Daily Press Briefing, February 2, 2011
Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary of State
Daily Press Briefing
February 2, 2011
This Evening Waiting for Release of Final Results of First Round of Elections in Haiti
Deputy Secretary Steinberg Traveled to Khartoum and Juba Joined by Assistant Secretary Carson and Special Envoy Gration
Ambassador Verveer Leaving Tonight for Travel to Democratic Republic of the Congo
Two Flights Today / Roughly 200 Americans Flew Out Today / About 1,800 Americans Moved Since Monday / Not Aware of Any Backlog
Ambassador Wisner on Way Back to U.S. / Ambassador Wisner Met with President Mubarak, General Suleiman
Secretary Clinton Today Had Conversation with Vice President Suleiman
There Needs to Be Accountability / Imperative Officials in Egypt Heed What Egyptian People Are Demanding / There Has to Be Sense of Urgency / There Has to Be National Dialogue / Speeches Have to Be Followed by Very Specific Actions / Army / U.S. Wants to See Credible Process That Leads to Free, Fair, and Legitimate Elections
U.S. Doing an Aggressive, Active Outreach to Broad Range of Figures / Israel / Jordan
U.S. Hopes That Next Government of Egypt Will Play Constructive Role in Peace Process and Will Recognize Importance of Having Peaceful Relationship with Israel / Aid
U.S. Welcomes Any Decisions by President Saleh That Advance Yemen's Political Development Through Non-Violent and Democratic Means
U.S. Going to Help Tunisia Advance Towards Democratic Elections
SYRIA / LEBANON / IRAQ
U.S. Supports Advancement of Effective, Responsible, and Democratic Government Wherever It Is
U.S. Continues to Encourage Government of Pakistan to Respect Diplomatic Immunity and to Release Diplomat
3:37 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: Sorry for the delay. Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. A couple of things to mention before getting to the current situation in Egypt.
First of all, this evening, we are waiting for the release of the final results of the first round of the elections in Haiti. We expect those results to be released by the Provisional Electoral Council sometime late tonight. And we certainly reiterate our strong desire that the results reflect the will of the Haitian people and then enable Haiti to move on with the follow-on elections that they’ve already announced for next month.
Today, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg traveled to Khartoum and Juba, where he held productive meetings with government representatives. He was joined by Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson and Special Envoy Scott Gration. And Scott Gration will continue his visit to the region with stops in Port Sudan and the Darfur region. We recognize that the referendum is not the final chapter in implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Between now and July, the parties must prepare the groundwork for peaceful implementation of the referendum results. They must resolve key issues, including the status of Abyei, restoration of other disputed border areas, hold timely and meaningful popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, and reach an agreement on citizenship that reflects international norms and does not arbitrarily strip anyone of their citizenship or lead to the expulsion of any citizenship. So in other words, there’s a lot of work, intensive work that needs to be done leading up to July when the results of the referendum are able to be acted upon.
Today, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, our ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues, talked to our global ambassadors conference and she will be leaving tonight for travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She’ll speak at the opening of the City of Joy in Bukavu, South Kivu. Established in partnership with the Panzi Foundation, the City of Joy is a center that will help female survivors of sexual violence to heal and provide them with opportunities to rebuild their lives through innovative programming. And while there and in Kinshasa, she will meet with Congolese Government officials, media, local and international NGOs, women’s leaders, and human rights activists.
QUESTION: What was the name of the foundation? (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: P-a-n-z-i.
QUESTION: Not ponzi. Okay, that’s good. I’m glad you didn’t get suckered into that one.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you very much, Matthew. (Laughter.)
Turning to Egypt, first just to update you on the current progress with the ordered evacuation of U.S. Government personnel and American citizens, today we had two flights. One went to Frankfurt. The other one first went to Luxor, where it added some passengers, and then on to Athens. Roughly 200 Americans flew out today. That leaves us with about 1,800 that we’ve moved over the past – or since Monday. And we will continue to assess the need for – we’ll have flights tomorrow and we’ll continue to assess the need for charter flights on Friday.
But at this point in time, certainly the – I mean, we do understand that many Americans have left Egypt through available commercial means. But certainly, the demand for seats to leave Egypt has subsided.
QUESTION: So the 200, does that include the officials who are part of the ordered departure?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: It does?
MR. CROWLEY: A mix. I think we still have a very small number of official personnel and family members who have yet to leave, but for the most part, the evacuation has been completed.
QUESTION: And, P.J., is there an update to the number of people who are requesting – because the last time it was, like, 2,600 – or 3,000, I’m sorry, who (inaudible).
MR. CROWLEY: I think we’re over 3,000 in terms of the people who have registered with us, but we are moving anyone who gets to the airport or indicates in other parts of Egypt that they are in need of assistance. But at this point in time, we are able to fly out anybody who comes to the airport. I’m not aware of any backlog.
QUESTION: When you say the evacuation has been completed, you mean just officials and dependents, right?
MR. CROWLEY: For the most part, the ordered evacuation of U.S. Government personnel and family members, with a handful of people who have yet to leave. But for the most part, those people that we wanted to move out of Cairo, we have completed that movement.
QUESTION: P.J., do you have the number of Americans in Egypt?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we keep a record of those who have – who registered with the Embassy. That number hovers around 50,000. There are a larger number of Americans who are in Egypt. A number of them have dual citizenship. But some may have – as we say, many have left through their own means.
