Briefing Skipper: START, Bishkek, Gaza, Iran, Turkey
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Thursday’s briefing by spokesman Mark Toner: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday morning on START and missile defense, shooting down the Washington Times story on a ...
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Thursday’s briefing by spokesman Mark Toner:
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday morning on START and missile defense, shooting down the Washington Times story on a "secret deal" to limit missile defenses with the Russians. She also spoke with Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov "to discuss the current situation in Kyrgyzstan and the issue of refugees in Uzbekistan," Toner said. She also met Thursday with Judy Gross, spouse of Alan Gross, the USAID contractor currently jailed in Cuba, Central Command head Gen. David Petraeus, and Quartet Representative Tony Blair.
- Assistant Secretaries Robert Blake and Michael Posner will travel to Tashkent Thursday to consult with the Uzbek leadership, and then on to the Ferghana Valley Friday to evaluate the situation of the refugees there, Toner said. Blake will then go to Bishkek on Saturday to meet with the Kyrgyz leadership, who apparently asked for U.S. military assistance but were turned down.
- The State Department welcomes, Israel’s announcement that they are making changes to ease up on the Gaza blockage to allow building supplies and ketchup. "They reflect the type of changes we’ve been significant with our Israeli friends," Toner said, "As the President has said, the situation in Gaza is unsustainable." Special Envoy George Mitchell is in the region now.
- State is not concerned about complaints that West Bank settlers are still building in violation of the official freeze on such construction. "The Israeli Government has announced its moratorium and we believe it’s enforcing it and that these are individual cases," Toner said.
- Toner said that Russian statements objecting to unilateral sanctions measures by the U.S. against Iran announced yesterday shouldn’t upset the fragile international unity over the Iran nuclear issue. "I think the Russians have consistently expressed concerns that any sanctions not impact the Iranian people," Toner said, "We believe that the steps we’ve announced as well as the EU has announced earlier today are targeted against entities and individuals and not the Iranian people, but rather entities and individuals that support Iran’s nuclear and proliferation activity."
- Still no good explanation as to why Dan Benjamin suddenly pulled out of a meeting with Turkish officials on counterterrorism. "I don’t have a solid answer for you. I think it was scheduling, but I’ll try to find out more," Toner said. I wonder if he’ll attend the Wilson Center award ceremony for Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu tonight!
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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