Briefing Skipper: Quran, Iftar, Mitchell, North Korea, IAEA
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 hosted an Iftar dinner at the State Department Monday evening and invited 75 of the most influential young Muslim Americans. During her ...
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 hosted an Iftar dinner at the State Department Monday evening and invited 75 of the most influential young Muslim Americans. During her remarks, she added her voice to the list of senior officials to strongly condemn the plan to burn copies of the Quran in Florida on Sept. 11. "I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths, from evangelical Christians to Jewish rabbis, as well as secular U.S. leaders and opinion-makers," Clinton said. "Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation."
- Crowley made similar comments at Monday’s briefing. "We think that these are provocative acts, they are disrespectful, they’re intolerant, they’re divisive, and we’re conscious that a number of voices have come out and rejected what this pastor and this community have proposed," he said. "And we would like to see more Americans stand up and say that this is inconsistent with our American values. In fact, these actions themselves are un-American… They should not do this."
- Crowley acknowledged that the Constitution protects free speech but also said it protects religious tolerance. "Look, there are a balance of interests here. But this, in our view, has the potential to inflame public opinion around the world in a way that will jeopardize American lives and American interests. It does not represent our core values as Americans. We hope it does not happen. We hope that between now and Saturday, there’ll be a range of voices across America that make clear to this community that this is not the way for us to commemorate 9/11."
- Still not much detail on what will happen when Clinton and Special Envoy George Mitchell travel to the Middle East next week for the next round of direct peace talks. There will be discussions in Sharm e- Sheikh on Sept. 14 and then talks in Jerusalem the next day. Mitchell’s deputy David Hale is in the region this week for preparatory meetings. "What we’re anticipating is that the leaders will get together on a regular basis, roughly every two weeks. In some cases, there will be three-way meetings, in some cases there’ll be two-way meetings," Crowley said. No word on what core issues will be discussed when.
- Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, Special Envoy Sung Kim, and NSC Asia Director Danny Russel will go to Seoul Sept. 12 through 14, Tokyo Sept. 14 and 15, and Beijing Sept. 15 and 16, for discussions on North Korea, Crowley said. Their trip follows visits to the State Department last week by South Korea representative Wi Sung-lac and Chinese representative Wu Dawei. No meetings with North Korean officials are anticipated. "It’s North Korea that needs to do what it can to create a better environment for progress," he said.
- Crowley noted very critical IAEA reports on Syria and Iran, which said that Syria is hiding a secret nuclear facility from investigators and that Iran is also blocking its work. "Unfortunately, the IAEA again documented that Syria has not been forthcoming with any explanation to clarify the scope of its clandestine nuclear activities. So it continues to refuse to cooperate with the IAEA as it is required to do," Crowley said. There will be a meeting of senior P5+1 officials at the UN General Assembly later this month.
- Crowley said he doesn’t know if Darlene Mathis-Gardner, an interior designer who got a $5 million contract to redesign crystal glassware for State but was later charged with fraud over a separate government contract, used false information when dealing with State.
- Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen McFarland announced $50,000 in USAID funds to help with the rains there, which have killed at least 44 people. State also reprogrammed $4.38 million in economic support funds and sent some helicopter to assist. The helicopters were already there and being used by the INL bureau.
- Thomas Maresco, a U.S. cititzen Peace Corps volunteer in Maseru, Lesotho, was shot dead and an investigation is ongoing, said Crowley. "Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Maresco family… Everything that we understand at this point, the killing was in association with some sort of robbery."
- Clinton swore in Dan Smith as the new U.S. ambassador to Greece Monday. Congratulations Dan!
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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