Briefing Skipper: Clinton to Asia, settlements, Pakistan, French burkas, Iroquois lacrosse
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Wednesday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departs this weekend for a tour of Asia, to include Vietnam, Korea, and then on to Afghanistan for the Kabul conference on ...
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Wednesday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley:
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departs this weekend for a tour of Asia, to include Vietnam, Korea, and then on to Afghanistan for the Kabul conference on July 20. She’ll also be in Pakistan, but the dates for that visit are being held back due to security concerns. In Korea, she’ll be joined by Defense Secretary Robert Gates for the 2+2 meetings with Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and Minister of National Defense Kim Tae-young, and she will also see South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
- Wednesday morning, Clinton met with Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar and Wednesday afternoon she joined USAID Administrator Raj Shah and gave remarks at Shah’s conference on transforming development through science, technology, and innovation. Also speaking at the event was the president’s Science and Technology Advisor Dr. John Holdren.
- Under Secretary Bill Burns left Wednesday on a trip to Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In Bangkok he will see Foreign Minister Kisit Piromya. Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and Ambassador of Vietnam Le Cong Phung held a reception in Washington Wednesday night that featured appearances by President Bill Clinton, Senator John Kerry, Senator John McCain, and Congressman Eni Faleomavaega.
- The State Department is not happy with the continued building and home demolitions in Israel that seem to fly in the face of the settlement moratorium. "It is exactly the kind of unilateral action that undermines trust. It is the very kind of action that poses a potential obstacle to direct negotiations, which we think is the only route to addressing the final status issues," Crowley said. Special Envoy George Mitchell is in the region now.
- Crowley said the State Department might declare the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network as official Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, wants, they’re working it now. "Nothing is holding us from taking any action. We are evaluating a number of entities in Pakistan. There’s a legal – there’s a process and legal criteria that has to be met. This is something that we’re looking into. And we’ll make a determination one way or the other when we’re finished," he said. He added that the effect such a move would have on the ground n Afghanistan and Pakistan was part of the deliberative process.
- Clinton spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu earlier this week, but Crowley denied that Clinton told the Turks to stop negotiating with Iran directly. "What the Secretary said to the foreign minister in their call earlier this week was that at this stage, the primary focus should be on Iran engaging constructively the IAEA and the P-5+1. And we believe that there was a mutual understanding about the importance of getting Iran to engage the IAEA and the P-5+1 at this stage of the game," Crowley said. Anyway, if she did say that, it didn’t work, because Davutoglu met the Iranian foreign minister in Portugal today.
- The U.S. does not agree with the French government’s ongoing campaign to force Muslim women to take off their religious clothing in public. "We do not think that you should legislate what people can wear or not wear associated with their religious beliefs," Crowley said.
- No direct comment on the increasing concern about Burma’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons program, with help from North Korea. "This is an area that we are watching very carefully. We have concerns about the nature of that relationship. It is something that we watch very carefully. It’s something that we continue to talk to the Burmese Government about," Crowley said.
- The Iroquois lacrosse team has been granted a one-time-only waiver of the U.S. passport requirement for travel to and from the United States, Crowley said. The team already defaulted on their first game in the World Championships being held in the United Kingdom because of some members refusal to take U.S. or Canadian passports, and they are currently in New York City trying to figure out how to make it to their next match. "It was the Secretary that made the decision to grant the one-time waiver," Crowley said. "She feels the same way that many Americans feel, which is we want to see a team, which is by every indication, one of the leading lacrosse teams in the world, have the opportunity to participate in the Olympics of lacrosse."
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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