QUESTION: P.J., is there any other countries have asked any kind of help to get their citizens out from the U.S.?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, in fact, as on Monday, we were grateful that we could move some Americans on a Canadian flight. In succeeding days, we have been able to assist other countries who have identified citizens to us and have moved them out on airplanes along with our American citizens.
QUESTION: Is Ambassador Wisner one of them? (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: Ambassador Wisner is on his way back to the United States.
QUESTION: How many – we can get back to that in a second, but how many non-American citizens did --
MR. CROWLEY: I do not have that number. We can see if we can – that should be a number that’s --
QUESTION: And do they have to pay or is it my largesse that’s getting them --
MR. CROWLEY: No, we – well, we seek reimbursement for any private citizen and any foreign citizen that we are able to transport.
QUESTION: And if you don’t – do you have countries at all, any idea --
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll get a kind of a number and a kind of a catalog for you.
QUESTION: Do you have some information on what Ambassador Wisner did today or – and yesterday? Who he’s been meeting --
MR. CROWLEY: While he was on the ground, Ambassador Wisner met with President Mubarak. He also met with General Suleiman. I can also tell you that Secretary Clinton today also had a conversation with Vice President Suleiman. She emphasized again our condemnation of violence that occurred today, encouraged the government to hold those responsible fully accountable for this violence. We don’t know at this point who did it.
QUESTION: Do you think it’s --
MR. CROWLEY: We don’t know who --
QUESTION: Do you think it’s loyalists to President Mubarak?
QUESTION: Hold on.
QUESTION: Let him finish.
QUESTION: Encouraged them to do what?
MR. CROWLEY: She strongly encouraged the government to investigate and hold those responsible for the violence accountable. And she continued to stress to Vice President Suleiman that the transition has to start now.
Now, we don’t know who unleashed these thugs on the streets of Cairo. They’ve been identified as supporters of the government. But whoever they are, they need – there needs to be accountability here. This was clearly an attempt at intimidating the protestors who have been communicating to the government and insisting on change. As the President said last night, there needs to be a transition; it needs to start now; there needs to be a national dialogue, a serious conversation among a variety of players; and a clear process that the people of Egypt can see that all parties who want to shape Egypt’s future are taking specific actions leading to elections and a new government as soon as possible.
QUESTION: What do you mean when you say that the – is that what you mean when you say the transition must begin now? Do you mean that President Mubarak should transition out of power? Are you suggesting that he step down? Or are you saying that between now – what exactly are you saying when you say the transformation begins – should begin now?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are having a full range of conversations. Our Ambassador in Cairo Margaret Scobey is in continual contact with various officials in the Egyptian Government. The Secretary has maintained close contact, as has the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
So the issue here is not a lack of communication. We are making clear to Egypt, publicly and privately, what needs to be done. We’re not prescribing what Egypt needs to do. There has to be – everyone – there’s been a call for a transition. President Mubarak has committed to a transition. But now is the time where the government has to take meaningful, serious steps, concrete steps, to demonstrate that it is moving down a path to elections and to democratic governance – the governance in Egypt that responds to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
And the violence today just underscores how urgent the situation is. The longer that this goes unresolved, the greater the danger of further violence. And it is imperative that this process begin now and that it can begin with bringing together this national dialogue, bringing together opposition figures, members of civil society, along with institutions like the army, along with key officials. But the people have spoken, and it’s time for Egypt and those officials who want to play a role in Egypt’s future to respond significantly.
QUESTION: P.J., your counterpart in the Egyptian foreign ministry today had a statement explicitly rejecting these suggestions both from Washington and from Europe that the transition should start immediately and said that these comments were interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs and aimed at inciting the situation. Given that statement from the Government of Egypt, what basis do we – do you have for any hope that they’re hearing your message and that they are going to get things going?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, what’s imperative is that officials in Egypt heed what the Egyptian people are demanding. These are demonstrations that have been very compelling. These are demonstrations that underscore the aspirations – the unfulfilled aspirations, of the Egyptian people. And these demonstrators are not going away. This is gathering momentum. They are sending a clear message. It’s important for the government, opposition figures, members of civil society to come together, have a serious conversation, and begin the process that leads to genuine democratic elections.
QUESTION: I know that your protestors --
QUESTION: But, P.J., I believe there (inaudible) protestors supporting President Mubarak or demonstrations supporting President Mubarak.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me differentiate between those who can bring forward their perspective on current events as opposed to the thugs that we saw on the streets today who have – clearly trying to intimidate those people who have been peacefully protesting and expressing their strong views about a different kind of future for Egypt. We don’t know who unleashed these people, but there should be full accountability. But our concern is that the longer this process goes unresolved, the greater the risk of further violence. That’s the last thing that we want to see.
QUESTION: But there were also those who, apart from the thugs, believe that President Mubarak has been good for Egypt, who believe that his departure too quickly would bring chaos to the country, and that if he has promised to stay on until the election and participate in the transition, then that’s good enough for them. Do you --
MR. CROWLEY: But that goes back to the point that Andy was making earlier. That necessarily means that actions need to begin now. The government can’t say, "Today’s not the day, tomorrow’s not the day." There has to be a sense of urgency. There has to be a national dialogue. There has to be a coming together of all of those elements of Egyptian society who want to play a role in shaping the future, a different kind of future. The government can’t afford to hold back. There is still a gap between what the government has done and what the people expect.
