The Cable

Briefing Skipper: Clinton to Latin America, Gitmo, Haiti, Quartet, Karzai

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of Wednesday's briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley:

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will leave Sunday for a tour of Latin America that will include the countries of Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. She will attend the inauguration of President Jose Mujica in Uruguay on Monday, then meet with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and President-elect Sebastian Piñera. Next Wednesday, she will meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. In Costa Rica next Thursday she'll be in Costa Rica to speak at the Americas Ministerial Meeting and will meet separately with President Oscar Arias and President-elect Laura Chinchilla. And in Guatemala, she'll meet with President Alvaro Colom and have a meeting with leaders of Central American countries and the Dominican Republic.
  • "I'm on my way to Latin America next week. And Iran is at the top of my agenda," Clinton told the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee Wednesday.
  • One prisoner from Guantanamo Bay was transferred to Spain and three were transferred to Albanian. "We are grateful to both nations and their governments for their willingness to support U.S. efforts to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay," Crowley said. The prisoner that went to Spain is Palestinian. The three prisoners that went to Albania are natives of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. There are now 188 detainees remaining at Guantanamo.
  • Ambassador Steve Bosworth met Wednesday in Beijing with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei today on North Korea and his delegation will go to Seoul on Thursday. "I'm confident at some point we'll have a resumption of talks," Bosworth reportedly said there. "I think that's remains a question to basically ask North Korea," was Crowley's remark.
  • Six Haiti orphans who were held up from leaving there because of fears they were being kidnapped finally made it to the U.S. To meet their adoptive parents. "There are still a couple of hundred kids in the pipeline that we continue to work with the Government of Haiti, and obviously officials here in this country, to process them and bring them here to the United States," Crowley said.
  • There could be a meeting of the Middle East Quartet in March, but nothing is ready to announce, Crowley said. That didn't stop Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov from announcing that the meeting will be held March 19 in Moscow.
  • Regarding Afghan President Hamid Karzai's decision to take total control of his country's Electoral Complaints Commission by declaring his right to appoint all the members, Crowley said that was within his presidential power. "It will be very important for the government to be transparent and credible and name appropriate officials to these posts that will give the Afghan people confidence that future elections will be free, fair, and legitimate," Crowley added.


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