Archive for June, 2010

Here is a short video clip from yesterday.

Also a few photos. With Saudi FM Prince Saud Al Faisal

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Daily Appointments Schedule for June 30, 2010

Washington, DC
June 30, 2010

10:00 a.m.
Secretary Clinton meets with the Under Secretaries, at the Department of State.

11:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with UN Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark, at the Department of State.

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This is an update.  Within the text you will find a link to the chart so many readers liked so much.  The chart, according to the press release,  is updated regularly.  Here is what Hillary Clinton’s State Department is doing to help control and repair the assault on our precious beaches,  wetlands, and estuaries. (Editorial note:  You know I just cannot resist that picture of the SOS.  It is iconic.)

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: International Offers of Assistance

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 29, 2010

The National Incident Command and the Federal On Scene Coordinator have determined that there is a resource need for boom and skimmers that can be met by offers of assistance from foreign governments and international bodies.

The United States will accept 22 offers of assistance from 12 countries and international bodies, including two high speed skimmers and fire containment boom from Japan. We are currently working out the particular modalities of delivering the offered assistance. Further details will be forthcoming once these arrangements are complete.

The Unified Area Command (UAC) under the direction of the Coast Guard, is coordinating the oil spill response in the Gulf. It includes representatives of the responsible parties, affected states and other Departments and agencies of the U.S. Government. The National Incident Command (NIC), headed by the U.S. Coast Guard, is working with the Department of State to support the UAC as it sources equipment, supplies and expertise.

The 27 countries which have offered the U.S. Government assistance are: the Governments of Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

The international bodies offering assistance are: the European Maritime Safety Agency, the European Commission’s Monitoring and Information Centre, the International Maritime Organization, and the Environment Unit of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Environment Program.

The Department has released a chart of offers of assistance that the U.S. has received from other governments and international bodies. The chart is updated as necessary to include any additional offers of assistance and decisions on accepting the offers. The chart is posted on the State Department Web site at: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/143488.pdf

Please note: P.J. Crowley issued the follwing clarification on July 1, 2010.

Clarification of Media Note: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: International Offers of Assistance

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
July 1, 2010

To be clear, the acceptance of international assistance we announced today did not mean to imply that international help was arriving only now. In fact, before today, there were 24 foreign vessels operating in the region and 9 countries had provided boom, skimmers and other assistance. As early as May 11th boom arrived from Mexico, Norway and Brazil. Yesterday, additional assistance was announced.

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Hmmmm.  Yes, Thursday!  P.J. Gave me a start there with his “tomorrow!”

Special Briefing on the Secretary’s Upcoming Travel

Philip H. Gordon
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Michael H. Posner
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Washington, DC
June 29, 2010

MR. CROWLEY: Exciting conclusion to the latest entry of the World Cup. Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Secretary Clinton departs tomorrow for an important trip to Central Europe and —

QUESTION: Thursday?


QUESTION: Thursday?

MR. CROWLEY: Thursday. Right? Yes. Let me start again. The Secretary departs on Thursday for an important trip to the – to Central Europe and the Caucasus. And here to go through both the schedule and our stops along the way is Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Phil Gordon. And at the heart of the trip is an important speech the Secretary will give on Saturday at the 10th anniversary of the Community of Democracies, and Assistant Secretary Mike Posner will kind of go through what the heart of her address will be. And they will be here to answer questions afterwards.


ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Thanks, P.J. Good afternoon, everybody. Let me just maybe walk you through the schedule and then I’m sure you’ll have questions. The Secretary will be traveling to Kyiv, Krakow, Baku, Yerevan, and Tbilisi, in that order, from July 1st to 5th. Starting on Thursday, this will be the Secretary’s fourth visit to Ukraine, although the first in her capacity as Secretary of State. She visited in 1995, in 1997 as First Lady, and in 2005 as senator.

Her focus in Ukraine is on the strategic partnership between the United States and Ukraine. She’ll be following up on President Obama’s meeting with President Yanukovych at the Nuclear Security Summit, where Ukraine took the historic decision to get rid of all of its highly enriched uranium. That was a very significant step in our efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism worldwide. And that decision is being implemented as we speak, and the Secretary will have a chance to follow up on how that is proceeding.

The Secretary will meet with President Yanukovych and Foreign Minister Hryshchenko and she will also participate in the second meeting of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission, which was created during Vice President Biden’s visit to Kyiv exactly a year ago.

