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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 3, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Chinese President Xi Jinping Visits South Korea

Editor's Note: There will be no Daily Brief sent on Friday, July 4. The DB will resume on Monday, July 7.

Chinese president Xi Jinping arrived in Seoul (Korea Times) on Thursday to meet his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye, in a state visit that could signal a shift in regional geopolitics. South Korea's relations with Japan, also a vital U.S. ally, has been strained as Tokyo adopted a more aggressive defense doctrine this week and moved to review its apology to Korean women for World War II-era crimes (WSJ). Observers say that China is unsettling the U.S.-South Korea alliance while shunting its traditional ally, North Korea (NYT), which vowed Thursday to continue launching short-range missiles (WSJ). Meanwhile, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said that Japan would ease its unilateral sanctions on North Korea (Japan Times).


"For Beijing, a main payoff from the visit to Seoul, aside from sending a not so subtle message to Pyongyang, will lie in securing Seoul's cooperation with Beijing in criticizing Japan. There is no doubt that by visiting Yasukuni Shrine last December, Prime Minister Abe has stirred up public outrage and distrust over Japan's future intentions in both South Korea and China," writes CFR's Scott Snyder.

"The North seems to still believe, based on logic that is clear only to those residing in Pyongyang, that China needs the North more than it needs China, and that while China will send signals of its annoyance from time to time, at the end of the day it will not pull the plug and take Pyongyang off of life support; any pain Pyongyang may experience will be temporary," writes Ralph Cossa in the Guardian.

"Regionally Japan must also tread carefully, especially toward South Korea. Seoul reacted cautiously Tuesday, emphasizing that Japan would not be allowed to participate in collective defense on the Korean Peninsula without an invitation. Koreans' painful memories of Japanese colonial rule mean that this is unlikely in the foreseeable future," writes the Wall Street Journal in an editorial.


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Australia Denies Violating Asylum-Seekers’ Rights

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott on Thursday described Sri Lanka as "a society at peace" amid reports that Australia intercepted Tamil asylum seekers in the middle of the ocean and handed them over to the Sri Lankan navy (SMH). The UN raised concern about Australian border-protection laws while Australia denied it is in violation of international humanitarian law (WSJ).



New Pakistani Counterterrorism Bill Draws Criticism

Pakistan's National Assembly on Wednesday approved new powers for the country's security forces (Dawn), which lawmakers said are necessary to combat the Pakistani Taliban, but drew criticism from rights groups (NYT). The bill allows security forces to shoot suspects and conduct warrantless searches and arrests.

CFR's Global Governance report card identifies Pakistan as a "truant" in counterterrorism policy.

INDIA: U.S. senator John McCain discussed revitalizing the U.S.-India trade and strategic relationships (Dawn) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. McCain's visit to New Delhi comes a day after India summoned a senior U.S. diplomat over allegations the NSA spied on Modi's political party (Reuters).

A new CFR timeline tracks milestones in U.S.-Indian relations.



Saudi Arabia Deploys Troops to Iraqi Border

Saudi Arabia deployed thirty thousand troops to its border with Iraq (FT) amid reports of Iraqi troops abandoning frontier posts. The news comes a day after Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki made a bid for unity in a televised address (AFP).

ISRAEL: Israel on Thursday began moving troop reinforcements to its border with the Gaza strip (AP) after Gaza militants and the Israeli Air Force exchanged strikes overnight (Haaretz).



South Sudan on Brink of Famine, Agencies Warn

South Sudan will face a famine within weeks unless a billion dollar shortfall in funding for food aid is closed, according to a coalition of thirteen major aid agencies (AFP).

SOMALIA: A Somali lawmaker and his bodyguards were killed in Mogadishu in an attack claimed by the militant group al-Shabab (BBC), which vowed to increase attacks during Ramadan. The attack comes as U.S. officials acknowledged that U.S. military advisors have been operating in the country for several years (Reuters).



Hollande, Merkel Urge Putin to Broker Ceasefire

French and German leaders urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to encourage separatists in eastern Ukraine to reach an agreement with the Ukrainian authorities (Reuters), a day after Moscow insisted that Kiev halt its military operations and restore a ceasefire (NYT).

GERMANY: The Bundestag on Thursday passed an 8.50 euro/hour national minimum wage (DeutscheWelle) after protracted negotiations between Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and Social Democrats.

CFR's Benn Steil discusses global financial governance on the seventieth anniversary of the Bretton Woods conference.



U.S., UK Step Up Airport Security

The United States and United Kingdom are increasing security at airports in Europe and the Middle East amid concern that new bombs could evade standard detection procedures (FT).

PERU: Interior Minister Daniel Urresti proclaimed his innocence on accusations he murdered a journalist in 1988 as a young army intelligence officer fighting Shining Path rebels (AP).



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