White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said Mr. Obama looks “forward to exploring ways to revitalize and reinvigorate the work of the commission” in talks with Mr. Medvedev.
“The White House strongly supports the excellent work the U.S.-Russia Presidential Commission on POW-MIAs has done in bringing closure to the American and Russian families of those lost or missing in war,” he said.
A House Democratic aide said the commission is not viewed as a “formal” unit, but that Rep. Vic Snyder, Arkansas Democrat, has been working with it. “Since Snyder is retiring after this year, the speaker will likely appoint another House Democrat soon,” the aide said.
Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry, said in a statement that the Massachusetts Democrat missed the meeting because he was attending a meeting with Senate committee leaders.
No ‘Kumbaya’ exchanges
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who was recently snubbed when he sought to visit China, told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee on Wednesday that he wants to resume substantive military exchanges with China, despite Beijing’s canceling recent exchanges to protest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
“I … believe those contacts are necessary, and not just sort of ship visits and the uniformed officers talking with one another, but from a policy standpoint and from a strategy standpoint,” Mr. Gates said.
He added, “I have no interest in a military-to-military relationship where we basically get together and sing ‘Kumbaya,’ but I think that having a relationship where we can talk about things that are really potentially dangerous in our relationship has all kinds of merit, and I’m a strong proponent of contacts with the Chinese military for that kind of a dialogue,” he said.
Mr. Gates said the Pentagon is “very concerned” with China’s growing anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles, saying they are “a real concern for our Navy and for us.” He also expressed concern about China’s cyberwarfare capabilities and anti-satellite weapons.
No filibuster on gays
There will be no filibuster of the pending defense budget bill that contains a repeal of the military’s gay ban — at least not from Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is leading the fight to preserve the ban.
Contrary to a smattering of press reports, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is not trying to find the votes to block the bill, which may reach the floor next week. A filibuster takes 60 votes to override.
“Sen. McCain is not filibustering the bill,” his spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.
Asked whether Mr. McCain will offer an amendment to strike the repeal from the bill, Ms. Buchanan said, “I think it’s a bit early. Sen. McCain is still deciding on the amendments he plans to introduce.”
The Senate committee approved repeal, with one Republican voting yes and one Democrat opposed. The vote came up despite pleas from the four-star chiefs of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to wait until a Pentagon ordered-study on the effect of gays serving openly in the ranks is completed later this year.