We have a broad relationship with Ukraine and expect that they will discuss economic and energy issues, defense cooperation, the development of democracy, among other topics.

The Secretary will also in Kyiv meet with former Prime Minister Tymoshenko and she will meet with media leaders, civil society groups, and give remarks at a town hall meeting at Kyiv Polytechnic University.

The symbolism of Ukraine’s democratic progress still matters for the region and beyond, and the Secretary will be highlighting our hopes for the protection and advancement of democracy in Ukraine.

In Krakow on the 3rd, the Secretary will participate in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Community of Democracies. Assistant Secretary Posner will be able to talk about that event in more detail. I would just underscore that she and Polish Minister Sikorski are pleased to be marking this anniversary together. It was their predecessors, Secretary Madeleine Albright and Foreign Minister Geremek, who kicked off the Community of Democracies 10 years ago.

Secretary Clinton will also meet bilaterally with Foreign Minister Sikorski. I expect that they will discuss Afghanistan, Iran, European security, economic and energy issues, and our common interest in promoting good governance and human rights, especially in terms of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership.

Also in Poland, the Secretary will visit the Schindler Museum, the factory where during World War II German businessman Oskar Schindler saved hundreds of Jewish workers from the Holocaust.

After Krakow, the Secretary will be visiting three South Caucasus countries, where she will have the opportunity to emphasize the importance of our bilateral relations with Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, and to promote efforts to resolve regional conflicts and strengthen regional peace and stability.

She’ll arrive in Baku on July 4th to meet with President Aliyev and Foreign Minister Mammadyarov. She will also have a chance to talk with young people about media freedom and other political participation issues.

She then proceeds to Yerevan later on July 4th, where she’ll meet with President Sargsian and Foreign Minister Nalbandian. She’ll discuss human rights, democratization, and media freedom with civil society representatives in Yerevan.

On July 5th, the Secretary continues to Tbilisi, where she will meet President Saakashvili, Foreign Minister Vashadze, and members of the political opposition, as well as representatives of civil society and women’s leaders. She will review the progress of the U.S.-Georgia strategic partnership as well as the results of the recent municipal elections.

That’s the basics of the schedule. Let me turn it over to Assistant Secretary Posner and then I’ll be happy to come back for any questions.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)


QUESTION: (Off-mike.)


ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Thanks a lot, Phil. Just a few words about the meeting of the Community of Democracies. As Assistant Secretary Gordon said, this is the 10th anniversary in Krakow. It’s a meeting of approximately 75 governments, representatives of civil society, and really very much in keeping with the President and Secretary Clinton’s commitment to democracy promotion and principled engagement. The Secretary’s speech will focus on human rights and, in particular, on the role of civil society. Very much again in keeping with the recent National Security Strategy which focused on values as one of four principal focal points for this Administration, her speech will explore both the ways in which civil society is key to a broad notion of democracy, but also focus on a range of challenges that human rights and other advocacy groups face around the world in doing their work.

So this will be an opportunity for us both to articulate in a public context but also in a setting where governments committed to democracy and civil society gather to try to strategize and figure out ways to advance promotion of democracy globally. Let me stop there.

QUESTION: Two questions. One, do you believe that the arrest of the ten alleged Russian spies in the United States will harm, impede, disrupt, undermine, in any way effect the U.S.-Russian relationship and the reset?

And then secondly, on the trip, can you address the extent to which you believe the Ukrainian – the new Ukrainian Government is interested in continued and extended cooperation with the United States? Obviously, there’s been a tilt in another direction, and I wonder to what extent you believe they still have significant interest in better bilateral ties.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Thanks, Arshad. On the first, when President Obama announced the new approach to Russia 18 months ago, he made clear that we had common interests with Russia that we wanted to pursue in nuclear nonproliferation, Afghanistan, disarmament, economics, and we were determined to pursue those where we had concrete common interests, and we would; and there would be other issues that we disagreed on, but we were not going to forego the opportunity to pursue our common interests because there were things we disagreed on. And I think you should see this spying issue in that context.

We feel we have made significant progress in the 18 months that we have been pursuing this different relationship with Russia. We think we have something to show for it, and that was clear at the meeting of the two presidents last week. And all along, we have made clear that there are still things we disagree on. President Obama never fails to bring those things up when he sees his Russian counterpart. We will continue to do that in the future, but I think you can expect that we will also continue to work diplomatically and successfully with Russia in these areas where we have already demonstrated we both gain from doing so.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to think that they might – although I realize that these are not Russian diplomats who have been declared persona non grata, but have you had any signals or anything to suggest that the Russians may be looking to make reciprocal arrests or take action against alleged U.S. spies in Russia?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Nothing I’m aware of. We’ll have to see how this plays out.

