Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–June 22, 2010.
|Secretary Clinton Delivered Remarks at U.S.-India Chief Executive Officer forum|
|Secretary Clinton Opening Remarks Event Celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month|
|Upcoming Visit of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak|
|Travel of AF Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson|
|Travel of IO Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer|
|Special Representative for Afghanistan/Pakistan Richard Holbrooke is in Kabul|
|General Stanley A. McChrystal’s Article in Rolling Stone|
|Afghan Strategy Focus|
|Israeli Defense Minister Barak’s Visit Tomorrow|
|List of Items Allowed to Cross Border into Gaza|
|Considering the Designation of the Pakistani Taliban Foreign Terrorist Organization list|
|Working Out Details Secretary Clinton’s Travel in July|
|Building a National Government in Iraq|
|Issues for discussion at G-20|
|PKK Attacks in Turkey|
|Discussion Continues in New York Regarding Cheonan|
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. A few things to talk about before taking your questions. This morning, Secretary Clinton met with Finance Minister Mukherjee, Commerce Minister Sharma on Planning Commission, Deputy Chairman Ahluwalia of India. They discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, including trade, investment, and other economic matters. After that, the Secretary opened the U.S.-India CEO Forum here at the Department to foster a stronger strategic partnership with India following the recent successful U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. The Secretary highlighted the important role that the CEO Forum plays in U.S. and India’s partnership. The Forum is a true public-private endeavor to enhance bilateral trade and investment. It reflects one of the most dynamic aspects of our mutual cooperation, the ever-increasing economic, social, and innovation linkages that exist between the people of the United States and the people of India.
Prior to that, as you heard, the Secretary and USAID Administrator Raj Shah delivered opening remarks at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Human Rights and Foreign Policy event co-hosted by the State Department’s Office of Civil Rights and GLIFAA, the organization for Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies. The event is part of the LGBT Pride Month celebrations here at the Department. The Secretary continues to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity anywhere in the world.
You asked yesterday – tomorrow, the Secretary looks forward to hosting Israeli Defense Minister Barak. He’ll be here early in the afternoon. They’ll discuss the prospects for comprehensive peace in the region with a renewed focus on moving, as soon as possible, from proximity to direct negotiations to achieve a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They will discuss Israel’s legitimate and urgent security concerns, including Syria, Iran, and Hamas and Hezbollah. Confident that they’ll review the recent announcement of the new policy towards Gaza. I think the Secretary will note that the U.S. – along with the Quartet and the Quartet representative, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and other concerned parties – will work with Israel to help insure implementation of this new policy. I am sure she will also mention that while there is still – there is progress, there – this is an important step forward – but there is still more progress to be made. And I’m sure she will welcome, too, Israel’s formation of an independent public commission, including outside international observers, to investigate the tragic events on board the flotilla headed towards Gaza.
QUESTION: What time is that?
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s at 1:30.
QUESTION: And will there be a –
MR. CROWLEY: There will be press coverage of some kind. I think we’re still working through whether it’s at the start or at the finish.
QUESTION: Will it be the same kind of press coverage that there was for the Abbas meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: For the what?
QUESTION: For the Abbas meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not know. We’re considering a couple of different options.
QUESTION: Is one of those options nothing?
MR. CROWLEY: No, we aren’t.
MR. CROWLEY: There will be –
QUESTION: That’s what I’m getting at. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: They will be visible. I don’t know whether they’ll take questions.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
In terms of travel, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson is in Europe and will be traveling to East Africa this week. Today, in Lisbon, he is making a speech on U.S. Africa policy and then will be traveling to Sudan to help open a new embassy compound in Khartoum on Thursday. He will also stop in Juba and Nairobi before returning to Washington.
And Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Dr. Esther Brimmer is meeting in Rome today with the heads of various UN agencies dealing with food security issues, including the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Fund for Agriculture and Development. Tomorrow, she’ll travel to Geneva, where she’ll meet with counterparts and co-chair a meeting of the UN directors from the Geneva Group, a twice yearly assembly of 16 of the largest contributors to the United Nations system to discuss UN administrative and financial matters.
