Washington is concerned about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s planned visit to Lebanon next week. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said as much to Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. According to State Department spokesman PJ Crowley, the administration is particularly worried about Hezbollah, a militant group in Lebanon responsible for strikes against Israel that is closely associated with Iran.
Robert Gates may finally get to meet the Chinese. Military contacts have been frozen since January when China was angered by a U.S. arms package bound for Taiwan, and the defense secretary was refused an invitation to Beijing when he was in the region a few months ago. Gates will speak with his Chinese counterpart next week in Vietnam at a meeting of ASEAN defense chiefs. He may even get to go to Beijing soon. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that he might make the trip in early 2011.
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Kurt Campbell said at a briefing yesterday in Tokyo that ties with Japan are also getting a bit better. Washington and Tokyo have been in conflict about the location of an American military base. But given all the territorial tensions in the region lately, both sides have seen the need to “to step up our diplomatic engagement.” As Campbell put it, “We’re living though a period of very consequential developments. There’s now full recognition in both Washington and Tokyo of the task at hand.” Japan and China have been over control of islands in the East China Sea.
National Security Adviser James Jones has organized crime on his mind. At a security conference in Russia, Jones said that crossborder crimes like money laundering as well as arms and drug trafficking are a growing threat. Jones called for Moscow and Washington step up their cooperation on these issues.
And Secretary Hillary Clinton had a sitdown with Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffet yesterday. State is hoping to coordinate public global-health efforts with the private sector’s undertakings. Buffett and Bill Gates have been making a push to get the world’s richest people to sign a “Giving Pledge” and commit a at least half of their fortunes to charity.