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Middle East Digest - May 26, 2009


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Washington, DC
May 26, 2009

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The Middle East Digest provides text and audio from the Daily Press Briefing. For the full briefings, please visit daily press briefings.

From the Daily Press Briefing of May 26, 2009

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MR. KELLY: So we got another issue? New subject. Yes, Elise.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about the U.S. contractors in Iraq that were killed over the weekend?

MR. KELLY: Yes, I can. It’s always a very said day when one of my colleagues is killed, of course. Just give me a moment.

On the afternoon of May 25th, a vehicle carrying Embassy Baghdad employees near Fallujah drove over an improvised explosive device. Two U.S. civilians and one military employee died as a result of the explosion. There was a State Department employee killed in the attack who was serving in our office in Baghdad. A Department of Defense civilian detailed to Embassy Baghdad was also killed. A third Department of Defense military employee was killed as well in the explosion.

We offer our condolences and utmost sympathy to the families of those killed in the attack. The employees were returning from an inspection of a U.S. Government-funded water treatment plant under construction in Fallujah.

QUESTION: Can you say more about the State Department employee, what they did?

MR. KELLY: Right now, I can’t tell you. But I’ll get back to you, if you don’t mind.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: And just continuing my guidance here, they were working in cooperation with local Iraqi authorities on the project, the water treatment project, the largest and most comprehensive ever undertaken in Iraq. The goal was to bring help to the people of war-torn Anbar province, who have suffered some of the worst violence at the hands of the insurgents, to build infrastructure, and to provide needed services.

Yes, Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah, Iran. Does the United States have any reason to believe that Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying Iran with uranium?

MR. KELLY: I do have something for you on that, Matt. And we refer you to the Israeli Government to speak to the alleged Israeli report.

QUESTION: Well, I’m not asking about that report. I’m asking if you have any reason to believe --

MR. KELLY: I’ll just say that all UN members are obligated to implement existing UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions on Iran.

QUESTION: Well, that’s great. (Laughter.) But does the United States have any reason to believe that Bolivia and Venezuela are supplying Iran with uranium?

MR. KELLY: We are committed to the robust implementation of all UN Security Council resolutions on Iran. We’re certainly monitoring for any indication or any actions that might be in breach of the resolutions.

QUESTION: All right --

QUESTION: Do you have any indications that there has been a breach?

MR. KELLY: You know, we’ve just seen reports of this alleged Israeli report.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: There’s a Brazilian report in a newspaper down there that Brazil has picked up a high-level al-Qaida operative. Have you been informed of that, and do you have anything to say about that?

MR. KELLY: You know, I haven’t seen that report, I’m afraid. Yes.

QUESTION: On the Secretary’s meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister tomorrow, do you have a rundown of the topics to be discussed or who from the State Department will be present during the working lunch?

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t have that for you. But if I can get you information, I will.

QUESTION: Is – do you have the same prospects for a peace in general in the Middle East without the visit from Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak? Does him not coming to Washington change your view on the Middle East peace process or moving the Roadmap forward?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think you’ve seen the White House’s statements on that, that we offer him condolences for the death of his grandson. We, of course, look forward to the President’s trip to Cairo, and Secretary Clinton looks forward to her meeting tomorrow with the foreign minister.

QUESTION: Can I just ask one last question about her meeting tomorrow? Who is the democracy activist that she’ll be meeting with in the afternoon?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I just – I don’t have any information for you right now.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that?

MR. KELLY: New subject or --

QUESTION: The same subject, a follow-up.

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: I mean, the issue of the human right – that’s something President Obama will take it up with President Mubarak when he go there, because there is a schedule for human rights activist to meet Secretary Hillary yester – tomorrow. At the same time, you know, she’s going to meet the Egyptian foreign minister. So is there any link and connection – concern about human right?

MR. KELLY: Right, yeah. I’ll just have to – I’ll have to refer you to the White House on any questions of the President’s schedule.

QUESTION: Yeah, but the meetings are going to happen here in the State Department – the human rights activist.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’m sorry --

QUESTION: So my question is State Department --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I don’t have any information right now on the meeting that I can give you.

QUESTION: Thank you.




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