2:30 P.M. EDT
MODERATOR: Good afternoon and welcome to the Foreign Press Center. We are fortunate to have with us again Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley. Just take a moment, make sure your cell phones are turned off. When you have questions, please wait for the microphone or else your question will not show up in the transcript. And if you have a follow-up question, please ask for the follow-up and don’t just start talking or else it won’t show up in the transcript. Again, I’m happy to introduce Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley.
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, I don’t know, I think we should have a one-briefing rule. If you’re over at the other one, then you can’t participate in this one. (Laughter.) You get two bites of the apple, as we would say.
Good afternoon, and I’m pleased again to be here with you. Just a few things to mention, dancing around the world a little bit. Obviously, a major focus for the State Department and the Secretary this week is the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. We had five working group meetings today on top of four yesterday, which show you the breadth of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan. Today, we had the Energy Working Group, the Health Working Group, Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism, Economic Working Group, and Women’s Empowerment. I’ll be happy to go into any additional detail that you want.
Tomorrow, of course, we have the plenary where the leaders of the 13 working groups will report to Secretary Clinton, Foreign Minister Qureshi, and other senior officials on both sides as we wrap up the third of our major Strategic Dialogue meetings this year.
Turning to Africa, Ambassador Princeton Lyman remains in the region and focused on the current situation in Sudan and also continues to work intensively with officials in Khartoum and Juba to prepare – or to prod the parties to continue to fulfill their responsibilities and fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Today in Sudan, he met with Southern Sudan Referendum Commission Chairman Khalil, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Haile Menkerios. Yesterday, he met with former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is chairman of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel. And former President Mbeki will next week chair the next round of talks which will be in the region starting on October 27th.
In reference to Cuba, we congratulate Guillermo Fariñas, who was named as the recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize. Mr. Fariñas has been an outspoken proponent for freedom of speech and democracy in Cuba and as an activist dedicated to the release of all political prisoners on the island.
And finally before taking your questions, over the last couple of days we’ve had high-level meetings with Chinese Minister Wang Yi, who is in charge of the Taiwan Affairs Office for the Chinese Government. Yesterday, he met with Deputy Secretary Steinberg. Today, he met with Secretary Kurt Campbell. I believe Secretary Clinton briefly dropped by the meeting as well. And this, again, underscores ongoing consultations that we have on a variety of regional security issues.
With that, I’ll be happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: P.J., you --
MODERATOR: Hold on for the microphone. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: My name is Azim Mian from the Jang News group of newspapers from Pakistan. And my question is about this Strategic Dialogue going on. Yesterday, President Obama had a meeting with the Pakistani delegation which was not – apparently was not announced, not planned. What transpired --
MR. CROWLEY: It was planned. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: It was planned. Not enough. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to my colleagues at the White House, but it was on the schedule, yes.
QUESTION: Okay. Now, how this meeting is going to impact on what President Obama – what kind of message give vis-à-vis Afghan situation around Pakistan? And what is – why Pakistan is not being allowed to reconcile, start the negotiations – reconciliation negotiations as Afghans are doing in Kabul? Why the Pakistan cannot be allowed to do the same kind of reconciliatory effort with the Pakistani Taliban? Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, I would draw a corollary. Just as we’ve said and emphasized that the reconciliation process on the Afghan side of the border is – needs to be an Afghan-led process, to the extent that Pakistan can have similar dialogue with extremist elements within its own borders, that is a decision for Pakistan. We have stressed in our dialogue with Pakistan and again this week that extremist elements within Pakistan’s borders represents an existential threat to Pakistan itself. And in dealing with classic insurgencies, it will involve a variety of efforts ranging from security and military action to political action.
So to the extent that Pakistan can continue to take the kind of aggressive action that it has over the past year, as indicated by its offensives in Swat and South Waziristan. As we’ve emphasized, we’d like to see Pakistan stay on the offensive and eliminate the safe havens that have impact within Pakistan and also impact next door in Afghanistan.
But again – and one of the reasons why we are so intensively engaged with Pakistan and building this strategic relationship is to build up the capacity of the Pakistani Government. As Pakistan’s Government becomes more effective, as it delivers assistance to its people, that begins to shrink the room that is available to these groups. We also obviously are working with Pakistan to try to create increased economic opportunity and extend Pakistan’s sovereignty to areas where the government is not as visible as it perhaps needs to be.
Again, this is ultimately for Pakistan to determine, but we are committed to support Pakistan in any way that we can.
