Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–November 30, 2010.
|Secretary Clinton Arrived in Astana / Town Hall with Civil Society Representatives / Meet and Greet with Women Leaders|
|State Hosts Fifth Round of Talks with Russia Regarding Adoptions / Officials to Review Final Texts|
|U.S. Congratulates Moldova on Elections / Democratic Path|
|Cote d’Ivoire Election / Statement by Secretary Clinton|
|U.S. Strongly Condemns Comments of Palestinian Official that Western Wall is an Islamic Waqf / Raised Issue with Palestinian Authority / Final Status Negotiations|
|Negotiated Settlement / Raising Concerns with Israel / Need for a Palestinian State / Building Institutions|
|Interagency Review / Protecting Classified Information / Review of Policy Issues / Internal Adjustments / Narrowing of Access / Working with other Agencies|
|Secretary Clinton’s Interaction with Counterparts / Close Global Cooperation|
|Diplomatic Duties / Gathering of Information / Not Intelligence Assets / Helping to Formulate and Execute Policy / Trust and Confidentiality / Relations Guided by National and Mutual Interests / Proud of Work of Diplomats|
|Election / Political Process / Ongoing Dialogue|
|Committed to Close Guantanamo / Engaging Countries about Detainees|
|Government Official’s Comments on Asylum for Julian Assange|
1:52 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. The Secretary, as you may know, has arrived in Astana, Kazakhstan and I think, as of this morning, had her town hall event with civil society representatives and also had a meet and greet with women leaders in Kazakhstan prior to starting the formal proceedings of the OSCE.
Just a few other things to mention before taking your questions. Tomorrow, here in Washington, we will host the fifth round of talks with Russia regarding an agreement – a legally binding agreement covering adoptions between the United States and Russia. Obviously, this is a process that has been undertaken between our two sides based on an agreement between Presidents Obama and Medvedev. Officials have met four times in both Washington and Moscow to negotiate this agreement that provides greater safeguards for children and families in the adoption process between the two countries, and we will anticipate that these talks tomorrow will be – with officials on both sides – reviewing the final text so that there can be a signing in the near future.
QUESTION: Just on that, you do expect that this will be concluded tomorrow?
MR. CROWLEY: We expect the process will be concluded, but the formal agreement will not be signed.
QUESTION: Who has to sign it? Or who would sign it?
MR. CROWLEY: I think that’s to be determined.
QUESTION: What are the main safeguards that you’ve instituted?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll tell you what, we’ll have someone come down to provide a briefing once we’ve finalized the text between the two sides. But more transparency between the two sides would be among those considerations.
Turning to a couple of election situations, the United States congratulates Moldova for conducting what international observers have deemed to be a transparent, impartial parliamentary campaign and election that met most international standards and reflected the will of the people of Moldova. The November 28 vote represents another step forward on Moldova’s democratic path. It is important that those elected by the Moldovan people work together now to form a government and elect a president in order to address the priority reforms facing the country.
We are also conscious of the fact that there was voting on Sunday in Cote d’Ivoire and at the conclusion of the briefing you’ll see a statement by Secretary Clinton. The votes are being tabulated as we speak. But the Secretary’s statement is as follows: Cote d’Ivoire’s elections are an opportunity for the nation to emerge from years of crisis, return to the community of democracies, and build a successful and prosperous future for all Ivoirians. The United States calls on all Ivoirian leaders to act responsibly and peacefully to allow this future to become a reality for the people of Cote d’Ivoire. In the spirit of the joint statement both candidates signed on November 27 committing to respect a peaceful process, we strongly urge the candidates to allow the tallying and reporting of results to proceed unhindered and to honor the results when they are announced. The hard work of democracy does not end when the votes are tallied and the winners announced; it continues in the daily effort to find common ground, govern responsibly, and strengthen the rule of law and democratic institutions. The United States will continue to stand with the people of Cote d’Ivoire and support their aspirations as they move forward together.
Finally, we have consulted with – been watching a situation in the Middle East and consulted to make sure that statements made in recent days were firm before we were commenting. But regarding a claim by a senior Palestinian official that the Western Wall is an Islamic Waqf, we strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive, and highly provocative. We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of delegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land. As the United States has long maintained, the status of Jerusalem must be resolved in final status negotiations between the parties. We recognize that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue to Israelis and Palestinians, to Jews, to Muslims, and to Christians everywhere. We believe it is possible to reach an outcome that both realizes the aspirations of all parties for Jerusalem and safeguards its stature for the future.
