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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
September 26, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Talks on Iran's Nuclear Dispute Resume

Diplomats of the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany will meet with Iran's foreign minister on Thursday in the first test of Tehran's intentions to resolve the dispute over its nuclear ambitions (AP). President Hassan Rouhani said Iran wants to propose a timeline of three to six months to conclude negotiations (WaPo). Separately, Iran's state news agency backtracked from Rouhani's acknowledgment of the Holocaust Wednesday, accusing CNN of fabricating portions of its interview with Iran's president and denying that Rouhani said the word Holocaust or called the slaughter of millions of Jews "reprehensible" (Politico).


"I came away willing to believe that Rouhani is a pragmatist. ('Moderate' is a misleading term for the head of a quasi-theocratic regime.) He wants to end his country's isolation. But it remains unclear whether he has the authority to act on behalf of his government," Fareed Zakaria writes in the Washington Post.

"In the next few weeks, in a variety of conclaves and conferences, Iranian and western diplomats will test each other. It remains to be seen whether the international community will be comfortable with the new Iran retaining its nuclear plants. It seems implausible that Mr. Rouhani can escape the noose of the sanctions without offering some measurable concessions on the scope and scale of the growing nuclear program," CFR Senior Fellow Ray Takeyh writes for the Financial Times.

"If Rouhani's cabinet is to be judged on its record of human rights, Pourmohammadi's appointment is catastrophic. Accepting it without protest is tantamount to indifference to justice. However, there is also Iran's path to democracy to consider," writes Akbar Ganji for al-Jazeera.


InfoGuide: China's Maritime Disputes

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new interactive series called "InfoGuides." The first guide examines the escalating maritime disputes in the South China and East China Seas, pairing expert analysis with maps, timelines, infographics, and videos. Take a look.


China's Central Bank Pumps Cash Into the Economy

China's central bank is continuing to add liquidity to its banking system before a week-long holiday, exceeding $27 billion in two days in an effort to avoid a cash crunch similar to one that roiled financial markets in late June (Xinhua).

JAPAN: Tokyo will start considering a reduction to the corporate tax rate as part of an expected stimulus package, which will offset the planned increase in sales tax (Kyodo).



UN Body Sets Deadline for Sri Lanka Probe

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights set a March 2014 deadline for the Sri Lankan government to begin a nationwide investigation into alleged human rights violations during the final battles with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Pillay called for an international probe to conduct the inquiry (Hindu) if the government failed to begin the process.

INDIA: Militants killed seven people in an attack on a police station in Indian Kashmir, complicating upcoming talks between Pakistan's and India's leaders at the UN (ExpressTribune).



Workers at Risk as Qatar Prepares for 2022 World Cup

Nepalese migrant laborers who are preparing Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, soccer's biggest competition, are dying at a rate of almost one a day from heart attacks or workplace accidents, according to a Guardian investigation. Conditions amount to "modern-day slavery," the paper said.



Boko Haram Chief Shown Alive in Video

Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram, appeared in a video discussing recent events (BBC). The Nigerian military said in August that it may have killed Shekau in a shootout.

This Backgrounder explains the origins and expansion of Boko Haram.

SUDAN: Sudan has been cut off from Internet access as riots over rising fuel prices continued for a third day and protestors clashed with security forces in Khartoum (AP).



IMF Disburses €770 Million for Ireland Bailout

The International Monetary Fund, one of three lenders overseeing Ireland's €85 billion bailout, disbursed €770 million of the aid package on Wednesday, saying that Ireland's economy has performed as expected but there was concern about long-term unemployment (IrishTimes).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the eurozone crisis.

ITALY: Political uncertainty is mounting in Italy as center-right supporters of Silvio Berlusconi threaten to walk out of parliament if the former leader loses his seat in the Senate (Reuters).



U.S. Runs out of Money on October 17

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told congressional leaders that the debt limit must be raised by October 17 or the United States will likely default on its obligations (LATimes).

UNITED STATES: JPMorgan Chase is preparing to settle its outstanding mortgage securities issues with U.S. state and federal authorities for $11 billion (FT). The bank has already paid $5.3 billion in penalties related to the housing market crash.



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