The Cable

State Department announces new Taiwan envoy

Never be let it be said that the State Department doesn't have a Taiwan policy! Foggy Bottom is sending an envoy to Taipei next week, although not the type of envoy you might expect.

Major League Baseball All-Star and Hall of Fame nominee Barry Larkin will visit Taiwan as a "sports envoy," along with former Montreal Expo pitcher Joe Logan, the State Department announced in a release Thursday. This will be the second sports envoy program for the Sports United Office of the Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

"During the six day trip, Larkin and Logan will visit Taipei-Hsien and Kaohsiung. The Envoys will conduct six baseball clinics, visit an orphanage and a school for at-risk youth and attend an exhibition baseball game between two Taipei high schools," the release reads. "They will also interact with ten youth from Taiwan who visited the United States in September 2009 on a Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Sports United program."

The release makes no mention of the pending announcement of new arms sales to Taiwan. But hey, at least the State Department in on the playing field. And for what it's worth, baseball is wildely popular  in Taiwan, though a series of scandals have set the game back in recent years.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Cable

Iran sanctions bill "moving into high gear"

Lots of rumors today of movement on Chris Dodd's Iran sanctions legislation, which the administration may not be thrilled about as it pursues the U.N. track.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, D-MA, promised on Christmas eve to bring the bill to the floor, despite ongoing negotiations with the administration over tweaks to the bill.

Multiple Senate aides tell The Cable today that Reid, Kerry, and Dodd and working with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, Jon Kyl, R-AZ, Joe Lieberman, I-CT, as well as "other interested parties" to get the ball rolling, trying to figure out the timing for a vote, the structure, an agreement on amendments, etc.

One aide said something could surface tonight, before senators leave town. "We're moving into high gear on this," another senior Senate aide close to the discussions said, but viewed an agreement tonight as unlikely.

A Senate leadership aide told The Cable earlier this week that Reid was sticking by his pledge to move the bill, regardless of what the administration wanted. "Senator Reid has been consistently pushing to get this done, but there's no agreement in place at this time," another leadership aide said today. Several senators sent a letter to Obama yesterday urging him to get moving on implementing sanctions.