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Briefing Skipper: Gaza flotilla, Turkey-Iran, Karzai, Mitchell, Steinberg

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: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a two hour fifteen minute meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Tuesday, which was supposed to focus on Iran sanctions ...

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:

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a two hour fifteen minute meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Tuesday, which was supposed to focus on Iran sanctions but was understandably consumed by the Gaza flotilla incident. Crowley said the discussion was civil but acknowledged that there is no agreement over how to proceed. "We support an Israeli investigation but we’re open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation," he said, "Now Turkey will have its own judgment as to any investigation it might undertake."
  • A State Department official speaking on background said that the U.S. will be involved in the investigation to make sure it’s credible. But the official also said the flotilla people ignored Israel’s offer to have the ships dock at another port and that Turkey was involved in those conversations. "We believe that there was a good faith effort to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. The organizers of the flotilla were clearly seeking a confrontation and tragically they got one," the official said.
  • The Cable spoke with a senior Turkish official who acknowledged that Turkey had been involved in conversations about diverting the flotilla, but said that the flotilla people made the decision that they only wanted to dock in Gaza. The official said that they saw movement on their top priority, the return of Turkish prisoners and bodies, but still haven’t gotten satisfaction overall. "As we see it, they were hijacked and kidnapped in international waters," the official said.
  • The story isn’t over, as more ships head toward the blockade.
  • Clinton and Davutoglu also spoke about Iran, with Clinton reiterating that Iran can only stave off sanctions if it meets concerns about enrichment, etc, in addition to agreeing to transfer its fuel. Davutoglu gave Clinton some details about his visit to Iran but didn’t budge on Turkey’s resistance to a new UN Security Council resolution. "During the course of the meeting the foreign minister made clear what we understood beforehand, which is Turkey’s view of sanctions as a tool. We see this in a different way," Crowley said.
  • Clinton also spoke over the phone Tuesday morning with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, wishing him good luck with the peace jirga this week in Kabul. There will be a meeting of all the Special Representatives for Afghanistan in Madrid June 7. That works out nicely for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is in Barcelona this week celebrating his 15th wedding anniversary with wife and author Kati Marton.
  • After the Turkey meeting, Clinton sat down with Special Envoy George Mitchell, who is on his way to the Middle East to save the proximity talks. Clinton later met with Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi and they talked about missile defense, the Visa Waiver program and regional issues.
  • Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg met with South Korean foreign minister Yu Myung-hwa, whom Clinton saw last week in Seoul.  Still no word on whether China will support UN action against North Korea for sinking the Cheonan. Steinberg leaves Wednesday for Sarajevo to attend the EU-Western Balkans ministerial meeting. He will then go on to Bulgaria.
  • Former spokesman Ian Kelly was officially sworn in Tuesday as Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Deputy Secretary Jack Lew did the honors. Congrats, Ian!

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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