Daily Press Briefing
Philip J. Crowley
Daily Press Briefing
September 3, 2009
Announces termination of a broad range of assistance to Government of Honduras
Decision made by Secretary recognizing the need for strong measures because of continuing failure to restore democratic, constitution rule
Restoration of terminated assistance will be predicated upon return to democratic, constitutional governance in Honduras
Revoking visas of identified individual members and supporters of de factor regime
U.S. will not support an outcome of scheduled elections in November / a positive conclusion of the Arias process would provide a sound basis for legitimate elections to proceed
U.S. urges all parties to the San Jose talks to move expeditiously to agreement
Secretary met with President Zelaya for 1 hour this afternoon; explained decisions she had made this morning; reaffirmed US commitment to restore President Zelaya to office
Actions convey message that status quo is unacceptable; San Jose Accords need to be signed
About $30 million is available to be reprogrammed for other purposes / includes $11 million of Millennium Challenge Corporation funds; MCC board to meet next week and decide
Decision to terminate assistance did not hinge on a need to formally call it a military coup
Last contact with Micheletti government was last week in Washington
Suspension of aid was within the authority of the Secretary; question taken: if Secretary determined it to be a coup, would you have to go to Congress to restart aid?
Aid "terminated" is the same amount of aid that was previously "suspended"
MCC money in the outlaying years is not affected; will be considered by MCC board
Secretary encouraged Zelaya to take actions, create assurances to help build trust; encouraged all sides to tone down the rhetoric
Recognize there is a severe fracture with Honduran society; striving to avoid any steps that would precipitate violence; support the Arias process as the means to move forward to a legitimate election and a new government
Current U.S. diplomatic presence in Honduras has played a constructive role
U.S. has already taken action regarding military cooperation and military assistance
Honduran business community will see that if will be more difficult to do business with the United States;
U.S. still values its relationship with Honduras people; will continue to find ways to support the Honduran people; HIV/AIDS, child survival, food aid, disaster assistance will continue
Iran is sending the wrong message by the confirmation of Iranian Defense Minister; a Suspect in the terrorist bombing in Argentina
ArmorGroup investigation is ongoing; first investigator from DC has arrived in Kabul
Amb Eikenberry has taken aggressive action over the last day or two; has interviewed 60 individuals yesterday and today; held a town hall meeting with the American Embassy community; he believes the Embassy is being well protected
Secretary genuinely offended by what occurred; has directed all relevant agencies to aggressively take action; pledged to do everything necessary to keep Congress fully informed as to the findings of the investigations; additional people to be sent
Increasing our presence in Camp Sullivan; better situational awareness; contractor has taken steps regarding alcohol
The Ambassador has taken control and responsibility for what has happened there; he has directed has staff to aggressively investigate what is going on
Anyone who participated in the kinds of acts depicted in the pictures will not be working for DoS; it is inconsistent with our values, with the terms of the contract; anyone in a supervisory role who participated or condoned the action will be removed from their current roles; we expect that there will be changes in the management of ArmorGroup
DoS will look at this from top to bottom; Deputy Secretary Lew will be visiting Kabul
DoS is investigation allegations that USAID money is ending up with the Taliban
DynCorp told DoS it is not ready to take over aviation services from Xe because of issues of getting their helicopters into place; Xe will continue to fly until DynCorp is ready
DoS is continuing to pay Blackwater under the terms of the contract; because DynCorp was not ready, there will be consequences for DynCorp
U.S. continues to hope that those at Camp Ashraf and the Iraqi Government will continue to interact in a peaceful way; took question on U.S. view on possible UN monitoring
Senator Mitchell had important meetings with Israeli officials in New York yesterday; will be going to the region in the next few days for further consultations
U.S. looking to create conditions that allow formal negotiations to begin
U.S. remains very concerned and in discussion with the Government of Pakistan regarding A.Q. Khan and the proliferation risk he poses
U.S. calls on all parties to uphold the democratic process and to observe established election procedures and commitments; and to respond to results peacefully
Ambassador Bosworth has personal commitments that will bring him back to the United States; Ambassador Sung Kim will meet with his Russian counterpart in Seoul
(2:42 p.m. EDT)
MR. CROWLEY: I apologize for the delay, but --
QUESTION: Yeah. Speaking of delays, this conference call?
MR. CROWLEY: The background briefing will follow this briefing and we’ll give a suitable interval to make sure that people get properly positioned.
Good afternoon, and welcome to the State Department. Just to kind of repeat the high points of the announcement we made a short time ago, the Department of State announces the termination of a broad range of assistance to the Government of Honduras as a result of the coup d’état that took place on June 28. The Secretary already had suspended assistance shortly after the coup.
The Secretary of State has made the decision, consistent with U.S. legislation, recognizing the need for strong measures in light of the continued resistance of the adoption of the San Jose Accord by the de facto regime and continuing failure to restore democratic, constitutional rule to Honduras.
The Department of State recognizes the complicated nature of the actions which led to the June 28 coup d’état in which Honduras’s democratically elected leader, President Zelaya, was removed from office. These events involve complex factual and legal questions, and the participants of both the – participation of both the legislative and judicial branches of government, as well as the military.
Restoration of the terminated assistance will be predicated upon a return of – to democratic, constitutional governance in Honduras.
The Department of State further announces that we have identified individual members and supporters of the de facto regime whose visas are in the process of being revoked.
A presidential election is currently scheduled for November. That election must be undertaken in a free, fair, and transparent manner. It must also be free of taint and open to all Hondurans to exercise their democratic franchise. And at this moment, we would not be able to support the outcome of the scheduled elections. A positive conclusion of the Arias process would provide a sound basis for legitimate elections to proceed. We strongly urge all parties to the San Jose talks to move expeditiously to agreement.
Obviously, we put out that statement this morning. The Secretary met for roughly an hour with President Zelaya early this afternoon. Their discussion – President Zelaya brought the Secretary up to date on his assessment of the current situation in Honduras. The Secretary explained to President Zelaya the decisions that she has made this morning, reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to restore President Zelaya to office as part of the Arias process leading to the election of a new government in Honduras.
But clearly, today’s action sends a clear message to the de facto regime that the status quo is unacceptable and that their strategy to try to run out the clock on President Zelaya’s term of office is unacceptable, and the time has come for all of the parties to sign the San Jose Accords.
QUESTION: Can you – a couple things.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: One, how much money are we talking about here?
MR. CROWLEY: We’re talking about over $30 million. And really, what – you’ll recall that previously we had pushed the pause button. We have now today pushed the stop button. Over $30 million is available to be reprogrammed for other purposes. And that we will have to press a start button at some point in the future through some deliberative process for aid to be restored to Honduras.