MODERATOR: We’ll go right back there.
QUESTION: Sorry. Who was recognized?
MODERATOR: Right there, in the red.
QUESTION: Hi, Mr. Secretary, my name is Nadia Tsao, Washington correspondent for the Liberty Times Taiwan. I just wonder, can you give us – is there any talking point about Minister Wang Yi’s meeting with a high-level official in the State Department? What’s the major message from Mr. Wang? Thanks.
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know that we have a major message. We have certainly encouraged dialogue between China and Taiwan. It is in our interest and we believe it’s in China’s interest to develop a sustainable relationship between the two.
MODERATOR: Okay, we’ll go right there.
QUESTION: Thank you. Min Lee with Phoenix TV Hong Kong, just a follow-up on the same subject. So did they talk about the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan this time?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, we follow our law and our activities in that area is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We fully understand that our support to provide for – help provide for Taiwan’s legitimate defensive needs is an issue for China. I wouldn’t be surprised if we – if that was part of the discussion.
MODERATOR: We’ll go right here.
QUESTION: Thank you. Silvia Ayuso from the German Press Agency. It’s regarding Cuba and Farinas award. Some dissidents in Cuba have reacted to this award given to Farinas, saying that this sends a message from the European Union, saying that the Cuba Government has to do more on human rights. On the other hand, the European Union --
MR. CROWLEY: We would certainly agree with that. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: That was first question. The second: The European Union is meeting next week to revise the Common Position on Cuba, and Spain has asked to be removed, to be changed. Does the U.S. agree with that position that it should be changed or do you think it’s not – Cuba is not yet there to change the Common Position?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, those are decisions for European nations to make. From a U.S. standpoint, we certainly take note of the release of recent prisoners with the efforts of the Catholic Church and the Government of Spain. We certainly believe that Cuba should follow through on recent public statements and release all political prisoners within Cuba. And as Cuba takes steps to improve its human rights record, then obviously, we will take note of that and we will respond appropriately. But these are decisions ultimately for – in the context of next week’s meeting for Europe to make a judgment.
MODERATOR: Okay. We’ll go to the gentleman in the blue right there.
QUESTION: Journalist from China News Service. There is a high expectation that Chinese President Hu Jintao will make a state visit to the United States next January. So P.J., could you tell us about the preparations on the Mr. – on President Hu’s visit?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I will defer all announcements and specific details on a possible state visit to the White House. I think we announced in the context of – during the UN General Assembly and the meeting that President Obama and President Hu and that China had at that time, that we look forward to a visit by President Hu and the details would be worked out.
Clearly, President Obama and President Hu Jintao and also Premier Wen, we’ve had regular, substantive meetings. It’s an indication of the importance of both our bilateral relationship and also the importance of cooperation between the United States and China in solving major global issues, from climate change to the economy to regional security. So we look forward to ongoing, high-level dialogue, but on specifics of the state visit that we do plan to have with China, I’ll defer to the White House.
MODERATOR: We’re going to go ahead and take a question from the New York Foreign Press Center. New York, you can go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Olaolu Akande and I write for The Guardian, an empowered (ph) newswire from Nigeria. I wanted to know the view of the United States after the European Union said that MEND – this is the militant group that is active in Niger Delta – bombed October 1 independence celebration of Nigeria and Abuja. And after that, the EU says that it would not categorize MEND as a terrorist group. This is after the fact that there has been an amnesty deal between the (inaudible) government and the militants before this time. I’d like to know, does the U.S. agree with this evolution of the European Union as (inaudible) MEND?
And secondly, I wanted to know whether the U.S. is optimistic that the Nigerian political elite will sort out their differences regarding the controversy around zoning of the presidency towards next year’s general elections. Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not really in a position to answer your first question. Suffice it to say we condemn strongly the bombings on October 1st. We actually had a high-level U.S. delegation there in Nigeria when the bombings took place in conjunction with the anniversary of Nigeria’s independence. But this is – we have watched over the years groups emerge, both north and south, which, first and foremost, represent a significant security threat to Nigeria itself. It’s one of the reasons we have an important bilateral effort with Nigeria to improve the capability and performance of the Government of Nigeria so it can deal with stresses and strains within its own border.
