President Barack Obama defended his administration's efforts to fight terrorists overseas (ABCNews) as "proportional" and "just," but said he would seek to curtail drone use, limit presidential war powers, and work to close the Guantanamo prison as part of a gradual winding down of the fight against terrorism that began in 2001. Obama's proposals were welcomed in the two countries most affected by drone strikes (AP), Pakistan and Yemen, although Pakistan says the strikes should stop completely.
"The enduring impact of Mr Obama's speech will not be what he says, but whether the new policies are reflected in how drone strikes are conducted, and whether his administration will finally and faithfully engage with the public, more than a decade after the operations began," writes CFR's Micah Zenko in the Financial Times.
"We can envisage a world in which this war is over, and yet our counter-terrorism continues 'smartly and proportionally.' It is a tough and usually lonely task to make these calls. Which is why a president is ultimately accountable for them. Today, he stood accountable; and he neither shirked from responsibility nor apologized for the inherent tragedy of any armed conflict," writes Andrew Sullivan on The Dish.
"President Obama's speech on Thursday was the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America. For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future," says this New York Times editorial.
North Korea Agrees to Nuclear Talks
An envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who met with Chinese officials said his country will heed China's suggestion and enter into talks about its nuclear program (Reuters), Chinese state television reported.
This CFR report recommends a three-pronged international approach to North Korea: denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and an attempt to resolve rather than simply manage the nuclear issue; regional cohesion, enabled by close U.S.-South Korea relations; and China's cooperation and active engagement.
JAPAN: Two former South Korean comfort women (JapanTimes) canceled a meeting scheduled for today with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who has refused to apologize for statements made earlier this month that Japan's wartime comfort-women system was necessary.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pakistan Suicide Bomber Kills Two
At least two people were killed and more were injured when a suicide bomber in Peshawar (Dawn) detonated his explosives next to a vehicle owned by an Afghan religious leader. The cleric himself was not in the vehicle, but his bodyguard and driver were killed.
BANGLADESH: A government report onlast month's collapse of a factory building (BBC) in Savar that killed more than 1,100 people found the building had been constructed with substandard materials on unsuitable land.
Plans for a global summit on the Syrian crisis represent modest progress, but the real question is whether the Kremlin is willing to withdraw support for the Assad regime, says CFR's Stephen Sestanovich in this interview.
LEBANON: Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi asked Lebanon's president, prime minister, and parliamentary speaker to form "a political umbrella" (DailyStar) for the military to end fighting in Tripoli, which has seen six days of heavy fighting believed to be a spillover from Syria.
Niger to Escalate Fight Against Islamist Militants
Niger says it will ramp up its campaign against Islamist militants (Bloomberg) after a group linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for simultaneous suicide car bombings yesterday that killed at least twenty-three people.
The expansion of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to Mali and links to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya have sparked growing concerns about the group's threat to the region, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
SUDAN: Renewed fighting in Darfur has resulted in the flight of some 300,000 people (AllAfrica) in the first five months of this year, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said during a visit to the region.
Suspects in British Soldier's Death Known to Police
Both men arrested in the brutal murder of British soldier Lee Rigby (Guardian) earlier this week were known to the domestic security service MI5 and the police over an eight-year period, but had been considered peripheral figures, British security officials confirmed Thursday.
RUSSIA: A Russian court denied parole (Moscow Times) to punk band Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina, who is serving a two-year sentence after performing a "punk prayer" against Russian President Vladimir Putin in the main cathedral in Moscow.
Brazil Police Arrest Nine in Abuse of Indian Girls