The Cable

Briefing Skipper: Kabul, BP, Mitchell, GTMO, South Korea

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

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Kabul for the conference Tuesday, joined by Special Representative Richard Holbrooke, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and many, many others. "This is an Afghan-led conference, and the government has told us they will present their renewed commitments on a variety of issues, with a great deal of discussion centering on the upcoming transition to Afghan responsibility," Crowley said.
  • The U.S. congratulates Afghanistan and Pakistan on their trade agreement, which the U.S. pushed hard. "This agreement is one of the most important concrete achievements between the two neighbors in 45 years, and represents the most significant bilateral economic treaty ever signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan," Crowley said.
  • Clinton sent a letter to Senators Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Menendez and Kirstin Gillibrand regarding the questions regarding the Pan Am 103 bomber, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, Crowley said. Clinton thinks releasing the terrorist was a mistake. President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are expected to discuss this today at the White House, but there won't be any change.
  • Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg is on his way to Tokyo, just after his trip to Kazakhstan, to attend the OSCE summit, Uzbekistan,Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. Assistant Secretary Bob Blake, who was with Steinberg, is now in Osh and will go soon to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
  • Special Envoy George Mitchell met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and also stopped in Abu Dhabi to see Abdullah bin Zayed, the foreign minister of the UAE. He's now en route to Paris to meet with National Security Adviser Jean-David Levitte, also Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Tough life!
  • Sudan Special Envoy Scott Gration is in Khartoum, dealing with the difficulty of working with an indicted war criminal. He'll also visit Darfur and then attend the African Union summit in Kampala.
  • Two more Guantanamo prisoners have been resettled, one in Algeria, and one in Cape Verde. (Who got the better end of that deal?) Actually, the prisoner who was sent back to Algeria actually wanted to stay in Guantanamo! Seriously! Maybe he'll be ok. "Previously, a total of 10 detainees from Guantanamo were successfully repatriated to Algeria. None, in our view, has appeared to be, you know, mistreated," Crowley said. That leaves 178 prisoners left in Cuba.
  • Clinton will meet Defense Secretary Robert Gates in South Korea after Afghanistan to meet with their South Korean counterparts. But don't expect them to announce any new talks with the North. "we're always prepared to talk. But there are some definite steps that we have to see from North Korea before that becomes possible. So I think we agree fully with the South Korean foreign minister that, you know, there are conditions and obligations that North Korea has to demonstrate a willingness to tackle before we'll consider having a follow-on conversation," Crowley said.

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