Richard Holbrooke is in Kabul today. He had meetings with U.S. and Afghan officials as part of his regular travel to the region to further our strategic partnership. I think he met with President Karzai earlier today, also Acting Minister of Interior Mangal, Acting National Director of Security Spinzada, and with Minister Stanekzai, who is working on the Afghan side with planning for the Kabul conference. They also talked about the September parliamentary elections.
QUESTION: You think? Or he definitely met with Karzai?
MR. CROWLEY: I know. Yes, I know.
MR. CROWLEY: I – they did, yes. And with that –
QUESTION: All three of those?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, he did. I think the – in the President Karzai meeting, he was with General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry.
QUESTION: Was he part of that delegation of the UN? Did he take part in the meeting with Karzai –
MR. CROWLEY: No, I think that was a separate meeting of the Security Council. I think –
QUESTION: He didn’t take part in that?
MR. CROWLEY: No, Susan Rice was in that meeting.
QUESTION: So McChrystal and Holbrooke were in the same room with Karzai?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes, indeed.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about the atmosphere there?
MR. CROWLEY: My understanding is that prior to the meeting, General McChrystal reached out to both Ambassador Holbrooke and Ambassador Eikenberry to offer his apologies for the article.
QUESTION: What does this building make of the comments that are so – have been so widely discussed?
MR. CROWLEY: I think our focus is on the civilian component of the ongoing strategy. As Robert Gibbs just said, I think all members of the national security team feel that General McChrystal has made a significant mistake. As you also heard, he’ll be coming back to Washington overnight to participate in pre-scheduled meetings with the President on Afghan and Pakistan policy and he’ll have the opportunity to talk to the president directly.
QUESTION: But given the fact –
QUESTION: What – hold on a second.
MR. CROWLEY: All right. One at a time.
QUESTION: What does the Secretary make, if anything, of the fact that she appears to be the only one of the – in the senior national security team who comes out looking good, at least in McChrystal’s view?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, she’s – as did every member of the national security team during the course of the fall, she presented the President with her best advice on the strategy options. So did Ambassador Eikenberry. And she has read the article. Beyond that, she has not offered any particular comment.
QUESTION: She hasn’t said anything to any of her staff that you’re aware of?
MR. CROWLEY: No, she has not spoken to me about it.
QUESTION: But given the fact that so much of your strategy is on this kind of civilian-military integration, both working hand-in-hand to clear the area and also help build up and bringing in the government, what does it say about the fact that the senior military commander on the ground there has such a negative impression of his civilian counterpart and can barely work with him?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, this is a very strong team. They do work effectively together. They are focused on both the military and civilian components of our strategy. That’s why Ambassador Holbrooke is there this week. That’s why Ambassador Eikenberry works on a daily basis with General McChrystal and his team. I mean, everyone is focused on their respective aspects of this – implementing the strategy, doing the best we can in places like Marjah, Kandahar, and other places, to help the Afghan Government improve its capacity.
In any kind of significant – team of heavyweights, you’re going to have different personalities. I just don’t think that this is going to distract us from our focus on the mission.
QUESTION: But I mean, you have – you said that they’re focused on the civilian and military, but your strategy is supposed to be them working hand-in-glove. And are they are able to work hand-in-glove when he – I mean, do you think that he’s kind of weakening their hand when he’s talking about this —
MR. CROWLEY: Look, from the Department’s standpoint, here we have assembled an integrated policy team focused on the civilian component of the Afghan strategy. Ambassador Holbrooke has immediately available to him a range of military officials, international officials, State Department, USAID, advisors from outside the government. So it is – this is what characterizes the teamwork.
