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Briefing Skipper: Australia, India, Israel, Iran, Chilean miner

Briefing Skipper: Australia, India, Israel, Iran, Chilean miner


In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Monday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley:.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on her way back to Washington after finishing her two week tour of Asia. Over the weekend in Australia she met with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, and opposition leader Tony Abbott. Then on Monday, she joined Defense Secretary Robert Gates, along Rudd and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith for the 25th annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations, or AUSMIN.
  • Clinton issued a statement criticizing the Burmese elections Sunday. "The United States is deeply disappointed by today’s elections in Burma. The generals who have ruled the country for the past 22 years missed an opportunity to begin genuine transition toward democratic governance and national reconciliation," she said. "The electoral process was severely flawed, precluded an inclusive, level playing field, and repressed fundamental freedoms. As a result, the elections were neither free nor fair."
  • This week, Clinton turns to Middle East peace. She will hold a videoconference with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Wednesday and meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit. On Thursday, she will go to New York to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Crowley said the administration was "deeply disappointed" with Israel’s announcement of advanced planning for 1,300 new housing units in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem. "It is counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties," he said. "And I would expect this will be a topic of discussion when the secretary meets with the prime minister on Thursday."
  • Still no official word from Iran that they want to hold talks in Turkey. "Iran, they have made those preferences known to the media; they have not yet made them known to Catherine Ashton. So we look forward to having an official response from Iran as to a date and location of our proposed meeting," Crowley said.
  • While President Obama did come out in favor of India gaining a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, Crowley warned that there was still a lot of work to do before that can actually happen. "It is inconceivable that you could contemplate U.N. Security Council reform without considering a country like India," he said. "But we have to recognize… this is a process that has been going on for some time, and it is a process through which we must consult with others within the U.N. and within the Security Council." The Chinese are the only permanent member not to endorse India.
  • The United States "condemns" the brutal attack in Moscow on Kommersant journalist Oleg Kashin and calls on the Russian government to bring his attackers to justice, Crowley said. "As the 2009 Humanitarian Rights Report noted, eight journalists, many of whom reported — you know, critically on the government, were killed over the last year in Russia. With one exception, the government has failed to identify, arrest or prosecute any suspects."
  • No comment on the story in a Lybia newspaper that an American diplomat has been ordered to leave Libya within 24 hours following an alleged breach of diplomatic rule. "I will confirm that we are having a conversation on this sensitive issue with the government of Libya," he said.
  • Crowley congratulated Edison Pena, the 12th miner rescued from the San Jose mine in Chile less than a month ago, for completing Sunday’s New York City Marathon. "He has provided the world a story of true personal strength and resilience, from his training in the dark in humid tunnels of the San Jose mine to crossing the finish line in Central Park," he said. "What about the Ethiopian and the Kenyan winners?" a press corps member asked. "We congratulate them as well," Crowley responded.