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Middle East Digest - June 25, 2010

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Washington, DC
June 25, 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 June 25, 2010

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1:09 p.m. EDT

QUESTION: The NSG meeting is now over. Did you receive the clarification from China on sale of nuclear power plants to Pakistan which you had sought –?

MR. CROWLEY: Let me take the question. I asked right before I came down if we had any feedback on the meeting. I haven’t received it yet, so –

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan is being held in Islamabad (inaudible) foreign secretary and then now the interior, home minister is there in Islamabad having talks. Do you have any take on that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, just as we’ve said many, many times, we appreciate and certainly endorse increasing dialogue between Pakistan and India. It is in their self-interest and our larger interest to see dialogue that can help to resolve tensions that exist between the two countries.

QUESTION: And finally, the New York Times today reported that the Pakistan army has offered to mediate for peace talks with the Taliban and also with the Haqqani network. Is the offer with you?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we’ve said many times, this is an Afghan-led process, but obviously there are discussions going on between Afghan officials and Pakistani officials, and we certainly want to see ways in which Pakistan can be supportive of this broader process.

QUESTION: Do you see the Haqqani network coming – sharing power with the Afghan Government? Do you support that?

MR. CROWLEY: We have been very clear in terms of the conditions that any individual or any entity need to meet in order to have a constructive role in Afghanistan’s future: renouncing violence, terminating any ties to al-Qaida, and respecting the Afghan constitution. Anyone who meets those criteria can play a role in Afghan’s future.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MR. CROWLEY: Afghanistan’s future.

QUESTION: There was a suggestion by Senator McCain to bring back Ambassador Ryan Crocker from retirement and team him up again --

MR. CROWLEY: I think Senator McCain also indicated that he doubted that Ryan enjoying retirement –

QUESTION: But still (inaudible) I understand that he said.

MR. CROWLEY: -- as he is was prompted to do that.

QUESTION: Is that the kind of thinking that maybe is being discussed or debated at the State Department?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, Ryan Crocker is one of our most distinguished diplomats; did heroic work in Iraq. Before that, he was our ambassador in Pakistan, so he certainly knows the region. But we do not anticipate any changes in our civilian lineup at this point led by Ambassador Holbrooke, Ambassador Eikenberry, and another collection of ambassadors that we’ve formed a very, very strong dynamic team to oversee the civilian aspect of our joint civilian military strategy.

As the Secretary and the President have stressed in the last couple of days, we’re focused on the task at hand. Richard Holbrooke is in Brussels today and has been briefing the NAC on the results of his trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are focused on the way forward. We see very strong indicators as we outlined a couple of days ago that show that on the ground things are improving. We are very mindful of the difficult security situation; nobody is suggesting otherwise. But we have a strong team, we have the right strategy, and we’re focused on carrying that out. I think Ambassador Eikenberry himself, in comments yesterday, stressed that while there can be debates behind closed doors, he feels strongly that we do have the kind of unity of effort that the President and Secretary have a right to expect.

QUESTION: So there is full confidence in Ambassador Eikenberry’s –

QUESTION: Okay, can we go to the Saudi monarch visit to Washington?

MR. CROWLEY: He will be here next week –

QUESTION: His offices won’t --

MR. CROWLEY: We will have discussions with the foreign minister prior to that, but I will defer to the White House in terms of describing its goals for the visit.

QUESTION: But are they likely to discuss with the Secretary of State the Arab peace plans?

MR. CROWLEY: I certainly – I would certainly – I mean, there are enduring issues that we talk with the leaders of Saudi Arabia with on a regular basis. When the Secretary was in the region earlier this year, she had a lengthy bilateral with King Abdullah. Many of you were there for the meeting or for the lunch. And we talked about the situation with respect to Iran. We talked about the status of the peace process including the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative. We talked about relations that Saudi Arabia has with other countries in the region including Iraq. I would certainly expect all of those issues to be on the agenda next week.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:36 p.m.)

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