Top of the Agenda: NATO Summit Overshadowed by U.S.-Pakistan Rift
The United States and Pakistan failed to reach an agreement to reopen a NATO supply line (NYT) from Pakistan through Afghanistan ahead of a crucial NATO summit that got under way in Chicago yesterday. U.S. President Barack Obama refused to meet with his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, unless a deal was reached. The two-day summit--to which Pakistan was invited at the last minute in the hopes of securing a deal over the supply routes--is focused on winding down NATO's decade-long war in Afghanistan. Pakistan closed the routes after a U.S. airstrike killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers along the Pakistani-Afghan border in November, exacerbating already strained relations between the two countries.
"The alliance continues to confront fundamental questions about how it should define its role and mission in the twenty-first century, and whether its member nations have the political will and capacity to fulfill its mission. In particular, countries are ambivalent about whether the alliance should continue to conduct operations outside the North Atlantic, or limit missions to member nations' borders," writes CFR's Stewart M. Patrick in this Expert Brief.
"This week in Chicago, Obama will announce the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by next summer. He will, in effect, be conceding defeat: the Taliban remains strong; the Hamid Karzai government looks inept and corrupt; the country appears headed for civil war. Al Qaeda may be weaker than it was three years ago, but not because of America's wildly expensive counterinsurgency effort, which has proved a massive bust," writes the Daily Beast's Peter Beinart.
"It's the realization that the Taliban will remain very much alive and kicking after NATO leaves that has prompted Obama to press upon Karzai the need to engage with greater urgency in reconciliation talks with the Taliban--and also to implement electoral reforms to diminish corruption and make elections more transparent," writes TIME's Tony Karon.
U.S., Allies Warn North Korea Over Nuclear Test
U.S., Japanese, and South Korean diplomats threatened North Korea with further international sanctions (NYT) if it carries out a new nuclear test, during a trilateral meeting in Seoul today. North Korea faced international condemnation following a failed rocket launch last month.
Suicide Bombing Kills Dozens Ahead of Yemeni Army Parade
A suicide bomb attack killed at least sixty-three people (BBC) during a rehearsal for a military parade in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa today. The suicide bomber was reportedly posing as a Yemeni soldier prior to the attack.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay arrived in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare today. She is set to meet with longtime President Robert Mugabe (M&G) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader who agreed to a fragile power-sharing agreement with Mugabe three years ago.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: The army clashed with a group of mutineers (AFP) in the eastern province of Nord-Kivu on Sunday. The mutineers are former rebels who were integrated into the army in 2009, but defected en masse during the so-called March 23 Movement.
Spanish Economy Contracts
Spain's gross domestic product contracted in the second quarter of this year (WSJ), in line with a 0.3 percent contraction in the first quarter, Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos said today. Spain is the latest eurozone country to be hobbled by the ongoing sovereign debt crisis.
The candidate of the Dominican Republic's ruling Dominican Liberation Party, Danilo Medina, is leading rival candidate Hipolito Mejia 51 percent to 47 percent following Sunday's presidential election (al-Jazeera), with 37 percent of the vote counted.
On Meet the Press, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, a supporter of likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, a close ally of President Barack Obama, discussed the two candidates' differing visions for addressing U.S. debt and deficits and growing the economy.
Ryan also sparred with Obama's chief economist Austan Goolsbee on Fox News Sunday on economic issues, including who has the best record on job growth.
USA Today looks at five divergent views of the current economy, noting that the "uneven impact of the Great Recession and the uncertainty of the recovery" have shaped those views and the campaign appeals of President Obama and Mitt Romney.
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