QUESTION: Well, is that the --
MR. CROWLEY: The government has to take affirmative steps to close that gap. And this is about leaders coming together and responding to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. It’s not for the United States to say you’ve got to do this, this, and this. It is for leaders to step up and begin to lead. It’s for leaders to step up and take actions. Our advice to Egypt, publicly and privately, is this can no longer wait, this has to start now.
QUESTION: But the VP said --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) says that Mr. Suleiman is already beginning to talk to the opposition, and they point out other things that they’ve done – a new cabinet, a VP, announcing that he won’t run again, changes to the constitution, opening a dialogue with the opposition, et cetera. Are you saying that they are not now – they’ve stopped talking?
MR. CROWLEY: This – these steps have to be broader. They have to be more visible. A lot has to be done to demonstrate to the people – it’s not enough for the president or others to say that we’ve heard you. The people have spoken. It’s now time for the Egyptian Government to demonstrate that it is taking aggressive steps to respond to what the people are demanding.
QUESTION: But what beyond all of that – what beyond all of that would you like to see that would be more of a – the only actual more visible step that they’ve heard the people would be for him to go. I mean, he made this laundry list of steps. It’s like, not even 24 hours since he made them. And I’m not quite sure if you – you’re saying it needs to be more visible, it needs to be more substantial, but you’re not saying specifically, beyond what he said yesterday, what else you would like to see. Everything that you’ve just mentioned he said that he was going to do, and it hasn’t been 24 hours yet. So beyond him stepping down, which is obviously the most visible thing you can see, what else specifically could he do?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we’re giving our advice to Egypt, public and private. It is not for us to dictate this. But obviously, there are elections already scheduled for later this year. How are the opposition and government figures going to do this? You mentioned that the government has indicated that constitutional changes may be necessary. How is that going to happen? Who is going to be involved? Who gets to contribute their views? How does the government, the existing government, solicit ideas from across Egyptian society?
There are – there’s talk about – there’s already a scheduled presidential election. How does parliament figure into this? But as we’ve said, there has to be a broad national dialogue where the people get a chance to participate. This is not about having actions taken behind closed doors. This is about demonstrating to the people of Egypt that leaders are coming together to take specific and concrete actions that lead to democratic elections later this year.
QUESTION: So clarify for us. Is what Mubarak said yesterday satisfactory or unsatisfactory for the United States?
MR. CROWLEY: Pardon me?
QUESTION: The content of what Mubarak said in his speech, is that satisfactory or unsatisfactory?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, that’s not for us to say. President Mubarak has responded to the people. Only the people will determine whether what he’s done thus far is enough. We believe that more needs to be done. We believe that more needs to be done faster. And that has been our message to officials that we’ve talked to. That was the Secretary’s message to Vice President Suleiman today. So if the foreign minister is saying, in essence, mañana, we’re saying that’s not good enough.
QUESTION: So you think that Mr. Mubarak polarized the society and the army further, as we have seen today?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: You think that – Mubarak’s speech, did it serve to polarize Egypt across the fabric of the army and the society and all?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, what we’re saying is speeches are not enough. Now the speeches have to be followed by very specific actions. Regarding the army, we have been impressed by the professionalism of the army that it’s --
QUESTION: Even today?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, all right – hang – can I finish first?
QUESTION: Yeah, of course.
MR. CROWLEY: -- or do you want to ask the question first?
QUESTION: No, no. I’d like you to finish.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you. The army has performed in a professional way. Clearly, we are disturbed and have condemned the violence that we saw today. I haven’t seen any indication that the military is responsible for that violence. But clearly, the military is a respected institution. It has performed professionally. It has a very important role to play to create the – to help create the kind of environment that can lead to democratic change. That’s what we want to see and that’s why we remain concerned about the prospect of further violence, and we continue to urge restraint.
QUESTION: Well, on this issue, it was clear today, if you watched TV, anyone can tell that the army was standing on the side while these thugs who are pro-Mubarak was attacking protestors who are pro-change. Did you see that? It was on – it wasn’t only on Al Jazeera. It was everywhere, actually.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m --
QUESTION: If you don’t watch Al Jazeera, you can see it --
MR. CROWLEY: I do understand that the army has been placed in a very difficult position. The army is trying to be a stabilizing force without being forced to choose sides and perhaps risk further violence. It’s not for my – it’s not my place to critique the performance of the army. I think what we’ve seen over a number of --
QUESTION: But you were praising it --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, hang on a second.
QUESTION: -- so can only praise the army, but you can’t --
MR. CROWLEY: What we have seen over several days is the obvious rapport and bond that exists between the army as a respected institution in Egyptian society and the Egyptian people. We hope that that bond continues. We hope that the actions by these thugs does not change the dynamic on the street. We’re very concerned that this unleashing of violence today and this attempt at intimidation will change the dynamic on the street. We’re very concerned about this.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
QUESTION: No. P.J., can I – let’s get – extremely briefly, I’ve got four things.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: Can you limit – try to contain your enthusiasm for answering these lengthily and make it has short as possible?
QUESTION: Brevity is the soul of wit.
QUESTION: One, you keep saying that the people have spoken. Egypt is a pretty big country. Are you confident that the majority of Egyptians are demanding the kinds of things that you’re calling for the government to do?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. Two, you keep talking about previously scheduled presidential elections for the – that are now supposed to be held in September. Would you like to see those elections moved up?
MR. CROWLEY: Those are decisions for the Egyptian people and leaders to make. Whatever – if they choose to move them up and there can be a credible political process, but that is up to them.