QUESTION: Before moving on, P.J., on that, if you recognize that the Jerusalem – status of Jerusalem is so important to all sides, why were you so noncommittal when I asked the other day about the Israeli approval of new Jewish construction – new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem?
MR. CROWLEY: I was only noncommittal in the sense of before commenting to affirm that we had, in fact, raised our concerns with the Israeli Government as we have in the past. We have raised our concerns with the Israeli Government, as we’ve said many times. This Jerusalem, in all of its dimensions, must be part of a negotiated settlement. But I would be (inaudible) caution that there’s not necessarily an equivalence, that the kind of statements that we heard the other day, we think deserve strong condemnation.
QUESTION: Well, you’re right. There’s absolutely no equivalence between some guy mouthing off and giving his opinion, whether you agree with it or not, and actual bricks and mortar going up in an area that’s disputed. I mean, the equivalent – you come out and denounce this statement, which is mere – simply words, and it took a question from a reporter to get you to say anything about the actual, physical, on-the-ground construction there. So I don’t understand the equivalence that you’re – your idea of equivalence here. One seems to be much more serious than another.
MR. CROWLEY: We agree, but I think we have a different view as to what that equivalence should be. Look, what we are saying again to all sides is that they both have responsibilities here. Both have to take the responsibility to create conditions for negotiations to resume. And when you have a senior Palestinian official who denies the historic connection that the Jewish people feel to the Western Wall, we have an obligation to speak out. At the same time, we do recognize that rather than changing facts on the ground, we want to see the parties return to negotiations. But we will continue to express our concern to both sides when appropriate that inflammatory remarks on the one hand and actions on the ground on the other hand both have the potential to undermine a return to negotiations.
QUESTION: You said we agreed that one is more serious than the other. Which one is more serious?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean – well, we see –
QUESTION: You said, “We agree,” so (inaudible) more serious.
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no. I’m just saying the United States condemns the words of a senior Palestinian official the other day. We have raised our concerns with the Palestinians directly, but we thought it was appropriate to make clear that these kinds of inflammatory remarks are uncalled for. They’re uncalled for any day, but they’re uncalled for particularly at a sensitive time in the process.
We have raised our concerns with the Israeli Government, not only recently but successively going back many months, about developments on the ground and the need to come back to negotiations. And both sides have responsibilities here, but we thought that these particular words were inflammatory. We’ve called upon the Palestinians for a long time to avoid these kinds of statements that are not conducive to getting the parties into a negotiation or from – through that negotiation to a final agreement.
QUESTION: Well, we all know that diplomatic language is very important. Why won’t you condemn the approval of new construction in East Jerusalem by Israel, and yet you come out and you —
MR. CROWLEY: We have expressed our concerns to the Israeli Government. We’ve done it in the past. We’ve done it recently. We’ll be doing it in further meetings that we’ll have with the Israelis in the coming days. The Israelis understand our position very well.
QUESTION: Just —
QUESTION: (Inaudible) as to what constitutes a viable Palestinian state? Because it seems that in Mr. Netanyahu’s mind, a Palestinian state is completely demilitarized, it should not have control over its airspace, it should not – according to WikiLeaks. So does the State Department, does the Government of the United States, have a clear definition as to what constitutes a viable Palestinian state?
MR. CROWLEY: We share the goal of the Palestinian Authority that there needs to be a Palestinian state and the borders of that state need to be viable. That has been our position. But that’s why we’re encouraging the parties to resume negotiations, because absent a negotiation, you cannot get to a viable state with recognized international borders. There’s only one way to do this and that’s through the direct negotiation that we continue to encourage both sides to resume as soon as possible.
