The Cable

Briefing Skipper: Qom, Iraq bombings, Ri Gun, Tunisia

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of today’s briefing by Department Spokesman Ian Kelly: Fourteen Americans were killed in two helicopter crashes in Afghanistan today, neither of which was apparently the result of combat fire. "We wish for a speedy ...

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of today’s briefing by Department Spokesman Ian Kelly:

  • Fourteen Americans were killed in two helicopter crashes in Afghanistan today, neither of which was apparently the result of combat fire. "We wish for a speedy recovery of those injured today, and send our thoughts and sympathies to those families who lost loved ones," Kelly said.
  • Undersecretary of State William Burns had a telephone conference with his P5+1 counterparts to discuss the road ahead in dealing with Iran, but no new meetings to announce, despite that the IAEA visited the Qom facility again today.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supports the U.N. sending someone to investigate whether foreign countries had a hand in the "horrific" bombings in Iraq over the weekend. "The circumstances surrounding it need to be looked into," Kelly said.
  • No comment on statements by Afghan president candidate Abdullah Abdullah‘s threats to pull out of the Nov. 7 runoff election if his demands over election staffing aren’t met. "We don’t really have a position on this," said Kelly, "We’re not trying to encourage or discourage anybody from running or not running."
  • Amb. Sung Kim and North Korean negotiator Ri Gun continued their flirtatious non-meeting meetings in San Diego today, after first talking in New York on Saturday. The State Department is still, for some reason, trying to say the meetings aren’t official. "There are no plans for further bilateral meetings at this conference, but I don’t exclude that there won’t be some side meetings with Mr. Ri Gun," Kelly said. Everybody catch that?  
  • State is "concerned" about the recent elections in Tunisia, where President Zine El Abidine won with 90 percent of the votes.
  • No new strategy for Middle East peace in light of violent clashes in East Jerusalem. "I think that our energies and our focus right now are on just that, that we’re going to vigorously pursue this goal, using all kinds of opportunities to do so, in the form of bilateral meetings," Kelly said. Special Envoy George Mitchell is headed back to the region soon.

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