QUESTION: Okay. But that is some – but that would speed things up, correct? You keep talking --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we --
QUESTION: -- for things fasters, you want more and more faster.
MR. CROWLEY: We want to see --
QUESTION: Is that one thing that you would like to see?
MR. CROWLEY: What we want to see is a credible process that leads to free, fair, and legitimate elections. That is currently scheduled for September. If that can be advanced, that – but we want – it’s the destination first and foremost, but there’s an important process that leads to the kind of result that the people of Egypt are calling for.
QUESTION: Can you finish the sentence – if that could be advanced?
MR. CROWLEY: If that can be advanced – but the key --
QUESTION: (Off-mike.) (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: Again --
QUESTION: If that can be advanced, what? That would be a good thing? That might be a good thing? That might be able to resolve some of the tension that’s going on now?
MR. CROWLEY: We want to see free, fair, and credible elections. The sooner that can happen --
MR. CROWLEY: -- the better. It should not be precipitous. It’s important to make sure that there is an inclusive political process.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: Now, hold on, hold on. Let me finish.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m halfway through --
QUESTION: I’m going real slow here. Number three, you mentioned --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m halfway through Matt’s flash quiz.
QUESTION: You mentioned Ambassador Wisner. You said he was on his way back.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: You said he saw – that while he was there on the ground he saw Mubarak and Suleiman. Were those additional meetings to the ones he already had, or did he have new meetings with them today before he left?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m only aware of two meetings.
QUESTION: Okay. And then my last one --
QUESTION: Just one meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: When was the Suleiman meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: I believe they were both on Monday.
QUESTION: Okay. And then the last one is that you said that Secretary --
MR. CROWLEY: Today’s Wednesday, right?
QUESTION: -- Secretary Clinton called Suleiman today. Did she try – has she tried to get through to Mubarak, or is that something that the President did last night and --
MR. CROWLEY: The President did it last night.
QUESTION: P.J., Mr. Suleiman --
MR. CROWLEY: Did I pass?
QUESTION: General Suleiman today said that there would be --
QUESTION: I don’t know if you passed, but you completed it. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: Was I brief enough? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You completed it.
QUESTION: General Suleiman today said that there would be no dialogue until the protestors leave the street. What’s your reaction to that? Is it time for the protestors to go home?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the protestors are a fact of this process. They are in the streets making demands of leaders in Egypt. It is up to leaders to respond. I would not think it would be credible to say that no dialogue can begin before the protestors disperse. The protestors will be dispersed or will – the protestors will go home when they have confidence that leaders are addressing their core demands, which is fundamental change and a process that leads to credible, free, and fair elections. It is up to leaders to lead. It’s up to leaders to take specific steps. The sooner that this kind of serious conversation among broad elements of Egyptian society occurs, then that can give the Egyptian people confidence that not only have their voices been heard --
QUESTION: But today --
MR. CROWLEY: -- but leaders are responding to their aspirations.
QUESTION: But today they are pushing them to leave, P.J.
MR. CROWLEY: Again, Michel, our message to Egypt, publicly and privately, is that the transition needs to start now. It can’t be delayed. It can’t be delayed until there’s a perfect set of circumstances. The transition has to start now.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: One more. You said that you support the aspirations of the Egyptian people. The demonstrators asked President Mubarak to leave. That doesn’t mean – does this mean that you support their demand?
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Michel, I’m confused.
QUESTION: The demonstrators asked President Mubarak to leave and you said that you support the aspirations of the Egyptian people. Do you support their demand for President Mubarak to leave?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, these kinds of decisions will be made in Egypt. They won’t be imposed from outside. The transition needs to start now. Where that transition leads is up to Egyptian leaders and up to the Egyptian people.
QUESTION: You keep mentioning, P.J., about the leaders. Do you – can you give us a list of five leaders? Whom do you want to see?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we don’t have such a list, (inaudible). There are a number of other – a broad range of figures who have indicated publicly that they wish to be involved.
QUESTION: Can you name one, two, three?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t have to. You can name one, you can name two, you can name three.
QUESTION: Speaking of which, has there been any further contact with Mr. ElBaradei in the U.S. Embassy?
QUESTION: Or Amr Moussa?
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Wait, hang on. All right. Now, do we want to – do you want to bring forward more names? I mean --
QUESTION: Sure, there’s two.
QUESTION: Yeah, what about the Muslim Brotherhood?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, again --
QUESTION: How about Ayman Nour?
QUESTION: Are you talking to the Muslim Brotherhood?
MR. CROWLEY: This is not our process. This is not our list. We do not have a favorite candidate or candidates. We are not going to anoint any successor to President Mubarak. These are decisions to be made by the Egyptian people as part of a transition that occurs in Egypt. Our point is this transition, this process to fundamental change needs to begin now. If any figure wants to play a role in this process, they can come forward. If any group --
QUESTION: Does that include the Muslim Brotherhood? Does that include the Muslim Brotherhood?
MR. CROWLEY: If any group wants to come forward and play a role in a democratic process, a peaceful process, that is their right as Egyptians. It’s not for us, the United States, to dictate this.
QUESTION: What about the Muslim Brotherhood? Can you talk about the Muslim Brotherhood and whether there have been any contacts with them and whether you think that the Muslim Brotherhood should be part of any political process? You say you’re not going to anoint anybody, but what if a figure from Muslim Brotherhood emerges as the primary candidate to lead the country?
MR. CROWLEY: Again --
QUESTION: Specifically on the Muslim Brotherhood?
