Daily Press Briefing - February 23, 2011
Index for Today's Briefing:
- Secretary Clinton's Meeting with Foreign Minister Patriota of Brazil / President Obama's Trip to Brazil
- Anniversary of Death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo in Cuba / Human Rights / Political Prisoners
- ASEAN Efforts in Cambodia and Thailand Dispute
- Undersecretary Burn's Trip to Cairo and Tunis / Transition in Tunisia
- Designation of Two Iranian for Human Rights Abuses / Asset Freezes and Visa Bans
- Arrest of Bloggers in Syria / Adhering to Obligations / Spy Allegations
- Evacuation of Americans and Others in Libya / International Air Carriers / Identifying Other Americans
- Designation of MEK / Ongoing Review
- Evacuation of Americans and Others in Libya / Cooperation of Libyan Government / Chartered Aircraft / Ferry Granted / Qadhafi's Speech / Condemnation of Violence /Range of Tools an d Options Available / Consulting in UN on Next Steps / Third-Party Nationals / Contact with Libyan Opposition Groups / Discussions with Brazil / In Touch with American Companies about Evacuating American Citizens / Libyan Civil Society / Embassy Tripoli
- Cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico / Training Programs / Corrections, Prosecution and Investigating Capabilities / Merida Initiative / Broad Bilateral Relationship / Libya
- Return of Equipment from U.S. Aircraft / Communication with Argentina / Diplomatic Notes / Legal Process
- Action in the Security Council / Determined to Press Forward
- Flotilla Incident / Ongoing Investigation
- Designation of Two Iranian for Human Rights Abuses / Authority
- Comments by Ahmadinejad
Daily Press Briefing
12:28 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. A number of things to talk about before taking your questions:
Secretary Clinton will meet this afternoon with Foreign Minister Patriota of Brazil, and I would expect that there will be two primary issues they talk about – first of all, the President’s upcoming trip to Brazil next month, which will be an opportunity to deepen our cooperation and partnership in important areas of mutual interest; and then secondly, since Brazil is currently the president of the UN Security Council, they will have the opportunity to talk about Libya, reflect on yesterday’s very strong statement from the UN Security Council, and discuss future steps the international community can take.
Staying in this region, today marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a Cuban political prisoner who died following an 11-week hunger strike calling for the release of his fellow political prisoners in Cuba. He was a courageous humanitarian who died defending a universal human right – the freedom of expression. We also deplore the continuing intimidation and harassment by the Cuban Government of activists and their family members, including Zapata’s mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo, who are working to promote human rights on the island.
We join with both the international and Cuban communities in urging the Cuban Government to immediately and unconditionally release all remaining political prisoners, not just those arrested in the Black Spring crackdown of 2003. Mr. Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death highlights the injustice of Cuba’s detention of political prisoners who should now be released without delay.
The United States welcomes ASEAN’s efforts under the leadership of Indonesia to facilitate an agreement to resolve the current dispute between Thailand and Cambodia. We support the ASEAN foreign ministers’ call for Cambodia and Thailand to resume bilateral negotiations, including through existing mechanisms at the earliest possible opportunity.
Turning to the Middle East, Under Secretary Bill Burns completed his trip to Cairo and is currently in Tunis, again engaging with government leaders and members of civil society to see how the United States can support the ongoing transition in Tunisia.
Also today, the Department of State, together with the Department of Treasury, announced the designation of two Iranian officials for serious human rights abuses in Iran. These designations underscore our enduring commitment to support Iranians seeking to exercise their universal rights and express our solidarity with victims of torture, persecution, and arbitrary detention. Iranians will recognize these individuals as two of the most egregious perpetrators of human rights abuses.
They are, first, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi in his capacity as prosecutor general of Tehran. He has prosecuted Iranians for exercising their right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, and in many cases, sought and won the death penalty against individuals who were simply exercising their right to peaceful assembly. The second is Mohammed Reza Naqdi. He is the commander general of the Basij, who are forces that most recently out of – on Sunday to suppress protests across Iran. The most recent demonstrations are only the latest in a string of actions by the – under his command, taken to suppress dissent, and in many cases, violently. These individuals are now subject to asset freezes and a visa ban.