QUESTION: Except --
QUESTION: Can I ask, just directly related to the money, does that 30 million include any money from the Millennium Challenge Corporation?
MR. CROWLEY: I believe it includes $11 million from the Millennium Account. And obviously, on MCC money, those are decisions that the MCC board will have to make next week when they meet, I believe, on Wednesday.
QUESTION: Okay. But that was my next question. How can you claim that the money has been terminated if the statutory authority to terminate the MCC money resides solely and exclusively with the MCC board of directors, of which the Secretary is a member but not the sole one? There are eight members of it, so how can you say it’s been terminated if the board hasn’t voted?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question.
QUESTION: Will you get back to us on that today?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: And --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean – well, put it this way – some of these technical details, I think, other briefers will be able to go into greater detail than I can.
QUESTION: And then secondly, why not go the whole distance and make the determination that this is a coup, a legal determination?
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: A military coup.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, but the Secretary, in terminating the aid, did not have to reach that conclusion.
QUESTION: But why didn’t she reach that conclusion? Why, when the democratically elected president of a sovereign country gets bundled onto an airplane in his pajamas by the military and flown into exile, is that not a military coup?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s focus on what we are trying to do here. We are trying to see democratic, constitutional rule restored in Honduras. That is our purpose. We are acting based on the democratic principles that we embrace and that the OAS embraces. What the Secretary has tried to do throughout this process is we take steps that we believe apply – send the right message, apply the right pressures, trying to yield the proper outcome. That is why we have taken the various actions that we’ve taken since June 28th.
Both to – declare it to be a coup. The President declared it. The Secretary declared it. We suspended the aid, and now we’ve terminated the aid. The OAS has suspended Honduras from the organization. We’re now applying additional pressure. We believe that the steps that we’ve taken, that they’ve – there’s a sense that the de facto regime was thinking, if we can just get to an election, that this would absolve them of all their sins. And we’re saying, clearly, that is not the case, that we – there will have to be definitive steps taken. We’ll have to see the restoration of a democratically elected government through a fair, free, and transparent process in the future.
So this is about the signal that we’re sending to Honduras. This is not about steps that the United States is taking. This is about steps that the de facto regime at this point must take. Their only option at this point is to accept the principles in the Arias process, sign that agreement, and move Honduras forward towards a new government, subject, obviously, to the stipulations of the Arias process, including international monitoring, so that we – so ultimately, we can see in Honduras a legitimate government that the people of Honduras, others in the region, can support and believe in.
QUESTION: But why isn’t it a military coup?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to parse complex facts and judgments here. The Secretary did not have to make that determination to take the action that she has taken.
QUESTION: I know, but --
MR. CROWLEY: Our action today is to send a very clear message to the de facto regime: Their strategy will not work. They have to sign on to the San Jose Accords. There are things that they must do. This is not about what the United States is doing. This is about what they must do if they’re going to get out of the hole that they have put themselves in.
QUESTION: But President Zelaya says that --
QUESTION: I need to ask a question --
QUESTION: -- you’re sending a mixed message, because on one hand, yes, you’re suspending aid. You’re not definitively calling it a military coup. And this – and he charges that this Micheletti government is not taking you seriously, is not kind of respecting your will that if you were to be declarative about what you think this is, that you would – he would have a better leg to stand on.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think we’ve actually sent, Elise, a very clear message. The United States is sending a very clear and compelling message to the de facto regime: The status quo isn’t acceptable. They have, in fact, failed to sign on to the San Jose Accords. They have, in fact, failed to assure the international community they are willing to abide by the outlines of the Arias process – the international monitoring, the truth and reconciliation commission.
The United States is sending a very clear message here: We want to see democratic, constitutional rule restored to Honduras through peaceful means. That has been our policy objective since June 28th, and we continue to take the steps that we are taking to put pressure on the de facto regime to change its current position. We have supported the Arias process so that we have the outlines of an agreement that will resolve this crisis.
And our clear message to the de facto regime and Honduras is: It’s time to sign on to the San Jose Accords, take the steps that are outlined there, move Honduras towards a better future.
QUESTION: I misread the statement and thought this was the announcement. So what is the essential difference now, though, in terms of calling it a coup d’état versus calling it a military coup? Does it mean you don’t have to go to Congress to reinstate the aid? Is there something substantively different?
MR. CROWLEY: We will – in order to restart aid at some point in the future, we will have to go through some sort of deliberative process, but that process will be based on our assessment of whether democratic constitutional rule has been restored to Honduras through a process that we believe is free, fair and transparent.
QUESTION: Is that the key difference, though? Is there some other difference?
MR. CROWLEY: The key difference is that the aid that we have suspended is now terminated, which means it’s, in essence, for the moment, lost to Honduras. We have tried to say over time – and while our diplomatic efforts continue, we haven’t given up on diplomacy yet. We’ll continue to work at – in Honduras, here in Washington, to try to convince the de facto regime to change its current position.
The Secretary today talked with President Zelaya about steps that we feel that he can take to reassure the de facto regime that he is prepared to live and abide by the San Jose Accords. We want to be sure that whatever steps are taken by any party going forward, that they are done in a peaceful way. We believe that’s important to lower the rhetoric on all sides so that there is not risk of further violence.
QUESTION: I don’t understand the difference.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, but the difference here is that it is the process by which aid will need to be --
QUESTION: It is what I said.
MR. CROWLEY: -- restarted in the future.
QUESTION: It’s not new aid; it doesn’t have to go through Congress, is what you’re saying, to reinstate the aid? You guys deliberate?
MR. CROWLEY: We – right.
MR. CROWLEY: Right.
QUESTION: And it’s not --
QUESTION: P.J., when is the last time that the State Department had any direct contact with the Micheletti government or the de facto regime, and who had it, aside from your comments this morning?
MR. CROWLEY: Charles, I think last week, we had meetings here in Washington. There was a delegation here who met with Craig Kelly.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: So I just want to make sure I understand this. If you had made – if she had made the determination, you would have had to go to Congress to reinstate the aid?
MR. CROWLEY: But --
QUESTION: By doing it – by not making the determination and still terminating the aid, you – the Administration can, just by itself, decide to restart it?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a good question to ask the next briefers.
QUESTION: So that means you don’t know?
QUESTION: Well, that means that you did --
MR. CROWLEY: That means --
QUESTION: You just told Janine --
QUESTION: You just told Janine, you know --
MR. CROWLEY: Right. All right.
QUESTION: It’s in the transcript, so is it right or is it not right?