MR. CROWLEY: We have not met with the Muslim Brotherhood.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to --
QUESTION: Okay. Can – no, but what if – should they be part of a political process?
MR. CROWLEY: No, we have had no contact with the Muslim Brotherhood.
QUESTION: But should they be part of a political process? They obviously have a following in the country.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, that is up to them. They are a fact of life in Egypt. They are highly organized. And if they choose, and if they choose to participate and respect the democratic process, that is a – those are decisions to be made inside Egypt. The army obviously will play a role in this transition. There are a broad variety of political figures, political groups, political actors that can participate if they choose. These are decisions to be made inside Egypt.
QUESTION: Have you met – have you asked to meet the Muslim Brotherhood?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Why not?
QUESTION: Wait. P.J. --
QUESTION: Well, it’s obvious that the --
QUESTION: I mean, you’ve met with other opposition members. Who – can you say who you’ve met with? Ayman Nour, you’ve met with – can you give a decent --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t have a list here. We are doing an aggressive, active outreach to a broad range of figures. We have always done that. We’re going to continue to do that. We’ve been very active in the last few days. I can’t detail all the people we have and have not. You asked a specific question. We have not had contact with the Muslim Brotherhood.
QUESTION: But why don’t you meet with the Muslim Brotherhood? What’s the reason not to meet with them?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m – we will meet with figures. If we meet with anyone along those lines, we’ll let you know.
QUESTION: Do you give conditions before you meet with people?
QUESTION: Are you saying that the reports about the meeting with – that Ambassador Wisner has had with the Muslim Brotherhood representatives is false?
MR. CROWLEY: I was in touch with Ambassador Wisner on the airplane as he was coming back. He had two meetings, one with President Mubarak and one with Vice President Suleiman.
QUESTION: So is the report false or is it not false?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I’m just telling you he had two meetings. So if you’re saying, "Did Mr. Wisner meet with the Muslim Brotherhood," the answer is no.
QUESTION: Why is it obvious that the army is going to play a role in this transition? This is a democratic transition. Shouldn’t it be led by civilians only?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, it’s not for us to determine who wants to participate. The army is a respected institution within Egyptian society. You’re going to go through fundamental changes in Egyptian society. The army, as a respected institution, can play a role in this. But again, these are decisions to be made inside Egypt.
QUESTION: P.J., could you share with us the future --
QUESTION: But why didn’t – wouldn’t it have made sense – wouldn’t it make sense to leave Frank Wisner on the ground a bit longer? You keep talking about the private advice you’re giving the government. You sent this trusted emissary over, he had two meetings, and he came back. Was there nothing more for him to do?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have an Ambassador, Margaret Scobey, who conducts our day-to-day business with the Government of Egypt. She is doing a brilliant job. She is engaged with members of civil society. She is engaged with political figures every day. And she will be our point person on a day-to-day basis as --
QUESTION: Should we --
MR. CROWLEY: -- Egypt goes through this transition.
QUESTION: Should we interpret that, then, to mean that Wisner accomplished what he was sent there to do? Or that the response was such that there was no point in him staying any longer?
MR. CROWLEY: Ambassador Wisner has a longstanding relationship with President Mubarak and other key leaders within the Egyptian Government. We thought it was useful for Ambassador Wisner to go over and have a two-way conversation as a means of providing his perspective to President Mubarak given their friendship, and also to bring back his judgment as to what the situation is at the highest levels of the Egyptian Government. He will report back to the President and the Secretary when he lands.
QUESTION: Does the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty factor into discussions on the shape of the next government? Does the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty signed in 1979 factor in the discussion when you discuss the future of --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, when a new government is formed, it will have to review its policies with regard – its foreign policy, which would include its policy with its immediate neighbor, Israel. It has been of tremendous value to the United States, to the region, that Egypt made peace with Israel 30 years ago – or more than 30 years ago. It’s been of enormous value that Jordan has made peace with Israel. We want to see that same kind of relationship with other states in the region. Egypt has been a leader in the peace process. It has been an anchor in the peace process. We would value and welcome Egypt continuing to play that role. We hope that the new government will follow that policy.
QUESTION: So will you make your relations contingent upon Egypt abiding by the peace treaty – any future government?
MR. CROWLEY: There is a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. It is of tremendous value to both of those countries and to the region. And we would hope that that would continue to be respected, just as it has been for more than three decades.
QUESTION: P.J., to follow --
MR. CROWLEY: Michele.
QUESTION: In your aggressive outreach to opposition figures, first of all, can you tell us, has the Secretary been involved in that? And also, have you been telling protestors that it’s time to get off the streets and into negotiations? And on a separate issue in the region, do you think that President Saleh in Yemen has done enough to head off this sort of crisis?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, we’ll start in Egypt. First, there has been broad outreach to a variety of figures across Egyptian society. I can’t give you a catalog. We’ve detailed for you the Secretary’s calls with Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit and with Vice President Suleiman, but down through Under Secretary Burns, Assistant Secretary Feltman, Ambassador Scobey, others across the interagency, we’ve done an aggressive outreach across Egyptian society. We will continue that. I can’t really give you any more of a play-by-play than that.
Your second question was?
QUESTION: But are you encouraging them to get off the streets and into negotiations?
MR. CROWLEY: We have been very clear all -- during this whole last week of respecting the universal values of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of the press. It is not for us to tell the Egyptian people to leave the streets. It’s for us to encourage the Egyptian Government and Egyptian leaders to respond to what the people of Egypt are telling it about Egypt’s future.
