Daily Press Briefing
Philip J. Crowley
Daily Press Briefing
January 22, 2010
USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah Will Travel to Haiti Tomorrow Accompanied by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate / Meeting with Haitian Officials, International Partners and Relief Organizations / Dr. Shah Will Attend the Funeral of Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Joseph Serge Miot
U.S. Ambassador Ken Merten and Special Representative of UN Secretary General in Haiti Edmond Mulet Signed a Statement of Principles on Field Coordination Between the U.S. Government and Haiti as Haitian Earthquake Response Continues / Statement Affirms the Primary Responsibility of the Government of Haiti for Response to the Earthquake / UN Coordinating the International Response Consistent with Its' Mandate Established by United Nations Security Council
Definition of the Statement of Principles Between the United Nations and United States Government on Cooperation on the Ground in Haiti / Examples of Various Arrangements on the Coordination / UN and U.S. Will Work Together for the Benefit of the People and Government of Haiti / Primary Responsibility Is on the Response to the Earthquake / Recognition that Government of Haiti is Relying on the UN, International Community and U.S. to Provide a Significant Amount of Assistance / Responsibility Is the Government of Haiti as Sovereign in This Country and to Set Those Priorities / The United States, United Nations and the Officials of the Government of Haiti are in Continual Contact / United Nations Has a Current Appeal Ongoing to Make Sure There is Significant International Support for Haiti
Statistical Information on Americans / Departure of Americans and Family Members / Opened Files / Number of Americans That Have Been Accounted For / Issue of Recovery Phase / Trying to Help Determine the Disposition of Americans / Status of Search-and-Rescue Effort / Hotel Montana and Hotel Christopher
Four Hundred Humanitarian Paroles Granted for Orphans
Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Vladimir Filat of Moldova Conducted a Bilateral and Presided Over a Signing Ceremony for a Five-Year Economic Development Agreement / MCC Compact Includes Major Agricultural and Transportation Projects
Change in Secretary Clinton's Afternoon Schedule on Meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Cannon
Secretary Clinton Meets For the First Time With UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova
U.S. Welcomes De Facto Leader Micheletti's Decision to Step Down in Honduras / U.S. Looks Forward to Working With the Government of President-Elect Lobo / Will Continue to Work the New Government in Honduras on Full Implementation of the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accords
U.S. Has Taken Note of the Chinese Statement Written By the Foreign Minister / U.S. Has Had Conversations At Ambassadorial Level Here in Washington Regarding the Issue of Google / U.S. Has a Wide-Ranging and Deep Relationship With China / Any Turmoil in the Middle East is Going to Have Ramifications and Broad Ripple Effects / Will Continue Discussions With Government of China / U.S. Has Serious Concerns About What Happened and on the Allegations of Targeting of Human Rights Activists / Process on the Evaluation Still Ongoing / This is an Issue Under Discussion That Will Remain Under Discussion / Most of the Discussions Conducted in Washington / High-Level Meetings
U.S. Continues to Have Significant Dialogue With the Governments of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan / This is a Common Challenge and Part of the Ongoing Dialogue With These Countries
Taiwanese Air Force Will Transit and Refuel in U.S. / President Will Transit in the Western Coast En Route to Central America / Raymond F. Burghardt of American Institute in Taiwan Carries Out Unofficial Relations with Taiwan
U.S. Wants to See a Stronger Palestinian Government with a Greater Capacity to Serve the Needs of the Palestinian People / Continue to Support Any Effort Toward Reconciliation / George Mitchell Met Today with President Abbas in Ramallah / Will Meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad Tomorrow
U.S. Looks Forward to Meeting Next Week to Consolidate International Support for Yemen
1:58 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: We always enjoy having Mike Posner in the briefing room, but I’ve been trying for some time to get Alec Ross down here, and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to do that today.
To continue on with the rest of the world, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah will travel to Haiti tomorrow. He will be accompanied by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. As the President’s designated coordinator for all U.S. Government efforts in Haiti, Dr. Shah will be getting his second firsthand look at the U.S. operations there. He will meet with Haitian officials as the Secretary and Dr. Shah did last Saturday, as well as international partners and relief organizations to ensure assistance is being effectively coordinated on the ground.
He’ll depart for Santo Domingo tonight, and tomorrow morning, he’ll take military transport into Haiti, and among other things, plans to attend the funeral of the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Joseph Serge Miot. Dr. Shah will then meet with Haitian officials and visit a medical facility, a distribution site, and he’ll return to Washington tomorrow night.
And earlier today, United States Ambassador Ken Merten and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, signed a statement of principles on field coordination between the United States and Haiti and the United States Government as the Haitian earthquake response continues. The statement reaffirms the primary responsibility of the Government of Haiti for the response to the earthquake but notes that the scale of the disaster and the urgency of the humanitarian relief requires a comprehensive and coordinated international response.
The UN is coordinating the international response consistent with its mandate as established by the United Nations Security Council. And the United States will continue to assist the people and Government of Haiti in every way that we can.
QUESTION: Sorry, who signed that?
MR. CROWLEY: Ambassador Kenneth Merten for the United States and Edmond Mulet – M-u-l-e-t – Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Haiti.
QUESTION: And who from the Haitian Government signed that?