QUESTION: But surely after like, 19 years of direct negotiations under the auspices of the United States, since 1991, you must have a picture of what this viability should look like.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there’s been a lot of work done here. I think we have a broad understanding of what this might look like. But ultimately, this is why the two sides have to sit down into a negotiation. Palestinians have their views, the Israelis have their views. The United States and others, we’ve done a lot of work on this. There have been negotiations in the past that enable us – will inform negotiations should we get the parties back together again. But through this negotiation, that’s how you get to a viable Palestinian state. If there are no negotiations, then we’re not going to see a Palestinian state emerge.
QUESTION: One last question, related question.
MR. CROWLEY: Wait, hold on, (inaudible).
QUESTION: Just let me – can I just continue my one last question on this?
MR. CROWLEY: All right, all right, all right. I tried.
QUESTION: In the city of Hebron, which is home to 220,000 Palestinians and 600 settlers, there is an area called the Martyrs Street that is completely closed to Palestinians where they have to traverse on rooftops. Are you aware of a situation like this? Is this something that you would raise with the Israeli Government to sort of relieve the hardship of the Palestinians in Hebron?
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible) that’s one of the reasons why we have been the strongest supporters of building institutions of the Palestinian Authority, and through those institutions and with dramatic changes on the ground that are occurring, we can see the Israelis adapt its posture. We continue to talk to both sides about how to improve the situation on the ground as one means among several of continuing to build the necessary public support so that the leaders can have confidence that they can enter into negotiations, they have the proper political support through those negotiations and can get to an agreement. So we have conversations with the Israelis and the Palestinians, both sides, on how we can adapt the situation on the West Bank.
QUESTION: Just on the condemnation part of what you said, I just wonder, why do you feel strongly that you have – from this podium, you have to condemn a senior Palestinian official, considering that on the Israeli side, you have a foreign minister who publicly, officially advocating the transfer of the Palestinians, deny their right to exist, et cetera? So I’m just wondering about – it is a double standard here, or why do you think that you have to condemn one side more than the other? Or why the language is very important?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would tell you that there have been times where senior Israeli officials have spoken in ways that do not reflect the policies of that government, and the government has made clear and it disassociated itself from those statements.
We have talked to the Palestinians about these words, and we just felt that it was appropriate for us to make clear our position and to condemn them.
QUESTION: So they haven’t – the Palestinians haven’t disassociated themselves from these comments?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the Palestinians to describe how they view these comments.
QUESTION: Well, you just deferred to the –
MR. CROWLEY: I’m just —
QUESTION: — you just spoke for the Israelis. So are you sure that the comments by the senior Palestinian official do not reflect the Palestinian Authority position? Or are you concerned that they do reflect the Palestinian Authority’s position?
MR. CROWLEY: We have talked to the Palestinians at length on many occasions about the impact of controversial statements that we think have the potential to incite conflict in the region.
QUESTION: And okay, but at the same time, you don’t see that the construction of houses that the Palestinians are completely opposed to, in territory that you yourself say is disputed, and earlier this year called – were calling for a complete freeze to all construction, you don’t see that as inflammatory or could —
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, as I said —
QUESTION: — inciteful to the Palestinians?
MR. CROWLEY: We – Matt.
MR. CROWLEY: As I said, we have expressed our concerns with the Israelis about this project. We’ve done so directly. We expect to have further conversations with them. And as we say, both sides have responsibilities here. We’re in a period where we’re looking for both sides to assume responsibility, create the necessary conditions that allow negotiations to resume. And both sides have these responsibilities and have to take them seriously.
QUESTION: But one side gets condemned in public and the other one gets your concerns expressed in private.
MR. CROWLEY: Guys, if you go back a number of months, we have not hesitated to express our concerns publicly and privately about what is happening in East Jerusalem.
QUESTION: Fair enough. Can we go to WikiLeaks? That might be the easier subject. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: This is a Hobson’s choice to be sure. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Actually, the question – one main question I have about this is not that controversial. What, if anything, have you, has the State Department done in the last week or so to prevent a recurrence of leaks like this? Have you started transmitting your cables, your correspondence, differently?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, there is a interagency review both narrowly focused and more broadly focused. As we talked about yesterday, there are, broadly speaking, some policy issues that will have to be reviewed in light of what’s happened so that we can properly balance the need to know, the need to share, but the overriding need to protect classified information. We have made some internal adjustments to – in our classified database that contains State Department documents. I’m not going to go into great detail from the podium, but to the extent that one of the issues raised here was this question of who should have access to State Department documents across the government, we have made some adjustments and temporarily narrowed the access to these documents, as we and others work through the implications of this leak and make sure that we have taken the appropriate steps so that it will not happen again.
