Going Unilateral

With the focus on Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to DC, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented yesterday about Chinese firms and Iran sanctions. She said, “We think that there are some entities within China that we have brought to the attention of the Chinese leadership that are still not as, shall we say, as in compliance as we would like them to be.” Washington is stressing the issue with Beijing, and Clinton said the administration is even considering putting more unilateral sanctions on the table. Beijing is Tehran’s closest trading partner.

Also on China, Vice President Joe Biden will be going east to have a sitdown with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Biden accepted the invitation from Hu Jintao to meet the Chinese president’s likely successor.

And yesterday, Secretary Hillary Clinton gave Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader in Myanmar that was recently released from house arrest, a call and offered Washington’s support. According to the department’s spokesman PJ Crowley, Clinton told Suu Kyi that she would “work with her to strengthen civil society and promote democracy.” He shared the news with everyone not in a press conference but on Twitter. The call marked the first discussion between Suu Kyi and a member of the U.S. cabinet in over 15 years.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates should soon be lifting a freeze on new prosecutions against detainees in Gitmo. The Justice Department has already marked a few of those being held for prosecution in military tribunals, so those cases are expected to move forward just a few weeks after Gates makes the announcement. This is the first time new charges can be brought against detainees since President Obama banned new prosecutions on inauguration day two years ago.

Dennis Ross, a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia in the State Department, and David Hale, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, landed in Israel this morning in another attempt to spur the peace talks onward. The envoys are expected to concentrate on Israel’s security needs during their trip.