Briefing Skipper: Israel, Iraq, Burma, BAE, Libya apology
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: Crowley let Vice President Joseph Biden lead the criticism of the Israeli decision to announce 1600 new settlement units in East Jerusalem right in the middle of ...
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:
- Crowley let Vice President Joseph Biden lead the criticism of the Israeli decision to announce 1600 new settlement units in East Jerusalem right in the middle of Biden’s high profile visit to try to restart peace talks. He just said, "We continue to urge all sides to avoid counterproductive and unilateral actions that, intended or not, can be – can undermine trust and make it harder to negotiate – for negotiations to succeed."
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Tuesday morning with Haitian President Rene Preval and then had lunch with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke.
- Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell was in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday, and Special Envoy Scott Gration was in Nairobi. Gration met with President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir and Sudanese Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha.
- No word as to how long the State Department thinks it could or should take the Iraqis to set up a new government following Sunday’s elections. "We’re awaiting the results. I think the results will give us some indication of the degree of difficulty of forming a new government. But this is up to the Iraqis to accomplish and it will take as long as it takes," Crowley said.
- The Burmese Junta’s decision to start announcing elections law, including one that says the military gets to appoint the elections commission, is not encouraging. "We remain skeptical that the elections planned for this year will be credible and we urge the authorities to begin a genuine political dialogue with all stakeholders as a first step towards credible elections," said Crowley.
- State feels that the Japanese revelation of secret nuclear pacts with the U.S. is really no big deal. "This investigation was a Japanese Government matter," Crowley said, "I don’t think that it’s going to significantly affect cooperation between the United States and Japan."
- The State Department is holding up export licenses for contractor BAE Systems, because they pled guilty to conspiracy involving violations of several U.S. laws, including the Arms Export Control Act. "We are assessing the implications that the plea will have on the statutory debarment and resulting policy of denial," explained Crowley, "Though no final determinations have been reached, our analysis indicates it would be inappropriate for us to make decisions on pending export applications at this time."
- Today marks the three year anniversary of the disappearance of ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, who is believed to have been abducted by the Iranian government. "Mr. Levinson will remain a priority for the United States until he is reunited with his family," said Crowley, also calling on Iran to resolve the cases of Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, Kian Tajbakhsh, and Reza Taghavi. Anyone who has information can share it at www.helpboblevinson.com.
- Crowley finally caved in and apologized to Libya for comments he made last week when he called a speech by Muammar Gaddafi "lots of words, not necessarily a lot of sense." Here’s what he said Tuesday after Libya continued to complain:
Regarding the personal comments I made last week, I want to provide some context. I responded to a question regarding use of the term "jihad" in the context of relations between Libya and Switzerland. I should have focused solely on our concern about the term "jihad," which has since been clarified by the Libyan Government. I understand that my personal comments were perceived as a personal attack on the president. As I made clear to Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali when Assistant Secretary Feltman and I called upon him in his office on Friday, these comments do not reflect U.S. policy and were not intended to offend. I apologize if they were taken that way. I regret that my comments have become an obstacle to further progress in our bilateral relationship.
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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