Top of the Agenda: North Korea in Third Day of Missile Firings
North Korea fired two short-range missiles (Reuters) today after firing four others over the weekend in response to what the government calls "mounting war pressures" from the United States and South Korea. China has asked North Korea to release a Chinese fishing boat with a sixteen-man crew (BBC) seized May 5 in what China says were Chinese waters. North Koreans have asked for a $100,000 ransom for the ship and crew.
"The missile launch by North Korea is something that no other countries want to see, and China's reaction will be predictable. The government will likely condemn any action threatening the peace and stability in the peninsula." Professor Wang Fan , director of the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, tells the South China Morning Post.
"The United States and South Korea should reach out to China based on the understanding that there is a time limit for North Korea to come back to negotiations and that denuclearization must be a main agenda for any new dialogue, recognizing that China is vested in the status quo. Only by trying to bring China along will it be possible to prove that peaceful options for transforming North Korea have been exhausted," writes CFR's Scott A. Snyder.
"Pyongyang wants to be acknowledged as a member of the adults-only nuclear club. It bridles at any attempt to restrict its sovereign desire to test its missile program. And it takes exception to both economic sanctions and joint U.S.-ROK military maneuvers near its borders. The response to all this was decidedly intemperate. But it was neither irrational nor inexplicable," writes John Feffer for the Huffington Post.
Myanmar's President Meeting With Obama in Washington
President Obama will meet in Washington today with Myanmar's president, Thein Sein, marking the first visit to the United States from a Myanmar head of state (WaPo) since 1966.
Myanmar is on the brink of implosion, with growing interreligious and interethnic violence, writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick.
Syrian troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters advanced on the town of rebel-held Qusayr (NYT), near the Lebanese border, in what could be a significant setback for opponents of President Bashar al-Assad's government.
IRAQ: Eight car bombs in mainly Shia districts of Baghdad (al-Jazeera) killed twenty people, and eleven others were killed by attacks in the southern city of Basra as tensions mount between minority Sunnis and the Shia Muslims now in power.
Nigeria Offers Amnesty to Insurgents
Nigeria, which has launched an extensive military operation against Islamist militant Boko Haram insurgency in the country's northeast, said it would offer amnesty to insurgents (Reuters) who surrender.
TUNISIA: Some eleven thousand police officers and soldiers blocked an annual conference in Kairouan of the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Shariah (AP), which has been implicated in attacks around the country and is considered by the government a threat "to security and public order."
The eurozone is being buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
UK: Ahead of an expected push at next month's G8 summit in Northern Ireland to clamp down on tax evasion, British Prime Minister David Cameron has written to British tax havens (Guardian) calling for them to "get our own houses in order."
Two Unions Oppose Immigration Reform Bill
Two labor unions representing twenty thousand employees responsible for immigration-related enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security are joining forces to oppose an immigration reform bill (NYT) in the Senate.
COLOMBIA: While Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has said a deal with left-wing FARC rebels could be reached within months, FARC's lead negotiator, Ivan Marquez, said a lasting peace would take time (ColombiaReports) and rejected suggestions that the pace of negotiations has been slow.