The United States strongly condemns the arrest by the Syrian Government of a number of bloggers, including Ahmad Abu Khair and Kamal Hussein Sheikho, in addition to, recently, Tal al-Mallouhi. The Syrian Government’s decision to arrest bloggers is contradictory to recent steps taken by the Syrian Government to open social media sites to its citizens. The Syrian Government should adhere to its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, guaranteeing its citizens freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the right to a fair trial, and to immediately release all imprisoned bloggers.
Turning now to Libya.
QUESTION: Just on that.
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Last week when the young – when a teenage woman was sentenced, there was – the Syrian foreign ministry made some rather bizarre allegations about her being a spy for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. I asked that question then...
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you know anything about that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s see. I’m not sure what the training time is to train a real spy, but that would be – mean that she would have been recruited when she was like 14 years old. It’s a preposterous allegation.
In Libya, the ferry is still docked in Tripoli, taking on passengers and working with the Libyan Government in terms of verification of passports before they depart. We do expect the ferry to leave in the next hour or so. The ferry was somewhat delayed in its arrival in Tripoli earlier today. There was a storm en route and very large sea swells that extended what would normally be an eight -- about a six-hour journey into something longer. The ferry capacity is roughly 575 people. On board, as we speak, are U.S. private citizens, roughly 35 members of the embassy delegation, including nonessential official personnel and family members who are departing as part of the ordered departure that we made on Sunday. We are also taking on a third country, the nationals, and supporting other countries whose personnel and citizens are also trying to depart. Many international air carriers are still flying in and out of Libya and increasing the number of seats available to respond to the ongoing demand.
Once the ferry departs, we’ll let you know sometime this afternoon what the kind of official number of people on board is and what their – what the breakout might be. At the end of that, we’ll continue to canvass Libya to identify any other American citizens who are trying to depart Libya. Obviously, a number of U.S. citizens work for private companies, including oil companies, and they have been using their own available transportation to get some of their workers out of Libya.
So it – this roughly – the number of Americans that we expect to be on board the ship today roughly corresponds to those who have indicated to the embassy in recent days that they wish to depart. But again, over the next day or so, we will continue to identify and support American citizens who want to leave Libya and use available means to help with their evacuation.
QUESTION: Sorry. What number is it, then?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, since the --
QUESTION: The private --
MR. CROWLEY: -- boarding is still going on, I don’t have a final number. But the number of – roughly speaking, this ferry can handle 575 people --
QUESTION: All right.
MR. CROWLEY: -- give or take.
QUESTION: So they’re still taking – is this all a function of it being late because of the storm or is there some kind of difficulty in convincing the Libyans that these are all people who --
MR. CROWLEY: No. The Libyans have actually been cooperative today. Some of their procedures are just taking a fair amount of time – verifying passports, stamping passports, doing the accounting. So – but today there was significant security at pierside, so we are pleased today with the cooperation that we’ve received from the Libyan Government.
QUESTION: As a --
QUESTION: Weren’t they uncooperative yesterday? The Washington Post suggested that they were, whereas my impression was that yesterday it was unclear that you thought they were trying to help but --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, yesterday, I think there were two factors. One, we had requested permission to bring charter aircraft into Tripoli. That’s the mechanism that we used to evacuate Americans from Egypt, as an example. That permission was not granted yesterday. And so today, we shifted to a ferry that made the journey from Malta and will return later today to Malta. And then we had hoped yesterday to get some Americans on commercial aircraft departing Tripoli, but the demand simply exceeded the available number of seats.
QUESTION: Is there --
QUESTION: Wait, wait, did you regard it – did you regard their failure to give permission for charter aircraft to land as a lack of cooperation on their part, or was there something else going on ?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think it’s – we had asked for that permission. That permission was not granted. It’s hard to know whether it was just because the system has been heavily taxed in recent days, given the volume of people who are trying to depart Libya. We’re satisfied today with the cooperation that the Libyan Government has provided. And as we assess throughout today what our ongoing evacuation needs are, we have already requested assistance and support from Libya for tomorrow.
