparent – we stand by Israel and will voice our strong views against any action that is one-sided or biased by an international organization. That’s why we voted against the resolution at the Human Rights Council.
QUESTION: Okay. So all of this talk about you guys and the UN supporting some kind of an international, separate probe other than the Israeli one is not correct?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I’m not aware that the Secretary General has yet made any decisions on steps that the UN might take.
QUESTION: Well, that means that you would be willing to support something that the Secretary General comes up with?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, we’ll listen to what the Secretary General has in mind and make a judgment at that time.
QUESTION: There are reports of aid ships from Iran that have departed recently with an intention to break the blockade. What advice or what – how should the Israelis respond to this one since you had very strong views on how they responded last time?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, look. We are going to – we are continuing to work with Israel, Egypt, and others to try to figure out how to expand the amount of assistance to the people of Gaza. We think there are better ways to do this than what Iran has perhaps announced.
QUESTION: Are you considering —
QUESTION: Well, but – hold on. Specifically with regard to the reports of these ships coming, I mean, how —
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, Iran does not have a particularly constructive role in Gaza. It’s a divisive country. I suspect very strongly that its intentions here are not humanitarian in nature. But we are focusing our efforts, working to see how we can, through the land borders between Israel and Gaza and Egypt and Gaza, increase the amount of assistance to the people of Gaza?
QUESTION: Are you suggesting that the ships are not carrying the humanitarian aid that they claim to be carrying?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I don’t know.
QUESTION: Or that they (inaudible) carrying?
MR. CROWLEY: But that is – that remains a – it remains a very legitimate concern that Israel have. They have, in fact, in the past, intercepted ships that were carrying weapons and armaments that have been used to threaten the Israeli people. But we think through land routes is a much more effective way of increasing the flow of humanitarian assistance while being able to protect Israel’s security interests.
QUESTION: But what I’m trying to understand is whether you believe these ships are carrying some sort of weapons or —
MR. CROWLEY: I do not know.
QUESTION: India’s space agency has provided some satellite imagery of oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Do you know, are they helpful to —
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible), I’m sorry. I didn’t catch the first part.
QUESTION: India’s space agency has provided satellite imageries of the oil spill in the Gulf. Are they helpful to you, or do you know about it?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I can’t say. I’m just not that close to particular issues. We are grateful for international assistance that has come in to us, either through government channels or through the private sector channels. And we’re doing everything that we can as a government, along with BP and others, to try to mitigate the effects of this spill and this tragedy. And we will continue to draw upon international sources of assistance as we need them.
QUESTION: And next week, India’s five cabinet ministers are here to hold separate dialogues with their counterparts. Is it part of the Strategic Dialogue that – which started last week, or how is it going?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. I don’t know. I haven’t heard about that meeting yet.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: I have two follow-ups. One is on the BP. The European Union has an emergency trigger mechanism and that was triggered last week only after getting the request from the U.S. Why the delay in the request?
And the second one is about the – Afghanistan, that now this positive news has come. So will the U.S. decide and also recommend to the allies to delay withdrawal of – withdrawing the troops to develop a legal economy?
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Give me the second one again. You lost me halfway through. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: The second one is about in the light of this positive development with the minerals and all that, will the U.S. decide and also recommend to the allies to stay more time in Afghanistan to develop the, as you said, legal economy? Because the corruption – it’s in complete chaos.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, taking the second one first, I think we should separate out a strong international commitment to the future of Afghanistan. That commitment is going to be a matter that takes us years. And we, the United States, and others will be supporting Afghanistan for as long as it takes. That’s a separate issue as to the current U.S. and NATO forces and other international forces that are in Afghanistan at present to try to help improve the security of Afghanistan so that we can do the kinds of things you just outlined, including helping Afghanistan build a legal economy and a more stable situation for its people.
So we, the United States, are not abandoning Afghanistan. We’re going to be committed to Afghanistan for years. And over time, you’ll see, just as you’re seeing in Iraq, responsibilities and activity will transition from military to civilian support. So – but we would expect to be working with Afghanistan and helping Afghanistan develop its economy for many, many years.
And on the first, I mean, we have been in touch with the EU through a number of its mechanisms. I can’t speak to a particular request last week. I’ll see if there’s anything particular I can talk about there. But we’ve been in touch with the EU through its various ministries on potential support for some time.
QUESTION: Follow-up on Afghanistan?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: The president of Afghanistan today announced formation of a high council which will hold peace talks with the Taliban. It’s – this is part of the peace jirga which was held last week. How do you see that development over there?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, certainly, we continue to support the government of President Karzai. This will be an Afghan-led process. The peace jirga was an important step in that direction, but I do not have any information on that particular development.
QUESTION: And Afghanistan is also seeking removal of certain names of the Taliban leaders from the UN Security Council-led Taliban Sanctions Committee list. Are you going to support that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, over time, obviously, if people make the commitment that they’ve been asked to make to support the Afghan Government, renounce violence, they’re – and as they indicated a willingness to play a constructive role in the future of Afghanistan, we and the UN will respond accordingly.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:23 p.m.)