And in conjunction with that, obviously, preparations are underway for elections in Nigeria, I believe, early next year. They’re going to be very, very important to the future of Nigeria. Nigerians need to see the government improve its performance, tackle corruption, and continue to, through its performance, reduce tensions that do exist within Nigeria and society. And we are very focused and engaged on trying to help Nigeria both with those preparations, but able to use the resources that are available to Nigeria given its strong energy sector, to use those resources to invest more significantly in the country itself.
MODERATOR: We’re going to go way in the back.
QUESTION: Thank you. I’m Sarah Jacobs, New Delhi television. This is – regards the Strategic Dialogue. It’s been reported that the U.S. is going to give a new aid package in military aid to Pakistan in all the papers. Many issues are taken into consideration when this is decided, pros and cons. Pakistan said its diverted forces to work on flood relief. When these discussions were taken into consideration, what about India’s concerns that aid is often diverted and used for anti-India activity?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, we have an important strategic relationship with Pakistan, and we want to see Pakistan improve its capabilities both on the civilian side, and we have a significant civilian aid package through Kerry-Lugar-Berman that we put forward in recent months. And Pakistan is an ally of the United States and we have, in the past, provided security assistance to Pakistan and we will continue to do that. Obviously, in building up Pakistan’s capabilities, we – first and foremost, this is part of a conversation that we’re having with Pakistan to deal more significantly with the threat of extremism, which is a threat to Pakistan, and also a threat to Pakistan’s neighbors.
We have, in our conversations with both Pakistan and India, stressed that the two countries need to increase their dialogue and decrease tensions along the border. We have seen some adjustments in Pakistan’s thinking and we hope that we will see an easing of concerns and tensions that exist in the relationship between Pakistan and India. We do not see this as a zero-sum game. Just as we are committed to our relationship with Pakistan and we’ll help as an ally and friend, provide assistance to Pakistan, we are also a committed ally and friend of India, and we are in discussions with India about assistance for India. I think this is all part of our efforts to try to achieve peace, security, and stability in a very important part of the world.
MODERATOR: Now we’re going to go in the middle. Yeah, right there.
QUESTION: All right, thank you. Hi, Mike Kellerman, APTVS television. A question about this Saudi – sale of Saudi weapons, $60 billion that the United States has announced --
MR. CROWLEY: To correct you, up to 60 billion.
QUESTION: Up to 60 billion, well – and spare change. (Laughter.) We’ve talked to several analysts in this town who claim that this sale may spark an arms race in the Middle East. I’d like your response to that. And also, is this sale in response to the growing military strength of the country of Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as Andrew Shapiro and Sandy Vershbow said yesterday, Saudi Arabia is a friend and ally of the United States. We have provided military assistance to Saudi Arabia before. And this is part of the nature of the ongoing relationship that we have with Saudi Arabia as a anchor of stability in a very dangerous neighborhood. Saudi Arabia has a right to provide for its own defense and we are supporting Saudi Arabia in providing the security assistance that it feels it needs.
There is no doubt that countries in the region are concerned about Iran and its behavior and its more assertive policies in the region. If – we don’t think that an arms race, whether it’s conventional or nuclear, is in anyone’s interest. That’s one of the reasons why we have called on Iran to become a more constructive player in the region. We have our concerns about Iran – not only its nuclear program, its support of terrorism, but its increasingly assertive posture in the region, the increasing role that security forces, including the IRGC, are playing in Iranian society. But if Iran were to play a more constructive role in the region, that perhaps would have an impact on the thinking of some its neighbors. But certainly, we are – we will continue to support Saudi Arabia as a very important part of our effort to increase the security of a vitally important region to the United States.
MODERATOR: Okay. Now we’re going to go back here.
QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Crowley, this is Kyun Mi Kim with the Seoul Shinmun Korean newspaper. I have a question for the Six-Party Talks. Yesterday, I wasn’t at the briefing, but I read the transcript and it seems like there seems to be some differences between the countries among the conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
So could you elaborate more on – and the second one is after Mr. Kim Kye Gwan – North Korea visited Beijing, and there seems to be more (inaudible) offensive from the North Korean side on this resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Are there – I mean, what are the situations? Is it getting more closer to the resumption of the Six-Party Talks compared to one or two months ago?
MR. CROWLEY: That is – that’s a very good question, and that’s a very good question to pose to North Korea. (Laughter.) The responsibility is fundamentally on North Korea to cease provocations in the region, to open more constructive dialogue with various countries, and most significantly, South Korea, and take affirmative steps to ease tensions in the region, but also to fulfill its responsibilities under the 2005 joint statement.
