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Briefing Skipper: Mitchell, Campbell, Brownback, Goldstone

Briefing Skipper: Mitchell, Campbell, Brownback, Goldstone

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of today’s briefing by spokesman Ian Kelly:

  • George Mitchell‘s meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu was "good," ("No smirking, please," Kelly said), despite the fact that no agreement on a settlement freeze was reached. Somebody buy that guy a thesaurus! No agreement on a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA, yet, but they are working on it. Defense Minister Ehud Barak dropped in on the meeting and Mitchell also met with President Abbas again today.
  • Don’t call it a failure. "Of course we hoped to have an agreement. Of course we were hoping for some kind of breakthrough," Kelly said, "But this is going to be — again, it’s going to be — it’s going to demand a lot of patience."
  • State is "concerned" and "outraged" by comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling the Holocaust a lie, on the eve of the Jewish new year. Very tacky but it won’t impact the Oct. 1 meeting between Iran and the P5+1 countries.
  • No decision on whether to send Amb. Stephen Bosworth to North Korea in response to overtures from Kim Jong Il. "We remain committed to engage North Korea bilaterally, but only in the Six-Party context, only if it helps lead to a resumption of that Six-Party context," Kelly said. Makes sense, right?
  • Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Kurt Campbell met with new Japanese Foreign Minister Okada Katsuya and U.S. Amb. to Tokyo John Roos today.
  • Kelly had no prepared response to questions about yesterday’s breaking news that Sen. Sam Brownback is preparing new legislation aimed at putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Does Kelly not read The Cable?
  • He did have a reaction to the Goldstone Report that accused Israel and the Palestinians of war crimes. "Although the report addresses all sides of the conflict, its overwhelming focus is on the actions of Israel. While the report makes overly sweeping conclusions of fact and law with respect to Israel, its conclusions regarding Hamas’s deplorable conduct and its failure to comply with international humanitarian law during the conflict are more general and tentative," Kelly read.
  • "We also have very serious concerns about the report’s recommendations, including calls that this issue be taken up in international fora outside the Human Rights Council and in national courts of countries not party to the conflict. We note in particular that Israel has the democratic institutions to investigate and prosecute abuses, and we encourage it to use those institutions," he added.