MR. CROWLEY: It was a statement of principles between the United Nations and the United States Government on how we will cooperate on the ground in Haiti.
QUESTION: Yeah. But it’s their country.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that. I mean, so --
QUESTION: There wasn’t any Haitian official who signed off on this?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Why do you need such an agreement between the U.S. Government and the United Nations on how you can cooperate?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, for example, we’ve been working out arrangements on coordination regarding – and the UN has joined the process through which, on a daily basis, we coordinate flights in and out of the airport in Port-au-Prince, and going forward, questions regarding security arrangements between MINUSTAH, which has primary responsibility for law and order in Haiti, along with the Haitian National Police. And to the extent that you have U.S. military forces on the ground that will participate in the security of convoys as they’re moving assistance around Haiti, there are a lot of ways in which we want to outline how, from a practical standpoint, the UN or the United States will work together for the benefit of the people and Government of Haiti.
QUESTION: P.J., I’m just a little confused.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: The statement you said – I think you said – it said the primary responsibility for this lies with the Government of Haiti.
MR. CROWLEY: That’s true. That’s right.
QUESTION: Well, how is it that the U.S. and the UN sign off on something like this and the Haitians don’t?
MR. CROWLEY: It is a statement of principles on how the United States and the United Nations will interact in support of the Government of Haiti.
QUESTION: When you – can you repeat the part – I’m sorry, about when you – the responsibility of delivering aid is the Haitian Government? Could you just repeat that part just to clarify?
MR. CROWLEY: The primary responsibility is for the response to the earthquake, recognizing that right now, that the Government of Haiti is, in fact, relying on the United Nations, the United States, the international community to provide a significant amount of assistance doing the kinds of things on behalf of the Haitian Government that it would normally do --
QUESTION: So why – I mean, I’m not denying that the Haitians are directing their priorities and what they want to see done. But how can you put that responsibility on them when they are --
MR. CROWLEY: It’s their country.
QUESTION: Well, yes, it’s their country. But they’re completely ill-equipped to assume this responsibility. I mean, all they’re basically doing is telling you what they need done. I mean, they’re not delivering any services. So how can it actually be their responsibility?
MR. CROWLEY: I – that’s a sweeping statement.
QUESTION: Well, it’s – I mean, it’s pretty clear on the ground that the government is ill-equipped to handle any delivery of services. They weren’t even really – be able to deliver that many services before the quake. So I’m just saying, like their – it’s their country, obviously. They’re a sovereign country and the government is in power, and you’re working with the government on what their priorities are.
MR. CROWLEY: Right.
QUESTION: But to place the actual responsibility on the Haitian Government, don’t you think that’s a little bit of high expectations for them?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the responsibility is the Haitian Government as sovereign in this country. That said, clearly, the Haitian Government is relying on the United States, the United Nations, and the international community to provide meaningful, direct, and ongoing support to the people of Haiti and to the citizens of other countries who were in Haiti at the time of the earthquake.
But it is the responsibility of the Government of Haiti to set those priorities. And as we, in fact, then, in turn, work with the Government of Haiti to restore its capacity where, over time, it will not only maintain its responsibility, but be able to increasingly provide services directly to their own people.
QUESTION: P.J., I think I understand what you’ve said so far. What I don’t understand --
MR. CROWLEY: That’s good news.
QUESTION: What I don’t understand --
QUESTION: That makes one of us.
QUESTION: -- is why, given what you’ve said, the Government of Haiti is not a participant or a signatory to this statement of principles. And I would ask – obviously, it isn’t – did you consult with them about what you and the UN were going to do? Do they know about this? And again --
MR. CROWLEY: I would --
QUESTION: -- the basic question: Why aren’t they?
MR. CROWLEY: I would characterize it this way, and the United States, the United Nations, the Government of Haiti officials are in continual contact. But one – for those who were with us last Saturday in Port-au-Prince, one of the challenges was to make sure that we were effectively coordinated, that we understood who had specific responsibilities, who played the leadership role in particular kinds of functions. And this statement of principles is simply a part of that broader effort to make sure that the – there is effective coordination.
This is not, in my mind, any different than what we’re doing in other parts of the world where the UN has authority under a UN Security Council mandate, and yet we are significantly involved. So you work through very specific arrangements, and these principles will guide how the United States and how the United Nations will interact and coordinate and function on behalf of the Government of Haiti and under its leadership.
QUESTION: Well, shouldn’t there be a UN Security Council resolution or something, or some kind of UN resolution that – you know, that states clearly that U.S. or the UN, or however you want to write it, are carrying out these duties on behalf of the Haitians?
MR. CROWLEY: In fact, I believe there has been just such a resolution passed by the United Nations. And the United Nations, for example, is – has a current appeal ongoing to make sure that we have significant international support for Haiti. And then as you have that support going forward, you want to be able to coordinate effectively to make sure that the resources that the international community is providing is effectively used and employed for the greatest benefit on the ground.
So I don’t see this as being a whole lot different than what we’re doing in Afghanistan, what we have done in Iraq and in other places around the world.
QUESTION: Well, except that in most places (inaudible) the local government, if there was one, was actually involved in it. Can – maybe – can you just find out the question – the answer to Charlie’s question, which --
MR. CROWLEY: And --
QUESTION: -- is: Were the Haitians consulted about – are they even aware of this?