As North Korea improves its performance, if you will, I think the United States and South Korea and other countries will respond accordingly. I don’t think there’s – let me clarify what I said yesterday. There is absolutely no disagreement or daylight in our commitment to support the other countries as part of the Six-Party process. We see the situation very clearly and very similarly. We all want to see North Korea take affirmative steps to reduce tensions, cease its provocative behavior, and with that kind of step by North Korea, we will respond accordingly.
As to A, B, C, D, E, F, G, what would be the indicators of what North Korea needs to do, in that respect, we might all have our ideas on at what point, if North Korea does this, that, or the other thing, what would constitute an acceptable point where we would then judge that further dialogue with North Korea would be fruitful. I think that’s the difficult question. We don’t disagree on where we want to go. We all absolutely agree on where we want to go. But we all want to see talks resume, but we don’t want to talk just to talk. Whenever that point arrives, whether it’s discussions on a bilateral basis by any of our countries or multilateral talks, we want them to be productive.
There are things that North Korea has to do that would convince us that further dialogue with North Korea will be constructive. That’s what we’re looking for. And on that score, we will all have our own views, we’ll share those views. We’ve had a – very, very close and collaborative discussions with countries, particularly in the aftermath of the sinking of the Cheonan. The Secretary, Kurt Campbell, Steve Bosworth, Sung Kim – we’ve been in the region many times. I think Sung Kim has been there this week. And we are working in lockstep with South Korea and other countries, and we will reach a mutual judgment as to when, at some point in the future, we believe that further dialogue with North Korea will be fruitful.
MODERATOR: We’re going to go back to New York for another question. New York, go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. My name is Betwa Sharma. I’m with the Press Trust of India. I have a question regarding Kashmir. There seems to be a kind of cyclical conversational dialogue happening on Kashmir where Pakistan is repeatedly calling for the United States to be involved in Kashmir in some way and the U.S. indicating that they’re not interested, at least at this point.
Do you think that you’ve communicated effectively to Pakistan that the U.S., at this point, is not interested in being involved in Kashmir? And also, could you talk about whether you think Pakistan’s preoccupation with Kashmir is in any way detracting from your joint efforts to fight extremism in Pakistan?
Thank you very much.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me be clear. We recognize the importance of Kashmir to both countries. We absolutely want to see tensions eased, and ultimately, a resolution to the situation in Kashmir. And that, we believe, needs to come through additional dialogue between Pakistan and India. We have not been asked to – by both countries to play a particular role. But this is the reason why, for a number of reasons, we continue to encourage further dialogue between India and Pakistan.
MODERATOR: We’ll go to the gentleman right there.
QUESTION: Neil MacDonald from CBC News, Mr. Crowley. Despite various Canadian court rulings, Ottawa remains utterly uninterested in accepting Omar Khadr back on its soil. And I’m just wondering, given President Obama’s wish to close Guantanamo, I presume that the Administration doesn’t want him incarcerated there for seven or eight more years and Republican – the Congress doesn’t want Guantanamo and inmates incarcerated here. So how important is it to the United States to – for Ottawa to eventually take Mr. Khadr off its hands?
MR. CROWLEY: I am constrained in what I can say here only because there is a ongoing judicial process underway at Guantanamo involving Mr. Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen. And on the status of his case, I would defer to the Department of Defense and/or to the Department of Justice. But we certainly believe that we have strong international support to close Guantanamo. That remains an objective of the United States and the Obama Administration. We are very grateful to a number of countries that have helped us in terms of a return or resettlement of detainees at Guantanamo; that effort continues. But as to particulars on Mr. Khadr’s case, I just will decline comment.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Right here.
QUESTION: My name is L’Houssaine Oulbaz from Aswat Morocco. My question is regarding Morocco and Algeria, so about the case of the former head of Polisario, which is – his name is Sidi Mouloud, who spoke out in our – about the Moroccan Autonomy Plan as a final resolution of 35 years in Western Sahara. So he – the Polisario and Algerian authorities told the State Department and the world that they have released him, but – which is not true, so he is not free again. So how do U.S. react about this case?
And the second question is: How does U.S. see the exclusion by Algerian – Algeria of such – of strategic ally as Morocco from the meetings of the countries of the Sahel? Does not this undermine the U.S. (inaudible) force in the region for the sake of the national agendas?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, we are aware of that case and we are still seeking further information on his status. On the broader issue of the Western Sahara, we continue to support the UN negotiating process. I can’t really say what impact the exclusion has at this point. But we had Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman on the – on his current travel stopped in Morocco. Western Sahara is an issue that we continue to discuss with both Morocco and Algeria.