MR. CROWLEY: What’s the question?
QUESTION: That’s exactly Matt’s question.
QUESTION: The question is this: By deciding not to make the coup determination, does that mean that the --
MR. CROWLEY: I can answer that question. This action today was within the authority of the Secretary.
QUESTION: No one is suggesting that it wasn’t.
MR. CROWLEY: But –
QUESTION: I’m just trying to figure out what the difference is between what she did and --
MR. CROWLEY: Can I answer the question you asked me?
QUESTION: Well, I guess – I didn’t get to ask the question.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: You stopped me after --
MR. CROWLEY: All right.
QUESTION: I didn’t get to ask the question.
MR. CROWLEY: Please ask your question.
QUESTION: Is the difference between what she did today and find – and making the determination that the Administration does not have to go back to Congress to get – to restart the aid?
MR. CROWLEY: It is within the powers of the Secretary of State to stop the aid, as she did today. And it’s within the authority of the Secretary, subject to a deliberative process, to restart the aid in the future, if we believe that --
QUESTION: I understand that.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- but if she had made the determination.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: The short answer is yes.
QUESTION: But if she had me the --
MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary has the power to stop it and the Secretary has the power to restart it.
QUESTION: But that – that’s not the question. The question is, if she had made the determination that it was a coup, would you have to go to Congress to restart the --
MR. CROWLEY: I will take that question.
QUESTION: Well, the problem here is, P.J., you just – Janine asked that same thing, and you said yes.
MR. CROWLEY: I was answering a different question. I’ll tell you what. I will take the question of the differentiation between the steps she took today and a notional, theoretical step that she could have taken. It’s really beside the point.
QUESTION: Well, it’s not just a notional theoretical thing. You have – Howard Berman called for it to be done this morning. I mean, he’s the chairman of the House –
MR. CROWLEY: I just said I’ll take the question.
QUESTION: So wait, just to be clear, so it’s the 18 million that you suspended earlier, plus 11 million in the Millennium Challenge Account? So you’re – so that’s the totality of non-humanitarian aid?
MR. CROWLEY: We have – the numbers today have not changed based on the numbers that we provided recently that we had suspended. All of the aid that we suspended previously, consistent with the law, we have now terminated. Okay.
QUESTION: Okay, but you’ve expanded this --
QUESTION: -- to include the MCC money.
QUESTION: -- to include more money?
QUESTION: That’s it. It’s just that pot, plus MCC.
QUESTION: Well, plus the MCC. There’s future – there’s – the MCC program is a multiyear program. And if they decide to – I mean, this is –
QUESTION: Eleven million dollars was previously suspended.
MR. CROWLEY: Right.
QUESTION: So then 30 million was previously suspended?
MR. CROWLEY: Right.
QUESTION: Nothing new?
MR. CROWLEY: Nothing new. There’s –
QUESTION: Terminated instead of suspended.
MR. CROWLEY: Correct.
QUESTION: What about the money from the MCC in outlying years?
MR. CROWLEY: The money in the outlying years is not affected by this decision, but that is a separate process.
QUESTION: Right. And next week, it could be taken out --
MR. CROWLEY: That will be subject to consideration by the MCC board.
QUESTION: What recommendation is the Secretary of State going to bring to the MCC board next week?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll let her bring those recommendations, and then we’ll tell you what she did.
QUESTION: P.J., you mentioned that the Secretary in the meeting today with Zelaya also suggested steps to him that he could take to give more guarantees or whatever to the de facto government. What are those?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, what we have here is a lack of trust on both sides. You have what we believe is the outlines of a fair agreement that would restore constitutional and democratic order to Honduras. What we think we have right now is a situation where both sides have accepted – in the case of President Zelaya, he has accepted the San Jose Accords: The de facto regime has not. Part of their concerns, we believe, are questions about whether President Zelaya would abide by the San Jose Accords if both sides do, in fact, accept them.
And what the Secretary said to President Zelaya is there are things that you can do to create assurances within Honduras that if both sides accept the San Jose Accords formally, that he will in fact, live by them, just as we would expect the de facto regime to accept and then live by what is outlined in --
QUESTION: And what specific steps would those include?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, part of this also is to bring down the – there’s anxiety within Honduran society. We remain concerned about human rights, intimidation by various – by the police, others, some episodes of violence. And we think that if all sides can bring down the rhetoric, tone down the acrimony, that then that would create a climate where ultimately, more rational actors can prevail.
And we will continue to talk to all of the parties involved, to try to convince them of the seriousness of the steps that we’ve taken. There are real consequences here to Honduras. President Zelaya, in his meeting, talked about the impact that the current situation is having on the Honduran economy. Obviously, the action on visas sends a compelling message to those who have supported the de facto regime: This is going to cost you personally. So we think that this pressure, along with others in the region, within the Arias process within the OAS, we think that is having some effect. But now we’re doing everything that we can to push this process towards a resolution.
QUESTION: How many more people have you identified for the visa revocation?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to get into any particulars. There are specific individuals, and we are in the process of revoking their visas. But as to numbers, who they are, I’m not going to get into --
QUESTION: Well, is it more than four that were already announced?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. So in our --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. The list includes those who have participated in the coup and those who have supported it.
QUESTION: I just want to make sure it is on top of the four --
MR. CROWLEY: This is in addition to those steps that --
QUESTION: -- that were already announced.
MR. CROWLEY: Fair point. This is an additional list. It is additive to those who have already had that action taken.
QUESTION: In the Secretary’s discussion with President Zelaya, did she, in addition to voicing support for his return, I mean, talk about some of the problems of the – of his administration and policies that led to what people – what led to this coup? I mean, in all of this, you talk about the need for the democratic restore of order, but I’ve never once heard you, like, say anything favorable about Zelaya himself. I mean, you certainly haven’t voiced any support for his rule.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are not trying to personalize this. This is about the United States and following the democratic principles that we live by and that the OAS abides by. This is about the United States and, we feel, the importance in the region of restoring democratic, constitutional rule to Honduras and the signal that sends to the region to reinforce --
QUESTION: Okay. But if you put him back – if you put him back in office, the problems that led to his ouster are still going to remain.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, hang on a second. President Zelaya came to office through a democratic process. The President called the action to remove him a coup. The Secretary said it’s a coup. And it is the policy of the United States to do everything in our power to restore President Zelaya to office as a vital component of restoring democratic and constitutional rule in Honduras.