MR. CROWLEY: I am totally confident that they were consulted and I know for a fact they’re aware.
QUESTION: Can you just give a few examples of the areas of the principles that you’re describing?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we’re going to release the document, so you’ll get to see that.
QUESTION: We’ll see it at the same time that --
QUESTION: Can we talk a little bit about --
QUESTION: Well, can we stay on --
MR. CROWLEY: Hang on a second.
QUESTION: Can we stay on Haiti?
MR. CROWLEY: Hang on a second. Just to – a couple of more items to start off: Obviously, you observed a short time ago U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Prime Minister Vladimir Filat of Moldova conducted a bilateral and then presided over a signing ceremony on a five-year economic development agreement between Moldova and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The MCC Compact includes major agricultural and transportation projects.
One change in the Secretary’s schedule this afternoon: She was looking forward to welcoming Foreign Minister Cannon of Canada for a meeting this afternoon. That has turned into a phone conversation since Mr. Cannon’s flight to the United States was cancelled this morning, so he was unable to actually get here. But they look forward to conversing not only on the phone this afternoon, but the Secretary will be in Montreal on Monday for the preliminary meeting that will eventually lead to a donors conference on Haiti. But the meeting on Monday will go through a number of things in terms of starting to outline Haiti’s long-term requirements and ensure full regional participation in that effort.
QUESTION: I’m sure the Canadians will appreciate you explaining the reason for – his plane was cancelled?
QUESTION: His flight --
QUESTION: His flight was --
MR. CROWLEY: His flight was cancelled.
QUESTION: Is that – Air Canada couldn’t make it?
QUESTION: Is there another one?
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What’s going --
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll leave that to your colleagues in Ottawa to explain.
QUESTION: So the Canadian foreign minister doesn’t have access to a government plane?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I will leave that to my counterpart in Ottawa.
QUESTION: Can I --
MR. CROWLEY: And I’m sure very economically so.
The Secretary will meet for the first time this afternoon with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. This will be the director general’s first visit to the United States in her new capacity. And they will discuss UNESCO’s engagement with the United States on issues such as Haiti, promoting gender equality in education and science, and promoting freedom of the press.
In Honduras, we welcome de facto leader Micheletti’s decision to step down and see that as a positive step that will advance the process of national reconciliation in Honduras. And we look forward to working with the government of President-elect Lobo and note that important work remains to be done to reestablish democratic and constitutional order in Honduras, and we continue to – we will work with the new government in Honduras on full implementation of the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accords.
George Mitchell met today with President Abbas in Ramallah. He will meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad tomorrow. And he may have additional meetings in the region before coming back to the United States.
QUESTION: Yeah. Elise, do you mind if we circle back to Haiti by way of China? Just because this is kind of a --
QUESTION: Sure, (inaudible).
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) Are we going east or west, Mark?
QUESTION: Well, this is kind of a pretty urgent issue. I mean, picking up on what Arshad said earlier, the Chinese foreign ministry’s statement is extremely pointed. Last week, senior U.S. officials indicated that a diplomatic demarche against China might be in the works. More recently, they indicated that the U.S. wanted to wait and see what the Chinese said in response to Secretary Clinton’s speech. We now know what the Chinese have said. In that regard, is a demarche still on the cards?
QUESTION: And --
QUESTION: And more specifically, how would you respond to what the Chinese said today?
QUESTION: The Washington Post reported today that a demarche had already been issued, according to a source, and we’ve been told it wasn’t, from the podium.
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: So we want to know.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay. Let’s see. I mean, we obviously have taken note of the Chinese statement. I think it was a written statement put out by the foreign ministry. In fact, we’ve had conversations over the past 24 hours with the ambassador here in Washington regarding the speech, regarding the issue of the Google situation, and broader aspects of a relationship. And I would anticipate that we will have ongoing meetings both here in Washington and in Beijing on all of these subjects.
I know you were just asking Mike Posner about this. We have a wide-ranging and deep relationship with China. And the number-one and number-two economies in the world are going to need to consult on a regular basis. To Matt’s question earlier, we have a number of shared interests. That doesn’t mean that we look at situations whether they’re North Korea, where there actually is a convergence of views on the current situation, and Iran, where there is not a convergence of views at the present time.
QUESTION: But you were unified – the Secretary said yesterday you were unified on Iran.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are – I think there’s a recognition that the implications of a nuclear power in the Middle East will affect not only the immediate countries, but also the world more broadly. And --
QUESTION: We were under the impression there already was a nuclear power in the Middle East.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. So --
QUESTION: Second nuclear power (inaudible). (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: The idea that you can keep this situation at arm’s length and that it will not affect you if you’re half a world away, in our view, is not correct. Any turmoil in the Middle East is going to have ramifications and broad ripple effects, and as the Secretary mentioned in her Q&A with you yesterday, that can have significant impact on energy markets worldwide, and that’s going to have an impact on the people of China. So --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) demarche?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Yeah. Did you issue it or not?
MR. CROWLEY: We will continue our discussions with the Government of China on this issue, and we have a range of tools at our disposal that we will use to be able to communicate, that we view this seriously and that we have expectations on what we want to see China do. And based on their response, we will take appropriate action.
