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Briefing Skipper: Osh, Manas, Afghanistan, Gaza, Senegal

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Monday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke on the phone with Kazakh foreign minister Kanat Saudabayev about the ongoing violence in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh.  Assistant ...

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

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke on the phone with Kazakh foreign minister Kanat Saudabayev about the ongoing violence in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh.  Assistant Secretary Bob Blake is in contact with the provisional Kyrgyz government, while he's traveling in the region. The U.S. hasn't gotten any requests for help yet and isn't planning to intervene. "I think right now our focus is how can we respond effectively within the region internationally," Crowley said, "I don't think we're looking at any unilateral steps by the United States at this point." The Manas air base is still up and running, Crowley said. The U.S. is talking with the Russians and State is hoping that Russia will coordinate any intervention with its international partners. "We are in touch with the Russian government as well, and looking to see how, collectively, through the U.N., through the OSCE, we can help the people of Kyrgyzstan," he said. Crowley threw cold water on the New York Times story about how Afghanistan may be sitting on top of $1 trillion worth of valuable minerals. "Turning the potential of Afghanistan's mineral wealth into actual revenue will take years. And mineral extraction faces numerous, but not insurmountable challenges," he said, noting that much of the land in question is controlled by the insurgency. "There have been a number of studies that have shown that there is a great untapped mineral wealth in Afghanistan... let's not underestimate this. This is going to be a long-term proposition." For all the info on how the Obama team was involved in the Israeli flotilla commission process, read this. Crowley also spoke about Iran's own flotilla headed for Gaza and Turkey's own potential investigation. On Iran, he said, "I suspect very strongly that its intentions here are not humanitarian in nature." Turkey, he noted, "as any sovereign country, has a right to conduct its own investigation." Along with Undersecretary Bill Burns, Clinton also met with Sheikha Lubna al Qasimi, the UAE Trade minister. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah spoke at the opening ceremony of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, Food Security Investment Forum in Dakar, Senegal. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher is in Moscow this week co-chairing the arms control and international security working group meetings with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell will leave for Asia Tuesday, heading to Seoul for meetings on Wednesday and then on to Tokyo for meetings on Thursday. Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman is en route to Iraq, and will have meetings with senior Iraqi officials later this week. Ambassador Dan Benjamin is in Israel. Blake and Assistant Secretary Mike Posner met today with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in Turkmenistan. "Today's sessions focused on Afghanistan, security cooperation and energy cooperation with planned sessions tomorrow on economic, social and human rights issues," Crowley said.

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

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke on the phone with Kazakh foreign minister Kanat Saudabayev about the ongoing violence in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh.  Assistant Secretary Bob Blake is in contact with the provisional Kyrgyz government, while he’s traveling in the region. The U.S. hasn’t gotten any requests for help yet and isn’t planning to intervene. "I think right now our focus is how can we respond effectively within the region internationally," Crowley said, "I don’t think we’re looking at any unilateral steps by the United States at this point."
  • The Manas air base is still up and running, Crowley said. The U.S. is talking with the Russians and State is hoping that Russia will coordinate any intervention with its international partners. "We are in touch with the Russian government as well, and looking to see how, collectively, through the U.N., through the OSCE, we can help the people of Kyrgyzstan," he said.
  • Crowley threw cold water on the New York Times story about how Afghanistan may be sitting on top of $1 trillion worth of valuable minerals. "Turning the potential of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth into actual revenue will take years. And mineral extraction faces numerous, but not insurmountable challenges," he said, noting that much of the land in question is controlled by the insurgency. "There have been a number of studies that have shown that there is a great untapped mineral wealth in Afghanistan… let’s not underestimate this. This is going to be a long-term proposition."
  • For all the info on how the Obama team was involved in the Israeli flotilla commission process, read this. Crowley also spoke about Iran’s own flotilla headed for Gaza and Turkey’s own potential investigation. On Iran, he said, "I suspect very strongly that its intentions here are not humanitarian in nature." Turkey, he noted, "as any sovereign country, has a right to conduct its own investigation."
  • Along with Undersecretary Bill Burns, Clinton also met with Sheikha Lubna al Qasimi, the UAE Trade minister.
  • USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah spoke at the opening ceremony of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, Food Security Investment Forum in Dakar, Senegal.
  • Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher is in Moscow this week co-chairing the arms control and international security working group meetings with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.
  • Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell will leave for Asia Tuesday, heading to Seoul for meetings on Wednesday and then on to Tokyo for meetings on Thursday. Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman is en route to Iraq, and will have meetings with senior Iraqi officials later this week. Ambassador Dan Benjamin is in Israel.
  • Blake and Assistant Secretary Mike Posner met today with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in Turkmenistan. "Today’s sessions focused on Afghanistan, security cooperation and energy cooperation with planned sessions tomorrow on economic, social and human rights issues," Crowley said.

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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