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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
June 7, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Xi, Obama Begin High-Stakes Dialogue

U.S. president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping will meet Friday afternoon at a private estate in California for two days of talks (WaPo) on high-profile issues including cybersecurity and North Korea's nuclear threats. Meanwhile, Xi is expected to voice Beijing's discomfort over Washington's strategic pivot (Reuters) toward Asia and military rebalancing of U.S. forces toward the Pacific.


"At home, the United States should implement an interagency economic counterespionage program that will help prevent foreign services and corporate competitors from stealing secrets from U.S. industry. The Obama administration appears to be moving in that direction, especially with the public naming of China as one of the major sources of cyber espionage by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and a more forceful effort by senior diplomats to raise the issue with China," writes a new CFR Task Force Report.

"The White House is talking down the prospects of a major announcement. Instead, they are looking for rapport. They have planned six hours of informal talks on a list of topics including cyber security, North Korea, human rights, and military relations," write Evan Osnos for the New Yorker.

"[There] is no sweeping under the carpet all the problems in the U.S.-China relationship – they far outnumber any potential list of wins that could be mustered. Moreover, new areas of friction emerge daily as China asserts its economic and strategic interests in ways that upend the international norms and institutions that have prevailed since World War II," writes Elizabeth Economy in this op-ed.



Japan, France to Discuss Defense

Japan and France agreed to discuss defense cooperation (KyodoNews) after a summit in Tokyo, with plans to launch bilateral talks on joint development of equipment. They also said that the two countries should promote exports of nuclear power plants to emerging economies.



Taliban Kills Six Georgians in Afghanistan

A Taliban suicide bomber (NYT) attacked a base run by Georgian troops in Helmand Province on Thursday, killing seven soldiers in what was the second truck bomb attack on a Georgian base in the area in less than a month. The earlier May bombing killed three Georgians.

INDIA: Human Rights Watch warned that a new government system to monitor all phone and Internet connections in India threatens privacy and free expression (BBC).



Erdogan Calls End to Protests

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an end to the ongoing Gezi Park protests (Hurriyet) upon his return from a four-day trip to North Africa. Tens of thousands have demonstrated for the past ten days against what they say is Erdogan's increasingly autocratic rule.

This new CFR video highlights three things to know about the Turkey protests.

SYRIA: Two UN peacekeepers were wounded (al-Jazeera) during clashes between Syrian government forces and rebels near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Austrian government withdrew all 380 of its peacekeepers from the area.



UK to Pay Mau Mau Victims

The UK agreed to pay 19.9 million pounds in reparations to more than five thousand elderly Kenyans who suffered torture and abuse during the 1950s Mau Mau uprisings (Guardian), which emerged in central Kenya as a bid to end colonial rule. The settlement comes after a lengthy legal battle.

MALI: French president Francois Hollande received the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize (AP) by UNESCO for his decision to send troops to Mali in January.

CFR's John Campbell writes about U.S. humanitarian assistance to Mali in this blog post.



Protestors Besiege Bosnian Parliament

Police in Sarajevo evacuated hundreds of lawmakers and conference attendees trapped overnight inside Bosnia's parliament by nearly three thousand protesters (RFE). Demonstrations were sparked by delays in passing a new personal identification law, which has left all babies without personal documents since February.

ITALY: Silvio Berlusconi urged Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Friday to seek a "test of strength" with Germany, saying Berlin's budget austerity was putting the eurozone at risk (Reuters).



White House Defends NSA Surveillance

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper defended the National Security Administration's widespread surveillance programs (Politico) that collect millions of phone records. Clapper called the monitoring "important and entirely legal."

PARAGUAY: Paraguay was chosen to host the next Organization of American States general assembly, marking a diplomatic success for the country, which has been suspended from regional organizations Mercosur and Unasur (MercoPress) since the removal of its former president, Fernando Lugo.



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