QUESTION: Did you issue a demarche?
QUESTION: So – but you have not issued a demarche, or you have?
QUESTION: Did you or did you not issue a demarche?
MR. CROWLEY: No. Not yet.
QUESTION: Okay. Then the second thing on this: The Chinese foreign ministry statement which, as you point out, was in writing and therefore it is something that they presumably considered and I assume they go through their own clearance process just like the State Department, said that this deep relationship is hurt by the Secretary’s allegations. Do you concur? Does the State Department believe that the U.S.-China relationship has been hurt?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have serious concerns about what has happened here. We have serious concerns that someone in China has targeted human rights activists, that someone in China has hacked into and had an impact in terms of the commercial relationship between Google and China. So is this a serious issue? It is. This is a longstanding issue between the United States and China. And so we will continue to talk about this. I suppose – what will be the impact? The impact will depend on the response.
QUESTION: But --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: I mean, the response here, and let me just read it, because I think it says something: “The U.S. has criticized China’s policies to administer the internet and insinuated that China restricts internet freedom. This runs contrary to the facts and is harmful to U.S.” – “to China-U.S. relations.” Do you concur with either of those statements, that the Secretary’s comments, A, run contrary to the facts and, B, are harmful to U.S.-China relations?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we seek an explanation from China. We are, in fact, trying to ascertain facts. The Chinese have denied that anything has happened. I think the Google statement speaks for itself, that seems to point to the fact that something significant has happened. That is why we have raised the questions that we have and why we seek an explanation from China about what, in fact, did happen. We are trying to ascertain the facts in this case. A blanket denial that nothing happened we don’t think is particularly helpful.
QUESTION: Why are you unwilling to address the question of whether relations – whether you concur with the Chinese statement that the Secretary’s raising –
MR. CROWLEY: You asked me to talk about –
QUESTION: -- this issue is harmful?
MR. CROWLEY: -- both components.
QUESTION: Right, and I’m –
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve talked about one. I haven’t quite gotten –
QUESTION: -- and to my profound astonishment, you didn’t actually say, “No, we stand up precisely for what Secretary Clinton said; we stand by her remarks.” And the first thing was that it runs contrary to the facts, and you didn’t actually say, “Well, we stand by her comments, and we don’t think that they run contrary to the facts.”
MR. CROWLEY: I didn’t think that the Secretary’s comments were – from our standpoint, were in doubt. The Secretary has said what she said. And we do stand by the Secretary’s comments.
QUESTION: Good. Okay. And then secondly, is it harmful to the relationship?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, that – that’s a difficult one to answer because the process through which we will evaluate what has happened and judge accordingly, that process is still ongoing. We think that we have a broad relationship with China. We think that it is far more stable than it has been in some time. That said, we have a range of issues where we have disagreements. I don’t think we are currently on the same page in terms of what happened in this case or its ramifications. That’s why we’ve done exactly what we’ve done. That’s why the Secretary has said from the outset that this incident raises serious questions and we seek an explanation. It’s why we’ve had multiple meetings, including one last evening with China on this subject. And why we will continue to talk to them and seek an explanation in a – as part of a transparent process. So as we go through this, we will assess the ramifications. As we go through this, so will a company like Google in terms of how it evaluates the value of its presence in China. So –
QUESTION: Who met the Chinese in --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. So, I would just say this is an issue that is under discussion, will remain under discussion. It’s hard to evaluate at this point what is the immediate impact, but this by itself is not unusual. We have quite honest and frank discussions with our Chinese interlocutors all the time. And we are prepared to work through this issue as long as we think that both – that the discussion is conducted in good faith and within the context of a broadly constructive and deep relationship.
QUESTION: Who met the ambassador --
QUESTION: Can you answer the question that – from the earlier briefing about, like, for instance the meeting last night. You said – was that here at the State Department? Somewhere else?
MR. CROWLEY: Somewhere else.
QUESTION: Can you talk about meetings that have been held in Beijing? At what level? Who has been meeting? Is this ambassadorial? Assistant secretary level? Economic level? Can you tell us how these –
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I think since this episode came to light, most of our discussions have been here in Washington. They’ve been at the ambassadorial level with a range of officials across the U.S. Government. And so it is at a high level, it reflects our concern about what has transpired, and we will – I think we will have further discussions about this in the coming days.
QUESTION: Can you be more specific about who and how many meetings there have been?
MR. CROWLEY: Multiple. I mean --
QUESTION: Well, what does that mean? Three? Five? Ten?
QUESTION: And the highest level two people have met.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) – two, so.
MR. CROWLEY: Three that I’m aware of. And --
QUESTION: And the highest level of people?
MR. CROWLEY: And probably --
QUESTION: So at least three?
MR. CROWLEY: -- very soon there’ll be a fourth and very soon there’ll be a fifth --
QUESTION: Since this came up, since the Google statement, there have been at least three meetings in Washington between whom?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. Between --
QUESTION: Because the first one was with a DCM. It wasn’t with the ambassador.
MR. CROWLEY: I didn’t say it – well, I didn’t say it was. I just said – but there have been assistant secretaries involved in this, there have been ambassadors in involved in this.
QUESTION: Which assistant secretaries and which ambassadors?
