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 December 16, 2010
MR. CROWLEY: Also, in Yemen --
QUESTION: No, wait for one second.
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: I understand the embassy’s going to authorize departure.
MR. CROWLEY: It is something that we are considering given the violence, but we have not yet made a decision.
In Yemen, we can confirm that there was an attack on an embassy vehicle. Thankfully, those in the vehicle were not injured, and we have an ongoing investigation. The attack occurred in Hadda, which I think is a suburb of Sanaa.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a quick question on that real quick?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: There were some conflicting reports I was hearing about whether they were actually in the vehicle or not, whether the bomb was thrown in the vehicle or placed – I mean, can you give us a sense of --
MR. CROWLEY: My understanding is that there were people in the vehicle. The bomb went off outside the vehicle, but again, thankfully, there were no injuries. But I agree with you, we’ve heard different reports on this. But my understanding – my last understanding was that there were actually personnel inside the vehicle.
QUESTION: And can you clarify whether they were embassy personnel that you’re talking about or – the reports were just saying Americans. I just wondered --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: I know it was an embassy vehicle, but --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m – there’s still details being clearly understood by the embassy, so that – I understand that there were Americans in the vehicle. But as to who they were, we’re still trying to narrow that down.
QUESTION: And was a missile --
MR. CROWLEY: I --
QUESTION: That’s almost 24 hours ago.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m – again, I --
QUESTION: Does that mean that you’re --
MR. CROWLEY: We were on the phone not 30 minutes ago just trying to clarify these details and they’re still sketchy, to be quite honest.
QUESTION: Well, does this mean that these are people who may work for an agency that doesn’t operate out of this building? I mean, what are we talking about here?
MR. CROWLEY: Again --
QUESTION: Were they government employees?
MR. CROWLEY: Matt, we’ve asked all those same questions. I’m – I believe they were embassy personnel, but we are trying to specifically nail that down. So that is our emerging understanding, but not all the details are clear yet.
QUESTION: Did Assistant Secretary Feltman return from Yemen?
MR. CROWLEY: Assistant Secretary Feltman departed Yemen. He is in Libya today. He had a meeting earlier today with Foreign Minister Mousa Kousa.
One more, Deputy Secretary Steinberg, along with NSS senior director Jeff Bader and Ambassador Sung Kim, did meet today with senior Chinese officials. They met with State Councilor Dai Bingguo, director of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Minister Wang Jiarui, the Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, and Vice Foreign Minister Tiankai and Special Representative for the Korean Peninsula Ambassador Wu Dawei.
They talked about both the bilateral relationship issues on the Korean Peninsula and preparations for the upcoming visit of President Hu Jintao.
George – and one more, George Mitchell has met with Catherine Ashton – I think you saw a detailed statement from Catherine Ashton’s office earlier today – then met with French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie, and is due to arrive back here in the United States this evening.
QUESTION: On the Middle East, the Arab League Follow-up Committee decided that there would be no further peace talks with Israel until Washington announces a firm and clear path regarding those talks. Any reply from you?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’ve had what we thought were constructive meetings this week and will have more meetings with the parties next week. The Arab League continues to support the role the United States is playing and engaged in the parties. That is what we plan to continue to do.
QUESTION: Yesterday, you didn’t want to comment further on this issue, on what – the talks that Special Envoy Mitchell had in Cairo with Amr Moussa and President Mubarak and the foreign minister of Qatar until the follow up committee announces its decision. Can you talk further about what the – Mitchell heard from those leaders during his talks yesterday?
MR. CROWLEY: I haven’t – unfortunately, I haven’t gotten a full readout of his meetings there. We are going to continue to engage the parties, try to find ways to address the substance, to make progress, and that is our intent.
QUESTION: I think just --
QUESTION: Will you – are you – sure.
QUESTION: Just to follow real quick on that, actually, the – I think what the Arab League said – that they would not support talks without a strong American plan. At what point does the U.S. plan to put forward such a plan?