The Cable

Briefing Skipper: North Korea, Iraq, Yemen, Jamaica

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Tuesday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing is over, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not able to announce any consensus on the way forward ...

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

  • The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing is over, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not able to announce any consensus on the way forward in dealing the North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean ship, the Cheonan. "During the course of the S&ED as we call it, the secretary announced expanded exchanges, increased cooperation on energy and education; on energy, looking for ways to continue to diversify global energy supplies," Crowley said. On North Korea, the best he could do was to say, "We will closely cooperate in the coming days and weeks."
  • Crowley said the Pentagon could take some measures, such as increased maneuvers and training with the South Korean army. Clinton said the United States could consider strengthening its security posture there. But putting North Korea back on the state sponsors of terrorism list is not happening anytime soon. "Let’s not get ahead of the process here," Crowley said. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will visit Seoul on Friday.
  • Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg and Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman had another follow-on meeting today with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri Tuesday. Hariri also met with lawmakers, who apparently did not press him on the issue of Syrian arms transfers to Hezbollah.
  • Deputy Secretary Jack Lew is still in Nigeria. Undersecretary Bill Burns is still in Afghanistan. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah is on the way to Bangladesh, where he will speak at the Food Security Investment Forum, part of Shah’s Feed the Future initiative.
  • Regarding Iraq, Crowley talked about the Washington Post article in which Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki resisted Feltman’s idea that there should be a Plan B for the formation of an Iraqi government. "We want to see, on behalf of the Iraqi people, the emergence of an effective government, an inclusive government that reflects the will of the Iraqi people," Crowley said. "Clearly, you had a very close election, and there are two major blocs, and these blocs have to work together and see how to form a credible government that will work on behalf of all of the Iraqi people."
  • The two U.S. citizens who were kidnapped in Yemen have been released, Crowley said.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, is closed, as the violence surrounding the U.S. request to extradite drug kingpin Christopher Coke continues. Crowley said, "We made an extradition request several months ago. There was a deliberation within the Jamaican government, and most recently they decided to take this action."

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