MR. CROWLEY: Kurt Campbell.
QUESTION: Did he meet the ambassador last night?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: What about --
QUESTION: Was it over dinner?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Was it at an embassy?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: What about Posner?
QUESTION: Was it at the State Department?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Can you just tell us where it was?
QUESTION: So, who other than Kurt Campbell?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, we – all I’m prepared to say is that we are having high-level meetings and we will continue to have meetings and we will continue to press this issue aggressively. We will continue to seek an explanation from China. It is a serious issue. I can’t characterize right now – what impact it has beyond the immediate term will in fact depend on answers to the questions that we have posed.
QUESTION: Can you describe the tone of the meeting, the substance? Productive? Frank?
MR. CROWLEY: We always have frank and productive discussions with our Chinese interlocutors.
QUESTION: Can I go to Haiti? Sorry.
MR. CROWLEY: Please.
QUESTION: Sorry. What are the highest level people who have met? Kurt Campbell – you said assistant secretaries, so was there another assistant secretary who met with the Chinese?
QUESTION: So him and who were the other American officials who’ve had these meetings?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, I wasn’t in there, so I don’t want to leave anybody out.
MR. CROWLEY: But from the State Department’s standpoint --
QUESTION: Not the deputy secretary, though?
MR. CROWLEY: Not in the meeting I’m referring to.
QUESTION: No, but wait, wait – was the deputy secretary involved in any of these meetings?
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: And was Google specifically discussed last night or was it more the broader themes of the Secretary’s speech but not specifically the Google instance?
MR. CROWLEY: I believe they were both discussed.
QUESTION: And were there any meetings in Beijing?
MR. CROWLEY: There may well have been. I didn’t come to the briefing today with a roster.
QUESTION: Can I go to Haiti, please?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Can you talk – can you give us an update on American fatalities in Haiti, and –
MR. CROWLEY: Let me run through just a number of –
QUESTION: Sure. And I have a follow-up.
MR. CROWLEY: As of 5 o’clock this morning, just under 9,300 – 9,288, to be exact – Americans and family members have departed Haiti. And we are doing them by --
QUESTION: What does Americans and family members mean?
MR. CROWLEY: In some cases, you have a family that might have one parent and child who is an American citizen, a parent or child who are Haitian citizens. As we do at any consulate or any embassy, we work through and evaluate on a case-by-case basis visas, and have granted visas so that we can, to the extent possible, keep families together.
We have opened files on or we have accounted for roughly 11,000 Americans at this point. We have 46 confirmed American fatalities, one U.S. Government officer, as you know, and 45 private. At this point, we estimate that there perhaps are 24 other cases, unconfirmed fatalities that we are still investigating.
QUESTION: Including those three Embassy employees that were suggested earlier in the week?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we still have – we have four U.S. Government individuals who aren’t accounted for at this point.
MR. CROWLEY: Four.
QUESTION: And that’s included in those 24?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think so. They’re unaccounted for. But I think – in other words, I think there are 24 cases where we are aware that there’s been a death, and we are trying to make sure to kind of match up identity and citizenship.
QUESTION: How many – you said you have resolved 11,000 cases. How many are unresolved?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a good question. Maybe we’ll try to find out what’s the broad universe before we end the briefing.
QUESTION: Okay. Can you –
MR. CROWLEY: I think we still are running at about 4- to 5,000 that are kind of still looking at – you know, evaluating information.
QUESTION: Okay. About these fatalities, a couple of things: First of all, if you have 4- to 5-, 6.000 – and I know that doesn’t mean that you – that that means 4- to 5-, 6,000 --
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you. Right.
QUESTION: -- Americans are – were killed. At some point, what do you – you know, you have 20 – you have 45 that – or 24 more that are presumed dead, but presumably at least some of those 4,500 possibly could be, you know, also deceased.
MR. CROWLEY: Hang on a second. Where did you get the 4,500? I said 4- to 5,000, so you’re –
QUESTION: No, you said you have – you said that – we were talking about the unresolved cases and you said --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- you still have 4- to 5,000 unresolved cases --
MR. CROWLEY: Correct.
QUESTION: -- I’m saying. So presumably, some of those people might have also died even if you haven’t been –
MR. CROWLEY: I think we don’t doubt tragically that –
QUESTION: No, I know.
MR. CROWLEY: -- at this point we are aware, we believe, of up to 70 Americans who have died in the earthquake – that that number is going to go up. And once we are in the recovery phase and begin to deal with the rubble on the ground, no –
QUESTION: Probably won’t even –
MR. CROWLEY: -- no doubt that we’re going to find more bodies than have already been discovered in Haiti and a number of those will be Americans.
QUESTION: I guess we can – I mean, I don’t know what is – once you have the recovery phase, it doesn’t sound like there is as much attention to specific bodies, and they’re just taking up the rubble and people are just being dumped into mass graves and not being identified.
MR. CROWLEY: I – Elise, I wouldn’t characterize it that way.
QUESTION: Well, that isn’t –
MR. CROWLEY: Clearly, in the recovery phase we are – we will be looking to recover remains. That is – will be important as we go through Port-au-Prince. And that is – that will be the next phase and it will be something that we will do with – in a broader scale and with urgency and sensitivity.
