Panetta in Asia

October 21, 2011

Panetta in Asia

Clinton talks tough in Pakistan; Panetta heads to Asia; terrorists and civilian courts; Bryson takes over as commerce secretary.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat down with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, to discuss the insurgent situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khar noted that Islamabad could do more in the fight against militants launching attacks inside of Afghanistan. Clinton meanwhile called on Pakistan to take “strong steps” to combat the insurgents. The secretary of state was joined in Pakistan by CIA director David Petraeus and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.

Kicking off his first trip to Asia as head of the DoD, Leon Panetta will leave for Indonesia today, where he'll take part in Sunday’s ASEAN defense ministers meeting. China, not a member of ASEAN, is expected to be a topic of conversation. Afterward it’s on to Japan and then to South Korea.

Before leaving, however, Panetta, along with Attorney General Eric Holder, sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to reject a GOP effort to bar the prosecution of suspected foreign terrorists in civilian courts, pushing the trials to the military’s realm. And the administration’s case seems to have been convincing. The Senate rejected the proposal.

John Bryson, former CEO of Edison International, is replacing Gary Locke, now the U.S. ambassador to China, as commerce secretary. The Senate approved his nomination yesterday. A press release sent by President Obama said that Bryson “will be a key member of my economic team, working with the business community to promote job creation, foster growth and help open up new markets around the world for American-made goods.”