QUESTION: And when you say narrow, do you mean inside the Department or with other agencies, or both?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have – this is an interagency process. It’s about the State Department. It’s – we are reviewing our internal controls because —
QUESTION: Well, let me put it this way —
MR. CROWLEY: — we want to make sure that our documents are adequately protected and that we have the ability to detect if anything like this occurs in the future. But I’m constrained in what I can say here because there is an ongoing investigation, but to the extent that there are a number of networks that feed into this database, we have made some adjustments and that has narrowed for the time being those who have access to State Department cables across the government.
QUESTION: Okay. So it is correct that there are people now who two weeks ago had access to classified cables outside the Department who now do not have that access; is that correct?
MR. CROWLEY: That is likely, yes.
QUESTION: And is it also the case that there are some people inside the Department who would have had access to these cables now that do not have access to them —
MR. CROWLEY: Inside the Department, I’m not – I mean, this – inside the Department, I’m not sure that there’s been a change in access. But we have made – we are going back over our internal procedures to make sure that should something like this be at risk in the future that we would be able to detect it and stop it before it happened.
QUESTION: P.J., can you – you said, when Matt asked you is it not – is it correct that there are people outside this Department at other agencies or other branches of government who would have had access to material from which they now – to which they now do not have access, and you said that is likely. Can you not say yes, there are people outside the Department who had access who now don’t? I mean, because if you can’t say that, then you need to —
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, again, I’m reluctant to get into great detail in this briefing.
QUESTION: This is not great detail. This is —
MR. CROWLEY: No, I understand that. And – but first of all, there is value in sharing information across the government, to make sure that we have the benefit of the perspective of other agencies and they have the benefit of our perspective because we do have an integrated national security strategy. The State Department works closely with the Defense Department, works closely with the National Security staff, works closely with other agencies of government, so there’s value in sharing.
One of the issues that this incident has brought to light is the real question as to who and how many have a need to have this kind of access to a database that has a broad array of State Department documents. We have temporarily severed the connection between this database and one classified network. We’ve done so as this broad government review is ongoing, both for ourselves and others. Steps are being made to correct weaknesses in the system that have become evident because of this leak. And at the point where we believe the appropriate steps have been taken, then we’ll reevaluate whether to reconnect this one network to the State Department databases.
QUESTION: Is that one network at DOD? I ask because the charge sheet that has been released against Mr. Manning specifically charges him or accuses him of having gotten access to more than 150,000 State Department cables. So is that network, the classified network, a DOD network?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t want to say more from the podium.
QUESTION: Can you say when that – when it was that you – it was disconnected?
MR. CROWLEY: We’ve made these adjustments in the past week.
QUESTION: P.J., the Secretary right now, as you mentioned, is in Kazakhstan. And specifically with WikiLeaks, there are some leaks, documents in there, that specifically refer to President Nazarbayev, his lifestyle, his son-in-law, et cetera. Do you know, is the Secretary going to be addressing that with any – with him, with any other leaders there? And also, how – this presumably could come up with other officials and leaders. How will this complicate this trip?
MR. CROWLEY: How complicate —
QUESTION: The leaks, how will the leaks complicate the trip?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the timing is exquisite. Look, she has had a number of conversations with her counterparts prior to the trip. I have no doubt that this issue will come up in the various interactions that she has within the OSCE meeting. We’re not going to talk about specific classified documents, but she will reassure them in private, much as she did yesterday in public, and commit that we will do everything that we can to sustain the close cooperation, collaboration, and engagement that we have with a variety of countries around the world. We are – we’re not going to let what WikiLeaks has done undermine the global cooperation that is vitally important to resolving regional and global security challenges.
QUESTION: And, P.J., one more on that. You’re probably aware that in the blogosphere, there are a few people who are now saying the Secretary should resign over WikiLeaks, and they’re saying not only that —
MR. CROWLEY: And why would that be?