QUESTION: Just as a follow-on to that, Phil, can you address whether you’ve had any contact or this Department has had any contact with Russian diplomats here in Washington?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: We are in touch with the Russian Government, of course. I mean, both here and in Moscow, we’re talking about the issue.

QUESTION: Have you called in the ambassador? What kind of contacts have – has there been in Washington?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I won’t get into details of precisely who’s talking to whom, but suffice it to say that we’re engaged with the Russian Government on the issue.


ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I have Arshad’s question about Ukraine.


QUESTION: We can get to that later, if you want. (Laughter.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: That was just to sort of give the – go ahead Elise, yeah.

QUESTION: I just want to go to the Russian Foreign Ministry statement that said that – kind of questioning why the Department of Justice made this public and that such incidents, the statement said, have occurred when relations were on the rise. And given that the reset is taking place, the ministry kind of thought that it was inappropriate for you to make such a public showing of this. I mean, do you think that kind of the way that it was done maybe will upset the relations, not necessarily the arrests per se?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: No, as I say, we have from the start focused on the reason for the reset and the relations and the common interests, and I think we will continue to do so. I think the timing underscores that the Department of Justice is in a different channel and they are moving on the appropriate timetable and we are moving on the diplomatic issues.

QUESTION: But, Phil, is it really a reset if kind of some of the activities that we’ve long criticized Russia for doing, such as spying, are still taking place? I mean, maybe there are some areas where you’re continuing to cooperate, but it seems as if kind of the suspicions that have long been held between the U.S. and Russia still exist.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Look, we would like to get to the point where there is just so much trust and cooperation between the United States and Russia that nobody would think of turning to intelligence means to find out things that they couldn’t find out in other channels. We’re apparently not there yet. I don’t think anyone in this room is shocked to have discovered that. And so yes, we are moving towards a more trusting relationship. We’re beyond the Cold War. I think our relations absolutely demonstrate that. But as I say, I don’t think anyone was hugely shocked to know that some vestiges of old attempts to use intelligence are still there.

I’ll answer Arshad’s Ukraine question and then I wouldn’t be surprised myself if people want to come back to other issues.

You asked about the issue of balance in Ukraine’s foreign policy. We are very clear Ukraine is a sovereign, independent country. When the new president was elected, he made clear that Ukraine didn’t see its future as one choosing between East and West. Indeed, he very symbolically made his first visit to Brussels and he declared that his foreign policy was one of pursuing good relations with Russia – and Ukraine has every right to want to have good relations with Russia – but also pursuing good relationships with Europe and the United States. And that’s what we would like to see happen.

It’s related to the first point about the relationship with Russia. We want to get beyond the notion that European diplomacy and security is a zero-sum game and that countries in Central Europe need to choose whether they’re going to be pro-Russian or pro-American. Indeed, one of the things we’ve said about the relationship with Russia is that when we have a better and the United States has a better relationship with Russia, that is actually a benefit to countries in Central Europe because they don’t feel obliged to choose or orient one way or another. And it certainly applies to Ukraine. So we – the Secretary will have a chance to discuss Ukrainian foreign policy with Ukraine’s leaders, and she’ll make clear what we’ve made clear from the start: that we don’t see these two things as in competition with each other and we hope and expect Ukraine will pursue good relations with Europe and the United States even as it pursues good relations with Russia.


QUESTION: Mr. Gordon, I got a couple of questions on South Caucasus. Let me start with Karabakh, obviously a very big issue during the trip to South Caucasus. I wonder if the joint statement by the presidents of Minsk Group Co-chair countries sort of predetermine Secretary Clinton’s conversation on Karabakh in Baku and Yerevan. Will she be talking along the elements that were outlined in that statement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, yes. Certainly in the sense – the presidents noted the progress that has been made up till now and the principles that should guide the discussions among the parties. And the United States is firmly committed to those principles and determined to work with the parties to encourage them down the same path. I think the G-8 leaders made the statement, as they had in L’Aquila the previous year, demonstrating their commitment at the highest levels to the Minsk Group process and our desire to see progress on this issue.