I mean, this is the next stage in terms of helping Haiti rebuild, but the recovery phase means, among other things, that we will change our – we’ll change our methodologies. But obviously, we think this is important to families in Haiti, families in the United States, and families in other countries that they ultimately understand and know, to the extent that we can, what happened to their loved ones.
QUESTION: Can you walk us through, please, these confirmed fatalities – how you go about confirming an American fatality, and what – once you confirm them, do you only confirm them once you actually have found their remains? And what happens to their remains? Are you sending them home to the United States? Are you – what are you doing with them?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s very, very difficult to make a general statement. I mean, in terms of confirmation that an American has died overseas, we seek – obviously, we need to be aware that there is a body, and we take every effort to match that to identity papers, including a passport, that would allow us to verify citizenship.
As to – we will obviously work with families of those who are deceased. In some cases, they have family members who are in Haiti, and in some cases, we have helped to facilitate the return of remains. In some cases, families have gone ahead and brought remains back to the United States through private efforts. So it is a combination of those. But I think we recognize that part of our responsibility here is to try to help and determine as best we can the disposition of Americans who are in Port-au-Prince, and we will continue to do that.
QUESTION: Just specifically on kind of notification of next of kin, have you notified the next of kin of all of these Americans? And just to –
MR. CROWLEY: If we have that confirmation, then we reach out to families, and/or we could reach out to those who have contacted us and then as to the – I would say probably in some cases, the United States Government has directly notified people that their loved ones have been lost in Haiti. In other cases, we have notified family or friends and they have in turn notified next of kin. So again, we have been and continue to be in contact with anyone who has asked us for assistance with determining what has happened to people that we have reason to believe were in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. Government yet made a decision to cease search-and-rescue operations?
MR. CROWLEY: That will be a decision that’s made by the Government of Haiti, and we continue to consult with the Government of Haiti on what we’re doing on the search-and-rescue effort. And we still have teams that are looking at particular sites around Port-au-Prince as we speak. I don’t think the numbers have changed over the last 24 hours – 122 people rescued, 43 of those have been rescued by one of the six U.S. teams that have been on the ground and working heroically for the past 10 days. Those teams are from Fairfax, Virginia; Los Angeles; New York; and Miami-Dade County.
They continue their work. They’ve got listening devices. They’ve got dogs. They continue to search. But we do recognize that whatever that golden window – we’re now in day 10, and I don’t think we’ve seen any change on the ground in the last 24 hours. So there will be a point at which the Government of Haiti will signal it appropriate to move to the recovery phase of the operation, and we will follow their lead.
QUESTION: Some people on the ground are saying that there’s not enough kind of heavy machinery to dig out into the rubble, to dig deep into the concrete. I mean, it doesn’t seem at this point, like, given you’re saying that this golden window is expiring, that you plan on bringing in any more equipment in for that.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll – I mean, obviously, whatever has to be done during this next phase – some of that equipment may, in fact, exist; some of that equipment may need to be brought in. But you’re right; the next phase will involve removing significant debris in order to be able to recover remains of those who might have been lost throughout this.
QUESTION: And on Hotel Montana specifically, are search-and-rescue teams continuing to look for the people that are still in the rubble including – I guess there are a handful of American students and professors and there are other nationalities?
MR. CROWLEY: There are search-and-rescue teams that continue to operate at the Hotel Montana. I think there are American teams and Chilean teams that I’m aware of.
QUESTION: Can you talk about – I mean, I think I know the answer to this, but I just would like to ask you – I mean, some people on the ground are saying that there is – there are political decisions being made about where to do search and rescue based on a country’s nationality. Do you discriminate in terms of where search and rescue --
MR. CROWLEY: Elise, I think that’s –
QUESTION: Well, I mean, people are asking. Would I rather you – would you –
MR. CROWLEY: – an outlandish question, to be honest with you.
QUESTION: Well, would you rather them just say it and me not give you a chance to respond?
MR. CROWLEY: Put it this way: Let me step back. The earthquake happened on January 12th. Within 24 hours, we had a disaster assistance response team on the ground, that – and the moment they hit the ground, they started to assess where should the search-and-rescue teams go first. The teams arrived late on Wednesday night the 13th and were beginning search-and-rescue operations at first light on Thursday, January 14th. From that point on, the number on the ground has grown to where it is now, 43 teams, and they have been working 24 hours a day since then and have achieved remarkable results. I mean, the 122 is a remarkable number.
They have gone and they’ve been guided by not only through their various means, the listening devices they have, the trained dogs that they bring – where are there active signs of life. We have also concentrated, for example, on the Hotel Christopher, where we knew there were a substantial number of UN personnel; on the Hotel Montana, where we knew there were substantial numbers of people, human beings of all nationalities trapped below the rubble.
So they have gone and been guided not only by where they see signs of life, and we’ve been – and they’ve had remarkable successes, but they have also concentrated where the greatest potential for rescuing people, the kinds of facilities where large numbers were known to have congregated, were known to have been there when the earthquake struck. That has guided us. I’m not aware that politics has entered into this by any stretch of the imagination.
QUESTION: Different subject, if I may?