QUESTION: My question on Yemen, please.
MR. CROWLEY: And on President Saleh, been a number of significant announcements regarding political inclusivity, reform, reconciliation with the Yemeni opposition. And we welcome any decisions by President Saleh that advance Yemen’s political development through non-violent and democratic means.
QUESTION: P.J. --
MR. CROWLEY: Wait.
QUESTION: Can I go back? I just want --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Yemen if it’s so – you welcome any steps they would – are these steps that – are these some of the any steps that you would welcome?
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: Saying that he won’t run, saying his son won’t run, calling for dialogue?
MR. CROWLEY: These are positive statements. Just as we’ve seen in Egypt, it is important for governments across the region, as the Secretary said in her speech in Doha, to follow statements with actions and undertake political and social and economic reforms.
QUESTION: One more. Is that on Egypt?
QUESTION: A follow-up on Egypt real quick, on the Secretary’s call today. Can you tell us around what time today that actually took place?
MR. CROWLEY: I actually can’t.
MR. CROWLEY: It was early afternoon.
QUESTION: Early afternoon. Okay.
QUESTION: One more on Egypt. P.J., last night, people of Egypt heard their president, but they still want him out now, not waiting until September. What I’m asking you is, are you comfortable for him to stay in power until September or next election, whether it will take place or not, or do you have somebody else to replace him? (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, Goyal, these are decisions to be made inside Egypt, not to be determined outside of Egypt. We want to see a national dialogue. We want to see a transition. What happens during that transition is not up to us. It’s up to Egypt. So that if – any figure is involved, stays longer, stays shorter, again, the key here is that there is a process that leads to fundamental change, that responds to the people of Egypt. And that is – those are issues that are being debated inside Egypt, and I’ll leave it there.
QUESTION: One more if I may --
QUESTION: But now – but, actually, can I just follow up on that? You keep saying you’re not going to say what he should do, what he shouldn’t do; but you obviously told him that he shouldn’t run, so you’re not really not saying what he should do, what he shouldn’t do. You obviously have some explicit things that he should do and he shouldn’t do. So why won’t you – why won’t you make a – why won’t you let us know your thoughts about whether you think what he did – is this going to be enough to satisfy the street, or does he have to step down?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, this is a matter for the Egyptian people.
QUESTION: Well, so whether he ran again or not run again is an issue for the Egyptian people.
MR. CROWLEY: The Egyptian people came out to the street and demanded change. President Mubarak and other leaders have made some moves. As to whether those moves are sufficient, that is a matter between the Egyptian – the existing Egyptian Government and the people of Egypt. That is the fundamental relationship and that’s the fundamental calculation here, and that’s a matter between the Egyptian people and their president.
QUESTION: So what you’re telling us is like through 30 years of American support of the same guy and his family and his regime, when the moment comes where the people is asking him to step down, you’re not going to interfere? You’re not going to say what you really think? I mean, are you – do you feel like your foreign policy should be blamed for this guy to be in power? You used to call him a moderate. Do you still think he’s a moderate? You used to distinguish between radicals and moderate. Do you still think Mubarak is a moderate?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, I’m not going to put any labels. President Mubarak is the president of Egypt. He has announced that he will step down in September. He has been a partner of the United States. This relationship has – this bilateral relationship has been of great significance. Egypt’s role in the peace process, led by President Mubarak, has been of great significance. The achievements include a historic peace between Israel and Egypt, support for Jordan as it reached peace with Israel. It has – Egypt has played a leading role in the peace process and has been very supportive – it was one of the first countries to embrace a new Iraq.
So this has been – this relationship has been of great importance and has been of great value to the United States, to Egypt, and the region as a whole. That said, the people of Egypt have demanded change. The government is responding to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. We are encouraging the government to move farther and faster. There needs to be a transition. The people need to see that transition in action now. That was the President’s message publicly and privately yesterday. But as to who is involved and who leads this process, those are decisions to be made in Egypt and by the Egyptian people.
QUESTION: Do you think that President Mubarak feels betrayed by the United States at the moment?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Are we going to expect – so we’re going to expect – obviously, we’re seeing these protests in other countries. So depending on the level of the street protests and depending on the kind of volume of the calls for change is going to dictate what your statements are? I mean, right now you’re not making dramatic calls for change in Yemen. You’ve said they need to reform, but you’ve been using the same measured statements that you have about Yemen that you have up until now. So if the protests in Yemen get a lot larger, are you going to make a more urgent call for change in Yemen? If the protests in Jordan get a little more louder, are you going to call for urgent and dramatic change in Jordan? I mean, how – so how much are you letting the street dictate what your U.S. policy is?
MR. CROWLEY: No. Well, let’s go back two weeks to the Secretary’s speech in Doha. She advanced and enunciated the policy of the United States. We want to see representative government --
QUESTION: I think you’ve stepped it up a little bit since the Secretary’s speech. The Secretary urged them for change. And the Secretary said you need to get on top of these movements. But it wasn’t --
MR. CROWLEY: No, I wouldn't – I wouldn't phrase it quite that way. She – you need to respond to the political, economic, social, and demographic challenges --
QUESTION: Yes, but it’s – but you’ve ramped up your rhetoric and your urgency on that since then, like looking – as according to the demands of the street. So I mean, if we see these protests growing in other countries, are you going to – are your calls for change in those countries going to become louder and louder?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, in Tunisia, we are going to help Tunisia advance towards democratic elections. In Egypt, we’re going to help Egypt advance towards democratic elections. We have had both military and civilian support in Egypt to try to improve the performance of the Yemeni[i] Government. We have worked in – within Yemeni society to resolve internal conflicts and internal fissures in that country. We are going to continue to do that. But we continue to encourage governments to respond to the aspirations of their people and take very specific political, economic, and social steps.