QUESTION: Well, I’m going to give the reasons to you. Essentially, one would be just the fact that they came – that these were leaked, but more importantly, they’re zeroing in back again on the United Nations and that directive, which apparently came from the Office of the Secretary, telling diplomats to collect this information.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, let —
QUESTION: Can you set us right on what —
MR. CROWLEY: Let me be clear on that. I’ve touched on that, but let me be as clear as I can. The Secretary has said it. Ambassador Rice has said it. I’ve said it. Diplomats are diplomats. That is their job. Diplomats are not intelligence assets. The – I’m reluctant to talk about any particular document, but just because – as I said, by tradition, any document that leaves the Department of State has the Secretary of State’s name on it. She is responsible, but she was not the author of that particular document, and the contents of that came from outside the Department of State. We are – diplomats have a difficult job. They are – it is useful for them to know what is of interest across the government, but this doesn’t change the day-to-day duties of any diplomat anywhere.
QUESTION: P.J., just one clarification, because, again, if you look at those – the articles that are being written, it’s being described as not only information, but biometric data. And in fact, one of the articles I read said DNA. It was as detailed as that.
MR. CROWLEY: Look, Jill, there are entities within our government that have certain responsibilities. It is – it’s one thing for that community to provide a wish list across the government that helps people understand what is useful. It takes a leap of faith to say that fundamentally changes the day-to-day responsibilities of our diplomats. It doesn’t.
Our diplomats are diplomats. Our diplomats are not intelligence assets. They can collect information. If they collect information that is useful, we share it across the government, as we’ve been talking about with respect to documents generated by the Department of State. But we – please do not infer from one document that this fundamentally changes the role – nothing has changed based on a document that has been issued through the Department for a number of years.
QUESTION: P.J., just a quick clarification. You said the contents of the document came from outside the Department of State? Did you say that?
MR. CROWLEY: I did.
QUESTION: What does that mean?
QUESTION: What does that mean, yeah?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m not going to talk about a particular document.
QUESTION: Well, then P.J., let me just ask you –
MR. CROWLEY: Look, guys – guys, I’ve said all I’m going to say about this.
QUESTION: Just one more clarification. You mentioned a wish list. In other words, are you saying that a certain agency issued a wish list of what diplomats should collect and that those diplomats are free to do as much or as little as possible in collecting that information?
MR. CROWLEY: Diplomats are diplomats and their job is to interact with people, gather information, gain a perspective of events around the world, and report those findings in a way that helps inform our policies and inform our actions. They are not intelligence assets. It can be useful for a diplomat to understand from Washington – you have a diplomat out in any place in the world, hey, there are issues that are of particular interest to the United States Government. If you come across information that might be relevant to these issues, let us know. That’s – those are – that is something that diplomats actually do every day. But one particular cable does not turn a diplomat into an intelligence asset.
QUESTION: But P.J., how can you say that diplomats are diplomats when we’re talking about collecting DNA data? You want to know how many times these UN officials are flying, you want to know the credit cards’ details. Can you at least acknowledge that after 9/11 there is a blurring of lines between diplomacy and espionage, that the role of –
MR. CROWLEY: No, there –
QUESTION: — a diplomat has expanded?
MR. CROWLEY: I will specifically reject that idea. Nothing in the role of a diplomat at the State Department has changed because of any one document or any one event. What we do here at the State Department, we do – we’ve done it the same way for a number of years, and our role in helping to formulate and execute the foreign policy of the United States did not change on 9/11.
QUESTION: So you always collected DNA data? Nothing changed?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m – nothing in any document that is allegedly in the tranche of WikiLeaks – or in the possession of WikiLeaks changed the role of any diplomat anywhere in the world.
QUESTION: P.J., the Secretary of State described these leaks as stolen. A stolen item, right?
MR. CROWLEY: Described them as what?
QUESTION: This information was stolen, right? That’s what the Secretary said? It was stolen information? So why –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, put it this way. The information – the passing of classified information to someone who is not authorized to have it is a crime.
QUESTION: My question is: Why shouldn’t Mr. Assange then be pursued as a burglar, as a bandit? You issue an arrest warrant and say he burglarized and will you bring him to task?
MR. CROWLEY: The – as the Attorney General said yesterday, there is an ongoing investigation regarding anyone who has been potentially implicated by this situation.