It – I think we’ve seen in some of the violence that has appeared in the region lately that we can’t take stability for granted, and Armenia and Azerbaijan would both benefit from moving forward in the Minsk Group process. And the Secretary will have a chance in both countries to underscore what the presidents said in Toronto the other day.

QUESTION: I want to follow up on that. In terms of the violence that you mentioned, there’s been a spike in violence and also you had Azerbaijan add another half a billion to its military budget. There was some of the rhetoric again just a couple of days ago. How concerned are you about those developments, and are you following up with Azerbaijani Government? Is that going to be a subject of conversations in Baku?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, we’re concerned any time violence is – takes place anywhere. And certainly, as I just noted, nobody can take stability for granted when you have an armed standoff and disagreements like we have here, which underscores again why we are so committed to the Minsk Group process and the need for diplomacy. And that is the purpose of the Secretary’s — one of the purposes of the Secretary’s trip to talk to both parties about how to move that process forward.

QUESTION: Sure. But in terms of your analysis, is the situation getting worse than it used to be or is it the same or is there any change to the status quo there?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, the situation has been stuck for a lot longer than we would want it to be, and any time there’s an uptick in violence to any degree, it’s something that we’re very concerned about.

QUESTION: There was a proposal of the Armenian President Serzh Sargsian to Azerbaijani side to sign an agreement of not using force. Because we negotiate self-determination and territorial integrity, but still, there is not a point of not using force which co-chairman support, and the Armenian president made an offer. What’s the position of the United States Government regarding this, and is Secretary Clinton supposed to discuss this topic?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, I think both sides have made clear their commitment to the Helsinki Principles, the first of which is non-use of force or threat of force. We’ll look to them to reiterate their commitment to all of the Helsinki Principles as part of this process.

QUESTION: Mr. Gordon, the statement – the joint statement also calls – actually mentions the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the regions around Nagorno-Karabakh. Is it something – is it the message that Secretary Clinton will take to Yerevan when she talks to President Sargsian?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I think all of the principles that the presidents noted in their statement in Toronto – all of them together are very important to us and we would like to see movement on all of them and commitment to all of them.

Mary Beth.

QUESTION: Hi, Phil. Can you talk a little more broadly about what the Secretary hopes to get out of this trip beyond the forceful statement on democracy and the different bilateral issues? I mean, is it – would it be fair to say that there’s kind of a regional thing here? This is a region maybe that’s felt a little bit neglected or that worries with the reset. I mean, are there sort of broader themes?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I mean, yes. Any trip like this in multiple countries you have multiple goals, and Mike can talk some more about the particular focus on democracy and human rights, but there are some common themes. I mean, first of all, this is a chance to engage bilaterally with some country she hasn’t yet visited as Secretary of State. In Ukraine, you have a new president who she had the chance to meet when he was here for the Nuclear Security Summit, but she’ll be able to go and meet him in his country and spend the full day in Ukraine. She hasn’t as Secretary of State been to Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. These are countries with which we have important bilateral relationships. She has engaged and met with the leaders of all of them, but there’s something different about going to the country, hearing from them about their perspectives on this full range of regional and bilateral issues.

I think a common theme that stretches across all of them is this theme of democracy. In that sense, the trip being built around the Community of Democracies is a nice package. I mentioned some of these countries have had recent elections: Georgia just went through municipal elections. We noted that the election in Ukraine, the OSCE and others judged it free and fair. You had a peaceful transition of power. Poland is in many ways a model for a transition from what was in that case a communist governance system to a democracy that over the course of 20 years has developed and stabilized and was able to face after the terrible tragedy in Smolensk, where the lives of so many leaders and elite parliamentarians and officials from that country tragically lost their lives, the institutions of Poland were strong enough, the democracy of Poland was strong enough to withstand that. And so this theme, I think, applies in all of the stops and the United States’ strong and continued support for democratic development.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: I would just add, at least the portion of the trip in Krakow that’s at the Community of Democracies, as I said before, there’s 75 governments coming from all parts of the world. And I think it’s fair to say this is an initiative 10 years old that we’re trying to reenergize. And part of what we’re doing, part of what I think is interesting about the current phase, is that – there are some working groups that are being set up. For example, on empowerment of women, Melanne Verveer is sharing that for the United States. The Canadians are sharing a working group that’s looking at threats to civil society. So there’s an effort in a very practical way across regions to look at how do democracies reinforce each other and help emerging democracies flourish. Democracy is being challenged in large parts of the world, and this is an effort to kind of rally the forces that are trying to make democracy a reality.

