Briefing Skipper: Iran, Haiti, Netanyahu, Kerry, Abyei
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 P.J. Crowley: Crowley confirmed that Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has sent a response to EU foreign affairs high representative Catherine Ashton proposing some tentative dates for 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 Tuesday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley:
- Crowley confirmed that Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has sent a response to EU foreign affairs high representative Catherine Ashton proposing some tentative dates for a resumption of talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to speak with Ashton over the phone Tuesday afternoon and the political directors of the P5+1 countries were planning to have a conference call on Wednesday, with the U.S. represented by Undersecretary Bill Burns. "We will work to try to nail down with Iran a specific date and location for this meeting," Crowley said. A meeting in the context of the IAEA would also be good, but there are no final decisions yet, he added.
- The U.S. isn’t opposed to the meeting being held in Turkey, as the Turks have proposed, but they aren’t endorsing the idea either. "Well, look, first and foremost, we want a meeting. We want to put it together as soon as possible in a location that is convenient for all of the participants," Crowley said. "If we are successful in getting a process going, not just one meeting but a series of meetings and a serious engagement on the nuclear issue and other issues, we can envision that there would be, you know, many potential locations for this series of meetings." A New TRR deal could very well be on the table, he said.
- Crowley rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that there’s no link between new planning for homes in East Jerusalem and the Middle East peace process. "Well, there clearly is a link, in the sense that it is incumbent upon both parties, as we have insisted all along, that they are responsible for creating conditions for a successful negotiation," Crowley said. "So to suggest that this kind of announcement would not have an impact on the Palestinian side I think is incorrect." Clinton will meet Netanyahu Thursday in New York.
- Only three months after President Obama signed the supplemental spending bill, the first tranche of the money in that bill for Haiti is now on its way to the suffering island nation. Crowley confirmed that $120 million of the $1.15 billion in recovery money given in the supplemental bill has been sent on its way to the World Bank for the Haiti Reconstruction Fund. "The spend plan has been approved. The way has been cleared," Crowley said. The U.S. has already sent hundreds of millions to Haiti but this was the first disbursement of the money that Jon Stewart had incorrectly blamed Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) for holding up.
- Meanwhile, 8,138 cholera cases have been identified in Haiti, resulting in 544 deaths so far from this treatable illness. "Tragically, we know that people will die from cholera, even though it is a very treatable disease," Crowley said. "But through a combination of the improved surveillance, the pre-positioned stocks that are on hand in Haiti, that Haiti is well positioned to contain the outbreak. And we would expect to see, as we’ve seen in recent years, actually the mortality rate relative to the number of cases has gone down fairly dramatically."
- No direct progress to report after Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) traveled to Sudan to offer Khartoum a chance to get off of the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism if they would just live up to their obligations under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. "We’re focused on the fact we’re now barely two months from the scheduled referendum on south Sudan. We’ve got no time to waste. A lot has to be done; a lot is being done," Crowley said." So was Kerry’s trip a success or not? "I think it has had the desired effect," Crowley said. "They recognize that it represents… a further commitment by the United States. We are putting real, tangible benefits to Sudan on the table."
- There’s a tweak to the U.S. position on the disputed territory of Abyei and the possibility of holding the referendum on time there. "Discussions continue on Abyei, and we will continue to hold the parties to their obligation to a referendum on Abyei, likewise on January 9th, unless they arrive at an alternative that is mutually agreeable to both sides," Crowley said. When pressed as to whether this was a change, Crowley said yes. "Well, I think it’s a recognition of the calendar. The parties have agreed on many of the details on the referendum on South Sudan; they have not agreed on the details of the referendum on Abyei. So while it is theoretically possible that the referendum could still go on on schedule regarding Abyei, we recognize that that is increasingly problematic… But it has to be a mutually agreeable alternative."
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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