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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 29, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Kerry Restarts Mideast Peace Talks


Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will resume peace talks (Haaretz) Monday night in Washington, DC, after the Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners who have been jailed since before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. The release of the prisoners had been one of the major obstacles (AP) to the resumption of peace talks, which were brokered by U.S. secretary of state John Kerry. The talks represent the first direct dialogue (WaPo) since the peace process fell apart in September 2010, and will see Israel's Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho sitting down with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mahmoud Abbas aide Mohammed Shtayyeh.


"Just this month [President Obama] gave a speech defending vigorously his use of drone attacks. So we escalate our effort to kill terrorists while urging an ally to release terrorists from prison. It would be worth asking the administration how that position can be defended morally," writes CFR's Elliott Abrams on his blog, Pressure Points.

"Israel and Palestine need a two-state peace. It would involve bitter compromises on both sides, but no more bitter than those accepted by Nelson Mandela in putting the future before the past, hope before grievance," writes Roger Cohen for the New York Times.

"The two-state solution may well be on the line as well. As former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin warned recently, Israel is 'approaching a point of no return.' Against this backdrop, Kerry's great challenge is to apply some Kissinger muscle. Putting the full-court press on the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, however, is going to require a little more media savvy," writes Bruce Van Voorst for Foreign Policy.



Japanese Minister Visits China

A top Japanese minister will visit China (Reuters) on Monday and Tuesday for talks with senior officials in a bid to smooth relations soured by an escalating territorial row. A top government adviser also said Sunday that Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe could soon hold a summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

CFR's Sheila Smith discusses Japan and the East China Sea dispute in this article.

CAMBODIA: Cambodia's opposition leaders rejected the preliminary results (NYT) of Sunday's election, accusing the authoritarian government of Prime Minister Hun Sen of cheating.

MYANMAR: China has activated a new pipeline bringing natural gas (AP) from Myanmar in a project that has raised concerns about China's energy project and its impact on Myanmar's locals.



Kerry to Visit Pakistan

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry is scheduled to visit Pakistan (Dawn) on July 31 after accepting an invitation on the sidelines of the ASEAN conference in early July. Kerry will hold meetings with Pakistani leaders and participate in the Pakistan-U.S. strategic dialogue.

This CFR Crisis Guide covers Pakistan's contentious history and evolution.



Morsi Supporters Call for More Protests

Supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohammed Morsi called for a million-person march (al-Jazeera), urging demonstrators to protest military brutality. The call comes after at least seventy-two people were killed at a sit-in in support of Morsi on Saturday.



Mali Awaits Presidential Poll Results

Mali voted on Sunday in presidential polls (France24) that saw large voter turnout in the first election since a military coup plunged the country into chaos. The candidates included two former prime ministers, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Modibo Sidibe, who are expected to be among the top finishers.

This CFR Expert Brief discusses the African Union and security on the continent.

KENYA: The International Criminal Court said it will not object to a motion that could lead to the dismissal of charges (TheStar) against Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, who is currently facing charges of crimes against humanity for his role in post-election violence in 2007.



EU, China Reach Solar Panel Deal

The European Commission and China have agreed to a minimum price (DeutscheWelle) for imports of solar panels after a dispute over tariffs and alleged price dumping had sparked fears of a trade war. The EC had accused China of dumping its solar panels in Europe at below cost.

ITALY: Italy's Supreme Court will rule on Tuesday on former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's appeal against a tax fraud conviction (FT), which, if upheld, could end his political career and bring down the coalition government.



Colombia Resumes Peace Talks

Colombia's government and FARC rebels resumed peace talks (MercoPress) in Havana on Sunday after a recess of more than two weeks, during which armed clashes killed nineteen soldiers and a number of rebels.

BRAZIL: Pope Francis closed one of the biggest Roman Catholic youth festivals with a mass (BBC) on Copacabana beach, marking the end of the Pope's five-day visit to Brazil.



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