The Cable

Briefing Skipper: Libya, Belarus, Mexico, Pakistan, Verma

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

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Friday with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religion Dr. Rene Castro of Costa Rica. "The foreign minister and I had a very productive discussion about how we can work even more closely together, and we thank Costa Rica for its defense at the United Nations of human rights in Iran and North Korea, Libya, and elsewhere," she said. "We're also working together to take on the transnational drug trafficking organizations that destroy lives, destabilize societies, and prevent so many across our hemisphere from living up to their own God-given potential."
  • On Libya, Clinton didn't say anything new, reiterated that the administration is focused on the humanitarian situation, and reported that USAID has charted additional civilian aircraft to help people from other countries who have fled Libya to find their way home. There are two U.S. C-130s on their way to Tunisia now with supplies and the U.S. has sent humanitarian assistance teams to both border. "And we continue to consult with our NATO allies, our Arab partners, our UN mission, to determine what are productive, constructive ways forward to try to deal with the situation we see developing there," Clinton said.
  • The Libyan opposition has been begging for assistance in the form of weapons, but Crowley said they shouldn't hold their breath. "Right now we're focused on the humanitarian implications of what is occurring in Libya. It may well be the case there are too many weapons in Libya already. You know, we want to see this peacefully resolved. We want to see the violence and the bloodshed stop. We are evaluating a range of options as things develop, but at this point our preference would be to see a peaceful resolution of this," he said. As for Muammar al Qaddafi? "He is responsible for Libya still."
  • The U.S. is still "gravely concerned" about the government's crackdown in Belarus, where 7 of the 9 presidential candidates have been charged with crimes or jailed. "We urge the unconditional release of those detained in the crackdown without trials, and the creation of space for the free expression of political views, the development of civil society and the ability of citizens to expand their contact with open societies," Crowley said.
  • There are no plans to recall U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pasqual following comments by Mexican President Filipe Calderon that the Mexican government can no longer work with Pasqual following the "severe" damage to the relationship done by the release of WikiLeaks cables criticizing Mexico's drug war. "Ambassador Pascual is working effectively under difficult conditions to manage our bilateral relationship and to help, you know, deliver the kind of assistance to Mexico that we have pledged," Crowley said.
  • Ambassador Cameron Munter and other members of the embassy staff attended the funeral Friday of Pakistani Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who was gunned down due to his support for religious freedom. Crowley confirmed that the State Department had urged the Pakistani government to provide him with protection. "We encouraged the government of Pakistan to do everything possible to provide for his security. But beyond that we won't comment," he said.
  • Assistant Secretary of State Rich Verma's farewell reception was Friday at the State Department. "He's certainly helped shepherd the effort throughout the executive branch late last year that led to the ratification of the START treaty," Crowley said. "So we will miss -- will bid a fond farewell to our friend Rich Verma."


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