QUESTION: Just to be clear – the clarity that we’re talking about someone who is neither a U.S. citizen nor a U.S. resident, what are the legal ramifications of that?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ll defer to the Department of Justice.
QUESTION: If I could just bring one other point though is that the previous administration found a way to deal with non-U.S. residents who it considered to be conducting crimes. It was called Guantanamo. I mean, is any action going to be taken that could involve this type of extralegal process?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Wait, hold on. Are you accepting the comparison between something –
MR. CROWLEY: No, I’m not accepting – no, no, no.
QUESTION: — (inaudible) arguments of being arrested on a –
MR. CROWLEY: The question that was posed to me was is this administration contemplating any extrajudicial action to resolve this situation, and the answer is no.
QUESTION: And it would not in any case – I mean, is that —
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, you just asked me a question and I responded to it. Now, if you’ve got another question, I’ll be happy to respond to it.
QUESTION: Again, WikiLeaks. A specific country, Turkey, that was not on your list of announcement, but today almost every single nationwide Turkish newspaper have headline about WikiLeaks and how the accusation goes to Turkish prime minister and ministers and all that. And Turkish foreign minister actually yesterday was in Washington and referred WikiLeaks as dual language of another country, these are called. And he openly referred the United States.
My question is: Could you please walk us through how the U.S. – the United States is going to be able to overcome this huge leaks – this huge scandal, and how you are going to reset again the relations countries like Turkey? Now the people of Turkey even have much more questions than a couple days before.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me start off coming back to a point made earlier. There are roles that diplomats play in the world. It is the responsibility of our diplomats stationed around the world to interact with governments, to interact with civil society, to analyze events in various countries, and report to the State Department and to other agencies as part of the formulation and execution of the foreign policy of the United States. Diplomats of other countries do the very same thing.
Fundamental to this system of cooperation among countries and interaction among countries is trust and confidentiality. I think first and foremost, everyone understands who is responsible for the release of these documents. It is an individual within the United States Government who is under investigation, and more broadly it is the WikiLeaks organization that has chosen to release these documents to others who are not authorized to have them.
So we recognize that there is – this is a serious situation. We are going to do everything possible to minimize the impact of this. We are committed to continue to engage countries around the world, whether it’s Turkey, other countries. Our relationships are still guided by national interests and mutual interests. Our relationships are guided by mutual respect. And to the extent that the trust inherent in this engagement has been compromised, we will work as hard as we can to rebuild this trust.
QUESTION: You mentioned trust and confidentiality. And it looks like these – both of these principles of diplomacy, if I may, have been damaged – fundamentally have been damaged. So basically your principles have been just damaged, and I’m asking how you are going to able – do you have any concrete –
MR. CROWLEY: If I can beg to differ, again, I’m not going to comment on any particular cable, but if you look at what has emerged, you see a handful of things. First, you see the broad sweep of United States foreign policy. You see the commitment of the United States working collaboratively with other countries to try to resolve the urgent issues of the world that impact our people and impact other people around the world. You see diplomats – records of diplomats who are doing the hard work of diplomacy and are committed to advance our interests and the interests of the world at large consistent with our laws and consistent with our values.
We are proud of the work done here at the Department of State. We are proud of the work done by our diplomats around the world. We’re not going to change what we do because of this, but we are committed to – as we’ve talked about earlier, we will learn from what’s happened here. We will do whatever we have to do to protect confidential information that is essential to the functioning of any organization, whether it’s a government or a private entity. All governments, all entities, have secrets. They have proprietary information that is vitally important to their functioning. Ours has been compromised. We are going to aggressively investigate that, and we will hold accountable those who are responsible.
But it doesn’t change the relationships that we have with individual countries. We are committed to engage. We’re committed to collaborate. We’re committed to the friendships and alliances that we have, and we’ll continue to work with countries around the world on shared challenges. And that would be the message that Secretary Clinton delivers to world leaders at the OSCE.
QUESTION: P.J., change of subject?
QUESTION: Or just one more?
QUESTION: On Iran —
MR. CROWLEY: All right. One more.
QUESTION: Yeah. How do you size up Julian Assange’s character and motives? You haven’t said anything —
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m – I believe he has been described as an anarchist. His actions seem to substantiate that.
