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Middle East Digest - January 28, 2010

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Washington, DC
January 28, 2010


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 January 28, 2010

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QUESTION: How come the President didn’t mention the Middle East peace process in the speech or the Middle East?

MR. CROWLEY: I would say that he – it is a priority. It’s a commitment that we’ve made from the outset. I think he did talk last night about the importance that we’ve attached to engagement on a wide range of issues. So whether it was explicit or not, I think it was implicit in his words that we are working aggressively with our partners around the world on a range of issues. The Middle East peace process is one and the meetings that the Secretary had on the margins of the Afghanistan conference today reinforces the importance that we attach to Middle East peace.

But this is one of a number of issues, whether its climate change, which he mentioned, whether it’s Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he mentioned, the fact that the Secretary is there, committed to working with international partners on progress in Yemen, on our strategy with respect to Afghanistan. We are committed to resolving the sources of conflict that impede the world from moving forward in a peaceful and prosperous way.

So there were a number of issues that he talked about directly. It was a 71-minute speech. So in any State of the Union address, you address many priorities; you don’t necessarily present a comprehensive list.


QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: The – I know the White House addressed this just momentarily, just a few moments ago, but on Iran, there’s some executions of people involved in the recent political demonstrations. How does the State Department feel about this in terms of moving forward? The President, of course, has reached out to Iran on the nuclear issue. How would this affect U.S. diplomacy moving forward?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we pursue engagement with Iran and diplomacy because it is in our national interest to do so. We have an outstretched hand to Iran because we want to see Iran play a constructive role in the region. We want to see Iran have a different kind of relationship with its own people. So we are going to continue our efforts with respect to Iran, both to be willing to engage, but also be willing to apply pressure to Iran because of – we recognize the seriousness of the nuclear issue, for example, and we recognize that Iran’s isolation is not in the region’s long-term interest.

At the same time, we will continue to speak out on Iran regarding their relation with their people and what we see as serious human rights concerns and abuses. From what we can tell, it’s unclear that these individuals had anything to do with the turmoil surrounding the elections last year. We’re – and this – we think this is another sign of the increasingly ruthless repression and attempts at intimidation that we see the Iranian Government trying to send signals to its people. We think they’re the wrong signals because Iranian citizens have the same right that all citizens have to demonstrate peacefully, to participate in the political process. And this remains a concern and this – we believe that Iran should change course and respect the rights of its own citizens.

QUESTION: On Iran, P.J., is there going to be a P-5+1 conference call on next steps toward Iran, notably sanctions, this week?

MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Have you checked? Is it that you just don’t know or you’ve checked and --

MR. CROWLEY: I have checked.

QUESTION: And you have no reason to believe that there is one, or you --

MR. CROWLEY: Correct. Well, I mean, as to next steps, as the Secretary outlined today, we will continue our consultations on the track that we’re on. We regret that in light of the – Iran’s inability to respond to our offer of dialogue and specific proposals that we’ve made, that we are looking at what should be done on the pressure of the sanctions track. We will continue to work with our partners and put forward ideas in the coming weeks. But as to a particular next step this week, I think that report is not correct.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:17 p.m.)

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