Briefing Skipper: Cuba, Gration, Karzai, Hu, Cambodia
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: State Department counselor Cheryl Mills met with Cuban Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on the sidelines of the Haiti donors conference Wednesday. "They talked about Haiti ...
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:
- State Department counselor Cheryl Mills met with Cuban Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on the sidelines of the Haiti donors conference Wednesday. "They talked about Haiti in particular," Crowley said. The U.S. also brought up the situation of Alan Gross, the USAID contractor arrested for passing out satellite phones and laptops and such. So is this a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations? Not so much.
- Sudan Special Envoy Scott Gration is in Sudan but seems to not have saved the elections, which are now dangerously in peril. "We have concerns about, you know, the credibility of the election," Crowley said, stating the obvious, but being careful not to characterize the elections as a failure… yet.
- The State Department does "not accept [the] judgment" of Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the west was responsible for the "massive fraud" he now acknowledges helped keep him in power in last year’s elections as part of a vast UN conspiracy. "Karzai has to step forward, lead his government, you know, in terms of convincing the international community and the Afghan people that they are taking measurable steps to reduce corruption," Crowley said, later adding, "President Karzai has said the right things to us starting, you know, with the promises that he made in his inaugural speech late last year." Peter Galbraith disagrees.
- State "welcomes" the decision by Chinese President Hu Jintao to attend the upcoming nuclear security summit in Washington. "China’s participation at the highest possible level reflects China’s concern as well about nuclear security in the future," Crowley said. But let’s not make too much of it. "I think you should take this at face value,’ he added.
- On China and Iran sanctions, Crowley said, "China has indicated a willingness to be a full participant as we — as we go through the specifics of what would be in a resolution." That’s… encouraging???
- The U.S. is suspending "excess defense article" sales to Cambodia, including trucks and trailers, as a response to that country’s decision to return 20 Uighur asylum seekers to China, where their future looks bleak. "We said there would be consequences, and this is a step in that direction," Crowley said. The Cambodians are apparently "shrugging off" the punishment.
- Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela will begin a week-long trip to Ecuador, Colombia and Peru next week. The topics? Security cooperation, social inclusion, economic competitiveness, democratic governance and human rights, you know, the usual.
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
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