QUESTION: Is it fair or is it – is it fair to regard the trip, at least insofar as Ukraine, Georgia are concerned, as at least partly an effort to reassure people who might feel that their interests may be getting sold short because of the reset? However wrong-headed you may view that perception as being, is that at least part of the broader theme for the trip?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I suspect in both places the Secretary will talk to her counterparts about Russia, but I wouldn’t see it as the purpose of the trip. We don’t think, as I’ve explained here and elsewhere, that anybody should have any concerns about the new and better relationship with Russia. And be it as I said a few minutes ago, we think that some of Russia’s neighbors benefit when the United States and Russia have a more trusting, open relationship and some of them have told us that. But to the extent that anyone has concerns about our Russia policy, we’re happy to discuss them and, again, I’m sure in Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the issue of Russia will come up and it will be a good opportunity for the Secretary to explain how we’re thinking about the reset, how we’re thinking about European security, regional security.

So I wouldn’t see it as a sort of reassurance tour. You can ask them how they see it. But we don’t detect that – a lack of understanding of what we’re trying to do with Russia. Because again, as we’ve made absolutely clear from the start, the better relationship with Russia does not come at the expense of our relationship with sovereign, independent countries that are near Russia. And this is going to be an opportunity for the Secretary to reiterate and demonstrate that.

QUESTION: Can I follow up quick –

QUESTION: I got a question – go ahead.

QUESTION: Just one thing on the Ukraine. In your introductory remarks, you said one of the themes there was the protection and advancement of democracy in Ukraine. Can you tell me where, if at all, you see any backsliding or diminution in political and other rights in Ukraine? For example, have you seen the media behaving, perhaps, in a more intimidated way toward the Yanukovych government? Because you’re focusing a lot of (inaudible) and it makes me wonder, well, what are you seeing there that makes you worry about this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Again, this is a theme that I think we will bring up not just in Ukraine, but we bring it up traditionally in many countries that we go to. Ukraine is a country that has, in the recent past, had contested elections and some questions about the elections. And we think they’re on the right track, but, inevitably, in all of these areas, democratic openness, media freedom, it’s not a perfect situation. And so this will be a chance and that’s why the Secretary, as she always does, will make it a point not just to see the government, but to hear from others in civil society to get a better sense, precisely, Arshad, of the answer to the question that you ask. And to the extent that we can learn more about the concerns of those who think that there are shortcomings in these areas, that will help us identify and focus on them.

QUESTION: If we can get back briefly to the Russian spy case, is there any indication that any of these suspects had contact with State Department officials? And was there any indication of State Department sensitive information having been compromised?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Not that I’m aware of, but I’ll refer you to the Department of Justice on that one.

QUESTION: Can you discuss the Georgia issue? Just briefly, where do we stand? Are we dissatisfied with Russia’s compliance with the ceasefire, et cetera?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Sure. I participated about two weeks ago in the 11th round of the Geneva talks on Georgia, which was a chance for us to speak to the Georgians, Russians, and others about that situation. And we put out a statement after that that sort of sums up our view on the matter. We are dissatisfied with the situation there and we’ve made this clear. The President made it clear to President Medvedev last week and we’ve been consistent in noting that we respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and we call on Russia to abide by its commitments in the August, 2008 ceasefire, which not only called for the nonuse of force and an end to hostilities, but called upon the parties to move their military forces back to where they were before the conflict began. And that hasn’t been done. And we’ve been absolutely clear and consistent from the start that we believe that should happen. There should be more transparency. You have transparency in undisputed Georgia. You have the EU monitoring mission. And I think that provides the world a window into what’s going on there.

In South Ossetia and Abkhazia, you don’t have an international presence. You previously had the OSCE present in South Ossetia. You had the UN in Abkhazia and we don’t anymore. So we have raised this consistently with the Russians. We have a different view on it. But again, it fits into what I began with, that we’re pursuing a better relationship with Russia. In many areas, we’re advancing our cooperation. We have a significant disagreement on this issue. And we’ve made that clear to the Russians. And there will be a chance in Tbilisi to engage with the Georgians on the subject.