QUESTION: But, P.J., then --
QUESTION: P.J., there are calls for a day of rage in Syria on Friday. Will you support the aspirations of the Syrian people?
MR. CROWLEY: We do support the aspirations of the Syrian people, but it is to see the advancement of effective, responsible, and democratic government wherever it is. And whether that’s Syria, whether that’s Lebanon, whether that’s Iraq, other countries in the region, this is our policy.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: If I could discuss specifics here for a second, one thing that President Mubarak didn’t mention in his speech last night was this state of emergency. I’m wondering, is it your view that any of this transition that you’re talking about can really be set to take place while the state of emergency is still in place?
MR. CROWLEY: We have long advocated a repeal of the emergency law.
QUESTION: Did President Mubarak --
QUESTION: But that didn’t quite answer the question. While the law is there, can the transition occur?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, Andy, you’ve underscored exactly what our message to the Egyptian Government is: There has to be change, it has to start now, and it has to be tangible where the Egyptian people can see that the government is moving. And they’ve seen some steps, and our view is that more needs to be done and more needs to be done faster.
QUESTION: Have you specifically asked the Egyptian Government, or when Ambassador Wisner was talking to President Mubarak and General Suleiman, did you mention the emergency – lifting the state of emergency?
MR. CROWLEY: Elise, we --
QUESTION: P.J., yes or no? Yes or no?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Monday from the podium?
MR. CROWLEY: Wait, we – all right. Hang on a second. There is no failure to communicate here, to quote Cool Hand Luke.
QUESTION: I don’t know who that is.
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Cool Hand Luke --
QUESTION: I’m sure he’s a good communicator.
MR. CROWLEY: One of the great movies of all time. The Egyptian --
QUESTION: (Off-mike.) (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I saw Cool Hand Luke and it wasn’t –
QUESTION: In fact, it was the sheriff.
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, no, but in Cool Hand Luke. No, he was communicating to Paul Newman. I --
QUESTION: But you’ve mentioned all these steps and --
QUESTION: "What we have here is failure to communicate."
MR. CROWLEY: Our C-SPAN audience can see how much fun we have here at the Department of State.
QUESTION: But you have – you’ve mentioned all these steps, and until Andy brought it up, you haven’t mentioned lifting the state of emergency.
MR. CROWLEY: There’s no failure to communicate here. The Egyptian Government knows exactly how we feel about the emergency law. The issue is: Is it going to change? Is it going to take concrete steps that changes the perception of intimidation that is a reality or has been a reality in Egyptian society?
There was a dynamic that we saw on the street in recent days. That dynamic has been disturbed by the violence today. We hope that that dynamic can be resumed where the aspirations of the Egyptian people are clear and the government is seen, along with other leaders, from the opposition, from other parts of civil society, that there is going to be tangible change coming to Egypt.
QUESTION: Given the size and significance of Egypt in the region, do you think this is a major historical moment?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. (Laughter.) I think that’s obvious.
QUESTION: Did President Mubarak ask for --
QUESTION: Another thing that President Mubarak --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it is – we are at a transformational moment. The President underscored that last night, absolutely.
QUESTION: Philip, in conversations with President Obama and Ambassador Wisner, did President Mubarak ask for American political support or refrain from publicly criticizing him?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we are giving public and private advice to President Mubarak and other leaders. I’m going to keep the private advice private.
QUESTION: P.J., another thing that the – that President Mubarak did not mention was his son. Did the U.S. – are you concerned about that, that he did not, and – running, obviously, for office – and was he urged to include his son in that "I will not run" phrase?
MR. CROWLEY: Jill, I don’t know how I can communicate this any better. We want to see a real, open, democratic political process unfold. We want to see elections held in Egypt that are not skewed, that are not rigged, that are at a level playing field. Whoever wants to participate in that kind of process where it is a competitive election, it is a free, fair, and credible election, can be – can have the opportunity to participate and can have the opportunity to win. We’re not picking candidates. We’re not picking favorites. Whoever wants to play this kind of role in Egypt’s future should have that opportunity.
QUESTION: P.J., all week long we’ve been hearing about this peaceful transition, but there’s really only two ways that there can be a transition of government in Egypt. Number one is an election, which it’s pretty clear the U.S. is encouraging an acceleration of elections if possible. The other way is for President Mubarak to step down before the elections. Does the U.S. want – does the U.S. think it would be beneficial for President Mubarak to step down before the elections, and do you think it would be beneficial to the international community, not just to Egypt?
MR. CROWLEY: These are decisions to be made by President Mubarak and -- as he continues to have this dialogue with the Egyptian people.
QUESTION: Okay. Then let me ask it another way. Is – are you concerned that President Mubarak may stay in until September, that that could cause additional strife in Egypt?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I just repeat the answer I just gave you.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: Well, yesterday, Netanyahu warned against a new Gaza in Egypt. Do you share his concern?
MR. CROWLEY: We would hope that the next government of Egypt will play a constructive role in the peace process and will recognize the importance of having a peaceful relationship with Israel.