We’re not going to get distracted by this one article. It hasn’t – whatever attitudes are reflected in that article have not inhibited us from continuing to focus since December on implementing the President’s strategy in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: So Ambassador Holbrooke and Ambassador Eikenberry still think that they can work together with General McChrystal to implement the strategy?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we are focused on our lane, which is the civilian component of the strategy. The President’s going to have a meeting with General McChrystal tomorrow. The Secretary will be attending the national security team meeting. As we review progress and issues on both the Afghan side of the ledger and the Pakistan side of the ledger, we’re focused on the substance and the strategy, and we’ll let the other issues take their own course.
QUESTION: Since the jirga, there’s a search for an alternative string of leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Would you like to comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: I didn’t understand the question.
QUESTION: The U.S. is looking for an alternative string of leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
QUESTION: The U.S. is looking for another string of leaders, local leaders.
MR. CROWLEY: On the U.S. side?
QUESTION: Yes. No, the U.S. is looking in the Afghanistan-Pakistan side – another string of leaders, like since the jirga that took place.
MR. CROWLEY: No —
QUESTION: Like now, you are dealing with Karzai, but —
MR. CROWLEY: President Karzai is the elected leader of the Afghan Government, yes.
QUESTION: But the U.S. is on the side looking for other leaders who can come up.
MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t characterize it —
QUESTION: Will you —
MR. CROWLEY: No, I wouldn’t characterize either equation that way. We are supporting a policy. It’s an Afghan-led policy in terms of both testing to see through the jirga and other actions whether there are leaders of various insurgent groups that are willing to come forward and participate in the daily affairs of Afghanistan, but in doing so, under the criteria that have been laid out in the strategy – supporting the Afghan constitution, renouncing violence, and having nothing to do with al-Qaida.
So from our standpoint, anyone who steps forward and wants to play that kind of constructive role in the political process is free to do so. It’s not about the United States searching for leaders. We are working to make both the Government in Afghanistan and next door, the Government in Pakistan, as effective as possible so that they – they, in turn, can deliver services of importance to their respective people. So —
QUESTION: Has any —
MR. CROWLEY: — we don’t get to choose the government —
QUESTION: Have you —
MR. CROWLEY: Let me finish. We don’t get to choose the governments in either location. We have civilian governments on both sides of the border, duly elected by their respective political systems. We’re working effectively with both of those governments and we’ll continue to do so.
QUESTION: So you have said that you want to kind of reach out beyond the kind of central government to try and develop leaders on the regional – and opposition leaders. I mean, that doesn’t seem to be —
MR. CROWLEY: No, no. But it’s not that the United States is searching for alternative leaders, as it was phrased.
QUESTION: Well —
MR. CROWLEY: There are established leaders and we are supporting those governments. You’re right, Elise; we’re supporting governments at all levels and trying to make both the national governments and regional governments as effective as possible.
QUESTION: So can we have any names of these alternative leaders on any other level of the governments? We always hear President Karzai —
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, but isn’t that – that is —
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s a question to ask President Karzai and other leaders in Afghanistan is who do they see potentially emerging to play a constructive role in the future of their countries. That’s not for the United States to do.
QUESTION: Can we stay on this?
QUESTION: So on this issue, how do you go about fostering strong local leadership? I mean, how do you reach out to them? Do you clear it with the central government? Do you go directly to them?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, no. Take in a case like Marjah, where we were dealing with the district governor and other officials there, we are doing the same in Kandahar. So we know who they are. We’re dealing with the established structures and trying to, as security improves in different parts of the country, then piggyback off of that improved security to deliver – to help the Afghan Government and local leaders deliver meaningful services to their people.
In a place like Pakistan – in our dialogue with Pakistan, we’ve determined one of things that have significant meaning to the Pakistani people – electricity is one of those issues. And we’re focused on how we can use the increased civilian funding that we hope to get through the Kerry-Berger — the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation to provide a meaningful change in the daily life of the average Pakistani citizen. So we are working on infrastructure projects, on agriculture progress – programs, health, education. These are – this is the underpinning of the strategic dialogue we’re having with both countries and how can we help these respective governments deliver these kinds of improved services to their people. That’s how you ultimately turn the tide in terms of the insurgencies that confront both countries.
