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Middle East Digest - May 25, 2010


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Washington, DC
May 25, 2010

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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 25, 2010

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During the course of the S&ED, as we call it, the Secretary announced expanded exchanges, increased cooperation on energy and education, on energy looking for ways to continue to diversify global energy supplies. She also indicated that we had frank and detailed discussions with China regarding the situations with respect to Korea and Iran. The SStaying in the Middle East for a second, we deplore the murder of a member of parliament Bashar Mohammed Hamid Akaidi in Mosul yesterday. The Iraqi people have shown repeatedly that they will not be intimidated by violence as they work to build their democracy. We understand that Iraqi authorities have arrested two suspects. We hope that those responsible for this crime are swiftly brought to justice. We extend our condolences to the family and colleagues of the victim.

And today as well as yesterday, Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg and Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman had another follow-on meeting today with Prime Minister Hariri as we continue our close consultation with the prime minister and the Lebanese Government on the way forward with the peace process and building a stable and prosperous Middle East.

ecretary indicated that the Chinese Government and the United States Government share our concerns about the gravity of the situation. We share our hopes for stability and peace in the region. And this is a shared responsibility of both countries and we will closely cooperate in the coming days and weeks.

And on Iran, she indicated that there is a clear path forward and our strategy involves dual tracks and we continue our efforts on both sides of that. And she clearly indicated that there were deficiencies, as she called it, in terms of the joint declaration and the – that was worked out in Tehran last weekend. And I’ll come back to that, I’m sure, with your questions.

We can confirm that the two U.S. citizens that were kidnapped in Yemen by a tribal group have been released. We have not seen them at this point, but our indications are they’ve been turned over to a mediator. We are in touch with the – one of the American citizens by text message and they have indicated they are safe.
Under Secretary Bill Burns met today with Foreign Minister Rassoul in Afghanistan to build on the progress achieved during the successful visit by President Karzai and his cabinet to Washington. He also met with Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and U.S. Embassy and ISAF staff.

As the Secretary’s finished her program in China, USAID Administrator Raj Shah is en route to Bangladesh, where he will speak at the Food Security Investment Forum sponsored by the Government of Bangladesh tomorrow. The forum is a country-specific element of the Feed the Future Initiative. At the forum, Dr. Shah will meet with government officials, civil society, and opinion leaders.

QUESTION: Can I ask on Iraq?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Iraq?

MR. CROWLEY: Of course.

QUESTION: Yeah. The – in his interview with The Washington Post, the prime minister of Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki, was quite annoyed at Mr. Feltman’s suggestion that they ought to have – that he and Allawi should have Plan B, and he says that the political process is moving fine, we’re moving according to our own table. Could you explain to us what is Plan B as seen by the --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m not sure it’s what – I’m not sure – I mean, it’s up to Iraq to develop a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. I think --

QUESTION: But Mr. Feltman did say you have to have – if you must have Plan B --

MR. CROWLEY: Well, look. Let’s start with the – what we seek is the formation of a new government in Iraq. We’d like to see that government emerge as quickly as possible. We’re very encouraged by the fact that notwithstanding it has taken – taking some time to accomplish this, and notwithstanding that there are episodes where al-Qaida and other elements have tried to use violence to restart sectarian violence. And we’re very encouraged by the fact that the actions of the government, and most importantly, the actions of the Iraqi people are focused forward rather than backward. We want to see, on behalf of the Iraqi people, the emergence of an effective government, an inclusive government that reflects the will of the Iraqi people.

Clearly, you had a very close election and there are two major blocs and these blocs have to work together and see how to form a credible government that the – that will work on behalf of all of the Iraqi people. As Jeff Feltman and Chris Hill and others have said, it is in Iraq’s interest to see this process go forward rapidly, credibly, transparently. And that’s all we seek.



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