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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 2, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: India Rejects Snowden's Asylum Request

Sergei Karpukhin/Courtesy Reuters  

Sergei Karpukhin/Courtesy Reuters

The Indian government rejected a request for asylum (ZeeNews) by fugitive former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden, who is believed to still be in a Moscow airport transit zone since his departure from Hong Kong on June 23. India's rejection came hours after a WikiLeaks report that Snowden had applied for political asylum in twenty countries (AP), although several European countries said they would not consider asylum applications made from abroad. Russian media reported that Snowden had withdrawn his request there after Putin agreed to shelter him under the condition that he would stop leaking U.S. secrets. Snowden accused President Barack Obama of putting diplomatic pressure (Reuters) on the countries from which he requested asylum.


"Vladimir Putin's warning to Mr Snowden that he should stop 'harming our American partners' is indicative of a significant shifting of gear. Russia now has ownership of the Snowden affair. What happens to Mr Snowden will depend upon Russia's calculations and what serves Russia's interests," writes Jonathan Marcus for the BBC.

"Part of what's complicated the U.S. position in the Snowden case is definitely some hostility and bitterness on the part of the Chinas and Russias of the world to the very conduct that the U.S. now wants to prosecute Snowden for disclosing," says Stephen Vladeck in a CFR interview.

"Lawyers in the region say that he could have sought bail. Additionally, had he applied for asylum after detention, he would have stopped the clock on surrender proceedings, some lawyers believe, and having lodged his appeal he could not be detained indefinitely," write Tania Branigan and Miriam Elder for the Guardian.



Direct Elections Focus of Hong Kong Rally

Tens of thousands of protestors joined an annual protest on the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China demanding universal suffrage and the resignation of Leung Chun-ying, the region's chef executive (WSJ).

NORTH KOREA: Pak Ui-chun, the North Korean foreign minister, told his counterparts at the ASEAN Regional Security Forum that high-level nuclear talks should be held "without preconditions." U.S. secretary of state John Kerry was in attendance; the U.S. position is that North Korea must demonstrate its sincerity before talks occur (Yonhap).

CFR's Scott Snyder discusses China's role in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula in this blog post.



Appointees to Afghan Human Rights Panel Questioned

President Hamid Karzai's appointments to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission have faced heavy criticism from the Afghan human rights community, as well as from the UN human rights commissioner. Countries meeting this week to discuss reconstruction aid are likely to conclude that Afghanistan failed to meet its human rights benchmarks (NYT).

AFGHANISTAN: Seven were killed in a suicide attack on a logistics firm that supplies NATO forces. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series in the capital (BBC).



Morsi Rejects Army Ultimatum

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi rejected the military's ultimatum, made Monday, that gave him forty-eight hours to resolve the current crisis, while President Obama urged Morsi to be responsive to public pressure. Supporters said that the army was attempting a coup; the threat of military intervention has emboldened protesters (al-Jazeera).

Expert Marina Ottaway discusses Egypt's economic troubles in this Foreign Affairs article.

ISRAEL: U.S. secretary of state John Kerry attempted another round of shuttle diplomacy to broker a two-state solution with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, even as the situations in Syria and Egypt have worsened (NYT).



Obama and Bush Commemorate Tanzania Embassy Bombing

President Obama, continuing his Africa tour, was joined by former president George W. Bush in Dar es Salaam. The two presidents laid a wreath commemorating victims of the 1998 al-Qaeda attack, which killed ten Tanzanians and injured more than eighty-five Tanzanians and Americans (WaPo).

SUDAN/SOUTH SUDAN: After Sudan threatened to halt South Sudanese oil exports over the South's alleged support for rebels operating on the border, vice presidents from both countries agreed to resolve the conflict but left details vague (Reuters).



Greek Bailout Jeopardized by Insufficient Progress

Unsatisfied by public-sector reforms, eurozone officials said Greece had three days to reassure Europe and the International Monetary Fund that it can meet conditions attached to its bailout. €8.1 billion are at stake in the current round (Reuters).

CFR's Robert Kahn analyzes lessons learned from the IMF's involvement in the Greek crisis in the latest edition of Global Economics Monthly.

VATICAN: The director of the Vatican bank and his deputy resigned following the arrest of a senior cleric on charges of smuggling €20 million. Pope Francis recently established a commission to reform the institution (FT).



Colombia's Largest Rebel Groups in Unification Talks

As peace talks resume in Cuba between the FARC and Colombian government, which could allow the FARC to participate in electoral politics and end five decades of conflict, the FARC met with another armed group, the ELN, to discuss "work for the unity of all political and social forces" (BBC).

ECUADOR: President Rafael Correa said that Ecuador "helped Snowden by mistake," following intervention by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a call from U.S. vice president Joe Biden (MercoPress). Correa said any consideration of asylum would only be given if Snowden reaches Ecuadorian soil.



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