Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Missile Collaboration Between North Korea and Iran Goes Back Years

Iran has denied reports that Iranian missile experts are cooperating with North Korea as it prepares for its anticipated long-range missile flight, but the two regimes are known to have a long record of collaborating in the missile field. Read

Trip to Europe Brings Test of President Obama’s Leadership

President Obama’s campaign pledges to reassert American leadership will be put to the test during his first overseas visit, when he faces European and other leaders divided over everything from the road ahead in Afghanistan to solutions to the global economic crisis. Read

Monday, March 30, 2009

China Rejects Cyber Spying Allegations; ‘Dalai Lama Propaganda’

Chinese officials are dismissing startling allegations of an international electronic spying operation mounted from China, saying it’s just anti-Beijing propaganda. Read

Defying International Criminal Court, Arab Leaders Welcome Sudan’s President

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday was scheduled to address a gathering of Arab leaders despite the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, whose participation in the meeting in Qatar is in defiance of an international arrest warrant. Read

Friday, March 27, 2009

Israel Disputes Reported Gaza Death Toll

The number of Palestinian civilians killed during Israel’s military operation in Gaza is considerably lower than has been reported, while the proportion of Hamas operatives – the target of the assault – was much larger, the Israeli military said Thursday. Read

Obama Expected to Engage in Fence-Mending With Islamic Nations at Meeting in Turkey

President Obama’s forthcoming European visit has a crammed itinerary, including gatherings of the G-20, NATO and European Union, but it is his visit to Turkey that may draw the most attention in the Islamic world. Read

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Islamic States Mark a Decade of ‘Defamation of Religion’ Measures With Another Success

For the tenth year, the United Nations’ top human rights watchdog has passed a resolution on “defamation of religion,” in the face of growing international criticism that its Islamic sponsors are trying to place constraints on free expression. Read

NGOs Take Aim at ‘Religious Defamation,’ Urge Competitive U.N. Council Elections

On the eve of yet another United Nations vote on a “defamation of religion” resolution Thursday, a broad range of human rights, press freedom, religious and secularist organizations urged the world body’s Human Rights Council to reject the measure. Read

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

South Africa’s Bid to Keep China Happy Sparks Furor

China has applauded the South African government’s decision to refuse the Dalai Lama a visa, a move that has stoked consternation in a country once viewed as a beacon for human rights. Read

U.S. Dollar in the Crosshairs Ahead of G-20 Summit

In the run-up to next week’s G-20 summit in London, developing countries led by China and Russia are stepping up calls for the U.S. dollar to be pushed aside as the main global reserve currency. Read

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

British Gov’t At Odds With Country’s Largest Islamic Group

The British government has suspended its engagement with the country’s leading Islamic umbrella group, following reports that a senior leader signed a declaration in support of “jihad” against Israel and appeared to condone attacks on British troops. Read

Israel Confronts Mounting Charges of Abuses in Gaza

Facing new allegations of war crimes and abuses arising from its military operation in the Gaza Strip last winter, Israel’s top general insisted that soldiers did not target civilians intentionally, and he said any violations would be investigated and dealt with. Read

Monday, March 23, 2009

Japan Looks to Strengthen Security Ties With U.S., Given N. Korean Threat

Citing security threats facing Japan, including an increasingly belligerent North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, Prime Minister Taro Aso on Sunday stressed the importance of strengthening security ties with the United States. Read

Drop Sanctions, End Support for Israel, Iran Demands

Better relations between the United States and Iran will depend on Washington dropping its animosity and criticism, ending sanctions and unfreezing assets, and ending its “unconditional support” for Israel, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared at the weekend. Read

Friday, March 20, 2009

U.S. Journalists Held by North Korea at Sensitive Time

The reported detention of two American journalists by North Korean security officials comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region, raising concerns that Pyongyang may use them as bargaining chips in its attempts to win concessions from the U.S. Read

Close Diplomatic Encounters: U.S. Rubbing Shoulders With Iran

Within a five-day period at the end of March, senior U.S. and Iranian diplomats will come together at two separate meetings called to discuss Afghanistan, although the State Department says no substantive bilateral talks are planned. Read

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Woman Who Accused U.S. Marine of Rape Changes Her Story; Critics See A Conspiracy

A long running political and legal controversy in the Philippines over an alleged rape by a U.S. Marine has taken a dramatic turn, with the supposed victim issuing a sworn statement suggesting sex was consensual. Read

U.N. General Assembly President’s Diatribe Highlights Need for Reform

Controversial remarks by the president of the U.N. General Assembly once again raises questions about the way the world body’s second most prominent post is filled. Read

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Millions Hungry, But North Korea Tells U.S. to Stop Sending Food

North Korea has told the U.S. to stop providing food aid, the State Department confirmed Tuesday, one day after a bleak new United Nations report described conditions in the country as “dire and desperate.” Read

Revised Durban II Text Does Not Meet Conditions for U.S. Participation, Critics Say