QUESTION: On Russia, a follow-up – every now and again, Georgian officials complain that they are unable to use M-4 rifles and get resupplied for their contingent in Afghanistan. Will the issue of the arms embargo come up in the talks with the Secretary and specifically if they can get access to these Humvees and M-4s that they complain about every now and again to reporters like myself?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Let me first clarify that we don’t have an arms embargo on Georgia. We are pursuing security cooperation with Georgia. Georgia is making a very significant contribution in Afghanistan, which we value. The Georgians, in Afghanistan, have performed admirably. And we very much appreciate their support. And we are helping them with training for that mission. So we have security cooperation with Georgia. And as I’ve noted, Georgia’s a sovereign, independent country. We don’t have an embargo on Georgia. We’ve said that all sovereign, independent countries in Europe and elsewhere have the right to self-defense and to seek the alliances of their choosing without a third party having a veto over it.

QUESTION: What about the M-4s?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I don’t have an answer for you on the specific – you can check with the –

QUESTION: I mean, does – can the U.S. sell them the M-4s?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I don’t have an answer on M-4s. You can talk – I’m sure I can get you one or you can check with the Pentagon. But as I said, there’s no arms embargo on Georgia.

QUESTION: But it is the case that the United States has not fulfilled any of Georgia’s requests for arms over the last couple of years.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Over the last couple of years, what we’ve been focused – there was a war in Georgia in the summer of 2008. And we have been focused, in the last couple of years, in reducing tensions, trying to get more transparency, trying to get the Russians to, in the first place, withdraw their forces to where they were before the conflict; in the second place, to respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and not have any troops in Georgia at all.

That’s what this Geneva process is about: to minimize tension, set up mechanisms, to avoid the types of issues that can spill over into conflict. We have engaged very closely with our friends in Georgia to develop their democracy and prosperity because we believe that the real long-term situation – solution in Georgia is not going to be a military one based on the sale of this or that military equipment. There’s not a military fix to this problem. It is, through Georgia, becoming a stronger democracy, a more prosperous country, so that the residents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia agree that they should be part of that unified Georgia. That is what our focus has been on. That’s what this trip will focus on, and we don’t think that arms sales and military equipment is the path to the situation in Georgia that we’re trying to get to.

QUESTION: Would the Armenia-Turkish relations be on their agenda of upcoming trip to Yerevan? And also, Azerbaijan has some reservations regarding the reopening of the border gates. I wonder if the American side works with the Azerbaijani counterparts with this topic. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I’m sure the Armenia-Turkish relationship will be discussed. As you know, we have been supporters of the protocols that the Secretary Clinton participated in the finding of in last October in Zurich because we think that normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey would be good for Turkey and good for Armenia and good for the regional situation. Those protocols haven’t been ratified. As you know, President Sargsian announced this past spring that he was suspending his pursuit of ratification. But that when Turkish partner was ready to move forward on ratification, Armenia would be as well. So this will be a chance for the Secretary to speak to President Sargsian and the Armenians about how they see that situation. We continue to believe it would be a good thing for the protocols to ratified and implemented and have an open border with Turkey that would benefit both Armenia and Turkey.

MR. CROWLEY: This is the last question or two and –

QUESTION: Well, there are those conversations about opening the Armenia-Turkey border since Turkey – since they’re so close, it restricts its relations with Israel closing air space according to recent reports. Any reaction to this closure of air space to civilian Israeli aircraft going over Turkey?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Yeah, I mean, it’s a setback, of course. We have said one of the more positive things in the broader Middle East in recent years or decades has been the Turkey-Israel relationship with such close cooperation between them. And since the flotilla incident, we’ve seen tensions in that relationship and talk of specific steps. And any steps away from what had been a really flourishing security, diplomatic, tourism, and economic relationship is a setback and is unfortunate.

MR. CROWLEY: Last one.

QUESTION: Let me just ask quickly too, how much energy is going to be part of this trip? And President Obama, at his latest letter to President Aliyev mentioned that he’s aware of some serious issues in U.S.-Azerbaijani relations. How does State Department define those issues and which ones you’re trying to address during this trip?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Sure, I think, without fail, energy is a high priority issue for all of – in one way or another, for all of the countries the Secretary will be visiting. Our Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy issues Ambassador Dick Morningstar will be on the trip in Ukraine and Poland. In the Caucasus, energy is a critical issue and it absolutely will be a key part of the discussions. I think serious issues with Azerbaijan are clear. These are all serious issues. Energy is a key issue with Azerbaijan, the relationship with Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh is a serious issue, regional security. So, yes, the agenda will be full of serious issues to discuss and that’s why the Secretary’s going is because there’s lots to talk about.

