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Middle East Digest - October 30, 2009

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Washington, DC
October 30, 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 October 30, 2009

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1:10 p.m. EDT

MR. WOOD: Happy Friday, everyone. Welcome to the briefing. I’m going to start off with a few items and then take your questions.

I first want to give you an update on Secretary Clinton’s visit in Pakistan. Today, October 30th, the Secretary met with leaders from the Northwest Frontier Province in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. There, she underscored U.S. support for robust humanitarian assistance for people living in these areas of conflict.

In a televised town hall meeting with Pakistani women hosted by five of Pakistan’s top women journalists, the Secretary again addressed America’s desire to build more comprehensive relations with Pakistan based on mutual trust and respect. The Secretary met with the newly elected parliamentarians at the National Assembly, reassuring them of America’s strong support for their commitment to strengthen democracy. Later, she met with a wide range of officials, including General Kiyani and General Pasha, to discuss common concerns about security and counterterrorism matters.

At the Police Lines Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the Secretary paid tribute to Pakistani police officers who protect the public and also suffer the brunt of terrorist attacks. Before her departure, the Secretary attended an Embassy reception highlighting Pakistan’s rich artistic and cultural heritage.

The Secretary is now wheels up en route to Abu Dhabi, where she will have meetings with Palestinian President Abbas. And just to follow on that, Senator Mitchell met this morning with Prime Minister Netanyahu for about two hours. He also met last night with Defense Minister Barak. The discussions were good and set the stage for the Secretary’s upcoming meetings in the region. He will meet later – he will – I think he’s meeting later today with President Abbas as well.

And with that, I will take your questions.

QUESTION: Can I – just logistically, where is the Secretary going after Abu Dhabi?

MR. WOOD: The schedule is still being worked out. Hopefully, we’ll be able to give you some more details of her travel, but I don’t have them at this point.

QUESTION: Is there anything new on Iran, in --

MR. WOOD: No, I don’t have anything new on Iran. The Secretary General – excuse me, the Director General of the IAEA is waiting for clarification from Iran. Again, we still believe this is an important agreement, and we look forward to a clarification from Iran. But no other update.

QUESTION: Yes. The Iranians are saying today that they want to start negotiations with the U.S., Russia, and the IAEA about the plan, the agreement, that this is – that I’m not going to represent their final response to the agreement before they start new negotiations about it. Is this acceptable to the U.S.?

MR. WOOD: Well, this is the first I’ve heard of this. And as far as we’re concerned, what Iran needs to do is provide, as it said it would – or shall I say the Director General of the IAEA is seeking clarification from the Iranians with regard to the proposal on the Tehran Research Reactor.

I would just say, look, we’re waiting for that clarification so that we can go forward. As I said earlier, this is a good agreement. It’s a good confidence-building measure. And we’ll have to see where we go from here. But that’s what the Director General ElBaradei is doing now. He’s trying to get clarification from Iran on this issue.

QUESTION: And one more question.

MR. WOOD: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: Do you know where Senator Mitchell met with Abbas today?

MR. WOOD: As I say, I’ll have to double check on it, but I think he is supposed to meet with him – I think it’s either later today or tomorrow.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:16 p.m.)

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