QUESTION: Iran has agreed to come to Geneva next week to meet the P-5+1. What are your expectations from this meeting, and what are you bringing to this meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t want to get ahead of Lady Ashton. I believe there will be an announcement shortly out of the EU, and we’ll defer comment until that announcement.
QUESTION: Okay. Have you agreed on Geneva as a place to host the meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: Michel, I anticipate there will be an announcement very soon from the EU, and then we’ll be happy to talk about it.
QUESTION: No, wait. No, hold on. Just one on that. If there is going to be a meeting, is it correct that Under Secretary Burns would be the one to go?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the last time the P-5+1 got together last year with Iranian officials, Under Secretary Burns was our representative.
QUESTION: Right. Well —
MR. CROWLEY: Should a meeting be forthcoming, Under Secretary Burns would be our representative again.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) election real quick? I know you issued a statement. You talked about the elections Cote d’Ivoire and Moldova and so on, but you didn’t address the Egyptian election today.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we did put out a statement yesterday.
QUESTION: Yeah, you issued a statement. My question to you is: How do you address these transgressions? I mean, you expressed your concern. There were a lot of, obviously, abuse of power, whatever you want to call it. How do you address these issues with a friendly government such as the Egyptian Government? What is your next step?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would only say – first of all, what’s important here is the relationship between the Egyptian Government and its own people. The people of Egypt want to see broader participation in their political process. It is up to the Egyptian Government to meet the needs and meet the desires of the Egyptian people. We will, as part of our ongoing dialogue with Egypt, continue, where we feel appropriate, to express our concerns about these kind of developments. We have recently in the discussion between Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, and we will continue to raise our concerns where appropriate.
QUESTION: Will the United States leverage any of the aid that it gives to Egypt, for instance, so it will forgo its veto over the actions of civil society – the Government of Egypt?
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible) you’re – we have a commitment to a partnership with Egypt. These are not either/or circumstances. Our relationship with Egypt is multifaceted. But as you saw with yesterday’s statement, we will not hesitate to tell Egypt as a friend where we think their actions have fallen short of international standards.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: But the initial result shows that almost oppositions lost all seats or hardly made any, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Do you worry that them not being represented in the government, that might lead them now to become underground or go to more violent path?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we had a detailed statement that described our concerns about the election. We’ll continue to raise these concerns with the Government of Egypt.
QUESTION: Why did it take so long to get that statement out, 9 o’clock last night, and you were working on it like all – I mean was there —
MR. CROWLEY: I hear you.
QUESTION: Are you concerned that Muslim Brotherhoods lost elections?
QUESTION: I just said that.
MR. CROWLEY: Try again?
QUESTION: Are you concerned that —
MR. CROWLEY: I just answered that question.
QUESTION: Sorry. I didn’t hear.
QUESTION: Can you confirm the meeting in Washington next week between Japan and South Korea?
MR. CROWLEY: Stay tuned. We’ll have more to say about that probably tomorrow.
QUESTION: There’s a report in The New York Times regarding some deals that were trying to be made to find homes for the Gitmo detainees. As it seems to be, that by September of last year, there was still no solution for the Yemeni detainee problem and that closing Guantanamo Bay by the January deadline was pretty much off the table. Can you comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to comment on what’s in the paper. We are committed to closing Guantanamo, and we continue to engage Yemen and other countries about detainees who are still at Guantanamo, who we believe qualify for return or resettlement.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
QUESTION: Got a quick – a couple more, a couple more, I’m sorry, will be very, very quickly.
We have a report out of Kabul which says that senior Afghan officials, including the president and his brother, are involved in authorizing and requesting the release of imprisoned Taliban fighters. And it specifically says that the fact of these kinds of releases, which are sometimes done for political reasons and sometimes for money, raises questions about the government’s seriousness about fighting the insurgency. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take the question. I just –
QUESTION: And then – no problem, then one other one. Forgive me if it was asked when I was out, but a senior Ecuadorian Government official, foreign ministry official, has talked about offering residency to Julian Assange. Do you think that’s – the founder of WikiLeaks. Is that a good idea?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Have you raised that with the Ecuadorians?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t know that the comments of one individual in Ecuador necessarily represent the views of that government.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:37 p.m.)