QUESTION: Well, but the people that launched the coup said that he wasn’t ruling democratically or constitutionally. So I mean, if you put him back in office, are you prepared to put pressure on him to rule democratically and constitutionally?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, what we – that’s what – the reason why we supported the Arias process, and it’s the reason why we support the ingredients that include important elements that could help bring Honduran society back together. We recognize that there is a severe fracture within Honduran society, and we are genuinely concerned about the impact that any action that we take – the impact that that would have on the ground. We do not want to have any step that we take precipitate further violence. We are genuinely concerned about this. So we are taking measured steps, but we are sending a clear message to the de facto regime.
But we also should take note – I mean, there is an electoral process that now has started in Honduras. There are, I think, six candidates for president. We will be communicating to those candidates roles that they can play. Because ultimately, this is about getting to January 27, 2010, where you have a new government in place in Honduras, one that has come into office through legitimate means, and one that the people of Honduras can believe in, and one that the people of the United States and the rest of the region can support.
So everything we’re doing here is a means towards that end: How can we take a current situation that is extraordinarily difficult, extraordinarily dangerous, and find a formula that moves us forward towards a legitimate election and a new government? That’s why we supported the Arias process, that’s why we think that the components of the Arias plan are the best way to move forward, and that’s why we continue to – what we told President Zelayas today – sign the San Jose Accords. And what we’re saying to the de facto regime, quite clearly, is do the same thing.
QUESTION: P.J., could I ask --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: -- whether there’s been any consideration of drawing down your diplomatic presence down there, and who they are speaking with if they’re not in contact with the de facto government.
MR. CROWLEY: Ambassador Llorens was part of the meeting today, and the Secretary during her discussion explained to President Zelaya why we have – we think that his presence in the capital has, up until now, played a very constructive role. He has been a significant voice for the United States in talking to those in Honduran society on both sides, and we think that he’ll continue to play a very constructive role in trying to help us resolve this situation.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) thanks.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: What would it require for the Honduran coup to be labeled a military coup?
MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary did not have to make that judgment today, and what – her actions today don’t forestall making that judgment at some time in the future.
QUESTION: But also if I could follow up with that, Micheletti said that he won’t cave into any international pressure even if it means cutting off the $30 million. So cutting off all aid, which would require the State Department to call it a military coup, if that’s going to pressure them even more, why wouldn’t it be labeled a military coup then?
MR. CROWLEY: She did not have to reach that decision to take the action that she took today. As to what Micheletti takes from this, clearly, this is going to have an impact on the Honduran de facto regime. It’s going to have an impact on those who have supported the coup. And our hope is that as they see the seriousness of purpose, and as they also see that, at this point in time, there’s no way out of this – they, we believe, had the judgment that if they just get to an election – to election day, that this would absolve them of the actions they’ve taken. And we’re saying that based on conditions as they currently exist, we cannot recognize the results of this election. So for the de facto regime, they’re now in a box and they will have to sign on to the San Jose Accords to get out of the box that they’re in.
QUESTION: If I can just follow up with that, the generals who were involved in this coup were graduates trained – received military training and are graduates of the School of Americas, Fort Benning, Georgia, which means if you – I imagine if you had the Department of Defense revoke that, either revoke their diplomas or find some way to get them out of power, that would be workable because they were the ones that are – that orchestrated the coup.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, we have already taken action regarding military cooperation and military assistance, so this has already had an impact on the Honduran military already. As to what further steps we’ll take – but we are trying to send a clear message to Honduras today.
QUESTION: P.J., when you said we will be communicating to those candidates, the presidential candidates, the roles they can play, what exactly is the role that you would be suggesting?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, at this point, what’s vitally important is that in order for Honduras to have a restoration of a normal relationship with the United States, a normal relationship with the rest of the region, and a resumption of aid, they’re going to have to produce a government that comes into office through a free, fair, and transparent and democratic process. We’re sending a clear signal to the de facto regime that under the present circumstances we will not recognize the results of the upcoming election under the current circumstances. That forces the de facto regime to contemplate a change. Where they are now is an unacceptable place. We’re trying to get them to recognize that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel here. They will have to make – they’ll have to change course, decide to sign on to the San Jose Accord, reach agreement with President Zelaya under the Arias process, if they have any hope of a normal relationship with the United States.
QUESTION: But the role that the candidates could play is to pressure the government to do that, right?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, but this is the time where various elements of Honduran society need to come back together again and convince the de facto regime that the course that they are on will not get them where they think it will go. So for those who have an interest in and are participating in the democratic process in Honduras, they need to also send a signal to the de facto regime that if they come to office through a process that the de facto regime controls, they will not be recognized as a democratic and constitutional government come November or come January. So they have a stake in a process that the United States, the OAS, and the people of Honduras can support.
We also believe that within the business community there, now that they see that it will be more difficult to do business in the United States or in the region, that there are going to be direct consequences to them. I think they thought that the steps that we had taken were temporary measures and that they would just try to wait out the United States. And we’re saying today, clearly, these are not temporary measures. We now have pressed the stop button. This aid is lost to Honduras for the time being. There’s going to be greater impact on those individuals who are part of the de facto regime and those individuals who support the de facto regime. It’s time for everyone to reassess where they are, and it’s time for the de facto regime to sign on to the San Jose Accords.
QUESTION: P.J., I think maybe my brain is frozen because it’s so cold in here, but can you – you say that this is a clear signal, but the practical effect is maybe they didn’t have the 30 million yesterday and they still don’t have it today, but you don’t think it’s a mixed message by not suspending all non-humanitarian aid? I mean, I don’t see what, you know, more dramatic of a – you know, maybe it’s a little – it’ll happen for a little bit longer. But this government says that it’s prepared to relinquish power to a new government anyway. So I just don’t understand why not cutting all humanitarian aid is not the clearest signal you can send.
MR. CROWLEY: Well – and, Elise, it’s a fair question. But we’re trying to do two things. One is to send a clear message and put as much pressure as we can on the de facto regime. But we still value our relationship with Honduras, and in particular the Honduran people. So we made this judgment some time ago that we will first suspend, and now we have terminated, that assistance directed at the government itself. But we obviously have made a judgment that we need to continue to find ways to support the Honduran people, so there is aid that will continue to flow into Honduras. For HIV/AIDS, for other purposes, child survival, food aid, disaster assistance, we feel that we can deliver that aid to the Honduran people while still trying to isolate and put pressure on the de facto regime.
That’s not a mixed message. We believe in democracy. But we also believe in supporting people in the region and we’re trying to find an effective way – we think we have found the right balance.
QUESTION: Can you tell me what percentage of this – of aid this $30 million is, and can you give us some examples of what is cut in that 30 – in the 30? I understand that 11 --
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s a fair question. Why don’t you – the next briefers who do the policy work here can get (inaudible).
