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May 26, 2017

Daily News Brief

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G7 Leaders Kick Off Summit in Sicily

Editor's note: There will be no Daily Brief on Monday, May 29, for Memorial Day.

The leaders of the seven industrialized nations that make up the Group of Seven (G7) are meeting on Friday for a summit in Sicily (AP) where trade, climate change, and terrorism top the agenda (DW). The meeting will be the first G7 summit for heads from four member countries and is the final stop on U.S. President Donald J. Trump's first overseas trip. Trump also visited Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, and Brussels. On Thursday, Trump addressed (Reuters) NATO leaders, calling on member states to spend the minimum 2 percent of GDP on defense agreed to in 2014. Trump refrained from endorsing Article V of NATO's founding treaty, which has been a tradition for U.S. presidents to voice their commitment to the alliance's collective defense principle.


"The tenor and tone of the two-day meeting in Taormina, Sicily is hard to predict, partly because four of the seven leaders are newly installed and attending for the first time—Trump, Theresa May, France's Emmanuel Macron and the Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni," writes Patrick Wintour in the Guardian.

"The choreography of Mr. Trump's visit to Brussels and the new NATO headquarters this week was so transparently awful, you could have legitimately taken away the impression that, for the first time in decades, more divides industrialized Western powers than unites them," writes Peter Foster in the Telegraph.

"In this business, actions speak louder than words—and we still have thousands of U.S. troops undergirding our commitment to Poland and the Baltic states, among other forward regions. Trump hasn't suggested pulling these forces back," writes the Brookings Institution's Michael E. O'Hanlon.


Dozens Killed in Clashes in Southern Philippines

Ongoing fighting between government forces and armed groups with links to the self-proclaimed Islamic State has killed more than forty people in Marawi City (Inquirer) on Mindanao Island. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared limited martial law on the island earlier this week.

VIETNAM: Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will begin a three-day trip (VnExpress) to the United States on May 29. Nguyen will be the first Southeast Asian leader to meet with President Trump at the White House.


Modi Inaugurates India's Longest Bridge

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened (BBC) a 5.6-mile road bridge over the Brahmaputra River, connecting the northeastern Indian state of Assam to the disputed state of Arunachal Pradesh. China claims most of Arunachal Pradesh, which India administers, as part of "southern Tibet."

BANGLADESH: Authorities removed (AFP) a statue of a woman representing a goddess of justice outside Bangladesh's supreme court building on Friday in response to pressure from Islamist hard-liners.

CFR's Alyssa Ayres discusses the political debate in Bangladesh over the country's identity.


Gunmen Fire at Egyptian Christians on Bus

Gunmen attacked a bus transporting Coptic Christians (Al Jazeera) to a monastery south of Cairo on Friday, killing more than twenty people and injuring dozens, according to state media reports.

GAZA: Militant group Hamas publicly executed (BBC) three men on Thursday who were accused of killing one of the group's leaders.


Zuma Appoints First Woman to Head Court of Appeal

President Jacob Zuma appointed (ENCA) Justice Mandisa Maya to become the president of South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal, making her the first woman to hold the position.

UGANDA: The governments of Uganda and Tanzania signed a deal to build the world's longest heated oil pipeline (Reuters). The project will cost an estimated $3.55 billion and is expected to be completed in 2020.


Libya Becomes Focus in Manchester Bombing Probe

Salman Abedi, the man behind Monday's suicide bombing in Manchester, spent four weeks in Libya (WaPo), then returned to the United Kingdom days before the attack. Authorities arrested Abedi's brother and father in Libya and are investigating possible ties to the Islamic State. 


Brazil's Temer Recalls Troops in Brasilia

President Michel Temer revoked (LAHT) a decree on Thursday authorizing the deployment of troops in Brasilia to quell anti-government protests. Temer is under pressure amid allegations of corruption.

CFR's Matthew Taylor discusses the likelihood that Temer will stay in office.

CHILE: Freight transports have been disrupted after Chile's customs association declared an indefinite strike (Santiago Times) on Thursday.


Appeals Court Upholds Block on Travel Ban

A federal appeals court rejected government requests to reinstate an executive order (WSJ) that banned travel from six Muslim-majority countries to the United States. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the administration will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

CFR's Edward Alden and James M. Lindsay examine the Trump administration's executive order on immigration in this episode of The President's Inbox.

Presidential advisor Jared Kushner is now a focus in the federal probe (WaPo) into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, according to media reports. Kushner's lawyers said he is willing to cooperate (AP) with investigators.