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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
April 11, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: North Korea, Syria Top G8 Agenda

The Korean and Syrian crises, along with wartime sexual violence, have topped the agenda of foreign ministers at the G8 conference (BBC) in London. Japan looked for a strong statement of solidarity over North Korea, while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other ministers held a second day of talks on Thursday focused on Syria (AFP) after rebels appealed again for weapons. Kerry also held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a bid to find common ground on ending the conflict with one of the few allies of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The Group of Eight nations (al-Jazeera) comprises the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia, and Britain, which currently holds the rotating chairmanship.


"Although getting involved in another conflict in the Middle East is no one's first choice, the consequences of the status quo in Syria are mounting. We must act before it is too late and we get dragged into a broader conflict on terms that are not our own," write Senator Bob Casey and Senator Marco Rubio for Politico.

"The G8 Foreign Ministers meeting is an incredible opportunity for the international community to tackle sexual violence in conflict. However, we need to do this by addressing the destructive legacy left behind even after peace is agreed and responding to the needs of survivors - as well as taking preventative action," writes Tanya Barron for The Huffington Post.

"Washington simply does not have any good policy options in Syria, even though Jabhat al-Nusra's new branding may lower the legal hurdles to targeting it with drones," writes Brian Fishman for Foreign Policy.



More Bird Flu Cases Confirmed in China

China has banned residents of Nanjing from raising livestock (SCMP) as health authorities confirmed that five more people have contracted the H7N9 bird flu virus in the Yangtze River Delta. The virus has so far killed nine people and infected thirty-three.

CFR's Laurie Garrett outlines inconsistencies in the Chinese government's reports about the ongoing H7N9 outbreak in this op-ed.

NORTH KOREA: An anticipated missile test by North Korea will top the agenda for bilateral talks (Yonhap) this week between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and South Korea's foreign minister.



India Expands Ties With Germany

India and Germany agreed to expand bilateral cooperation (TOI) in fields including trade and infrastructure as they kicked off their second inter-governmental consultations. Modernizing India's infrastructure, in particular, represented significant potential for German investments.

PAKISTAN: At least fifteen militants were killed (Dawn) in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region's Tirah valley on Thursday during an operation carried out by security forces.

CFR's Daniel Markey leads a conversation on sectarian violence in Pakistan in this Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.



Palestinian PM Offers Resignation

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad offered his resignation (Reuters) to President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday after a rift between the two over government policy, Reuters reported. The two have endured strained relations, which worsened last month when the finance minister resigned.



Nigeria's Boko Haram Rejects Amnesty

The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram rejected the idea of an amnesty (BBC) that President Goodluck Jonathan proposed last week. Founded in 2002, the group is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north in campaigns that have killed at least two thousand people.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: The UN envoy to the Central African Republic said the political and security situation in the country was highly volatile and that children were being recruited to armed groups (al-Jazeera).

This blog post takes a look at the growing crisis in the Central African Republic.



Cypriot Central Bank Governor Faces Fire

Panicos Demetriades, Cyprus's central bank governor, is facing mounting political pressure to resign (FT) after government leaders on Wednesday backed a parliamentary investigation into his role in the handling of the country's financial crisis.

SPAIN: The European Commission issued a report on Wednesday saying Spain's efforts (WSJ) to improve its economic performance were losing momentum, pointing also to Slovenia as a trouble spot.



Capriles Claims Argentina Owes $13B in Oil Contracts

Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles railed against the country's foreign policy, claiming Argentina owes Venezuela $13 billion in oil contracts (MercoPress). Venezuela votes Sunday in its presidential election to choose a successor to the late Hugo Chavez.

HAITI: Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie, Haiti's finance and economy minister (MiamiHerald), has resigned from President Michel Martelly's administration after a year in the post.



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