QUESTION: But this is not done clandestinely or it is not unknown to the central government, is it? I mean, you —
MR. CROWLEY: We’re working hand-in-glove with the central governments of both countries.
QUESTION: Can we go to a different subject —
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Israeli-Palestinian matters. Does the Secretary expect to discuss the decision by the municipality to knock down a number of Palestinian homes in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem and to build other homes for Jewish people? Is that something that’s going to come up?
MR. CROWLEY: I suspect so.
QUESTION: And does – do you expect – yesterday, I think you said that you had not seen a detailed list of the permissible – or of the banned items. Do you expect to actually have that in hand by the time the Secretary meets? Do you expect her to get a detailed and precise understanding, since I think you guys didn’t have it yesterday, of what is and is not going to be allowed in Gaza?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s a fair question, Arshad. I think this is something that still needs to be developed within the Israeli Government. If Defense Minister Barak brings such a list with him, that will be fine. But I’m not sure that they are yet fully developed in terms of what’s on and what’s off the list.
QUESTION: Has she spoken with Mitchell yet, and will he be at this meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t believe that George is on the schedule. I’ll check. My instinct would be, yes, he would be at the meeting tomorrow.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary received any letter from Palestinian president asking the U.S. to interfere and stop the demolition of these houses in East Jerusalem?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of any particular letter from President Abbas. But I would expect, as we do on a variety of issues, we’ll be talking to Israel about this and other issues that we think potentially impede on the peace process. I’m sure, as I said to Arshad, that will be an issue discussed tomorrow.
QUESTION: P.J., back in mid May, a bunch – a group of senators wrote to the Secretary asking her to put the Pakistani Taliban on the FTO list. At the time, you said that that was under review and that that review predated the letter. But today, they’re getting a little impatient, and four of those five senators have – are introducing a bill that would require you to put the Pakistani Taliban on the FTO list, particularly in light of the guilty pleading yesterday of Mr. Shahzad. Where does the review stand and does this – would this – what does the building make of this legislation?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are considering the question of designating the TTP and are following the procedures established in law. I mean, there’s an evidentiary requirement under law to support any foreign terrorist organization designation. I think this process is a deliberate one and wisely so because any designation has broad implications. So this is something that we have under active consideration. There’s a process underway and we would expect to complete that process relatively soon.
QUESTION: Right, but —
MR. CROWLEY: So I think that – I don’t see that we would feel the need for an abbreviated process, shall we say, that’s outlined in that legislation.
QUESTION: Well, but here the – I mean, this guy admitted yesterday in court that —
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: — he was trained and paid by this group. What more —
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I understand that —
QUESTION: — do you need?
MR. CROWLEY: — and understand that any time you go through this process you make that designation, that designation can be open to legal challenge, so we are doing due diligence, as you would expect, and this is not something that we’re ignoring. We’re actively considering this, as we pledged months ago. And we would expect to complete this process relatively soon and we would not see a legislative remedy here as being necessary.
QUESTION: Well, but wait a second. Wait, wait, wait, hold on. Are you aware of members of the Pakistani Taliban who are – who would challenge this designation?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m just saying that for – there’s a process under law for making these designations. By definition, it requires due diligence on our part to make sure that we can —
QUESTION: Right, but —
MR. CROWLEY: — support that designation, whether – regardless if it’s TTP or anybody else.
QUESTION: I understand. But what —
MR. CROWLEY: So we’re following the established procedure – it being done deliberately. And if and when we make that designation, we will have the supporting – appropriate supporting documentation to back it up.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. aware that Afghan President Karzai has asked a visiting a UN Security Council delegation today to remove names of some of the Taliban members from a terror list?
