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Briefing Skipper: Chile, Brazil, Japan, Quartet, Armenian genocide

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of Tuesday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent three hours in Santiago, Chile on Tuesday, at the airport, where she talked earthquake response with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

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

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent three hours in Santiago, Chile on Tuesday, at the airport, where she talked earthquake response with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and President-elect Sebastian Piñera. She brought 25 satellite phones with her as gifts. The U.S. is planning to send there eight water purification systems, a mobile hospital unit, an autonomous dialysis machine, electrical generators, medical supplies, a portable bridge, portable kitchens and maybe helicopters. Wednesday, she will be in Brasilia to see Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. Crowley said the U.S. is encouraging, but not directly mediating, ongoing talks between India and Pakistan. No change in the U.S. plan to wait until May for the Japanese government to figure out what it wants to do about a Marine Corps base in Okinawa. The U.S. still expects Japan to make up its mind by May, despite comments by a Japanese official that a decision has been made. "This is a decision for Japan to make," said Crowley, "And there's no change, in our view, that the realignment roadmap is the best plan for reducing the burden on Okinawa while maintaining our treaty commitments and our ability to defend Japan and maintain peace and security in the region." Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg and NSC Senior Director for Asian Affairs Jeff Bader arrive in Tokyo Thursday. Steinberg and Bader arrived in Beijing Tuesday, but Crowley wouldn't say if that's a sign the Chinese are over their anger about recent U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and the Obama-Dalai Lama meeting. "If this suggests that we are refocusing on the future and, you know, the important issues that we can work on together, I think we are encouraged by this," Crowley said, noting that Iran was at the top of the agenda. President Hu Jintao will come to the U.S. for the next Strategic Economic Dialoguem "sooner rather than later," he added. "We have no particular timetable," for moving new Iran sanctions at the UN, according to Crowley, despite reports that the U.S. floated a draft resolution this week. Crowley wasn't aware of any drive to allow more Iranian asylum seekers into the U.S., but did say, "We've seen this now coming on nine months, this fundamental split, you know, between the regime and the people. And we certainly, you know, continue to look for ways to support the Iranian people in their efforts." No firm schedule on the next round of Quartet talks about the Middle East, following Clinton's discussion about it with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "I'm not sure we've heard from the EU yet, but if everyone is agreeable, the secretary will be there," Crowley said. The State Department is refusing to take sides in the dispute between Turkey and Armenia, which is going to be on display Thursday when the House takes up a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide. "We cannot afford to look at this in zero sum terms; that somehow scoring a point on one side, you know, is a loss for the other," said Crowley, "We think that there is ample room for Turkey and Armenia to evaluate the historical facts as to what happened decades ago."

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

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent three hours in Santiago, Chile on Tuesday, at the airport, where she talked earthquake response with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and President-elect Sebastian Piñera. She brought 25 satellite phones with her as gifts. The U.S. is planning to send there eight water purification systems, a mobile hospital unit, an autonomous dialysis machine, electrical generators, medical supplies, a portable bridge, portable kitchens and maybe helicopters. Wednesday, she will be in Brasilia to see Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.
  • Crowley said the U.S. is encouraging, but not directly mediating, ongoing talks between India and Pakistan.
  • No change in the U.S. plan to wait until May for the Japanese government to figure out what it wants to do about a Marine Corps base in Okinawa. The U.S. still expects Japan to make up its mind by May, despite comments by a Japanese official that a decision has been made. "This is a decision for Japan to make," said Crowley, "And there’s no change, in our view, that the realignment roadmap is the best plan for reducing the burden on Okinawa while maintaining our treaty commitments and our ability to defend Japan and maintain peace and security in the region." Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg and NSC Senior Director for Asian Affairs Jeff Bader arrive in Tokyo Thursday.
  • Steinberg and Bader arrived in Beijing Tuesday, but Crowley wouldn’t say if that’s a sign the Chinese are over their anger about recent U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and the Obama-Dalai Lama meeting. "If this suggests that we are refocusing on the future and, you know, the important issues that we can work on together, I think we are encouraged by this," Crowley said, noting that Iran was at the top of the agenda. President Hu Jintao will come to the U.S. for the next Strategic Economic Dialoguem "sooner rather than later," he added.
  • "We have no particular timetable," for moving new Iran sanctions at the UN, according to Crowley, despite reports that the U.S. floated a draft resolution this week. Crowley wasn’t aware of any drive to allow more Iranian asylum seekers into the U.S., but did say, "We’ve seen this now coming on nine months, this fundamental split, you know, between the regime and the people. And we certainly, you know, continue to look for ways to support the Iranian people in their efforts."
  • No firm schedule on the next round of Quartet talks about the Middle East, following Clinton’s discussion about it with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "I’m not sure we’ve heard from the EU yet, but if everyone is agreeable, the secretary will be there," Crowley said.
  • The State Department is refusing to take sides in the dispute between Turkey and Armenia, which is going to be on display Thursday when the House takes up a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide. "We cannot afford to look at this in zero sum terms; that somehow scoring a point on one side, you know, is a loss for the other," said Crowley, "We think that there is ample room for Turkey and Armenia to evaluate the historical facts as to what happened decades 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 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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