MODERATOR: Okay. Come on up, Joyce.
QUESTION: Yes, Hi. Joyce Karam –
MR. CROWLEY: Hi, Joyce.
QUESTION: -- with Al Hayat newspaper. Good to see you. I actually want to take you still on the Middle East. Can you I ask you about Mitchell’s trip that the Secretary announced yesterday?
MR. CROWLEY: She just announced that George would return to the region soon. He will. We have nothing to announce at this point.
QUESTION: I mean, is the settlement freeze still on the table? Do you still think there’s any hope to get this from the Netanyahu government? And my second question is: Maliki has been holding several meetings in the region. He was, I think, in Egypt today and went to Turkey, Iran. So do you hope this will accelerate the formation of the Iraqi Government? And given that he had some kind of a turmoil with the countries in the region in his previous term, how do you see this changing if he is actually the next prime minister?
MR. CROWLEY: On the first question, let’s turn the equation around. As the Secretary emphasized last night in her speech, we continue to support a two-state solution and we continue to believe that direct negotiations are the only viable means to address the core issues, reach an agreement, and end the conflict once and for all.
And we continue to intensely work with the parties to try to create conditions for direct negotiations to resume. There’s no secret that the moratorium remains an issue that we are discussing with both sides, but our message is the same – that ultimately we need to sustain these direct negotiations as the only realistic path to reach what both sides fundamentally want and deserve: security on the one side and a Palestinian state living in peace and security on the other. So we will keep at it. As the Secretary said last night, there’s no silver bullet here. But we continue to work as hard as we can to see if we can find a path forward that we can all agree to.
Regarding Iraq, there have been lots of travel by Iraqi leaders. We note that. Our message to Iraq remains that we want to see the emergence of a government as soon as possible. It is now seven months past the election. Four blocs in Iraq received significant electoral support, and we think the most credible government will be one that reflects the will of the people and provides for a meaningful role for the major elements that received significant public support.
Our Ambassador Jim Jeffrey remains fully engaged with Iraqi leaders on the ground in Iraq. And the Vice President, the Secretary, and others are weighing in with Iraqi leaders trying to encourage them to do the – continue to do the things that we have seen actually in recent weeks. For quite a long time, there was a political stalemate where the – in a parliamentary system, the party – the leaders were not significantly engaged in trying to form a government. In recent weeks, we’ve actually seen the kind of political activity that is necessary to build a coalition that – to form a government. But we – and we continue to encourage that process.
This is ultimately – has to be an Iraqi process. These are not – there cannot be any solution imposed by the United States or any other country outside of Iraq. This is something for Iraqis to do. They are significantly engaged in trying to build a governing coalition, and we will continue to encourage them to succeed as quickly as they can.
QUESTION: Hi. This is Aylin Yazan from CNN Turk. My question is about arms sales. Turkey wants to buy a number of arms from U.S.A., especially Reapers. Do you have any idea where in the process we are now?
MR. CROWLEY: Turkey is a NATO ally and we are committed to support Turkey. We continue discussion with Turkey on its needs. I would just – not to comment on any particular system, but we have done – we are committed to Turkey’s – to support Turkey as a NATO ally. Turkey does, in fact, use significant U.S. technology. Of course, NATO has its own standards in terms of interoperability. But as to Turkey’s particular needs, that continues to be part of our ongoing discussions with the country.
MODERATOR: We’ll go in the middle, the gentleman in the blue shirt and jacket.
QUESTION: A follow-up on Omar Khadr. Could you at least tell us whether there will be, have been, might be negotiations or discussions between the Secretary and the Canadian foreign minister about a possible plea bargain deal, and is that something that the United States would like to see happen?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, we are in regular contact with the Harper government. The Secretary talks to Foreign Minister Cannon on a regular basis on a range of issues. We’ve got many issues on which the United States and Canada collaborate closely. When the Secretary and the foreign minister talk again, we’ll be happy to provide you details on their discussions.
But as to anything specific about the Khadr case, again, I’ll just decline to comment because it’s part of an ongoing legal process.
MODERATOR: This gentleman right there. Yeah, right there with his hand up.
QUESTION: Thank you. Yonhap News Agency, South Korea. P.J., do you see signs or chances of North Korea – the new North Korean leadership conducting another nuclear test to attract attention from the United States?
