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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 1, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Obama-Modi Summit Sets New Agenda

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first U.S. visit appears to have bolstered and reset the agenda (NYT) for bilateral relations, yet impasses over economic policies and nuclear energy remain. The leaders agreed to work together (Mint) to fight global terrorism in South Asia, increase cooperation in maritime security, and to develop urban infrastructure in India. However there was little progress (Hindu) on issues that have hindered U.S.-India ties in recent years such as tax, trade, and civil nuclear energy disputes. Modi's visit to the United States follows two other major summits with heads of state from China and Japan last month.


"While our shared efforts will benefit our own people, our partnership aspires to be larger than merely the sum of its parts. As nations, as people, we aspire to a better future for all; one in which our strategic partnership also produces benefits for the world at large. While India benefits from the growth generated by U.S. investment and technical partnerships, the United States benefits from a stronger, more prosperous India. In turn, the region and the world benefit from the greater stability and security that our friendship creates," write President Obama and Prime Minister Modi in a joint op-ed in the Washington Post.

"India and the United States must play a leading role, both together and with other like-minded states, to strengthen a rules-based international order and a favorable balance of power in Asia. None of this means that India or the United States seeks to antagonize or exclude China. The India-U.S. strategic partnership, in all its forms—diplomatic, economic, military—is critical to encouraging China to rise peacefully in the present order," said Senator John McCain at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in September.

"Beyond burnishing his nationalist credentials, Modi's priorities during his diplomatic junkets appear to be somewhat more basic: stabilizing India's shaky economic development. Although he made headlines with a statement during his visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe referring obliquely to Chinese 'expansionism', the emphasis of his travels appears to center on strengthening Indian economic growth," writes Justin Logan in Al Jazeera.



Tens of Thousands Take to Hong Kong Streets on Chinese National Holiday

Pro-democracy protests continued to swell in Hong Kong on the first day of China's national holiday. The Hong Kong government has adopted a new strategy to wait out (SCMP) the protest movement. People's Daily, the Chinese government's official newspaper, condemned the protests as illegal (BBC), "seriously disrupting" Hong Kong's economy and social order.

None of the options for Hong Kong is likely very attractive to the Chinese leadership, writes CFR's Elizabeth Economy.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korean and Japanese vice foreign ministers met to discuss bilateral relations (Yonhap) and North Korea's nuclear program on Wednesday, the first meeting of its kind in two years.



Suicide Bombs Explode in Kabul

Two Taliban suicide attacks (TOLO News), targeting the buses transporting Afghan National Army officers, killed seven people on Wednesday. The attacks come a day after the United States and Afghanistan signed a new bilateral security agreement, allowing U.S. troops to stay in the country.



Kurds Confront ISIS on Turkey-Syria Border

A battle between Kurdish forces and ISIS militants (AFP) in Ain-al-Arab, a Syrian town on Turkey's border, left ten dead Wednesday. Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS is growing, with the UK initiating air strikes in Iraq, Australia committing jets to support American air power, and the Turkish parliament debating military action on Wednesday.

With air strikes now underway in two countries, Washington must pursue a sustained campaign against ISIS militants, with initial emphasis on routing them in Iraq, says expert Ryan Crocker in this CFR Interview.

ISRAEL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely be looking for reassurances (Reuters) on Iran when he meets with President Obama on Wednesday. U.S. officials said that relations between Israel and Palestinians—particularly concerning the recent conflict in Gaza—would top the agenda.



Nigeria and Senegal Contain Ebola Outbreak

Nigeria and Senegal appear to have contained their Ebola outbreaks (BBC), according to U.S. health officials. Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia continue to struggle combating the epidemic; the World Health Organization says more than 3,000 people have died of the virus so far.

West Africa's Ebola outbreak is outpacing current efforts to contain and combat it, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.

SOUTH SUDAN: The United States warned South Sudan that it must find a means to settle a peace deal or face UN sanctions (Reuters) on Tuesday.



European Union Keeps Sanctions on Russia

The EU maintained sanctions (EU Observer) imposed on Russia, assessing that "while encouraging developments" have been made, the cease-fire in Ukraine has not been fully respected.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk discussed challenges and options for his country last week at CFR.

RUSSIA: Lawmakers in Russia and Kazakhstan ratified treaties for the creation of a Eurasian Economic Union (Radio Free Europe) that will become active in January 2015. Other former Soviet states will vote on the treaty in coming months.



First Ebola Case in United States

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed that a man in Dallas, Texas was diagnosed with the United States' first case of Ebola (NYT) after he returned from Liberia to visit family.

BRAZIL: Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff widened her lead (WSJ) over challenger Marina Silva according to two polls released on Tuesday. The general election is set for October 5 with a run-off election expected to take place October 26.



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