Top of the Agenda: Obama in Seoul for Nuclear Summit
U.S. President Barack Obama urged North Korea and Iran (LAT) to abandon their nuclear programs, in a speech at Seoul's Hankuk University ahead of an international nuclear summit that begins today. Obama later condemned North Korea's planned rocket launch for next month, a move he suggested could put in jeopardy a recently agreed food aid deal between the two nations. The president vowed to work for a "world without nuclear weapons" (BBC), pledging to work with Russia to reduce the U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons arsenals.
"For the United States, continued North Korean long-range missile testing highlights the priority concern of North Korean vertical proliferation and underscores the concern expressed by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in December 2010 that North Korea's development of a long-range missile capability could become a direct threat to the United States," writes CFR's Scott A. Snyder in the CFR blog Asia Unbound.
"It's striking if you look at the numbers--the cost of this missile program and test. It's well in excess of what it costs to feed the North Korean people for a year. So while the world is being forced to save North Koreans from starvation, its government is pursuing these programs that will just bring further isolation. There's clearly a lack of certainty in Pyongyang both about where it wants to go and about what it can get away with," CFR's Michael A. Levi said in this CFR Interview.
"North Korea has perfected this cycle of provocations, negotiations, and concessions. And yet every time, the West falls into the trap. Both Washington and Seoul are well aware of Pyongyang's pressure points. Instead of countering the Kim clan with sustained financial sanctions and other measures though, they are enthralled every time the dynasty leaves open the window of opportunity for future talks," writes Sung-Yoon Lee in the Wall Street Journal.
UK Urges China to Launch Investigation Into British Death
The UK asked China to launch an investigation into the death of British businessman Neil Heywood in the city of Chongqing late last year. Heywood allegedly maintained close ties with the family of Bo Xilai (WSJ), the recently ousted Chongqing Communist Party chief.
The U.S. government paid $50,000 to each of the families (LAT) of the sixteen Afghan civilians who were killed by a U.S. soldier in Kandahar province earlier this month, the Kandahar provincial council confirmed. The soldier, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, was charged with seventeen counts of murder, including for the death of an unborn baby.
MALI: Capt. Amadou Sanogo, the leader of a military coup that overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure last week, said he had solidified his control over the country, while offering peace talks with Tuareg rebels (BBC) that have been advancing in northern Mali.
The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, is buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
FRANCE: Prosecutors charged the older brother of the man suspected of killing seven people in and around Toulouse with allegedly assisting in terrorist acts (WSJ), French prosecutors said. The suspected killer, who claimed to have ties to al-Qaeda, died following a standoff with police last week.
Louisiana Exit Polls Also Show Economy the Main Issue
Rick Santorum won the Louisiana GOP primary Saturday, where exit polls (CNN) show that not only is the economy the number one issue with voters, but that most of them think it is getting worse.
Newt Gingrich told conservatives who gathered Saturday at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference that not only would increased drilling lower gas prices, but U.S. energy independence would alleviate foreign policy problems (Politics PA), such as Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.
Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.