Getting Jabs in Early
Yesterday, General Ashfaq Kayani, the head of Pakistan’s military, lashed out at Washington about the raid (or “misadventure” in Kayani’s words) that killed Osama bin Laden. “Any similar action violating the sovereignty of Pakistan will warrant a review on the level of military/intelligence cooperation with the United States,” a statement said. Islamabad has also of late told Washington to reduce the number of special ops soldiers and the CIA presence in Pakistan. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen (via his spokesman) reiterated that U.S. forces were subject to the will of Pakistani officials: “the small number of US military trainers in Pakistan are there at the invitation of the Pakistani government, and therefore subject to that government's prerogatives.”
Washington is gearing up for the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue with Beijing next week. Assistant Secretary of State For East Asia Kurt Campbell said that a wide range of issues would be discussed, including human rights concerns. Campbell commented, “We ask our Chinese interlocutors for explanations about disappearances, about arrests, and legal procedures that we feel are either lacking or inappropriate.” Beijing is also getting its jabs in early, pushing Washington to deal with its deficit. The two powers have been trading barbs about debt, currency regulation and human rights for quite a while now. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be co-chairing the strategic part of the dialogue, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stepping in for the economic talks.
Congress is trying to come to some sort of agreement on debt reduction, holding their first meeting to hash out issues yesterday. The bipartisan group will have another sitdown on Tuesday of next week. Vice President Joe Biden called yesterday’s chat “productive.”
Secretary Clinton commented yesterday on the future of the peace process given the recent Fatah-Hamas ruling agreement. She didn’t reject the prospect of negotiations with the new coalition out of hand, but the secretary of state did stress that Washington would not work with a Palestinian government that included Hamas if the group did not give up violence and recognize Israel, long the administration’s stance.
And on the sidelines of the meeting of the Libya Contact Group in Rome, Clinton also took a moment to comment on rising world food prices, calling food security “a foreign policy priority.” She urged the international community to act.