A high-powered “US Senate delegation to China helped build ‘mutual trust’ in talks on human rights, economic disputes, clean energy, and Iran’s suspect nuclear drive, its leader said Tuesday,” according to the AFP.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who headed the 10-member group, said the week-long visit’s "primary focus" had been to secure "a level playing field" for US businesses in China.
"The world needs its two largest economies to work together. We have to communicate and build mutual trust," Reid said in a statement issued after the group returned home. "Our meetings in China helped improve that relationship."
At the same time, Reid said, "our experience there was an unmistakable reminder of just how hard we have to work to make American more competitive with the rest of the world."
The lawmakers met with parliamentary chief Wu Bangguo and Vice President Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to succeed President Hu Jintao as China’s top leader by 2013, as well as outgoing US Ambassador Jon Huntsman and US business executives in China.
The senators urged Beijing to be "more aggressive" in letting the yuan gain value against the dollar, amid charges in the US Congress that the Asian giant keeps its currency, and thus its exports, artificially cheap, hurting US exports and stifling job growth.
But "Chinese officials confirmed that China would continue the managed appreciation of its currency," said the statement.
Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) was in Egypt to meet with officials today, according to an update to his Twitter account.
In Cairo today meeting with FM Alaraby & other members of the gov. http://yfrog.com/gzcscwpj
According to the AFP, he met with “Egypt’s military chief and foreign minister on Saturday.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) “on Friday urged the international community to arm and recognize the rebel Transitional National Council as the ‘legitimate voice’ of the Libyan people,” the AFP reports.
"I would encourage every nation, especially the United States, to recognize the Transitional National Council as the legitimate voice of the Libyan people. They have earned this right," McCain said at a news conference in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya.
"I have met these great fighters and they are not Al-Qaeda. To the contrary, they are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. We should help them do it," he said.
McCain called for “arming rebels battling Moamer Kadhafi’s forces, saying that capable countries should assist them with more weapons and training to help them oust the Libyan strongman.”
"Responsible nations need to provide the military forces of the TNC with every possible means of assistance to enable them to create conditions on the ground that increase pressure on Kadhafi to leave power," he said.
Notably, Talking Points Memo reports that the State Department “signed off on and supports” McCain’s trip to Libya.
"We were aware that Sen. McCain would be making the trip and State supported the codel," White House spokesman Jay Carney told TPM in an e-mail Friday afternoon.
Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) “arrived Friday in the Libyan opposition stronghold of Benghazi,” the AP reports.
“They are my heroes,” McCain said of the rebels as he walked out of a local hotel in Benghazi. He was traveling in an armored Mercedes jeep and had a security detail. A few Libyans waved American flags as his vehicle drove past.
He said he planned to meet with the rebel National Transition Council, the de-facto government in the eastern half of the country, and members of the rebel military.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “and four Republican senators traveled to Afghanistan this week, becoming the second congressional delegation to visit the country so far this spring recess,” according to the Washington Post.
McConnell’s deputy chief of staff, Don Stewart, confirmed the visit by McConnell and Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a former U.S. Trade Representative. The trip had not been previously announced for security reasons, but photos of the delegation’s visit appeared Thursday morning on the U.S. Embassy Kabul’s Flickr photo-stream.
The senators met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and members of the Afghan parliament as well as Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Also appearing in the photos is Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who was not part of the McConnell delegation. Carper spokeswoman Emily Spain confirmed that the senator had traveled separately to Kabul.