QUESTION: Was it pretty straightforward to get the ferry cleared in?
QUESTION: Is there a second ferry? Is there a second ferry?
MR. CROWLEY: No, one ferry. Today is just one ferry.
QUESTION: Was it easy to get permission?
QUESTION: How do you interpret this cooperation? Is it a sign of emboldened confidence in the Libyan regime or is it a sign of that maybe they’re getting under the weight of the rebellion?
MR. CROWLEY: Said, it’s hard for me to say. We had asked for certain things. We have not yet received permission to land charter aircraft in Libya. That’s one option that is still available to us. But like I said, today notwithstanding, the system is creaking it along. We were satisfied with the Libyan (inaudible).
QUESTION: One more on the evacuation. To the best of your knowledge, Eastern Libya, which is now not under the control of the Libyan Government of Muammar Qadhafi, does it have airports that you could conceivably use to airlift and evacuate?
MR. CROWLEY: There is an airport in Benghazi. My understanding is right now it is not in operation.
QUESTION: Was it easy to get clearance for the ferry to dock in Tripoli?
MR. CROWLEY: We made that request yesterday of the Libyan Government. They granted it. The ferry was able to dock earlier today and will depart as soon as the boarding process is complete.
QUESTION: So is the U.S. Government operating under the assumption that the airport simply can’t handle the capacity of all of all the international airlines that want to come in?
MR. CROWLEY: No, I don’t think it’s – it is a matter of – for those airlines that continue to have regular operations, we have been in touch with those airlines and have encouraged them to increase the size of the aircraft, and so, the seating capacity, with every expectation that if larger aircraft land in Tripoli there is a sufficient demand either among the American community or other communities to fill those seats.
QUESTION: But I’m a little confused –
QUESTION: On your charters – on your charter flight, did they just not grant permission? Or did they actively deny permission?
MR. CROWLEY: The permission was not granted, and that –
QUESTION: Meaning they said no? Or meaning they never got back to you?
MR. CROWLEY: They were supportive, but then the actual permission to land aircraft just was not granted.
QUESTION: Well, but what does that mean? As in –
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, I’m not going to read too much into it. That was the first option we presented to the Libyan Government. We still would like to have permission to bring charters in for any additional Americans who want to leave. We hope that that permission will be granted.
QUESTION: But did the Libyans actually tell you, no, you cannot bring in charter aircraft? Or they never responded to the request?
MR. CROWLEY: The request that we made was not granted. That could be a – I mean, I – Matt, you’re asking me to answer a question I can’t answer. It could well be just because the airport authority was overwhelmed.
QUESTION: All right. Have you yet – have you had a chance yet to look at – or to see Qadhafi’s speech from yesterday? And if you have, what did you make of it?
MR. CROWLEY: Long. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You’ve got to – well – (laughter) – you got into a bit of trouble the last time you talked about one of his speeches being long.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m very mindful of that. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What – no, what’s –
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to characterize it. As the Secretary said yesterday, we’ve strongly condemned the violence. We think that the killing of innocent civilians is completely unacceptable. It is the Libyan Government that is accountable for its actions that it’s taking, both the actions that have already transpired and any – they have a responsibility for any violence that occurs against civilians. We hope that the violence will stop, the bloodshed will stop, and we will hold the Libyan Government fully responsible for this.
QUESTION: The French President Sarkozy has publicly called for sanctions against Libya. Does the United States that is now a prudent thing to do?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’re looking at a full range of tools and options that are available to us to achieve our goals of seeing an end to the violence in Libya and respect for the rights of the Libyan people. That certainly includes looking at sanctions that could be imposed either bilaterally or multilaterally. We believe it’s important to coordinate our efforts with the international community, our European allies, the United Nations, and organizations like the Arab League. We will be consulting broadly about these issues in the coming days.
QUESTION: One question about trilateral sanctions. The United States had a very extensive regime of bilateral sanctions against Libya dating back at least 20 years, and I think the impression among some American policy makers is that it was not particularly effective on its own. Is your preference multilateral international sanctions? Or do you think bilateral sanctions could actually persuade Qadhafi to cease the violence?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we have a range of options available to us. We’ll be looking at those options and consulting broadly in the coming days.
