Briefing Skipper: Netanyahu, China, Iran, Sri Lanka
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 Mark Toner: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Envoy George Mitchell attended President Obama’s bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today at the White House. Clinton ...
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 Mark Toner:
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Envoy George Mitchell attended President Obama’s bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today at the White House. Clinton and Mitchell will go to Blair House at 5 PM to see Netanyahu again, this time accompanied by Undersecretary William Burns, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, and Ambassador James Cunningham. Clinton also spoke Tuesday to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Quartet Representative Tony Blair.
- The U.S. is happy enough with Israel’s decision to clearly list the items that are banned from Gaza, but the U.S. wants more flexibility. "It’s a great step forward. We think it’s very positive, constructive, but we’re going to continue to work with Israel as we move forward — and obviously, with an emphasis on implementation," Toner said. No movement on the possibility of a new U.N. investigation into the Gaza flotilla incident, but State is happy with what is coming out of the Israeli investigation so far. "Obviously this is a domestic process, and we believe that Israel’s democratic institutions and processes should be given the opportunity to play themselves out," Toner said.
- The U.S. is "disturbed’ by China’s decision to sentence American geologist Xue Feng to an 8 year prison sentence for trying to sell a report on China’s energy reserves. Xue has alleged he was tortured while in Chinese custody. U.S. Ambassador to China John Huntsman, who attended the sentencing, has called for his release. Toner echoed that call and said, "The protection of U.S. citizens overseas is our highest priority. The U.S. government is deeply concerned for Dr. Xue’s well-being." Xue has received over 30 consular visits by U.S. officials.
- "The door definitely remains open" to the Iranians if they want to talk about their nuclear program with the P5+1 countries, Toner said, responding to a letter from Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili saying that Iran would resume talks if several conditions were met, including clarification of Israel’s nuclear program. Jalili was responding to a letter from EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.
- Responding to a question about the huge protests at the U.N. building in Sri Lanka calling for a conclusion to their international war crimes investigation, Toner said, "We welcome U.N. Secretary Ban’s announcement of a panel of experts, to provide advice on relevant best practices for investigations into alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law."
(Correction: Netanyahu’s title corrected to "prime minister.")
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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