The Cable

The Briefing Skipper: Afghanistan, Kerry-Lugar, Goldstone, Tatarstan

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of today and yesterday's briefings by spokesman Ian Kelly:

  • The Afghanistan Electoral Complain Commission has begun sorting through the complaints of election fraud, which will go on for an undetermined time, after which the Independent Elections Commission will weigh in and, well, you get the picture (Don't hold your breath). "It's important that we allow the ECC and IEC the time they need to eliminate the fraud that they have discovered," said Kelly, "The publication of those final and certified results will tell us whether there's a need for a second round."
  • The Taliban are not a domestic indigenous group that can be tolerated, somehow less dangerous than al-Qaeda, Kelly said, adding they do pose a treat to the United States and its allies. "I think what we're fighting there is this whole idea of destruction and mass murder in the name of religious extremism. And I would put them all in the same category. They're using the same tactics."
  • Kelly rejected the idea that the State Department failed to do the spade work to make sure the Kerry-Lugar Pakistan aid package would be well received in Pakistan, after severe criticism emerged from Islamabad. "I think what we're seeing is a debate and a diversity of opinion in the Pakistani parliament. We welcome this kind of debate," he said.
  • Middle East Envoy George Mitchell was in Israel today and met with President Shimon Peres and with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Tomorrow he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • The U.N. Goldstone Report is "not on the agenda" of the now moved-up October 14 Security Council meeting, but "we have to assume" that Libya is going to bring it up, Kelly said. "it would be impossible to prevent it from being raised, impossible, because any member can raise whatever subject they want," he added..
  • Undersecretary of State William Burns met today in Washington with Prince Nayef, Saudi undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, who's in charge of combating terrorism.
  • The second Russian city that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit next week is... Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan!

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