Clinton in Russia to talk nuclear arms control and Iran (+ analysis); Kevin Rudd warns China ahead of Rio Tinto trial; Maliki back in lead after 82% of Iraqi votes counted; CIA drone kills "top 20" al Qaeda man; and more
Top of the Agenda: Clinton Visits Russia on Arms Control and Iran
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits (WashPost) Russia Thursday to discuss a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and new sanctions against Iran. The two countries will also review their cooperation on Afghanistan. Clinton is traveling to Moscow mainly to meet with Russia, the European Union, and the UN on mediating an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Over the past year, US relations with Russia have improved on issues such as Iran and Afghanistan and arms control, officials from both countries say. Russia, once a skeptic on sanctions against Iran, has dropped its objections to sanctions, but still favors diplomatically engaging Iran before a United Nations Security Council vote.
Clinton and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hope to finalize (WSJ) the new START treaty ahead of two key nonproliferation conferences scheduled for this spring. However, they are unlikely to produce a formal agreement on nuclear weapons at the meeting.
In this interview, CFR's Stephen Sestanovich says as hopes are high that strategic nuclear arms talks are wrapping up, Russia's position on new UN sanctions on Iran will likely figure prominently in Clinton's trip.
In the Japan Times, Dominique Moisi says "ambition to define a common European energy and security policy toward Russia is slowly disappearing."
This interactive timeline examines the history of US-Russian relations on nuclear arms control.
PACIFIC RIM: US Ambassador Warns China on Currency
US Ambassador to China John Huntsman said China's reluctance to allow (NYT) its currency to rise against the dollar is a "real concern" to the United States and other trading partners and could be subject to negotiations in coming weeks.
In this Expert Brief, CFR's Steven Dunaway says international pressure on China must continue to allow its currency to appreciate, which would provide an important boost to the global economic recovery.
Australia: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned China "the world will be watching" when four executives of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto are brought to trial (WSJ) Monday on charges of stealing commercial secrets and taking bribes.