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 at the U.N. General Assembly by spokesman P.J. Crowley:
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a series of bilateral meetings Monday, including with Foreign Minister William Hague of Great Britain, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon of Canada, Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna of India and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem of Syria. Later this week in Washington she'll meet with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Hague gave Clinton a readout of his meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
- Special Envoy George Mitchell, his deputy David Hale, and the NSC's Dan Shapiro left Monday for the Middle East to try to hold together the direct peace talks. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas won't say whether he will leave the talks until next week, following the end of the Israeli settlement moratorium. The U.S. was "disappointed" in the Israeli decision, Crowley said. "From our standpoint, we remain focused on our long-term goal of advancing negotiations towards a two-state solution... We hope that the parties will continue to take constructive actions towards this long-term goal." There are no further negotiations scheduled at this point. Clinton spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday.
- Crowley said the dispute between Japan and China over the fishing boat captain that rammed a Japanese coast guard ship should be over, now that the Japanese have returned the captain to China. "We believe that has resolved the matter and we hope that tensions that had begun to escalate will diminish," he said. Doesn't seem like China is on board with that yet.
- The State Department has been having "high level discussions" with the Egyptian government about the child abduction case of Noor and Ramsey Bower, who were allegedly abducted by their mother to Egypt over a year ago. Their father, Massachusetts resident Charlie Bower, got to spend a half hour visiting with them last week. "We are supportive of the Bower family and doing everything we can to help bring his sons back to the United States," Crowley said.
- Following President Obama's meeting last Friday with the ASEAN member states, Crowley laid out the administration's position on the upcoming Burmese elections and it isn't optimistic. "We hope that Burma will begin a constructive dialogue with ethnic groups within its population. We've been disappointed with the electoral process that Burma has put forward this year. We don't believe that what they have announced and what they plan will result in a credible election," he said.
- Undersecretary of State Bill Burns held a Friends of Yemen meeting in New York last Friday. "It is important to make sure that we strengthen the capacity of the government so that you don't see the same vacuum develop in Yemen that has developed in Somalia," Crowley said. "We'll continue to help Yemen in terms of its dialogue with its own population in both north and south."