MR. CROWLEY: Do you want to stay on Haiti or move on? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Secretary Gates was in India and then he went to Pakistan, then on – Afghanistan. As for in India, what they talk about – whether India is still on high alert as far as attacks from terrorism is concerned? And in Pakistan, he warned the Pakistanis that – do more, that Pakistan is not doing enough as far as the global war on terrorism and terrorism into Pakistan and Afghanistan is concerned.
Now, here in Washington, FBI is hiring more and more Pakistanis with Pakistani heritage. The effort – the Pakistani community has put the statement that FBI needs more Pakistanis to work for the FBI. What can you tell us, I mean, as far as dealing with terrorism --
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, I’m not – I probably would challenge the facts behind your question, but I would defer to the FBI in terms of the ongoing interaction that it is having with the Pakistan American community here in the United States. I don’t think you’ve got that quite right.
That said, not only Secretary Gates, Secretary Clinton, others – we continue to have significant dialogue with the Government of Pakistan, the Government of India, the Government of Afghanistan about how we can have stability, dialogue and cooperation across the region. That is ultimately how jointly, these countries together with the United States, together with the international community, will be able to stabilize the region and defeat and deter political extremists who threaten, in different ways, all three countries. This is a common challenge, and it is part of our ongoing dialogue with all three of these countries.
QUESTION: Can I follow up, just actually, on the first part of his question about the Indian threat today? The Indian Government put out some warnings about potential hijackings in the country. I was wondering if you had any information on that.
MR. CROWLEY: I do not. I’ll defer to the Department of Homeland Security.
QUESTION: I have – there are two questions on Taiwan. The first one is that a cargo plane from Taiwanese Air Force has been allowed to transit and refuel inside the United States.
MR. CROWLEY: Start again?
QUESTION: A cargo plane from Taiwanese air force has been allowed to transit and refuel inside United States. Can you elaborate on the reason for allowing this mission? This is the first one.
And the second one is that Taiwanese president is going to transit in the Western Coast and his wife, the first lady, going to visit D.C. next week or will happen in next week, and China appears not so happy about this. Can you comment on this development?
MR. CROWLEY: President Ma Ying-jeou will transit to the United States en route to Central America next week. He will also transit to the United States when returning from Central America at the end of next week. We approved President Ma’s request based on longstanding practice. Our decision is consistent with the unofficial nature of our relations with Taiwan and in keeping with the criteria of safety, comfort, convenience, and dignity of the travel.
I think he will transit San Francisco en route to Central America and Los Angeles when returning to Taipei. And I believe we have allowed a C-130 which has been participating in the rescue operations in Haiti to refuel here, and certainly, that is consistent not only with our philosophy, but also given the importance of supporting the operation in Haiti.
QUESTION: And about the first lady?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: About the first lady’s visit?
MR. CROWLEY: As to who is traveling with President Ma, I’ll defer to the Taiwanese Government.
QUESTION: So where is he going?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, as to his schedule, he’s going to Central America, but as to his specific schedule, I’ll defer.
QUESTION: Yeah. Looking at – the last time I looked at the map, San Francisco is not exactly a direct line between Taiwan and Central America. Why San Francisco?
MR. CROWLEY: He requested permission to transit --
QUESTION: Does he have any events?
MR. CROWLEY: -- and we have granted it --
QUESTION: Is he going to speak?
MR. CROWLEY: -- as we have in the past.
QUESTION: But is he going to speak? Does he have any events?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not believe he has any public or press events while he’s there.
QUESTION: Is there anyone from the U.S., from the Department of State or U.S. Government meeting him there?
MR. CROWLEY: I do not know.
QUESTION: Can you check?
MR. CROWLEY: Actually, I do know, sorry. Raymond F. Burghardt, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, the organization that carries out the unofficial relations with Taiwan, will greet him in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
QUESTION: How long is he staying, or is it truly a transit? In other words, he doesn’t leave the airport.
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ll defer – on his particular travel itinerary, I’ll defer to Taiwan.
QUESTION: This is another one of those issues where you and the Chinese have this great understanding?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s part of our broad dialogue.
QUESTION: Yeah. The deputy head of the Central Committee of Fatah, Jibril Rajoub, has said yesterday that the movement and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, were threatened on boycott by the United States should they achieve reconciliation with Hamas movement. Do you have any reaction to that?
MR. CROWLEY: Michel, start again. I didn’t catch the middle.
QUESTION: Yeah. The deputy head of the Central Committee of Fatah movement, Jibril – Jibril Rajoub has said that the movement and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, were threatened by the U.S. on boycott if they achieved reconciliation with Hamas movement.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, our policy on this is clear. We would like to see a stronger Palestinian government that has greater capacity to serve the needs of the Palestinian people. We support Prime Minister Fayyad in his efforts to build stronger institutions and to continue to build – to grow the Palestinian economy, and to professionalize the Palestinian security forces. If others want to join this effort, they know what they have to do. And – but the existing Palestinian Authority, it’s guided by the Quartet principles and if – we will continue to support any effort towards reconciliation that is guided by these principles, including recognition of Israel and support of existing agreements and choosing to join the political process rather than choosing to exercise violence in the pursuit of their political objectives.
So that’s why George Mitchell is in the region and why he’ll continue to have the discussions with the Palestinians he had today and tomorrow.
QUESTION: Yeah. You said that he was going to have other talks. Where else is he going to go?