QUESTION: And then I just want to follow up on Elise’s point, which was that prior to today, the aid was not available to them and it was going to be restarted when they meet a certain criteria. Today, the aid is still not available to them and they still have to meet a certain criteria that I think is the same criteria that it was before you terminated. What’s the change?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, in some cases, this aid potentially expires and will be reprogrammed to other purposes. It does set a higher bar in terms of the process that will be required for us to restart. But I would also make sure that you don’t lose sight of we’ve taken three steps here, and you are focused on the aid, understandably so, but you can also see how the other two steps – and in particular within Honduras, we think that for those who have supported the regime, who think they could support the regime and push President Zelaya out of the country without ramifications, all of a sudden it’s going to be more difficult for them to travel, more difficult for them to do business with others in the region, including the United States.
This is going to have an impact on those who have been giving Micheletti advice up to now – hey, ride this out. And we are showing that there are severe consequences to those who think that they can, and we don’t think they can.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on Kirit’s question just on the amount of the aid that was suspended? Can you --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m going to push all aid questions, if you don’t mind, to the next briefer.
QUESTION: Well, what I’m – here’s what I’m asking, though, because if they aren’t able to answer the question --
MR. CROWLEY: They will be able to answer it.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, you know, then why don’t you hear the question, okay?
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Fair enough, fair enough.
QUESTION: The question is: Can you provide a breakdown of the more than 30 million? What is the total and what are its different components? You know, we’re more than two months after the event, so presumably, the Administration should by now know what are the sums involved.
Secondly, I wanted to ask whether there were concerns within the Administration that a military coup determination would (a), eliminate room for a diplomatic solution, that if you had done that, there wouldn’t be any more space for a diplomatic solution here – i.e. the San Jose Accord – and (b), that if you had made such a determination, there would be a backlash from the Honduran military with which the United States has had longstanding, close and productive ties.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to parse this area from here. I would simply tell you that we were looking backwards at a complex set of facts and the difficulty in understanding precisely what happened and the role that various institutions played as opposed to whether – obviously, we still have this and other steps that we can take in the future as we go forward.
But we recognize that what happened on June 28th, even though it happened weeks ago, it’s still – it’s not your garden variety military coup. And assessing those facts and drawing conclusions from them has been a challenge and – but what we’re trying to do, that – independent of that judgment, there were steps that the Secretary felt she could take today and has taken today in order to apply additional pressure on the de facto regime.
QUESTION: Iran – can we move on to another subject?
MR. CROWLEY: All right.
QUESTION: Since we’re going to have --
QUESTION: One – what do you say to those analysts that say that the Administration’s efforts on Honduras have actually been rather ineffectual? And isn’t the fact that you’ve had to take these actions today an admission that what you’ve managed to accomplish over the last few months has been ineffectual?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, our objective has been the return of President Zelaya. That has not yet been accomplished. That said, we think that the diplomatic actions that we have taken have, in fact, been very effective in outlining for Honduras a path forward out of this crisis towards what everyone wants, which is, in January of next year, a new government in place and one that all of the people of Honduras can see as legitimate and can choose to support.
So that process is still ongoing, so we can make an historical judgment at some time in the future, but obviously, from June 28th, we have sent clear and – taken clear and decisive actions – suspending Honduras from the OAS, suspending assistance from the United States. We are taking these additional steps. It’s fair to say: has the de facto regime done what we want, what the region wants, what President Arias outlined? Not yet. But this process continues. Our diplomatic efforts will continue. And we hope that both President Zelaya and commitments that we hope that he will make to the process – and we hope that the de facto regime will change its judgment, will sign on to the accords, and then the international community, through a variety of means, will support the process through which we will restore democratic, constitutional order to Honduras.
So I think at this point, we’d say this has been a difficult process. It is still ongoing. It’s not over. But where we have been successful is in not only unanimity within the region – one or two countries accepted – that there’s a clear path forward. We want to see a restoration of democratic, constitutional government in Honduras. We have a plan that has broad, international support, and that – and now today, we’re taking additional steps to try to convince President Zelaya on the one hand, who has indicated he will accept the San Jose Accords, but in particular, to convince the de facto regime that their current strategy will not work, and to get Honduras out of the box in which it finds itself, they have to sign on to the San Jose Accords.
So this remains, in our judgment, a work in progress.
QUESTION: Can we move on?
QUESTION: A new topic?
MR. CROWLEY: New topic.
QUESTION: Yeah. Do you have reaction to the confirmation of the Iranian defense – the new Iranian defense minister --
MR. CROWLEY: We, the United States, have been awaiting a message from Iran, a message that they want to shift – take a new approach, take a fresh approach. We’ve been hoping that they would be willing to engage the United States and the international community to help to move forward, to resolve the questions that we have about their behavior, and including their well-known state sponsorship of terrorism.
We find today’s action disturbing, and we think that for Iran, it is sending precisely the wrong message. And we certainly support Argentina’s efforts to bring justice to the perpetrators of the 1994 terrorist bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires, and we will continue to support that, but – so unfortunately, rather than taking a step forward to engage the United States and the international community, Iran today is taking a step backward by putting into a high office a well-known individual suspected of participation in a terrorist act.
QUESTION: A new topic?
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: There was a report in the Iranian press yesterday that the Administration actually sent a second letter to the supreme leader. Is that correct?
MR. CROWLEY: I am not going to comment about specific diplomatic correspondence from here.
QUESTION: So does that mean that it’s – that you’re just not commenting on the correspondence?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not commenting.
QUESTION: So that means there was correspondence?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not commenting, which means I’m not confirming or denying. I’m just saying I’m not commenting.
QUESTION: A new topic?
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: And is he a subsidiary --
QUESTION: I wanted to just follow up on the ArmorGroup Kabul story. Wackenhut, two days later, has put out a statement referring all questions to the State Department and saying they’re fully cooperating with your investigation. I know it’s still early, but have you been able to shed any light on these hazing incidents, and have they been cooperative with you? And also, has anyone been fired that’s been involved?
MR. CROWLEY: Let me answer as many of those questions as I can remember. Obviously, the various investigations that we have are ongoing. I think the first investigator from Washington has arrived on scene in Kabul. But Ambassador Eikenberry has taken aggressive action over the last day or two regarding this incident. He has put almost every security resource that he has available on this case. They have interviewed some 60 individuals yesterday and today.
So in Kabul, first and foremost, they’re trying to get an understanding of what happened, who was involved, how it could have happened, who either knew things, didn’t know things. And Ambassador Eikenberry also today had a town hall meeting with the American community in Kabul to discuss the situation and --
QUESTION: The American Embassy?