QUESTION: P.J., does that range of options include the establishment for the no-fly zone as several senior U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, whatever is contemplated, you do want to be effective. You do want it to achieve the policy objective. We want to see an end to the violence, and any action that we take – that we would take along those lines would require international support. There is obviously a significant degree of difficulty in doing something like that.
QUESTION: Have there been any discussions with international partners about the possible establishment –
MR. CROWLEY: Again, Josh, as I just said, we are and will continue to reach out as the situation evolves. We’re very mindful of the increasingly urgent situation in Libya. We will be consulting, just as we did yesterday, within the UN on future steps. I’m not going to, at this point, predict that we’ll do this from column A and not this from column B and so forth. We’ve got a range of options available to us and –
QUESTION: And the no-fly zone –
MR. CROWLEY: -- we’ll be having those kinds of discussions going forward.
QUESTION: And the no-fly zone is one of those options; is that right?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m just acknowledging that, as you said, there are people who have suggested that. But just be mindful that that is a very difficult thing to actually perform.
QUESTION: When the Secretary was --
QUESTION: But is it one of the ones that is under consideration? You were willing to say that bilateral and multilateral sanctions were under consideration as part of the range of options. Is this that one --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, it’s – I’m not here to rule anything in, rule anything out. We obviously remain gravely concerned about the situation in Libya. We hold the Libyan Government responsible for what is occurring within their country. We are prepared to take whatever steps are appropriate to see violence against the Libyan people stopped.
QUESTION: When the Secretary meets --
QUESTION: Was there any effort to temper any language coming out of this building or the Administration because of concern of U.S. citizens and diplomats still on the ground there?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are concerned about the health and welfare of American citizens anywhere around the world, but certainly in a crisis situation in Libya as well. That said, the President has issued a clear statement condemning the violence in Libya. So has the Secretary. So did the United Nations yesterday. The President will be meeting with Secretary Clinton this afternoon at the White House. I believe the President will have a statement to the press afterward.
QUESTION: But because some of those difficulties that we alluded to earlier of getting the charters and flights and everything --
MR. CROWLEY: We – it is not our intention in anything that we do to put American citizens at risk.
QUESTION: So you’d say --
QUESTION: T (inaudible) statement was on Friday, right?
MR. CROWLEY: And the Secretary issued a statement over the weekend. She gave --
QUESTION: Right. She spoke to it yesterday --
MR. CROWLEY: She spoke to you yesterday.
QUESTION: -- as did you --
MR. CROWLEY: She will, I’m sure, be asked about this this afternoon. The President, as I understand it --
QUESTION: Is there --
MR. CROWLEY: -- will be out this afternoon as well.
QUESTION: Right. Is there a reason why no one, none of the officials who have spoken to this yet, have actually used Qadhafi’s name?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this – as I just said, we hold the Libyan Government, including its leader, responsible for what is occurring in Libya.
QUESTION: And the leader’s –
QUESTION: When the Secretary meets with --
QUESTION: That leader’s name is?
MR. CROWLEY: Colonel Qadhafi.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: When the Secretary --
QUESTION: Don’t you agree that the enthusiasm for toppling Qadhafi has been very tepid?
MR. CROWLEY: Thanks for that quiz. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I just wanted to see if I could get it out of you.
QUESTION: Everybody looks at Washington, and they see a very tepid, if at all, enthusiasm for toppling Qadhafi, while they have shown more enthusiasm towards what happens elsewhere. Could you explain that to us?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as I suggested yesterday, who leads Libya is a matter between the government and the Libyan people. As we have said throughout this historic period, it is not for the United States or any outside power to dictate who should rule or not rule a particular country. We continue to encourage political and economic and social reform so that the people in these countries have the opportunity to participate in a free and fair and open and transparent political process. And then they are the ones who ultimately will make the decisions as to who are their rulers, who are their legislators, and what their policies of their country should be.