MR. CROWLEY: It was something that was discussed today in the Security Council meeting with President Karzai, which included Ambassador Rice. The Security Council is working hard to ensure that the – what’s called the 1267 list remains a flexible and dynamic tool. There’s an intensive review already underway of the list to ensure fairness and clarity of the listings. And we will thoroughly review each and every individual entity on the list and make an appropriate determination on a case-by-case basis. That’s basically what we told President Karzai today.
QUESTION: Could you preview the Secretary’s trip next month to a number of former Soviet republics? Allegedly, she is traveling to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine. Or is it too early for that yet?
MR. CROWLEY: She will be traveling overseas on a couple of trips next month. The specifics of those trips are still being worked.
QUESTION: Can I ask on Iraq?
MR. CROWLEY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: In Iraq, former Prime Minister Allawi told the Times of London that he had received warnings about plans to kill him – about plans to kill him from American generals and Iraqi officials. So are you worried about this and are you concerned for the issue of the political vacuum in this country three months until the elections?
MR. CROWLEY: I think what we’ve been gratified about is that, notwithstanding a steady stream of attacks to try to disrupt the political process, the Iraqi people and Iraqi political figures have not taken the bait offered by al-Qaida in Iraq. They are focused on trying to form a unified government. We support that. I think we’ve seen tragically that various political figures have found themselves at risk and, unfortunately, a handful in recent weeks have been killed. I can’t speak to a particular conversation that anyone in Iraq has had with Mr. Allawi. All I can say is that we are focused not only on the dangers presented to those who are standing up for Iraq and we admire their courage in terms of being willing to serve for all of the people of Iraq –
QUESTION: Yeah, but –
MR. CROWLEY: But I can’t speak –
QUESTION: Do you feel that the process of building a government coalition is going fast enough?
MR. CROWLEY: We would like to see it go faster. We think it’s been long enough. And that’s why Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman was in Iraq last week to try to give the political process a nudge and see if we can’t get Iraqis to work more rapidly to form an inclusive government. That’s in everybody’s long-term interest.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: The Chinese –
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. I’ve got two over here.
QUESTION: The Chinese foreign minister, yesterday, expressed concerns about the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise in the Yellow Sea scheduled for later this month and also called for restraint on the Cheonan sinking. Any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll – on the issues involving joint exercises, I’ll defer to the Pentagon.
QUESTION: Also, do you expect the G-8 or G-20 joint statement will blame North Korea later this week?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know. I think the President will have the opportunity to meet with a range of leaders from the region. I’m certain that the issue of North Korea and the sinking of the Cheonan will be among those issues discussed, but I can’t predict what kind of a statement will come up.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: No, not done.
QUESTION: P.J., two things. Do you have any reaction to the latest PKK attacks in Turkey? And secondly, did any point, maybe last month or two months, the U.S. stop intelligence sharing with Turkey vis-à-vis combating the PKK?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there has been no change in the level of U.S.-Turkey cooperation in confronting the PKK. The PKK, as you know, is a Foreign Terrorist Organization and presents a joint common threat to Turkey, to Iraq, and to the United States. They are a threat to the stability of the region and we support efforts by our Turkish allies and our Iraqi allies to deal with the challenge posed by the PKK.
QUESTION: And what do you say to the latest attacks? I mean, 11 people died two days ago and yesterday it was four.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, I mean, as always, we offer our condolences to the families and friends of the victims. And this is expressly why we continue to cooperate fully with Turkey and understand Turkish – Turkey’s ongoing efforts to defeat the PKK.
Yeah, last one.
QUESTION: Yes, Chinese Government mention that their position still doesn’t change on the (inaudible) South Korean ship issue, still. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: There are discussions that continue in New York regarding the Cheonan. As we’ve mentioned, there was a briefing by those who did the investigation to the Security Council several days ago, and now this is under active discussion. And we, the United States, continue to support South Korea and feel that it’s important that the international community come together and make a strong, unequivocal response to this provocation by North Korea.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:00 p.m.)