The Cable

Briefing Skipper: Uruguay, Chile, Steinberg to Asia, Syria-Iran

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of Monday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Montevideo, Uruguay Monday and met with outgoing President Tabare Vazquez and President-Elect Jose Mujica, then attending the latter’s inauguration. She ...

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

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Montevideo, Uruguay Monday and met with outgoing President Tabare Vazquez and President-Elect Jose Mujica, then attending the latter’s inauguration. She also met with Paraguay President Fernando Lugo before moving on to Buenos Aires where she met with Argentine President Fernandez de Kirchner.
  • Tuesday, Clinton will visit Santiago, Chile, as planned, but due to the earthquake she will meet with Chilean president-elect Sebastian Pinera and outgoing President Michelle Bachelet at the airport. The U.S will begin providing a field hospital, communications support and water-purification systems, based on a Chilean request. "Whatever they think they need, we will provide," Crowley said, noting that Chile has a lot of experience with earthquakes. USAID, not the U.S. military, will take the lead, he said.
  • No reported U.S. casualties yet among the estimated 18,000 or so Americans currently in Chile. Americans who want consular services can register at http://chile.usembassy.gov/service.html or they can contact the consulate by e-mailing santiagoAMCIT@state.gov. Americans inquiring about the status of U.S. citizens in Chile can call 1-888-407-4747.
  • Crowley rejected the assertion that the Organization of American States is too U.S.-focused, an assertion that forms the basis for Latin American leaders proposing a new alternative that excludes the United States. "It’s hard to suggest that somehow, given these healthy debates, differing points of view, that this is an organization that somehow the United States dominates," said Crowley, "I think that’s Cold War thinking."
  • Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg and NSC Senior Director for Asian Affairs Jeff Bader departed Monday for China and Japan. They’ll be in Beijing for two days and then Tokyo for two days. Both countries are going to be needed for any new UN sanctions on Iran.
  • The meeting of Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman and Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha was not related to the how Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad mocked U.S. policy in a joint news conference, according to Crowley. "I would point it a slightly different direction. It came several days after an important visit to Damascus by Undersecretary Bill Burns. It was the first opportunity for Assistant Secretary Jeff Feldman to follow up on the particulars that were discussed as part of that visit," he said. Did they discuss the incident? "It wouldn’t surprise me," Crowley said.
 Twitter: @joshrogin

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