Briefing Skipper: Biden to Israel, Holbrooke, Indonesia, Armenia, Cuba
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 P.J. Crowley: As Vice President Joseph Biden and Special Envoy George Mitchell meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials Monday, the State Department wants to emphasize that the U.S. has ...
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 P.J. Crowley:
- As Vice President Joseph Biden and Special Envoy George Mitchell meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials Monday, the State Department wants to emphasize that the U.S. has provided no "written" assurances to either side, despite reports in the Israeli press to the contrary. "To the extent that during these discussions, you know, things were written down by the parties, you know, that is possible," Crowley parsed, "But have we provided our written guarantees and assurances, you know, regarding, you know, preconceived outcomes going into this? The answer is no."
- Special Representative Richard Holbrooke has walked backed comments that angered many Indians, where he seemed to imply Indians were not the target of a recent attack in Kabul. "”I did not say Indians were not the target, but that initially it looked like the target was not an official Indian facility,” he said in a statement, adding, ”Early reports on events like this are often unreliable, and I try not to jump to conclusions… We all know that Indian citizens have and continue to be targeted by terrorists, including inside Afghanistan. My heart goes out to the families of all of the victims."
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finished up her Latin American trip in Guatemala, where she met with several regional leaders including Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes and Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom.
- The State Department is concerned about Iran’s decision to uphold a death sentence for 20-year-old university student Mohammad Amin Valian, who was charged with warring against god for throwing stones during a December street protest. Valain had also worked in a local election office of Mirhossein Mousavi. "We find this disproportionate punishment deplorable and urge his immediate release," Crowley said.
- Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell departed Sunday for an extensive trip to Asia, including stops in Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. He’ll no doubt be prepping President Obama’s trip to the region this month. Deputy Secretary James Steinberg just came back from a visit to China and Japan with NSC Asia Senior Director Jeffrey Bader.
- Crowley reiterated Clinton’s statement on the Congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, which passed a House committee last week. "As the secretary made clear, any further congressional action will impede the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia," he said. Clinton talked about it with House committee chairman Howard Berman, hoping there will be no floor vote (it probably wouldn’t pass anyway). "This is an issue that we’ve gone through a number of times in the past," Crowley rightly pointed out.
- The Cubans are not providing the U.S. consular access to Alan Gross, the USAID contractor arrested there for espionage after passing out satellite phones and laptops to dissidents. "I think the last time we’ve seen Mr. Gross was early-February. We continue to call for Cuba to release him." As for the program Gross was part of, that’s still ongoing, Crowley said. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Craig Kelly did raise the issue during recent migration talks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
More from Foreign Policy
Saudi-Iranian Détente Is a Wake-Up Call for America
The peace plan is a big deal—and it’s no accident that China brokered it.
The U.S.-Israel Relationship No Longer Makes Sense
If Israel and its supporters want the country to continue receiving U.S. largesse, they will need to come up with a new narrative.
Putin Is Trapped in the Sunk-Cost Fallacy of War
Moscow is grasping for meaning in a meaningless invasion.
How China’s Saudi-Iran Deal Can Serve U.S. Interests
And why there’s less to Beijing’s diplomatic breakthrough than meets the eye.