MR. CROWLEY: The Embassy, yeah, the American Embassy community. And I think as part of his message to the American community, he continued to reassure them that notwithstanding this episode, that he believes and we believe that the Embassy is being well protected.
QUESTION: What about the question of whether anyone’s either stepped down or been fired as of yet?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, on that, I would refer – we are interviewing people, so obviously, for the moment, we want them to remain on site so we can learn as much as we can about what happened, who was responsible, how could it happen. We have taken some steps --
QUESTION: I’m sorry, what – how could what happen?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, depending on how you want to provide – I mean, I’ll talk first about the party or parties involving a set of individuals, describe it – “Lord of the Flies,” as you described it, or frat party gone bad, however you want to describe it.
MR. CROWLEY: It was awful, it was disgusting.
QUESTION: But that --
MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary, in her morning meeting, had a lot to say about this. It’s – she is genuinely offended by what has occurred. And she has directed all of the relevant agencies to aggressively take action.
She also pledged, because obviously, this has been – the other part of this, the status of the security contract and the security performance in Kabul has been of significant interest to the Congress, and she pledged, at the same time, we will do everything necessary to keep Congress fully informed about what we find out during these various investigations. We will be sending out additional people from Washington. The IG will also be looking at various components of this.
But regarding the disgusting incident that occurred at least in early August, if not previously, we’ve already taken additional steps – we’ve taken steps in terms of increasing our presence in Camp Sullivan so that we are – we have better situational awareness of what is happening there. I believe the contractor has taken steps in terms of – regarding alcohol, so that hopefully, these are – these incidents are in the past.
But we are – at multiple levels, we’re trying to figure out what happened, how is it that key people would not have been able to see this. We are concerned about reports of intimidation. Where – there were genuinely, within the contractors’ ranks, people who were concerned about this, tried to report it in various ways, and were able to do so. So there are a variety of things that we’re looking at as we go forward.
QUESTION: So you’re saying you suspect that – you think that there was more than one outrageous party?
MR. CROWLEY: I think that it’s our judgment there were probably – undoubtedly more than one.
QUESTION: Just about the interviews, the investigator that came from Washington is doing the interviews, and that’s a DS investigator?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think the interviews that I’m aware of involve the RSO and his people in Kabul. But we have sent out people from Washington. The first of the various individuals and teams that will be going there from here have arrived on site as well.
QUESTION: So the RSO that was supposed to have oversight over this Camp Sullivan is actually doing the interviews himself?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll give you some additional information offline, but I’m not going to talk about the specific – the Ambassador has taken control and responsibility for what has happened there. He has directed that his staff aggressively investigate what is going on. They are already doing so. But we will obviously keep on site those people who can help us understand what has transpired. But clearly, the behavior that was depicted in those pictures is unacceptable. Those who have participated in those – those who participated in those acts will be removed as we go forward.
But obviously, first and foremost, our current focus is to try to best understand what happened, and then the consequences will fall to those who have – are guilty of misconduct.
QUESTION: You mean you’ve already decided to fire the people who are depicted in the pictures?
MR. CROWLEY: The Ambassador – anyone who --
QUESTION: That’s what you just said. For those who participated --
MR. CROWLEY: Anyone who – all right, Matt, let me – all right, you’ve asked the question, now it’s my turn, okay? Anyone who participated in the kinds of acts depicted in those pictures should not and will not be working for the Department of State. It is inconsistent with our values. It’s inconsistent with the terms of the contract. Anyone in a supervisory role who either participated in that action or condoned that action has forfeited their ability to serve in a leadership position. We recognize that, but the Ambassador has the ability, on his own authority, to send home anyone in – overseas who he believes is detrimental to the operation there.
Now – so those who we judge participated in this action will be removed from their current roles in providing for the security of the United States Embassy. That’s – there will be a separate judgment over time as to what their future employment will involve, but anyone from our standpoint who either participated in this action, condoned this action, we believe will not serve the best interests of the United States going forward. And we expect, as we signaled yesterday, that there will be changes in the management of ArmorGroup.
QUESTION: Did you talk to the Afghan Government about this at all? Because there were some charges in this POGO report that Afghan nationals were mistreated, and their customs and traditions were disrespected.
MR. CROWLEY: Put it this way: I think that if anyone looks at those photos, lots of customs and values and standards have been violated here.
QUESTION: But I mean, there were specific charges that --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it – that gets to the point that Matt raised. I mean, irrespective of a formal judgment that we make regarding the performance of the contract or any legal steps that might be forthcoming, this violates our policies. This violated our values. This potentially compromised the important work of the United States Embassy in Kabul. We all find this abhorrent. And so on that basis alone, anyone who was involved in this, we feel has forfeited their right and their opportunity to work in that place for us, expressly because it not only is contrary to our standards of conduct, but it potentially compromises our standing with the Afghan people. And that’s why the Ambassador is taking this aggressive action. We do expect that there will be changes. We do expect that those who are responsible here will be removed and taken out of the country and will find a new line of work.
QUESTION: P.J., just to follow up on Libby’s question that I don’t think you addressed, which was that the specific allegation in the POGO statement today saying that the whistleblower for this – for these events has apparently been forced down by the company. The company says it’s contractually bound to refer questions to the State Department. So what do you have to say about that?
MR. CROWLEY: We will be looking at how this could have happened. We’ll be looking at anyone who potentially tried to stop it. I mean, we’ll look at all of the elements here, not only what happened within the contractor and his operation, but also what happened in the interaction between the contractor and the Embassy. We’re going to be looking also at what – the reporting stream and oversight back here within the Department of State.
The Secretary made it clear to the Department and the leadership this morning: She is very displeased that this could have happened, and that this could have happened without our knowledge.
QUESTION: I understand that.
MR. CROWLEY: And that they’re going to look at this from top to bottom. The Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew is in the region and will be visiting Kabul in the next couple of days. And I’m sure he will be fully briefed on this as he is there as well.
QUESTION: Can you confirm that one person was forced down or was fired or was not working there who was involved?
MR. CROWLEY: I will – I’m not going to comment on – obviously, on that particular subject, there are legal issues at stake there. I’m not going to go into them.
QUESTION: Can you tell me really quickly about the Xe subsidiary contract extension, the latest on that, and when DynCorp said it’ll be ready to take over?