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t get into intelligence matters. Our message to North Korea has been clear and consistent. It needs to cease its provocative actions. And I can think of nothing more provocative than the possibility of another nuclear test or another series of missile firings. It’s the last thing that North Korea should consider at this point.
MODERATOR: Bring it up to the front, right here.
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible) our gentlemen in New York.
QUESTION: My name is Mazhar Abbas. I came from Pakistan to cover this event.
MR. CROWLEY: Welcome.
QUESTION: I work for private television, ARY. What in your assessment has the terrorism in the last 10 years increased or decreased? And if it has increased, why – what were the reasons? And how strong is al-Qaida today?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a pretty big question. (Laughter.) We actually do release every year a report on trends in terrorism. And I’m trying to scratch my head and recall what the headline was from the most recent report.
Broadly speaking, I think trends over the past 10 years on terrorism have improved. By the same token, we recognize that it is still a very significant weapon that the weak use against the strong. Regarding al-Qaida, it has adapted over the past 10 years. Certainly, the core group that was responsible for attacks in a range of countries – Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, and more recently, the United States and other places. The core al-Qaida, we believe is weaker. By the same token, there is a broad global network. As the Secretary has termed it “a syndicate of terror.” There are groups, regional groups that have chosen to affiliate themselves with al-Qaida; you have al-Qaida in Iraq. And we’ve had success against al-Qaida in Iraq, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. We are working intensively with the Government of Yemen to help combat al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. We are concerned about al-Qaida in the Maghreb and are working collaboratively with countries in the region and others who have an interest in that part of the world.
So we have certainly improved our capabilities over the past 10 years. We’ve significantly improved our collaboration and cooperation with a range of countries, including Pakistan and India. Because whether it is al-Qaida or others who practice terrorism, this represents a threat in South Asia, but more broadly, in other parts of the world as well.
So we have strengthened our relationships with all countries that confront a threat of terrorism, including Russia, since we’re mindful of the attack in the Caucasus over the past few days. This is something that has become a significant area of discussion with many, many countries around the world. The global collaboration is stronger than it’s ever been. Our mutual commitment to fight violent extremism in all its forms is stronger than it’s ever been. So – but this obviously will be something that will take some time to resolve.
MODERATOR: All right, we’re going to go take another question from New York. New York, you can go ahead with --
QUESTION: Thank you very much. I am the bureau chief of Hurriyet, of Turkish Daily. Mr. Crowley, I thought that you would be in New York, but unfortunately there was a misunderstanding. Anyway, I can see you on the screen now.
In Lisbon next month, there will be NATO summit. All the big shots of the NATO members will attend and they are going to discuss about PAC-3 project, the missile – Patriot missile system, defense system, project. If all agreed for it, then this system will be set up by the – along the Black Sea coast of Turkey. Whose safety is this system for?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, just to clarify, PAA stands for Phased Adaptive Approach and it is something that is a shift from the strategy that the previous American administration followed. We are doing this in collaboration with NATO and with the support of a number of countries in Europe because of emerging missile threats that – emanating from the Middle East and elsewhere. Within the context of NATO, we’ve just had last week an important ministerial meeting involving both the foreign ministers of our countries and the defense ministers of our country. It included a consultation with Turkey. We are discussing the PAA with Turkey and a prospective role that Turkey might play. I’m not aware that any decisions have been made, but this is something that we are working with our NATO partners to build a capability over time to be able to address the emerging threat that we see elsewhere in the region.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Crowley. Sonia Schott, Globovision, Venezuela. President Chavez is in Syria right now. I would like to know what is your read on that. Do you think that Venezuela could play any constructive role in the region? Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Could Venezuela play a constructive role in global affairs? Of course, it could. Is Venezuela playing a constructive role? It’s not clear that Venezuela is. President Chavez was just in Iran, during the course of his visit there announced a series of prospective agreements with Iran. We haven’t seen the details of those to know whether or not they violate the international sanctions regime. Venezuela, like all countries, have clear responsibilities. And we will watch to see, first of all, if any of these deals actually amount to anything, and if they do, whether they constitute violations of Security Council resolutions and sanctions against Iran.
So it’s hard for me to see how President Chavez’s current travel can be seen as constructive. But as we have said many times to Venezuela, we would like to see Venezuela play a more constructive role. We’re open to look for ways to ease tensions in our bilateral relationship, and we would hope that improvements can be made.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
MODERATOR: Okay, a follow-up.