QUESTION: Sir, by serious issues, does the President mean serious disagreements? It sounded as if there were disagreements in between U.S. and Azerbaijan.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, I would define them as serious issues. These are all high stakes. They’re very important to Azerbaijan and they’re important to us. They are serious matters and I didn’t say serious disagreements, just serious issues for us to discuss.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you very much.

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Daily Appointments Schedule for June 29, 2010

Washington, DC
June 29, 2010

1:00 p.m.
Secretary Clinton attends President Obama’s lunch with Saudi King Abdullah, at the White House.

2:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton joins President Obama’s bilateral meeting with Saudi King Abdullah, at the White House.

3:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, at Blair House.

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I was so sad to wake up this morning to the news that Senator Byrd had passed away. His length of service is an inspiration to all of us. There is no magic number, there is no automatic switch that turns off. He served until the day he died. The lesson: Some things are more important that getting out on the golf course.

Rest in peace, sir. We salute you!

FILE - In this July 26, 2004 file photo, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, is embraced by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., at a bookstore in New York where they were launching his book 'Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency.' Just hours before she was to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Clinton introduced Byrd as her mentor and told the audience that he has been a champion of the U.S. Constitution. Byrd a fiery orator versed in the classics and a hard-charging power broker who steered billions of federal dollars to the state of his Depression-era upbringing, died Monday, June 28, 2010.… Read more » (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

FILE - In this July 26, 2004 file photo, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, is embraced by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., at a bookstore in New York where they were launching his book 'Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency.' Just hours before she was to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Clinton introduced Byrd as her mentor and told the audience that he has been a champion of the U.S. Constitution. Byrd a fiery orator versed in the classics and a hard-charging power broker who steered billions of federal dollars to the state of his Depression-era upbringing, died Monday, June 28, 2010.… Read more » (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

I cannot believe that just as I was posting this, the press release of Secretary Clinton’s remarks came in.  Here are her lovely comments.

The Passing of Senator Byrd

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 28, 2010

Today our country has lost a true American original, my friend and mentor Robert Byrd.
Senator Byrd was a man of surpassing eloquence and nobility. I will remember him most for a heartfelt comment he made to me in the dark days following 9/11, when my state of New York was reeling and we were scrambling to provide support and relief. “Think of me as the third senator from New York,” he said. And he meant it. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Byrd, who chaired the Appropriations Committee, New Yorkers got the help they needed. I will never forget his devotion and his friendship in that critical time.
It is almost impossible to imagine the United States Senate without Robert Byrd. He was not just its longest serving member, he was its heart and soul. From my first day in the Senate, I sought out his guidance, and he was always generous with his time and his wisdom. I admired his tireless advocacy for his constituents, his fierce defense of the Constitution and the traditions of the Senate, and his passion for government that improves the lives of the people it serves. And as Secretary of State, I continued to rely on his advice and counsel. I have been grateful for the support he has provided as a leader of the Appropriations Committee to our diplomats and development workers as they serve our country and advance our interests all over the world.
Robert Byrd led by the power of his example, and he made all of us who had the honor of serving as his colleagues better public servants and better citizens. After more than five decades of service, he has left an indelible imprint on the Senate, on West Virginia, and on our nation. We will not see his like again.
I am heartened to know that Senator Byrd is now reunited with his beloved Erma, the high-school sweetheart who became his wife of nearly 70 years and the love of his life. My thoughts and prayers are with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

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Daily Appointments Schedule

Washington, DC
June 28, 2010

9:15 a.m.
Secretary Clinton meets with the Assistant Secretaries, at the Department of State.

11:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Adviser for Children’s Issues, and Assistant Secretary for Counselor Affairs Janice Jacobs, at the Department of State.

5:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, at the Department of State.

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Picking out the Secretary of State in a crowd is a cinch.  It doesn’t matter whether it is Jujy Fruits, Skittles, M & Ms, Reeses Pieces, or Jelly Beans she brings to mind, just look for the candy in the crowd.  In group shots and “class pictures,” she draws the eye and the light right to her.  She is usually front and center in the “class pics” – and usually, also, the center of attention.  Hillary-watchers appreciate the semaphores.

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At the end of the upcoming week,  it will be wheels up again for Hillary Rodham Clinton.  The Secretary of State will travel to Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. At the Friday press briefing, P. J. Crowley made the following remarks.  The statement to which he refers follows the snip from the briefing.   As  further details become available, I will share them.