MR. CROWLEY: Just to put that in context, obviously, this week, we expected to see a transition from – on the aviation services contract from Xe, formerly Blackwater, to DynCorp. DynCorp told us in the last couple of weeks that they would not be ready to assume responsibility. Under the provisions of the existing contract, we have temporarily extended it so that the Embassy in Iraq can have access to the aviation services that it needs to do its important work. I can’t predict how long this process will take, but we would expect it to be temporary and of relatively short duration, just a few weeks, we hope.
QUESTION: So is this temporary extension open-ended right now or --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, it’s predicated upon DynCorp and being able to take over the operation. They’ve got some issues with getting their helicopters into place in Iraq to take over the mission. Blackwater will continue to fly until DynCorp is ready.
QUESTION: And this is one of these things where DynCorp will contact you when it’s ready, or are you in constant collaboration with them?
MR. CROWLEY: We are in – obviously --
QUESTION: It seems just so ambiguous, I guess, is what --
MR. CROWLEY: No, it’s not ambiguous at all. I mean, actually, this is a standard procedure. DynCorp is taking over an operation. DynCorp has told us it’s not ready. We’re obviously going to stay in continuing contact with DynCorp to monitor what is happening to get its helicopters in place and its operations underway. There is a standard clause in the contracts that we have that if we have to extend an operation for a period of time, we can do so. And we notified Blackwater, and Blackwater will continue to operate until DynCorp is ready. But obviously, we want to see this process move forward as quickly as possible. We expect it will be done in a relatively brief period of time. And we’ll stay fully focused on DynCorp as they move towards taking over.
QUESTION: Who’s paying for the extension?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Since DynCorp wasn’t ready, who’s paying for the extension of the Blackwater contract?
MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, this will have consequences in terms of the contract that DynCorp signed. But, obviously, we’re continuing to pay Blackwater under the terms of the contract. But, obviously, because DynCorp was not ready and – there will be consequences for DynCorp.
QUESTION: P.J., can we switch back to Afghanistan and a different issue, please? Are you familiar with Global Post’s story – and there are others out there as well – about allegations that AID contractors – or money from AID is ending up with the Taliban for protection?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve heard that report. We are concerned about it. I think there’s an – we’ve already confirmed there’s an investigation underway. Obviously, we want to see the aid that is flowing into Afghanistan moving in – towards constructively improving the security situation, the economic situation in Afghanistan. Any diversion of funds for any reason makes it that much more difficult for us to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan. We’re very concerned about any kind of diversion.
But this is, I think, an indication of where we do, within a very difficult environment, closely monitor the flow of aid. And when we do find that there’s been a diversion of aid to whatever party for whatever reason, we take those allegations seriously and we’ll fully investigate them.
QUESTION: Just to be clear, have you found – have you confirmed any diversion?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t – we’re obvious – we’re looking at it. We’re aware of the allegation, and we’re looking at it.
Samir, all the way in the back.
QUESTION: Can you give us a readout on the – about the Secretary’s meeting today with Senator Mitchell?
MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, Senator Mitchell had important meetings with Israeli officials in New York yesterday, and I think the senator both updated the Secretary on his ongoing discussions with the parties. Senator Mitchell will be going to the region in the next few days for further consultations with all of the parties involved in the peace process.
QUESTION: Are you close to figuring out the scope of the settlement freeze?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sure the senator updated the Secretary on the discussions that he has. I’m not going to detail them for you.
QUESTION: But I just – would it be correct to say that the Administration is looking for a settlement freeze of about six to nine months?
MR. CROWLEY: I think the United States is looking to create the conditions that allow negotiation, formal negotiations, to begin. We hope to reach that point and the end of this particular phase of the process in the next few weeks. But beyond that, where we are in the process, I think we – as we’ve said, we think we have made progress. But, obviously, there is still work to be done.
QUESTION: Can I --
QUESTION: P.J., just to close this one --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on Israeli media reports that under the agreement that’s under – or under the formula that’s under discussion for a settlement freeze, that Israeli construction in Jerusalem would continue, that Israel would complete 2,500 settler housing units already under construction, that Israel would be allowed to construct public buildings in settlements, but that Israel would freeze all other West Bank projects for nine months?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to comment on any stray voltage that is out there regarding things that we may or may not be discussing. Just to make the larger point, obviously, there are responsibilities that all of the parties have, and there are things that all – we expect all of the parties to bring to the table as part of our efforts to get these negotiations underway.
QUESTION: Just quickly?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure, go ahead.
QUESTION: I guess, you know – I mean, obviously, we’ve all been reading those Israeli media reports, and we have our own understanding of what may be going on. I’m having some hard – I’m having a bit of a hard time reconciling that kind of outcome with the statements that the Secretary herself made earlier this year, where she said we demand a freeze to settlements, no more natural growth, no more this, no more that, which was a pretty clear and definitive line in the sand that she’d draw. And what – it seems like what you’re emerging with is a rather fuzzy little, you know, line that fades out over time there. So I’m just wondering --
MR. CROWLEY: Welcome back from vacation, by the way. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Maybe things changed in the last three (inaudible).
MR. CROWLEY: No. I mean, nothing’s changed, except remember what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to get to negotiations. We’re trying to negotiate terms that are acceptable to all of the parties that tell them there is a level of commitment and political investment in moving to negotiations and then moving to a successful completion of those negotiations. Ultimately, it’s up to the Israelis and the Palestinians to judge, based on what each side comes to the table with, is this enough to get the negotiations started? And then, if so, we have to make sure that there is sufficient support in the region so that both sides are encouraged to move ahead with those negotiations.
So as to who’s putting what on the table, what counter-offers, what counter-counter-offers, ultimately, the proof here is whether we get to a point where the Israelis, based on commitments they’ve made in the past, say we’re prepared to do this; Palestinians, based on their obligations and commitments in the past, have said we’re prepared to do this; and then, if there’s adequate support so that we all have confidence that we can move forward, that’ll be a collective judgment. It won’t be based on any one particular ingredient. Our objective here is to get to the negotiations.
We’re in difficult discussions, detailed discussions that will help us assess and then present to all the parties – is this enough to move to negotiations? And the answer – the collective judgment of the Israelis, the Palestinians, the United States, others in the region, will either be yes or let’s keep at it. And so notwithstanding all of these reports, keep the focus where it belongs, on is there a sufficient investment by all of the parties that gives us confidence that a negotiation can be started and successfully completed.
As to where we are in the process, George Mitchell when he was here a while ago said, hey, in a negotiation, people always stake out a variety of positions. Will that be the final position? Who knows? We have brought our own views into this process. And as we’ve said, our views of what’s necessary has not changed. But, ultimately, the calculation will be up to the parties, along with the United States, to judge that whatever is offered, is that enough to get us started?