QUESTION: When the Secretary --
QUESTION: P.J., on the civilian evacuations, how many Americans have contacted the State Department asking for help getting out?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, let’s – it’s a fair question. We should be able to tell you as soon as the ferry has left the pier and we can do a precise head count how many Americans have departed today. I want to say that there have been somewhere – a couple of hundred people who have been in touch with the Embassy in recent days and indicated an interest in departing. And we hope that the action today will take care of a very significant percentage of that number.
QUESTION: And it’s fair to say that the State Department has requested once again permission to land charter flights there? And there’s --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. We will be continuing to be in touch with American citizens to make sure that those who want to leave Libya have the opportunity to do so. Clearly, given the situation on the ground, it would be our judgment that Americans should depart Libya if they have the means to do so.
QUESTION: When the Secretary meets with the Brazilian foreign minister, will there be any discussion of whether or not the international community should refer the Qadhafi regime to the ICC for possible human rights violations?
MR. CROWLEY: Don’t – let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. As I said, there are a number of steps that we can take both bilaterally and multilaterally as the situation unfolds.
QUESTION: What is the appetite inside this building for looking at some sort of prosecution on human rights violations?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we will be looking at a range of options. I don’t want to prejudge them.
QUESTION: So you don’t want to rule that out?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) real quickly just to follow up on Courtney’s question, you had mentioned that the U.S. is going to start canvassing the country to look for Americans trapped outside the capital. Are you aware of any Americans who are outside the capital unable to get to an evacuation point? And when you say canvassing, what exactly does that entail?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, are there Americans outside the capital who want to leave? The answer is yes. In this case, we’re in touch with international – other countries who might have citizens in that part of the country. And just as we were able to help evacuate some third-party nationals today, we’re asking for that same support where others are moving people out of other parts of the country.
QUESTION: How many have you identified as --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t – I’m not going to go through numbers.
QUESTION: What were the other countries, the nationalities; do you know?
MR. CROWLEY: There are large number of countries who --
QUESTION: Is China among them?
MR. CROWLEY: Look, there are a large number of countries who have citizens who are trying to evacuate. We’ve been in touch with many of them. We’re – we’ve identified one or more pockets of American citizens outside the capital. And to the extent that we can get them out with the help of other countries, we’re going to take advantage of that.
QUESTION: No, no, no, I mean – no, no, I mean on the ferry.
QUESTION: The ferry.
MR. CROWLEY: Oh.
QUESTION: What countries – what are the --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we’ll try to give you a breakout as soon as we – the ramp is up and the ferry is moving and we can have – get to precise numbers. But yeah, just the loading process is still going on.
QUESTION: Has there been any outreach or engagement with the Libyan opposition groups to the extent that they are organized?
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t catalog, Josh, every contact that --
QUESTION: I mean, yes or no?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, all right, let me finish the answer first. I can’t catalog every single call or every single action that the Embassy has made, so I really – I can’t say. I don’t know.
QUESTION: The former --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not ruling it out, but I just can’t give you an affirmative. I don’t know.
QUESTION: The former minister of justice from Libya was quoted in a Swedish paper today that he have evidence that Qadhafi personally ordered the bombing of Pan Am. What will you do about this?
MR. CROWLEY: I read that story. I’m in no position to corroborate it.
QUESTION: Back to your --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) exactly on that exact question – I’m sorry --
QUESTION: Those two are Iranian who have been --
QUESTION: Hold on --
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on, we’re still on Libya, then we’ll come --
QUESTION: Just exactly on Samir’s question, what does that say to you about Libya’s stance as a state sponsor of terrorism? Does that cause you to question whether they should be on that list or not?
MR. CROWLEY: Kirit, I know that you want to leap from one story that’s obviously of keen interest to the United States all the way to a prospective action. That is an interesting story. Beyond that, I can’t comment at this point.
QUESTION: Staying with Libya. What, if anything, is the U.S. Government doing to seek to freeze assets of Colonel Qadhafi, members of his family, senior members of his government, and/or of the Libyan state itself so that those assets are not potentially siphoned away during this period of unrest?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, Arshad, to go back to what I said at the beginning, we have a range of tools available to us, a range of actions that we can take going forward. We’re evaluating a number of them. We’ll be consulting broadly about prospective actions. I’m just not going to prejudge the result of the – of what we’re doing inside our government and what we’re doing in conversations with other governments.
