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Middle East Digest - July 22, 2009

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Washington, DC
July 22, 2009


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 July 22, 2009

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12:50 p.m. EDT

MR. WOOD: She met with ASEAN foreign ministers, all of whom welcomed the U.S. for its engagement with ASEAN. The Secretary also signed the Instruments for Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

The next is an update on Ambassador Holbrooke’s meetings in Islamabad. Ambassador Holbrooke is in Islamabad today. The travel is part of his regular consultations with officials in Pakistan in his role as Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today, Ambassador Holbrooke met with Prime Minister Gillani, Generals Ashafaq Kayani and Ahmad Pahsa, and a group of Malakand residents.

The focus of his discussions was on a range of economic and security issues, in particular, the situation of the internal refugees and reconstruction plans for their return to their homes. At a joint press conference with Finance Minister Khar, Ambassador Holbrooke announced today that 165 million in U.S. funds are being committed to programs for humanitarian relief, early recovery, and long-term reconstruction efforts to support the internally displaced in Pakistan. He is scheduled to meet with President Zardari tonight.

And with that, ready to take your questions.

QUESTION: This 165 million is in addition to 300 million already given to Pakistan?

MR. WOOD: Yeah. We’ll have – I mean, we issued a fact sheet on this. And this is – I believe this is additional. But you can just check with our fact sheet.

QUESTION: And when he goes to Afghanistan after Islamabad, would he be meeting the Afghan presidential election candidates?

MR. WOOD: Well, I don’t know yet. They’re still working through his schedule in Afghanistan. When we have something to give you on that, we certainly will. But at this moment, they’re still working through that schedule.

QUESTION: And yesterday, you didn’t mention about India. Is he going to India after Afghanistan or is this –

MR. WOOD: India, I believe, is on the schedule. But again, we’ll have to see how that all works out in the end. I’m not sure in terms of what his schedule is going to look like beyond Pakistan right now. In Afghanistan, we’ll certainly have some details with regard to that schedule. In terms of the other stops, we’ll just have to see. I haven’t gotten that far forward yet. So we’ll provide you, as I said, the details once we have them.

MR. WOOD: Sylvie’s had her hand up.

QUESTION: Yeah, change of subject. Do you have anything to tell us on George Mitchell’s trip to Middle East?

MR. WOOD: I don’t have much in the way of detail beyond what I gave you yesterday. I’m trying to get additional information, so I’ll continue to work that and as soon as I can get you something, I will.

QUESTION: Can you please ask if he’s going to Turkey as well? The Turks today have said they’re ready to be the mediators between Syria and Israel. Israel, on the other hand, doesn’t seem terribly keen, but --

MR. WOOD: I’ll do what I can to find out.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:09 p.m.)

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