Still Hoping for Negotiations

The Middle East Quartet issued a statement on Friday about the Arab-Israeli conflict in light of the Palestinians’ bid for statehood. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the EU’s foreign policy head Catherine Ashton had met earlier in the day to discuss the situation. The Quartet reaffirmed its desire to restart bilateral negotiations and suggested a few steps that could be taken, including holding a “preparatory meeting” to lay the groundwork for negotiations within the next month, holding a donors conference and calling for both parties “to refrain from provocative actions.” Clinton said she was pleased with the “concrete and detailed proposal to begin negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians without delay or preconditions” that the Quartet had produced.

Violence has spiked again in Yemen, and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland voiced Washington’s “deep concern” about the developments. “The Yemeni government must immediately address the democratic aspirations of its people,” Nuland said. Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, after spending three months in Saudi Arabia recuperating from injuries he sustained during an attack on his compound, laid the blame for the violence on “criminal terrorists.”

Last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had some complaints about China’s IP strategy. The Chinese, he said, “have made possible systematic stealing of intellectual property of American companies and have not been very aggressive to put in place the basic protections for property rights that every serious economy needs over time.” It is a long-standing concern, and one the new U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke has also expressed, but Geithner was unusually blunt in his phrasing.

An Afghan employee at what is reportedly a CIA compound in Kabul shot and killed a U.S. citizen, while wounding another. The gunman was also killed. This is the latest in a string of attacks, some linked to the Haqqani network. Just last week, the head of the Afghan peace council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated, and the previous week the U.S. embassy in Kabul was attacked. Elsewhere, a South Korean official said that North Korea is ready to hold another round of bilateral talks with the United States about its nuclear program.