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Week in Foreign Policy

Congress Passes Trade Bills & Reacts to Iran Assassination Plot

Korean President also visits Washington

Washington, DC
Saturday, October 15, 2011

This week on Capitol Hill, Congress passed a series of bills that will open up free trade with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Members also held a number of hearings on Iran, after that country was accused in a plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Secretary of State Clinton also discussed the assassination plot in a speech on foreign policy.   And President Obama hosted the South Korean President for an official state visit.

On Wednesday, the House and Senate approved trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama - after nearly five years of negotiations over the pacts.   The bills had been hung up over differences between the Bush and Obama Administrations and Congressional Democrats and Republicans over worker rights and safety in Colombia, and concerns over U.S. workers who might lose their jobs as a result of less-expensive goods from the trading nations.

Also this week, the Senate Banking Committee considered whether to apply additional sanctions against Iran for its alleged involvement in the plot against the Saudi ambassador.  And the House Foreign Affairs Committee held two hearings to hear from Administration officials about Iran's influence and activities in the Western Hemisphere.  

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the role the domestic economy plays in establishing the U.S. as a global leader.  She also discussed the situations in Libya and Syria as well as the alleged involvement of Iran's security services in planning the Saudi Ambassador's assassination.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met with President Obama on Thursday and the two leaders held a joint news conference. President Lee also spoke to a joint meeting of Congress, and attended a state dinner is his honor at the White House.  On Friday the two leaders went to Detroit where both spoke at a General Motors assembly plant.

Updated: Monday, October 17, 2011 at 12:20pm (ET)

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In Depth: Joan Biskupic