QUESTION: You did tell us, however, that sanctions were among – that both bilateral and multilateral sanctions --
MR. CROWLEY: That is true.
QUESTION: Are asset freezes among those --
MR. CROWLEY: That is in the toolbox, yes.
QUESTION: In terms --
QUESTION: What are you waiting for to use these tools?
QUESTION: -- that you are considering?
MR. CROWLEY: Arshad, we’ve got a toolbox. We’ve got a lot of tools in that toolbox. Which ones we decide to pick out of the toolbox and deploy, those are judgments that we’ll be making in the coming days.
QUESTION: P.J., what are you waiting for to use these tools? What are you waiting for to use these tools?
MR. CROWLEY: We’re not waiting for anything. But this --
QUESTION: Why don’t you use them?
MR. CROWLEY: Well – (laughter).
QUESTION: Or just the asset freezes. I mean, presumably, the longer you take to make a decision on that, the higher the probability of assets being --
MR. CROWLEY: But let me speak in general --
QUESTION: -- being misappropriated.
MR. CROWLEY: Let me speak in general terms --
QUESTION: Especially if he says that they’re going to do it. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: But let me – there are lots of actions that we can prospectively take. Many of these actions both require legal orders, executive orders, to be undertaken. They’ve got to have a standard of due diligence to be able to support prospective actions taken. We are in the process of fully understanding and documenting what is occurring in Libya. We are prepared, as we are saying, to take appropriate actions internationally as well as bilat -- nationally, but many of these steps require some preparation.
QUESTION: On the flip side, though --
QUESTION: The Security Council yesterday rejected the violence. Do you expect that is there going to be new meetings with the Security Council during the next days?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it’s a fair question. I’m sure that that will be among the issues that the Secretary discusses with the Brazilian foreign minister, in that for the remainder of this month Brazil is the president of the Security Council. So – but I would expect that, yes, there will be further meetings in the UN system.
QUESTION: On the flip side of Arshad’s question, according to the Commerce Department, in 2009 the U.S. Government – excuse me, the U.S. business community made about three quarters of a billion dollars in trade with Libya. Is the U.S. Government hearing from oil companies, manufacturers of commodities, producers, about whether the government should go slowly in order to not jeopardize the investments they’ve already made in country?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we are in touch with some companies, and what we are asking them and they are asking us is how do we get our American citizens out of the country.
QUESTION: But nothing in terms of don’t jeopardize our investments?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of any such conversations.
QUESTION: P.J., prior to the uprising, to the best of your knowledge, was there anything akin to civil society organizations in Libya, and were you in touch with those organizations?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not a Libya expert.
QUESTION: I mean, in --
MR. CROWLEY: So I don’t know how vibrant Libyan civil society – we do have some programs that we’ve had through the years in Libya. But I can’t say at this point what kind of dialogue we’ve had with civil society in recent days.
QUESTION: So did the Embassy maintain any kind of dialogue with anything similar to an opposition?
MR. CROWLEY: We do have civil society programs in Libya. I don’t know that the civil society is necessarily large. I do know that this government has obviously restricted its political process. So – but we do have programs in Libya.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
QUESTION: Can I do two more basic ones on Libya?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Is there, at this point, any new indications that Americans are being or Westerners are being targeted in any of the violence in Libya?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of any injuries, deaths, or particular targeting.
QUESTION: And then on the ferry, you mentioned about the security and the weather and everything, but was there any other reason that the ferry is so delayed in its leaving? There were some reports that the Libyans were not allowing it to leave the port.
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, if there’s a question about departure, I think it’s only because of the sea conditions.
QUESTION: P.J., can I switch --
QUESTION: Has the U.S. – I have one more on --
QUESTION: Has the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli requested any military protection? Has the Embassy requested any --
MR. CROWLEY: Military protection of?
QUESTION: Of the Embassy.
