The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

Briefing Skipper: Israel, Venezuela, Taliban, Ahmadenijad, Pyongyang

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Friday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in San Francisco Friday night to give a speech at the Commonwealth Club. "The secretary will discuss her 21st century statecraft ...

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

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

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in San Francisco Friday night to give a speech at the Commonwealth Club. "The secretary will discuss her 21st century statecraft agenda, which leverages new tools and technologies to advance our nation’s interests and values around the world," Crowley said. Special Representative Richard Holbrooke was in Brussels today for the Friends of a Democratic Pakistan meeting and moves to Rome tomorrow.
  • The U.S. is "disappointed" at Israel’s decision to move forward on 238 new housing units in East Jerusalem. "It is contrary to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties. We will continue to work, as we have, to try to create conditions for direct negotiations to resume," Crowley said. "The Netanyahu government is determined to thwart any chance of resuming direct negotiations," Sa’eb Erekat, the top Palestinian negotiator said in response.
  • Crowley said Israel had notified Washington in advance and the State Department had said the U.S. was unhappy with the move. "The government of Israel is well aware of our concerns about this." He also said that the U.S. government was working furiously to save the peace process. "We are doing everything in our power, and we are making clear to the parties that we want to see this direct negotiation continue." The planned trip to the region by Special Envoy George Mitchell is up in the air, Crowley said.
  • No formal objection to Russia’s announcement that it will expand nuclear cooperation with Venezuela. "Any new nuclear program or activity should be conducted in accordance with the highest standard of nonproliferation, safety and security, including IAEA safeguards," Crowley said. "So you know, whatever happens with this announcement today, Venezuela and Russia have international obligations, and we expect them to meet those obligations… This is something that we will watch very, very closely."
  • Crowley wouldn’t say exactly how the U.S. is "facilitating" ongoing talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, except for that it includes helping move everybody to the meeting. "The facilitation really involves the movement of people to meeting locations. But beyond that, we are just simply doing what the Afghan government, you know, has asked us to do to promote this process. We are supporting this process and we think it’s critical to resolving the conflict that is ongoing," he said.
  • Crowley didn’t seem too concerned about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon this week. "Last month he made a trip to the United States and had some crazy things to say, and yesterday he made a trip to Lebanon and again had some crazy things to say," Crowley said. The U.S. is telling Beirut that Iran’s real intention is to help Hizbollah and not the whole of Lebanese people. "I think that was clear yesterday by the tenor of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s trip to Lebanon," he added.
  • Crowley praised Japanese oil company Inpex for ending its business involvement in Iran. "Inpex’s decision today once again underscores that there are risks in dealing with Iran," Crowley said, referring also to the four European companies that have made similar announcements recently. "These actions, now complemented by INPEX, are further evidence that sanctions are having a major impact on Iran."
  • U.S. and Turkish officials met Thursday in Brussels to discuss missile defense cooperation but that idea seems to be in peril after Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul told reporters that the system shouldn’t target Syria or Iran. "The basis of our proposed phased adaptive approach defense concept for Europe is expressly to address the emerging missile threat from Iran," Crowley said. "I think our European allies recognize the clear threat that Iranian missiles pose to Europe."
  • Resumption of the 6 Party Talks any time in the near future isn’t looking good. The State Department won’t lift sanctions against Pyongyang in exchange for talks, as North Korean negotiator Kim Gye Gwan demanded when visiting Beijing this week. Those sanctions exist for very good reason — because North Korea consistently has failed to live up to its international obligations. We have no intention of removing those sanctions as an enticement for dialogue," 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

More from Foreign Policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.

Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?

The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.

Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.
Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.

Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World

It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

It’s a New Great Game. Again.

Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.

Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.
Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing

The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.