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Middle East Digest - April 26, 2010

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Washington, DC
April 26, 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 April 26, 2010

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1:10 p.m. EDT

QUESTION: What can you say about the apparent freeze on construction in Israel that’s being reported?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the Israeli Government. We have asked both sides to take steps to rebuild trust and to create momentum so that we can see advances in the proximity talks and ultimately direct negations. As we’ve said, we’re not going to go into details of what we’ve asked them to do, but obviously this is an important issue in the atmosphere to see the advancement of peace. But as to any steps the Israelis are to take in this regard, I’ll defer to them.

QUESTION: Can you shed some light on the meeting between George Mitchell and President Abbas, and whether President Abbas was invited to Washington?

MR. CROWLEY: On invitations to the White House, I’ll defer to the White House. I’m not aware that a formal invitation has been extended.

QUESTION: Can you say, actually, going back, (inaudible) – can you actually say whether there is a de facto freeze? Have they told you that they’ve stopped building units?

MR. CROWLEY: We’re not going to go into the specifics of our back-and-forth.

QUESTION: Different topic?


QUESTION: There’s news reports that Iran and Zimbabwe have signed a secret uranium deal, whereby Iran would be able to mine uranium in Zimbabwe. Do you have any information about that or any reaction to it? It would appear to be in contravention of the UN sanctions resolutions.

MR. CROWLEY: Let me take that question.

QUESTION: Also on Iran, there are some – the Iranian foreign minister met with the head of the IAEA to discuss the uranium deal, and I was wondering if you have heard back from the IAEA. Do you see this as a positive development that we might see some traction on the deal?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll see – I’ll take that question, too. I haven’t heard whether we have any feedback from that meeting.

QUESTION: Is it still the Administration’s hope and desire to have a sanctions resolution passed by the end of the month, as was previously expressed by the President when he said in a couple of weeks he hoped to have --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the President wants this done as rapidly as possible. We all do. There are meetings still going on in New York, and we want to see this wrapped up quickly. Been a great deal of global engagement. The Secretary had a number of calls over the weekend to world leaders. So we are actively engaged with a wide range of countries to seek a strong sanctions resolution as quickly as we can get it done.

QUESTION: Who specifically did she speak with in regards to the Iran sanctions?

MR. CROWLEY: Jeez, I can get you a – I’ll get you a detailed list. But it was – she made several calls over the weekend, Foreign Minister Lavrov among --

QUESTION: Do you think it’s really --

QUESTION: On the same thing, could you get us a list of meetings or can you tell us about the meetings that are going on in regard to the UN resolution?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we are actively engaged in New York in a variety of different groupings to reach a conclusion on the particulars of a resolution, and we want to get this done as soon as possible.

QUESTION: And you can’t be any more – or could you be more specific, get us some information that’s more specific?


QUESTION: On the variety of groupings, meetings. Are they daily? Are they twice a day? Are they at the ambassadorial level?

MR. CROWLEY: I’d say it’s safe to assume that we’re having daily meetings on the subject.

QUESTION: Do you think – a couple of things. Have you – has the P-5 signed off on a draft now that it’s discussing with other member countries? Because last week, there were some complaints by nonpermanent members that they weren’t being consulted enough.

MR. CROWLEY: We are consulting with a significant number of countries.

QUESTION: Beyond the P-5?

MR. CROWLEY: On these issues, yes.

QUESTION: Do you really expect that a resolution can be passed while Lebanon is the – holds the presidency? Do you think that – are you concerned that Iran might put pressure on Lebanon not to call a vote?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think this effort comes to a halt past Friday.

QUESTION: Also, while discussions are ongoing on the resolution, given that we heard that the Iranian foreign minister was meeting with the head of the IAEA about this deal, is it still your hope that this – is this deal still on the table?

MR. CROWLEY: We would – let’s step back. Iran needs to come forward and answer the questions the international community has about its nuclear program. We envisioned the Tehran research reactor proposal as a useful step to build some confidence to show that Iran was willing to engage seriously. They have not. They have not formally come back to the IAEA with any kind of response on the proposal. We’ll check and see if one was forthcoming in this particular meeting. We would still, I think, be interested in seeing a deal on the Tehran research reactor. But --

QUESTION: Would that stop the resolution?

MR. CROWLEY: No, of course not. I mean, there is – there are multiple tracks in this. But clearly, the deal that was made last – or the proposal that was made last fall would need to be updated in light of the fact that Iran has been processing additional fuel since September. But if they wish to engage seriously on this arrangement, which we think is in Iran’s interest and potentially can be an important step, we’re all ears. But Iran has had many months to come forward and has failed to seriously address the issue that was put on the table last fall.

QUESTION: On Iran, not necessarily a related topic, the three hikers. Last week at the end of the week, the Administration made a big point of putting out statements regarding them. Has there been any response from the Iranians on this, or is there anything new, any further visits, calls?

MR. CROWLEY: No further visits that I’m aware of and no formal response from Iran.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)

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