MR. CROWLEY: By – you mean U.S. military protection?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: On Mexico, can I ask you – recently, President Calderon, in an interview for a national newspaper, had criticized the ambassador of the U.S. and the federal agencies based on some comments of diplomatic wires released by WikiLeaks. Do you have any answer to that? Do you have any comment that you might – could give us?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m not going to comment on anything regarding WikiLeaks or any of our cables. I would simply say that there exists an unprecedented level of cooperation between the United States and Mexico, work to counter the transnational criminal threat that is a concern to both Mexico and the United States. We are working on a number of training programs. We’ve provided a lot of tools to Mexico, including helicopters and other significant equipment. We have worked to improve Mexico’s corrections capability, its prosecution capability, its investigative powers.
And we will continue this cooperation. We recognize that just as this places an enormous burden on Mexico, we have responsibilities on this side of the border as well, and we continue to increase our work here regarding intercepting currency, intercepting illegal weapons. We have a national drug control strategy that we are enacting here. So we believe we’re doing our part, but we recognize the enormous effort done under the Calderon government.
QUESTION: Do you think maybe the assassination of the ICE agent as well as (inaudible) of cooperation can be addressed during the visit of President Calderon on March the 3rd at the Washington --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m sure when the president is here, we’ll have the opportunity to address where we stand in our joint efforts, review the current state of the Merida Initiative, and what continued support that we can – that Mexico will need during this.
QUESTION: Do you have any more issues in the agenda for that meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it is – we are neighbors. We have a broad bilateral relationship, not just in the context of fighting transnational criminals. There are a lot of regional issues. I’m sure we’ll be talking to Mexico about international issues, including Libya.
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) Thank you for the timing.
QUESTION: -- saying that you are surprised that Argentina is not collaborating with the U.S. and they are not returning your equipment.
MR. CROWLEY: We want our stuff back. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: So what’s the situation exactly? Is this situation take more than one --
MR. CROWLEY: We continue to communicate with Argentina. We have sent, recently, a couple of diplomatic notes. Argentina has yet to respond to those diplomatic notes. There is a legal process that is ongoing in Argentina, but we continue to make clear that we want our equipment back.
QUESTION: The --
QUESTION: P.J., how – why do you say they don’t want to collaborate? How do you assume that they – is there any calendar, an expectation --
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: -- to come take the stuff back?
MR. CROWLEY: But --
QUESTION: One week, two weeks, or --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we are still puzzled why the equipment was taken in the first place. This training exercise had been fully coordinated within the Argentine Government. The equipment on board the aircraft was fully consistent with the nature of the training activity. And we felt that any technical issues that had arisen in terms of the manifesting of this equipment could have been resolved at a working level. It was elevated to a higher level, and we’re not sure why.
QUESTION: Now, considering that the – in the last years, the U.S. and Argentina had a good relation – also we spoke about this here – do you think that there is any political problem going on? This is related to the non-visit of President Obama to Argentina? What kind of analysis are you doing of this tense situation? That looks a little bit weird, right?
MR. CROWLEY: Shocked, shocked that there’s politics going on. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the White House on all ambassadorial announcements.
QUESTION: Okay. And second, can you share with us the post-veto status of what is going on now, the post-Security Council veto cast by the United States of America last Friday? What is the status of the whole peace process?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean -- it has slowed down a little bit. (Laughter.) Look, we still remain determined to make progress. We recognize that that has been difficult. Our argument against the action last week before the Security Council was that it would further complicate an already difficult situation. We’re going to assess where we are in light of last week’s activity, but we’re determined to press forward.
QUESTION: On --
QUESTION: As far as you know, there is nothing ongoing now between the United States and (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: There’s nothing I can point to this week, no.
QUESTION: Do you know on this – on Israel --
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll get to you, eventually.
QUESTION: Do you know what the purpose of the meeting – there was supposed to be a meeting here today between officials and the father of the American who was killed in the Gaza flotilla incident. Do you know if that meeting has happened, is it going to happen, and if it is, what the purpose of it is?
MR. CROWLEY: There was a meeting today at the State Department with Ahmet Dogan, who is the father of the Turkish American citizen Furkan Dogan, who was killed last year in the flotilla. He met today with consular officials. I’m not going to read out the meeting.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: Well, do you – what have you told him about the death of his son and the status of the – what you believe the status of the investigation is into it?