MR. CROWLEY: He may have other discussions. I think his schedule after tomorrow morning is in flux. We’ll be able to talk to that on Monday.
QUESTION: Sorry, after tomorrow morning? So he’s in Israel and the PA until tomorrow morning?
MR. CROWLEY: He may have additional – he may make other stops before he comes back.
QUESTION: Just back on Haiti, one more number. Do you have the number – updated number on the number of orphans who have been brought to the U.S.? And any updates on procedures or communications or --
MR. CROWLEY: I think, so far, it’s a moving number. But so far, roughly 400 humanitarian paroles have been granted for orphans.
QUESTION: How many?
MR. CROWLEY: Four hundred. And whether they’re all in the United States or being queued up for travel at the first opportunity, it could be a combination of the two.
QUESTION: Can I just have a quick human rights issue, please – one quick question. As far as human rights and Australians are concerned, Indian students or Indians living there are under attack on a daily basis. And Australian Government is not doing enough or much. Anything that you may have, any --
MR. CROWLEY: I think that – we obviously support human rights anywhere in the world, but as to the particulars of that situation, I’ll defer to Australia and India to comment.
QUESTION: On Yemen --
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. Good.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: All right, hold on. Yemen.
QUESTION: Yeah, what do you expect concretely from the London meeting next week, concrete results?
MR. CROWLEY: On the Yemen meeting?
QUESTION: Yeah, Yemen meeting in London.
QUESTION: Could you wait for next week?
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) We --
QUESTION: Is there a trip before that?
MR. CROWLEY: Huh?
QUESTION: What do you expect concretely from the Haiti meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: The – we will – we look for the meeting next week to consolidate international support for Yemen. We will coordinate our assistance efforts. And we hope to reach agreement on assisting Yemen with its political and economic reform. In the meeting that Secretary Clinton had yesterday with the Yemeni foreign minister as – they talked about security, but a significant part of the discussion was on development and creation of economic opportunity as a tool to help reduce both extremism and conflict within Yemen. So I think this is bringing together a wide range of leaders, those who are – have a direct or – interest in the future of Yemen, many from the region, and it will be to outline the specific require – needs that Yemen has, what Yemen’s plans are for that support. It’s not going to be a donors conference, per se, but just simply to outline what we think the most significant requirements that Yemen has to be able to stabilize itself, deal with the conflicts – plural – within its borders, and also the threat posed by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
QUESTION: Yeah. Yesterday, the Yemeni foreign minister was pretty adamant that the fact that there weren’t any reforms taking place was the fault of the rest of the world and not the Yemeni Government itself. He said that money hadn’t been forthcoming, that the mechanism was broken, and basically it’s all your guys fault that we --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think – I wouldn’t characterize what he said quite that way.
QUESTION: Well, pretty much that’s exactly what he said.
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no, no.
QUESTION: He said it was everyone else’s fault but theirs, that they didn’t have any reforms. Do you agree with that?
MR. CROWLEY: I – we are – one of the things he said in the meeting was that how – one of his criticisms was that there was a significant time lag from the time that aid was pledged and the time it actually got to the ground. And this is something that the Secretary has responded to in other contexts as well. So we will work with Yemen to identify its requirements. We, as the Secretary has said many times, we are raising our expectations in terms of what we expect Yemen to do. We recognize that – that the solutions to the challenges that Yemen faces on the security front and the economic front have to be Yemeni solutions. We will be willing to provide assistance, and the Secretary pledged that we will look to see how we – in the most urgent areas, how we can speed up the assistance --
QUESTION: That’s all fair enough, but he --
MR. CROWLEY: -- to Yemen.
QUESTION: -- also said that President Saleh had taken courageous decisions for reform. Do you agree with that?
MR. CROWLEY: There are certainly a number of political and economic reforms that Yemen still has to – ought to achieve.
QUESTION: Yeah. Do you agree that the president has been courageous?
MR. CROWLEY: I think the president has --
QUESTION: And do you --
MR. CROWLEY: -- taken some very significant steps, particularly recently in tackling the extremist challenge that he faces within Yemen.
QUESTION: Do you agree that the outside world is responsible for the fact that Yemen has not reformed and it’s not the Yemeni responsibility?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that we believe that – this is a shared responsibility, but there is clearly things that Yemen – the Yemeni Government has to do to improve its performance.
QUESTION: So when you say speed up assistance, you mean previously pledged assistance? For example, the 2006 donors conference – that’s what you mean?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, that – yeah, but that’s – and that’s a very legitimate point for the Yemeni Government to raise, which is if we have an urgent situation, how can we get assistance on the ground and having the desired impact as rapidly as possible. We’re going through – having that same conversation with Afghanistan, that same conversation with Pakistan. It’s why the Secretary is committed to trying to reform how we do assistance. But we are going to expect more from the Government of Yemen in terms of a consistent performance not only to undertake political reforms, resolve the conflicts that do exist within its borders. The Secretary spent a lot of time with the foreign minister yesterday trying to better understand the conflict with the Houthis and how Yemen plans to resolve that.
We are encouraged by the steps that Yemen has taken with respect to attacking elements of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. But clearly, there are things that we expect from Yemen in terms of a consistent and concerted performance going forward.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:52 p.m.)
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|