QUESTION: Do you think you’ll make a goal of doing it by the start of UNGA or around UNGA?
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll see.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
MR. CROWLEY: You’ve been very patient.
QUESTION: Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
QUESTION: A court in Pakistan has restored restrictions on A.Q. Khan. Do you think this satisfies your – addresses your concerns about him?
MR. CROWLEY: We remain very concerned and we remain in discussion with the Government of Pakistan to clarity what these – what the situation is.
QUESTION: So this step is not enough, from your perspective?
MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, we are greatly concerned about the proliferation risk that he poses, and we continue to talk to Pakistan about it.
QUESTION: There’s another question on the UN. The G-8 members are informally discussing about reforms at the Security Council and its expansion programs. What’s the Administration’s stand on it, and do you favor the expansion of permanent and non-permanent members?
MR. CROWLEY: Whatever our stance on UN reform is very, very complicated. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: P.J., on Iraq, the Iraqi Government and Camp Ashraf, there’s still tension going on between them. Their families and relatives have been on a hunger strike in front of the White House for about two months now. And today, some U.S. military officers were at the Foreign Press Center talking about the responsibilities of the U.S. towards those people. What exactly does the SOFA agreement talk about with respect to the Camp Ashraf residents there that the Iraqi Government has actually undertaken?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m – this is a complicated issue. We have stated many times that the action by the Iraqi Government to extend its sovereignty to Camp Ashraf was an appropriate step; however, it was a step that was done badly and that this was an avoidable tragedy. And – but the responsibility for the protection of those at Camp Ashraf is an Iraqi responsibility. We continue to hope that this can – going forward this can be done in a peaceful way, and we hope that both those at Camp Ashraf and the Iraqi Government will continue to interact in a peaceful way.
QUESTION: What about the agreement between the U.S. and those people? Is that in any way – has it been considered into the SOFA agreement or talked about?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, under the SOFA agreement, the responsibility passed to the Government of Iraq, and we continue to hope the Government of Iraq will work constructively and peacefully with the people at Camp Ashraf.
QUESTION: Just one more on that, actually.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: The group today at the press conference was calling for some sort of UN monitoring force to go in and protect them. They don’t feel that the Iraqis are going to do so. Is that something the U.S. would support?
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t – I’ll take that question. If we – if we have a view on that, I – we will let you know.
QUESTION: I have a question on Gabon.
MR. CROWLEY: What?
QUESTION: After this?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, we’re poised to start that call as soon as we finish here.
QUESTION: Is it just going to be a call? It’s not going to be someone here?
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s going to be a call.
QUESTION: Well, can I just ask on that? Can we – can you hold off on that for 20 minutes or so --
MR. CROWLEY: Sure, you can --
QUESTION: -- after this is done?
MR. CROWLEY: At this end of this, you tell me what time you want it to start, and we’ll tell them what time to start.
QUESTION: And you’ll (inaudible), right?
QUESTION: No. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No. I have a question on --
QUESTION: Yesterday, Ian took a question on the U.S. position on the Egyptian candidate for UNESCO. Do you have an answer to that yet?
MR. CROWLEY: If we took the question, did we provide an answer yet?
MR. CROWLEY: No. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No? Do you know when you might provide that answer?
QUESTION: When they develop a position.
QUESTION: I have a question on what’s going on in Gabon.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: There was obviously a lot of violence in the wake of the election where the former president’s son is claiming victory. Will the U.S. recognize his son as the winner? Do you think these elections were free and fair, or what are the discussions with the Gabonese?
MR. CROWLEY: The voting process was relatively calm. It was free of violence. International observers have noted some irregularities. But we call on all parties to uphold the democratic process and to observe established election procedures and commitments. And we urge Gabonese authorities and citizens to respond to the results peacefully.
QUESTION: So, basically, you’re accepting the election as free and fair?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that we have reached that judgment yet, because I don’t think the process is done yet.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Why isn’t Ambassador Bosworth going back to Seoul to meet with his Russian – with the Russian envoy?
MR. CROWLEY: Are we done or we not done?
QUESTION: No, no, I’m asking it.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. What?
QUESTION: Why is Ambassador Bosworth returning to the States before meeting with – and will not --
MR. CROWLEY: I think, as you were informed yesterday, Ambassador Sung Kim will return to Seoul. Ambassador Bosworth is in China. He’ll be going to Seoul next. But later on, in their trip, Ambassador Sung Kim will meet with his Russian counterpart in Seoul.
QUESTION: And why won’t Ambassador Bosworth be there?
MR. CROWLEY: Ambassador Bosworth has – will return to the United States.
QUESTION: Well, if you go to the Tufts web site, you will see the reason.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: It’s --
MR. CROWLEY: Ambassador Bosworth has personal commitments that will bring him back to the United States. That said, we have a deep bench when it comes to North Korea. And this is not a policy that depends on any one individual. Steve Bosworth is – will contribute significantly to our understanding of where we go from here. Ambassador Kim will do the same thing. We have Ambassador Goldberg, who continues to work on 1874, and we have others within the Department and the White House who are also fully engaged on policy formulation in North Korea.
QUESTION: So you don’t think --
MR. CROWLEY: Our Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell is focused on this. The NSC director Jeff Bader is focused on this. So we have an A-team that is focused on North Korea. Steve Bosworth is an important player on that team, but he’s one among many. Steve is out there right now doing what we need him to do, which is to consult with our partners in the Six-Party process, and others are doing the same thing. So if you’ve got a starting pitcher like Steve Bosworth, you’ve got a number two starter like Sung Kim, we are very well equipped when it comes to people who can effectively help us develop our policy on North Korea.
QUESTION: I have a question.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you agree with Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi that --
MR. CROWLEY: I doubt it.
QUESTION: No, I mean, what do you think of his proposal that Switzerland should be divided – wiped off the map and divided between Italy, Germany, and France?
MR. CROWLEY: You’re right; we disagree with the colonel on that assessment.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, are you concerned, on a larger issue, that when Libya takes over the General Assembly this year, that there are going to be a lot of these types of initiatives that are the whim of Muammar Qadhafi and not necessarily relevant to international affairs? Your UN ambassador warned against that.
MR. CROWLEY: And I’m sure I share the UN ambassador’s point of view.
QUESTION: Well, I’m serious --
MR. CROWLEY: Look, we – the UN is a valuable institution. It has lots and lots of members, some of those members are well lead, some of those members are a work in progress.
QUESTION: I’ll take it.
MR. CROWLEY: And as to what fanciful kinds of ideas will emerge in the next session, we’ll wait and see.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 3:52 p.m.)
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