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 25, 2010

MR. CROWLEY: Okay. You will see, following the briefing, a statement announcing the travel of the Secretary of State to Kiev, Krakow, Baku, Yerevan, and Tbilisi, from July 1st to July 5th. In Kiev, the Secretary will open the second meeting of the Strategic Partnership Commission and meet with government officials, including President Yanukovych and Foreign Minister Gryshchenko, and with civil society and independent media leaders.
In Krakow, the Secretary will celebrate the – participate in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Community of Democracies, an organization initiated by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her Polish counterpart Bronislaw Geremek in 2000. The Secretary will also meet with Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski.
And then will she travel on to Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, where she will hold meetings with government officials and civil society leaders to discuss bilateral, as well as regional peace and stability issues.

The statement he referred to, pretty similar, is below.

Secretary Clinton to Travel to Kyiv, Krakow, Baku, Yerevan and Tbilisi

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
June 25, 2010

In Kyiv, Secretary Clinton will open the second meeting of the Strategic Partnership Commission and meet with government officials, including President Yanukovych and Foreign Minister Gryshchenko, and with civil society and independent media leaders. In Krakow, Secretary Clinton will participate in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Community of Democracies, an organization initiated by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her Polish counterpart Bronislaw Geremek in 2000. Secretary Clinton will also meet with Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski.

The Secretary will continue on to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, where she will hold meetings with government officials and civil society leaders to discuss bilateral issues, as well as issues related to regional peace and stability.

So, to our lovely and intrepid SOS we again will be wishing you a Bon Voyage, in success and most importantly, safety. We always pray for your safe return.

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As I mentioned yesterday, the past week was less than happy for so many people.   The gusher in the gulf is always on our minds and in our hearts.  The McChrystal dust-up was a rather glum affair.  And now we end the week with a heartbreaker of a soccer match.

One thing we love (among so many) about our girl Hillary Clinton is the way she can sunny up the gloomiest moments.  Rather than crying in her milk, she always finds something to be up about.  I remember a reporter who was traveling in Hawaii with her when she learned of the earthquake in Haiti mentioning that as badly as if affected her, she had turned her mood around by the next day.   So look, I know we all feel pretty down in the dumps after this match, and this is not going to be a ha-ha funny post, just a review of the week via Hillary Clinton who always comes smiling through.   You can’t really feel too terribly bad when you are watching her shine.

Our first peek at her this week was on Tuesday when, looking absolutely smashing in her white jacket,  she spoke at a State Department/USAID event in celebration of Gay Pride Month.

From there, she went on to speak at the U.S. – India CEO Forum with Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.  I realize now that this photo,  too, should have been included in the Photo-Oops post yesterday.  What is he looking at?  I was so distracted by how cute she looked, I never noticed his focus.  Heavens-to-Betsy!  Have these men never seen … well … whatever it is they are all always looking at!

She attended a rather austere cabinet meeting at the the White House where she managed to remain appropriately solemn throughout, and Daylife had photos of her looking very grave,  but someone managed to steal a shot of that beautiful smile!

Wednesday, with the McChrystal scandal in full bloom and the White House unanimously stern-faced,  the SOS welcomed back her old friend Israeli Defense minister, Ehud Barak.  She could light up the dark side of the moon, I think.

She spent the rest of the day in meetings at the White House where, surely, this sunny attitude must have lifted some spirits.

Thursday was Russia Day.  President Medvedev and FM Lavrov were in town with a delegation.  She hosted a lunch for Lavrov and the delegation at the State Department while the two presidents went to some Hamburger Hell place for lunch.

(Just my little editorial comment:  Mr. President, is it possible to be any more dismissive of your wife’s campaign?  Recently, speaking on the topic of hamburgers and fries, Secretary Clinton said, “That’s the way we ate.”   She used the past tense.   Michelle’s garden veggies are not good enough for you?*rant over*)

After the very diverse luncheons, she joined the presidents at the White House.  (Another editorial comment:  The “smart power” never quits.)

She was off-camera both Monday and Friday, but she packed a lot of sunshine into the mid-week.  So, you see, even when things are bleak, the Secretary of Sunshine can bring a smile into the touchiest of cabinet meetings.

OK *one big collective sigh* for Team USA.  Guess I’ll follow Argentina now.  But if Uruguay, Paraguay, or Mexico come through, I’ll be happy for any of them.  Smile!

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