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Briefing Skipper: Dalai Lama, Syria, Niger coup, India-Pakistan

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of Thursday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama Thursday to express America’s support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic ...

State Department
State Department
State Department

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

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama Thursday to express America's support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and welcome the Dalai Lama's report on the ongoing dialogue. Also in the meeting were Undersecretary Maria Otero, who's also the special coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and Deputy Assistant Secretary David Shear. "We have ongoing concerns about human rights conditions among the Tibetan areas of China. At the same time, we consider Tibet to be a part of China," Crowley said. Clinton also met Thursday with President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala, Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew was in Zagreb Thursday for the inauguration of President Ivo Josipovic then went on to Israel where he will have meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Friday and Saturday. Undersecretary of State Bill Burns was in Syria Wednesday and then Turkey Thursday for meetings led by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who just got back from Iran. Dan Benjamin, State's coordinator for counterterrorism, also met today with Syrian officials as the leader of a delegation that included David Heyman from the Department of Homeland Security, Maura Connelly from the State's NEA Bureau, and NSC Director Megan McDermott. Special Representative Richard Holbrooke was in Pakistan Thursday and will have meetings with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Army chief of staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and intelligence chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha. He will travel to the "stans," as well as Georgia and Germany. There was a coup in Niger, but Congressman Alan Grayson, who happened to be there, is safe. "This is a difficult situation. President Tandja has been trying to extend his mandate in office... and obviously that may well have been, you know, an act on his behalf that precipitated this act today," Crowley said, calling for new elections. Regarding recent captures of Taliban leaders, Crowley was guarded. "I don't think anyone's declaring victory at this point," he said, "If this indicates that we have momentum on our side, that there are lots of things to be encouraged by." Lots of support for the Feb 25 planned meeting of Indian and Pakistani Foreign ministers. "We're most pleased with the political courage showed by leaders, on both sides, that notwithstanding the attack which was directly aimed at derailing, you know, this dialogue that there is this political commitment to move forward, you know, with talks," said Crowley, "And we think that's going to be extremely important."

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

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama Thursday to express America’s support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and welcome the Dalai Lama’s report on the ongoing dialogue. Also in the meeting were Undersecretary Maria Otero, who’s also the special coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and Deputy Assistant Secretary David Shear. "We have ongoing concerns about human rights conditions among the Tibetan areas of China. At the same time, we consider Tibet to be a part of China," Crowley said.
  • Clinton also met Thursday with President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala,
  • Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew was in Zagreb Thursday for the inauguration of President Ivo Josipovic then went on to Israel where he will have meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Friday and Saturday. Undersecretary of State Bill Burns was in Syria Wednesday and then Turkey Thursday for meetings led by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who just got back from Iran.
  • Dan Benjamin, State’s coordinator for counterterrorism, also met today with Syrian officials as the leader of a delegation that included David Heyman from the Department of Homeland Security, Maura Connelly from the State’s NEA Bureau, and NSC Director Megan McDermott.
  • Special Representative Richard Holbrooke was in Pakistan Thursday and will have meetings with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Army chief of staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and intelligence chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha. He will travel to the "stans," as well as Georgia and Germany.
  • There was a coup in Niger, but Congressman Alan Grayson, who happened to be there, is safe. "This is a difficult situation. President Tandja has been trying to extend his mandate in office… and obviously that may well have been, you know, an act on his behalf that precipitated this act today," Crowley said, calling for new elections.
  • Regarding recent captures of Taliban leaders, Crowley was guarded. "I don’t think anyone’s declaring victory at this point," he said, "If this indicates that we have momentum on our side, that there are lots of things to be encouraged by."
  • Lots of support for the Feb 25 planned meeting of Indian and Pakistani Foreign ministers. "We’re most pleased with the political courage showed by leaders, on both sides, that notwithstanding the attack which was directly aimed at derailing, you know, this dialogue that there is this political commitment to move forward, you know, with talks," said Crowley, "And we think that’s going to be extremely important."

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 josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.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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