QUESTION: Hi, I’m Luis Alonso with AP. Will the U.S. have a special setup to monitor and make sure that Venezuela will not incur (ph) nuclear proliferation? Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: I think you’re referring to the recent bilateral that Venezuela had with Russia.
MR. CROWLEY: As we said at the time, Venezuela has a right to pursue civilian nuclear energy. That said, it also has a responsibility to make sure that any nuclear program does not represent a proliferation risk. So the key will be whether – again, if this is pursued, that Venezuela cooperate fully with the IAEA and make sure that whatever civilian nuclear program emerges will be in full compliance with international standards and safeguards.
MODERATOR: The gentleman right there with the glasses.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Crowley. I’m Yashwant Raj from Hindustan Times. Pakistan’s support for terrorist outfits in India and working against India on the eastern front – has this come up in the talks with – in the ongoing talks this week?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the dialogue is ongoing. I feel confident that security issues will come up, counterterrorism issues will come up, and we will continue to work with Pakistan to try to find ways to put pressure on these extremist elements that represent a threat to Pakistan, a threat to Afghanistan, a threat to India, a threat to the region as a whole, and a threat to the United States. So this – security and counterterrorism remains a significant part of our Strategic Dialogue.
MODERATOR: In the far back.
QUESTION: Hi, P.J., it’s Sean Flax with NHK. How are you doing? I just want to talk to you about China. You’ve had some issues with cooperation there on Iran sanctions, North Korea sanctions, the Cheonan, human rights. I’m wondering, is there anything specifically that you can share with us about your strategy here short-term and long-term? Is there anything you can do, make concessions, or what can you do to sort of encourage China to go more towards your direction on these issues?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, you’ve ticked off several issues. These and other issues are part of our ongoing dialogue with China. We have had multiple conversations with China, for example, on the Cheonan. We recognize that we perhaps see the implications of the Cheonan sinking a different way, but it is part of our ongoing consultation and collaboration with China as part of the Six-Party process.
At every high-level meeting that we have with China, human rights is a part of that discussion. And we will continue to encourage China to improve its performance. You’re talking about two – the largest economy on the world and the most significant developing economy in the world, and economics also is a vitally important part of our bilateral relationship. You’re not going to solve the global economic crisis without significant action by China and the United States among other countries.
So it does represent the breadth and depth of our relationship. We recognize that there are significant areas where we do cooperate with China and have the ability to advance and solve global issues together. We recognize that in this kind of relationship we’re also going to have areas where we have disagreements. But the way to manage these disagreements is through the kind of ongoing dialogue that we do have with China.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name is Dagmar Benesova. I’m from the World Business Press Online. Well, my question is how do you assess the preparedness of European Union on the possible terrorist attack regarding of prevention service, secret service cooperations with the United States, et cetera? I’m asking in connection with the (inaudible) danger of Mumbai-style terrorist attack against European cities. I mean, it is normal that U.S. has to solve these issues for European Union. What would you expect that European Union will improve? Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is an area where we do have very deep relations with these countries on terrorism – counterterrorism cooperation because we do face the same threat. And just as you’ve seen in the last couple of weeks where we announced a terror alert – a travel alert based on information that we had and we’ve had intensive discussions with our European partners. And in fact, you’ve had similar alerts issued by European countries as well.
But it is a major dimension of our security cooperation. Our law enforcement agencies do cooperate extensively, share information. We are working on global systems together that, for example, can improve the security of travel for all citizens of the world. We’ve all been through airports and we’ve all experienced some of those new security measures that perhaps are inconvenient for global travelers and yet we think are vitally important to securing global transportation networks which are a favored target of terrorists.
So we think that the – our respective defenses have improved, but our cooperation has expanded very significantly since we’ve seen the kinds of global attacks that have, unfortunately and tragically, affected the United States and also our European allies.
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you for coming.
MR. CROWLEY: Always a pleasure.
QUESTION: Arshad Mahmud, BDNews24.com, Bangladesh. I just wanted to focus on your opening statement. Just after the election, there had been a surge of goodwill for the United States in the election of Barack Obama. And in the last nearly two years, the people are getting increasingly disillusioned by the more or less the same kind of foreign policy that the previous administration pursued, especially in terms of wars and conflict. And they particularly point – and it looks like that the United States, irrespective of which government is in power, sought the special interest group, and this is relevant to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only beneficiary it looks like are the different contractors who made $40 billion out of these two wars, and people are getting increasingly disillusioned by this continuation of this policy.