QUESTION: P.J., do you --
QUESTION: P.J., can you tell us if there are any updates on the decision about aid to Egypt? I think last year was 1.5 billion and the new proposal for this year’s budget is about the same. Any changes, any updates?
MR. CROWLEY: There are no changes. As Robert Gibbs said last week, this is something that we will continually review based on ongoing events. We have a range of security and civilian assistance to Israel[ii], and as Secretary Clinton said on Sunday, at this point, we have no plans to in any way cut aid.
QUESTION: So the aid that is in the pipeline already --
QUESTION: P.J., (inaudible).
MR. CROWLEY: Nice to see you.
QUESTION: Nice to see you. You guys have been saying great things about the Egyptian army and stabilizing role and so forth. Is it fair to assume that cutting off aid to the Egyptian military is not sort of something you’re thinking about --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ll repeat what I just said. As Secretary Clinton said on Sunday, at the present time we have no plans to cut aid to Israel – to Egypt.
QUESTION: To Egypt.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Or Israel.
MR. CROWLEY: Or Israel.
QUESTION: P.J., just one more on this point. On the one hand, you’re saying aid is being reviewed and will depend on the actions we see from the Egyptian Government. On the other hand, you’re saying aid --
MR. CROWLEY: Sorry, just to clarify, we’ve said – I think Robert said we will review aid as needed based on ongoing events.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: That’s not an ongoing review.
QUESTION: It’s not an ongoing review. There’s a hypothetical review in the future. There’s no review at the moment at all.
MR. CROWLEY: We have no plans at the present time to change our aid to Egypt.
QUESTION: That’s not the question.
MR. CROWLEY: But we will review assistance as we need to as events unfold.
QUESTION: P.J., because of --
QUESTION: But how is that different than any other country in the world?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not saying it is.
QUESTION: Oh, so it’s the same as every other – so the circumstances in Egypt right now are similar to that in, I don’t know --
MR. CROWLEY: But the – but wait a second. I mean, it’s a fair point. The situation in Egypt is very different than the situation that we confront in other countries. There is a crisis going on in Egypt. The government is acting. We do provide assistance to that government. If we need to make adjustments based on what the government does, we will do so.
QUESTION: But what would cause an adjustment? What would be a cause for an adjustment in aid?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, for example, there are legal requirements in terms of how our assistance can be used. If we have concerns about how our assistance is being employed, we’ll make adjustments absolutely.
QUESTION: Can you give some examples?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll give you a context of our – when we do provide food aid to North Korea, for example. If we are concerned that that food aid is being diverted from the North Korean people to the government, we are prepared to cut off aid. We don’t have any aid going into North Korea right now, but we put conditions on our assistance to, as Matt said, all countries. And where we have concerns that actions are inconsistent with the basis upon which we provide assistance, we can make adjustments in those programs.
QUESTION: But most aid to Egypt is actually to the Egyptian military, so what – how would you change that?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, just – I’m just – I can just repeat what I’ve said. We will make adjustments if we feel that’s necessary. At the present time, nothing is being contemplated.
QUESTION: P.J., a clarification --
QUESTION: Do you provide any food assistance to Egypt that you’re aware of?
MR. CROWLEY: We have --
QUESTION: I’m just wondering about the contrast between food aid to North Korea and --
MR. CROWLEY: No, no, there was an example in --
QUESTION: -- and military munitions and assistance that’s going to Egypt.
MR. CROWLEY: -- Lebanon that for a brief period of time after a border incident, we paused in our aid to Lebanon, reviewed the situation, and then that assistance was restored. So as we need to undertake these kinds of reviews, we will do so.
QUESTION: Is there any reason to believe --
QUESTION: Is there a pause in the aid now? Is there a pause?
QUESTION: Is there any reason to believe that some of the teargas canisters that were – that the police used against protestors were given by the United States? There’s been a lot of rumors that they said "Made by the U.S.A."
MR. CROWLEY: I actually – I’ll double-check this, but I do not believe that those canisters were involved. They were made in the U.S.A., but they were not any part of any of our assistance programs.
QUESTION: So is there a pause in the aid now?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: There’s --
QUESTION: P.J., because of this wave of change and – do you have any message for the rest of the global dictators or any – do you see any sea of change elsewhere?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a pretty broad question, Goyal. Look, we – our policies are clear. We want to see effective governance, responsible governance. We want to see countries serve the interests of their people, attack corruption. Our policies are clear. We provide support to a range of governments around the world, and governments have a fundamental obligation to understand the dynamic that’s going on in the world today and respond appropriately.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
QUESTION: Any update on the Pakistan diplomat --
QUESTION: Can we get out of this Egypt morass? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Any update on the diplomat in Pakistan who has been put on a no-exit list?
MR. CROWLEY: There’s no change on the ground. We continue to encourage the Government of Pakistan to respect his diplomatic immunity and to release him.
QUESTION: I have – just a follow-up.
QUESTION: Just two quick questions on the advice you gave about the Travel Warning about Pakistan. I have just two questions on that. One is you have mentioned the area adjacent to the line of control in the disputed territory of Kashmir. How many miles from the LOC you are – were saying? Ten miles, 20 miles, 30 miles?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to parse the statement, Tejinder.
QUESTION: Just to follow on Pakistan real quickly, on diplomat – I mean, (inaudible). Pakistan Supreme Court has put some restrictions on him and do you – are you sending any strong message to Pakistani Government?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes. We are in constant contact with the Government of Pakistan.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
(The briefing was concluded at 4:33 p.m.)
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