The Cable

Medvedev coming to see Obama

Sources close to the U.S. and Russian governments confirmed to The Cable Monday that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Washington and meet with President Obama on June 24.

The visit is timed exactly after Obama's stated deadline for finishing up U.N. Security Council action to bring new sanctions against Iran. The State Department has said repeatedly that Obama wants to see the sanctions vote before the end of spring -- June 21 -- and the Medvedev visit would be an opportunity to show unity on that front, or if the process lags, to give it one final push across the finish line.

Putting Iran sanctions in the rear-view mirror will also allow the administration to concentrate on the main accomplishment of Obama's "reset" of U.S. relations with Russia: ratification of the new START nuclear reductions treaty. Russia's desire for a civilian nuclear agreement with the United States, which is the secondary "reset" agenda item right now, is also sure to be discussed.

That agreement, which was first submitted by the Bush administration but pulled after the Russian-Georgian war of 2008, was sent back to Congress last month. If Congress doesn't formally object by August, it will go into effect.

A bipartisan effort to block the Russian civilian nuclear agreement is heating up now, led by Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey and Nebraska Republican Jeff Fortenberry, who introduced the House version of the resolution opposing the deal.

Recent reports about the risks of terrorists acquiring Russian nuclear technology have heightened concerns among lawmakers. Hill sources say that a Senate companion measure could surface with bipartisan sponsorship this week.

"Russia continues to train Iranian nuclear physicists, supply to Iran sensitive nuclear technology, and give secret instruction on Russian soil to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the use of the advanced S-300 interceptor-missile systems," said Markey about the deal.

"As long as I've been in this job, there's been no concern about Russian entities providing nuclear assistance to Iran," the NSC's non-proliferation Czar Gary Samore said earlier this month when talking about the 123 agreement, the shorthand used for civilian nuclear deals because they are based on section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.

State Department officials have said that Moscow's ability to get the deal is tied directly to how helpful the Russians are in securing new sanctions against Iran, so the visit is perfectly timed for the administration to make an argument on that front.

"The White House has publicly stated that the Russian government's cooperation on the Iranian nuclear issue will be a significant consideration in making this determination and this continues to be the case," acting Assistant Secretary of State Vann Van Diepen testified last month.

Further details of the Medvedev visit are still being worked out. We've heard but haven't confirmed yet that a State Dinner is in the offing.

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The Cable

Ban Ki-moon calls on Obama to raise funds for moms and kids

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Washington called on the Obama administration Monday to lead an effort to raise another $45 billion for maternal and child health at the upcoming meetings of the G-8 and G-20 in Canada.

"We need U.S. leadership. I hope the U.S. will come out with strong additional support," Ban said, noting that the U.S. government has invested in programs to combat HIV/AIDS but arguing that it must now make the same level of commitment on child and maternal health. "I know President Obama and Secretary Clinton will exercise their strong leadership role in the G-8 and the G-20."

Ban declined to say how much exactly the new U.S. contribution should be, but he did say he spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the issue recently.

"As the world's biggest leader and power, the U.S. should be able to mobilize, together with major donors, strong financial support," Ban said. "I know the economic situation is quite difficult, but still, the economic situation should not give any excuse to give any less attention on this. There must be strong and focused attention by the U.S. government."

Ban stopped in Washington to attend the "Women Deliver" conference being held Monday at the convention center and spoke to reporters with Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Bill Gates. The Gates Foundation announced Monday a new $1.5 billion commitment to maternal and child heath.

Gates said that the U.S. government must "step up" the way that the new British government has done and commit to funding this effort.

"You need to see these developed nations step up and say ‘This is the right thing to do,'" she said. "That's how you get leadership on this."

The effort is part of Ban's drive to meet the deadlines laid out in the Millennium Development Goals, specifically goals four and five, which set out ambitious targets for reducing deaths for mothers and their children by 2015.

None of the new Gates money will go to fund abortions, Gates said, and the U.N. has no official position on abortion other than to support its safety where legal, Ban explained. One out of seven deaths among pregnant women result from illegal or unsafe abortions, but this will not be a focus of the new initiative.

Ban said the initiative dovetails with the third Millennium Development challenge goal of "gender empowerment," even though it doesn't address women's rights or human rights directly.

"To be empowered, women should be healthy. That's the basic starting point," Ban said. "Human rights is a cross-cutting agenda ... Simply because there is less mention of human rights does not mean there is a lack of willingness."

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