Top of the Agenda: G8 Summit Meeting Amid Eurozone Gloom
Leaders of the Group of Eight leading economies gather in Camp David today, with concerns over the spread of the eurozone crisis set to dominate talks. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to face new pressure to ease off of the austerity push (WashPost) to allow more economic stimulus. Prior to the summit, President Barack Obama will have his first meeting with Francois Holland, sworn in as France's new president this week after running a campaign challenging austerity policies. Greek elections have also sparked renewed speculation that Greece could exit the currency union. On Thursday, ratings agency Moody's downgraded sixteen Spanish banks (Bloomberg) because of "highly adverse marketing and funding conditions."
"The financial re-engineering of Europe is a prerequisite for the euro to survive. Greece is bringing forward that moment of truth. And yet politicians, particularly in Germany, have still to accept the logic, let alone explain it to voters," writes the Economist.
"If [the G8] are able to effectively advance Europe toward proactive measures in terms of the growth agenda and the banking agenda, then [the summit] will be a success. If they are not able to do this, then I don't think we can judge the summit a success, regardless of what other issues they deal with," says C. Randall Henning of the Peterson Institute in this CFR Interview.
The World Next Week Podcast
Listen to CFR's James Lindsay and Robert McMahon discuss Egypt's presidential election, the Chicago NATO summit, and Iran and P5+1 nuclear talks in Baghdad.
UN Investigates Possible North Korea-Syria Arms Trading
A team of UN experts that monitors North Korea compliance (Reuters) with sanctions is examining reports of possible weapons trading between Pyongyang and Syria and Myanmar. "The DPRK (North Korea) continues actively to defy the measures in the resolutions," the UN panel said in its report.
CHINA: Housing prices in China continued their decline in April, a signal that chances for a recovery remain distant for one of the primary drivers of growth (FT) in the world's second-largest economy.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Months-Long White House Debate Over Pakistan Apology
For nearly six months, the Obama administration has been "locked in a heated debate" over whether to extend Pakistan a full apology for killing its troops at the Afghan border. The protracted debate, says the Wall Street Journal, is a sign the White House is still uncertain about how to repair relations with Islamabad.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials report that two NATO-ISAF troops were killed and six others wounded in a Taliban rocket attack (al-Jazeera) in Afghanistan's eastern province of Kunar.
UN Observer in Syria Says No End to Violence Without Talks
Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, head of a UN observer team in Syria, warned Friday that a permanent end to the violence (AP) could not be achieved without genuine talks between both sides, as violence in the country continues.
EGYPT: Thirteen presidential contenders have been traveling across the nation's twenty-seven provinces each try to convince undecided voters (WashPost) that they're the best man for the job.
Mbeki in Sudan to Restart Talks
South African President Thabo Mbeki arrived in Khartoum today to attempt to revive negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan (BBC), whose border clashes brought both countries to the brink of war last month. South Sudan has called on the UN to impose sanctions on Sudan for failing to end the hostilities.
The long-awaited war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic may be postponed for months after an apparent clerical error (CSM) that failed to disclose evidence to his lawyers prompted judges to halt the trial Thursday.
RUSSIA: The country's parliament on Friday postponed a debate on a controversial bill (AFP) aimed at cracking down on unsanctioned protests against President Vladimir Putin, after opposition parties threatened a boycott. The draft law would raise the maximum fine to 1.5 million rubles ($48,000) for protest organizers, up from the current 50,000 rubles.
Brazil's Economy Slows
The Economist says "a reassessment of Brazil's recent performance is overdue," noting that Brazil has grown on average by only 4.2 percent a year since 2006. However, it says that even though the economy has slowed, opportunities still exist.
Romney Launches 'Day One' Ad
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is launching his first general election ad (Politico), "Day One," showing a Romney presidency that will approve the Keystone pipeline, introduce tax cuts and reforms, and replace Obama's signature healthcare legislation with "common sense healthcare reform."
All eyes are on the economy this election season as Gallup's unemployment numbers for early May inch downward slightly to 8.2 percent in mid-May from 8.3 percent in April, and underemployment drops to 18.0 percent, compared with 18.2 percent in April.
Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy, check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.