Briefing skipper: Pakistan, North Korea, Cuba, Futenma, Liu Xiaobo
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of Friday’s briefing by spokesman Ian Kelly: On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a bilateral with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, gave a human rights speech at Georgetown, then had a ...
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of Friday’s briefing by spokesman Ian Kelly:
- On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a bilateral with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, gave a human rights speech at Georgetown, then had a bilateral meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. "We were pleased to see a parliamentary vote of confidence on December 10th, and look forward to continuing our partnership with the new government that proves by its actions that it is fully committed to strengthen the institutions of the Lebanese state in order to build peace and stability both within Lebanon and within the region," Kelly said.
- No substantive update on the status of the five detained suburban Washingtonians in Pakistan, although the State Department has no objection to the fact the men have been moved to Lahore, where a court has barred their deportation pending a review. "It sounds to me to be a reasonable judicial procedure," said Kelly. The U.S. hasn’t asked for their extradition and might not do so, according to Kelly.
- The State Department does not know where the 35 tons of weapons caught in Thailand on their way from North Korea were headed. "The investigation of the incident is ongoing. And part of that investigation is to determine where exactly the shipment was headed," Kelly said. Thailand is going to refer the case the UN North Korean Sanctions committee, which is good, Kelly said, adding that this isn’t related to their nuclear program. Ambassador Phillip Goldberg is working on the issue.
- Cuba has not allowed consular access to an American contractor arrested in Havana for apparently distributing electronic devices to activists there. "I don’t want to comment on any of the details of what he may or may not have been doing, simply because we don’t want to cause any harm, frankly," said Kelly.
- Kelly denied that the U.S. has set an end of the week deadline for Japan to resolve its differences over the Futenma air base relocation plan (Japan wants to wait until next year). But the U.S. is still saying they want to hold to the original scheme for the relocation. We believe that the realignment road map that we’ve already agreed to is the best plan for reducing the burden on the people of Okinawa while maintaining our very important security relationship with Japan," Kelly said.
- Due to "scheduling difficulties," there won’t be another P5+1 meeting on Iran this year, Kelly said. They might chat over the phone.
- Here’s the State Departments new statement on the case of Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident being held on charges of subversion:
The U.S. government is concerned that Chinese citizens such as Mr. Liu may have been detained or harassed solely as a result of having exercised their universal right to freedom of expression by signing Charter 08, which calls for respect for human rights and democratic reform.
We urge the government of China to release Liu Xiaobo immediately and to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens who peacefully express their desire for internationally recognized freedoms, including the right to petition one’s government.
We have raised our concerns about Mr. Liu’s detention repeatedly and at high levels, both in Beijing and in Washington, since he was taken into custody a year ago.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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