Biden Meets Fried Liver

President Obama did today what officials have thus far avoided: he called for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to give up power. He also announced an executive order that will impose harsher sanctions on the country, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will explain this morning. Now it’s a question of whether the international community, and Saudi Arabia and Turkey in particular, will respond to the administration's calls for them to push Assad to step down. Washington has also put travel restrictions on Syrian diplomats in response to a move by Damascus that requires U.S. diplomats get permission before traveling outside of the capital.

Vice President Joe Biden has kicked his four-day visit to China with a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping did the welcoming. Today, Xi and Biden spent a lot of time speaking candidly and deeply about a broad range of issues. ABC News reports that one U.S. official found the breadth and depth of the discussion “frankly unusual.” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland mentioned yesterday that Biden would bring up human rights issues on his trip to China, “as we consistently do,” she added.

The VP will meet tomorrow with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Today though he dined with new U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, whose photo is still causing quite a stir in China. Seen wearing a backpack and ordering coffee at a Starbucks in Seattle, the image is being held up in China as an example of humble leadership. Keeping up the image, Locke and Biden ate at the local Yao's Fried Liver Restaurant. The did not, however, order the liver.