MR. CROWLEY: There are investigations that are ongoing.
QUESTION: Right, but the investigation that you have come out and said is transparent and credible, the Israeli investigation, finds that there was no wrongdoing. And the investigation that you did – would not use those words for, the Turkish investigation, is completely 180 degrees at odds with that and finds the Israelis responsible for the death of this child, this kid.
MR. CROWLEY: And there is a UN process underway as well. So –
QUESTION: So is that the message to the father – wait for the UN process?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ll leave the precise discussion private, but just note that there – the matter is not yet completed.
QUESTION: Well, so then what can you – what are you – I don’t understand why you would meet with him if you had nothing to tell him.
MR. CROWLEY: He is the father of an American citizen and we will – this is what we do. We’re happy to sit down and consult and update anyone who has – certainly, someone who has suffered this kind of tragedy. But as a practical matter, the investigations are still ongoing.
QUESTION: So that was the purpose, to consult and update the father on the status of where you see things?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Did he request a meeting?
QUESTION: P.J. --
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know the circumstances. I suspect the answer is yes.
QUESTION: And who he meet with?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Who did he –
MR. CROWLEY: Consular officials.
QUESTION: Could you just confirm the date of the visit of President Calderon? I think he’s going to be here on March the 3rd?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the White House on that.
QUESTION: I’m sorry? But --
MR. CROWLEY: All right. I got – long denied.
QUESTION: The two Iranian officials whose name has been designated the sanctions by the Treasury Department. What assets and properties do they have that makes it significant, this –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s a significant statement. I can’t tell you how often they travel or what their level of personal riches are. All I can tell you is that we have the authority to do this, and we have done this. And hopefully, it will complicate their lives.
QUESTION: And what do you make of Ahmadinejad’s comments today about how unimaginable this is, the countries who are killing their people and they don’t let them to talk? And the position is (inaudible) the U.S. --
MR. CROWLEY: I actually tweeted on this, that it’s an interesting question that he posed. And I think that the Iranian people are entitled to the answer to that question, which is: Why do leaders, including the leaders of Iran, act so badly against their people?
QUESTION: P.J., one more quickly onIran. This has to do with –
MR. CROWLEY: I’ve got to go –
QUESTION: Fair enough.
MR. CROWLEY: -- and introduce the Secretary in a couple of minutes.
QUESTION: It could be a very short answer, I think. The status of the review of the FTO designation for the MEK, what is it?
MR. CROWLEY: It’s still ongoing.
QUESTION: And do you have any expectation that that might be completed soon?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t have an expectation.
MR. CROWLEY: I can’t characterize --
QUESTION: You don’t --
MR. CROWLEY: -- what the timeline is.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on South Korean nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac’s meeting with State Department --
MR. CROWLEY: I do not.
QUESTION: -- officials this week?
QUESTION: Quickly --
QUESTION: Also – one more, one more –
QUESTION: On Korea, China and South Korea – the foreign minister talks in Seoul today, do you see any developments in China’s position on North Korea issues?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t have anything to report.
QUESTION: A quick one on Bahrain: CNN complained yesterday that they could not broadcast from Bahrain, Manama; they had to resort to the phone. Arwa Damon literally filed a report on the phone. Has there been any complaint that the Bahraini --
MR. CROWLEY: Let us – let – I’ll check into that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: On the Secretary --
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the report that North Korea is digging a new tunnel to prepare for another nuclear test?
MR. CROWLEY: No, I don’t.
QUESTION: On the – Secretary Feltman in the Emirate Arabic countries, has he delivered any special message regarding the situation there to the leaders of the Arabic states?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, go back to what the Secretary said in her speech in Doha. We’ve had a clear message to governments across the region that they need to meet the aspirations of their people and need to lead political, social, and economic reform.
QUESTION: But the situation has changed a lot since then.
MR. CROWLEY: But the prescription remains the same.
QUESTION: To reinforce the --
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:10 p.m.)
DPB # 26
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