Briefing Skipper: Yemen, Israel, North Korea, Abdulmutallab
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of Wednesday’s briefing by spokesman Ian Kelly: Kelly started off what might be his last briefing (He’s headed to be the DCM in Vienna) by touting the increased assistance to Yemen contained in the ...
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of Wednesday's briefing by spokesman Ian Kelly:
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of Wednesday’s briefing by spokesman Ian Kelly:
- Kelly started off what might be his last briefing (He’s headed to be the DCM in Vienna) by touting the increased assistance to Yemen contained in the recently signed fiscal 2010 appropriations bills. "We expect the total fiscal year-2010 assistance to be as much as $63 million," he said, "This amount represents a 56-percent increase over fiscal year 2009, and a 225-percent increase over fiscal year-2008 levels." That doesn’t include 1206 funds for counterterrorism, which totaled $67 mission in fiscal 2009.
- The closing of the U.S. embassy in Yemen was made official on Jan. 3, but based on a notice sent out about a specific threat on Dec. 31, Kelly said. Anyway, it now appears to be back open again. No comment on whether the four al Qaeda would be bombers who were captured by the Yemeni government were the only set of four terrorists State was looking at. "There is an ongoing threat, particularly in places like Yemen, where you have an active al Qaeda presence," Kelly said.
- No direct comment on the reports that there is an imminent meeting planned between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But Kelly may have slipped up by saying, "We’re not going to discuss any of the private correspondence or private discussions that we’ve had with either side, including with the Israelis." The thing is, nobody asked about private correspondence with the Israelis, leading much of the press corps to speculate that letters prepping the resumption of talks had been prepared. Asked why he mentioned correspondence and discussions, Kelly said, "That’s what’s written down here."
- The State Department is not changing its tune based on the seemingly positive New Year’s statement put out by the North Korean regime, which said, "The fundamental task for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of Asia is to put an end to the hostile relationship between the DPRK and the USA." But Kelly did take the opportunity to call for the release of American missionary Robert Park.
- There’s a new travel alert for India, warning of the continued danger of terrorist attacks in places where westerners congregate. "It’s not necessarily keyed to some specific, dire terrorist threat though," Kelly said.
- Lots of discussion of the Visas Viper cable for underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. You can read all about it here and here.
And here are Kelly’s (maybe) farewell words to the press corps:
I just want to say that, you know, I came into this job. I was in a panic before I came up here. I thought, this has got to be the most stressful job in the State Department.
In fact, it’s the most interesting and stimulating job in the State Department. It’s because of you guys. I’ve really enjoyed the give-and-take that we’ve had in the last eight months.
And who knows? We may still continue to do it, because the world’s greatest deliberative body has to confirm me. And I hope they do.
Oh, one more thing. Hi, Mom.
(Correction: Netanyahu’s title corrected to "prime minister.")
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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