What is the take of the current Administration on this? Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll disagree with your broad characterization. You’re right that there was a spike in favorability ratings. And if you look, depending on the poll that – the poll and country, we have sustained improvements in favorability as a broad statement. But perhaps, on the one hand, people – the support has maybe declined slightly from what it was a year ago. But if you look at trends over a number of years, most people have a different view of the United States today than they might have, say, five years ago. Does that mean that they agree with the United States on every one of its policies? Surely, they don’t, and we respect that and we continue to have what we think is a constructive dialogue not only with governments around the world, but also with people around the world.
This is a fundamental part of what Secretary Clinton does when she travels, whether it’s to Pakistan, to India, to other countries. In every country that she visits, she tries to have an opportunity to talk with governments, but also with people directly. She has interviews with many of you and your colleagues around the world to carry on a different kind of conversation, a respectful conversation, between the United States and countries around the world. We are using technology as we can to try to improve our outreach and provide information and perspective to people around the world and also receive feedback so we understand and continue this conversation on U.S. policies and our mutual interests and things that we’re trying to do together.
I think people respect the United States in terms of our efforts to try to work closely and collaboratively with the rest of the world to solve significant challenges that can only be solved together. It cannot be solved by any one country working alone.
It is true the Obama Administration’s been in office for 18 months. We are unwinding. But if you look at the record, we’re unwinding our direct military involvement in Iraq, just as we pledged that we would, just as we did with the signing of an agreement, a formal agreement, with the Government of Iraq. We have outlined a clear strategy together with the international community and the Government of Afghanistan where over the next three years, four years, we will turn security responsibility over to the Government of Afghanistan. And we will, over time, as conditions improve, reduce our military presence in Afghanistan as we pledged to do, and now as we’re following through with that strategy.
It’s true we have not yet solved the challenge of the Middle East, but it’s not because of a lack of trying. We are committed to comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and we’re going to tirelessly work every day until we can reach an agreement that ends this conflict once and for all. We are – if you look at the major initiatives that we have outlined in terms of our development strategy for various parts of the world, including Africa, our commitment to help improve food security around the world, our commitment to help improve global health around the world, you can look at our response to major disasters, whether it was the situation in Haiti, or more recently, the flooding in Pakistan. We are genuinely trying to work with the rest of the world and we believe that we are pursuing policies that are for the benefit of the United States, but also the benefit of many, many countries and regions around the world. We recognize that not every person in the world will agree with every policy that the United States pursues. That is the nature of – that’s life, if you will.
But I think that people do differentiate the commitment that the United States has today to work together with – in different kinds of partnerships with formal alliances – in some cases with different kinds of international institutions. But we are trying to work constructively with a variety of countries, including emerging powers such as India, such as Brazil, such as Turkey on these full range of issues.
So I would just disagree that people perhaps do see a fundamental difference between the policies being pursued by the Obama Administration and policies being pursued by our predecessors. We don’t expect everyone to agree with everything that we do, but I think people will respect the effort of the United States to try to work intensely to solve the major challenges in the world.
QUESTION: Did you read the (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: I did. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: And that’s our time.
MR. CROWLEY: One more – yeah, one last one.
MODERATOR: Okay. Then we’ll go right there. Okay, we’ll go right there – oh, right here in the --
MR. CROWLEY: Lalit, I’ll catch you tomorrow. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you. Nicolas Pandi, Jiji Press, Japan. Just two really quick questions for you. There was a report that Secretary Clinton may not be attending the APEC meeting next month. So I was wondering if you could confirm that. And also, if you could comment on the report that she might be meeting Japanese Foreign Minister Maehara in lieu of attending the APEC meeting. Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, put it this way. We – the Secretary has travel to the region coming up and we’ll announce that in the next day or two. The President has travel coming up to the region as well, and I’ll defer to my White House colleagues on that.
But in both of those upcoming trips, it will continue the absolute commitment that the United States has to reengage, and this will be the Secretary’s – count them – fifth, sixth, seventh trip to the region. And this will be another trip by the President to the region as well. It demonstrates the importance that we attach to the Asia-Pacific region and will show that we are committed to working collaboratively with our partners in the region for regional security and to solve many of the compelling global issues that we face.
Again, thank you very much.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll see you again.
QUESTION: Thank you.
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