Language targeting Israel and references to “religious defamation” have been removed from the draft final declaration of next month’s boycott-threatened U.N. racism conference, but the amended version still fails to meet the conditions laid down by the U.S. for participation. Read

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

El Salvador Election Marks the Rise of Another Leftist in Latin America

El Salvador’s Mauricio Funes, the latest leftist candidate to win election in Latin America, is calling for national reconciliation following a bruising campaign against a pro-U.S. conservative party that has governed the country for two decades. Read

European Warning for Israel’s Government-in-the-Making

As Israeli prime minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu struck a preliminary coalition deal with a far-right party that will give its leader the foreign affairs portfolio, the European Union said future relations with Israel will depend on its support for a “two-state” solution to the conflict. Read

Monday, March 16, 2009

Support for Democracy Climbs in A Safer and More Optimistic Iraq

Iraqis are significantly more optimistic about the future, less concerned about security and increasingly supportive of democracy, according to a new poll gauging Iraqis’ attitudes six years after the U.S.-led invasion. Read

End Participation in U.N., Say 24 Percent of Poll Respondents

Almost one in four Americans taking part in a new poll said the United States should no longer participate in the United Nations. Read

International Criminal Court Faces Credibility Test

The effectiveness of the International Criminal Court’s first arrest warrant for a sitting head of state will be tested later this month when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, accused of war crimes in Darfur, travels abroad. Read

U.S. Welcomes Pakistan’s Bid to Defuse Crippling Political Crisis

Pakistan’s beleaguered government early Monday moved to defuse its most serious political crisis yet by announcing that it would reinstate a top judge fired by its predecessor and release scores of opposition supporters arrested in recent days. Read

Friday, March 13, 2009

Join UN Human Rights Council, Advocacy Groups Urge Administration

On the heels of the Obama administration’s decision to return to the U.N. Human Rights Council as an observer, leading human rights and U.N.-promoting organizations are urging the U.S. to go further and stand for election to the body in two months’ time. Read

Americans’ Opinion of United Nations at Record Low

The Obama administration’s attempts to revamp the U.S. relationship with the United Nations comes at a time when Americans’ opinion of the world body’s effectiveness has dropped to an all-time low. Read

Thursday, March 12, 2009

British Government Under Fire for Allowing Hezbollah Official to Enter Country

The British government is facing criticism over plans for a Hezbollah spokesman to visit the country just days after London announced that it will pursue official contacts with the “political wing” of the Shi’ite terrorist group. Read

US, China Discuss Naval Confrontation Incident Amid ‘Spying’ Accusations

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said that she and her Chinese counterpart had agreed that incidents like the recent confrontation between U.S. and Chinese ships should not recur, although she declined to restate publicly that the U.S. had been in the right. Read

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Naval Confrontation: China Pushing U.S. Further Away From Its Territory

Disputes between the United States and China over naval movements in the South China Sea are not likely to end anytime soon, analysts say, as the two sides are divided over what activities are allowed. International law on the matter is vague. Read

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Australia Ends Its Ban on Abortion-Related Overseas Aid

Six weeks after President Obama overturned a ban on federal funds going to non-governmental organizations that promote or perform abortions, the Australian government on Tuesday took a similar step. Read

50 Years After Tibet Uprising, Divisions Run Deep

Tibetans around the world on Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of an abortive uprising against Chinese rule and the resulting exile of the Dalai Lama, who used the occasion to call for “legitimate and meaningful autonomy” for his homeland. Read

Monday, March 09, 2009

North Korea Steps Up ‘War’ Threats

As annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises began Monday, North Korea fired off fresh belligerent statements and closed the last remaining channel of communication it had with South Korea. Read

Obama’s Turkey Visit Could Clash With Push for New Armenian Genocide Bill

President Obama’s planned visit to Turkey next month -- no definite date given -- may be dogged by a new legislative push to recognize the mass killings of Armenians almost a century ago as “genocide.” It is a highly emotional issue for many Turks. Read

Friday, March 06, 2009

Gadaffi Diplomat Set to Succeed Ex-Sandinista Minister in Top U.N. General Assembly Post

The chilly atmosphere Israel faces in the United Nations General Assembly could drop a few more degrees later this year when a veteran diplomat from Muammar Gadaffi’s Libya is expected to take up the gavel. Read

Italy Withdraws From ‘Durban II’

Italy has become the first European Union country to withdraw from next month’s United Nations racism conference, echoing Washington’s stance that it could not take part in the event based on an outcome document that attacks Israel as racist. Read

Georgia, Afghanistan and Missiles on the Table as Clinton Meets Lavrov

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday was holding the Obama administration’s first high-level talks with Russia, a day after she spearheaded a push to revive contacts between NATO and Moscow. Those contacts were suspended after the invasion of Georgia last summer. Read

Thursday, March 05, 2009

As China Boosts Military Spending Again, Experts Mull Significance of Naval Mission

As Beijing announced yet another double-digit increase in defense spending, a U.S. congressional panel Wednesday heard expert testimony on China’s military buildup and activities, including the significant and unprecedented naval mission in the Gulf of Aden region. Read

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Russia Sees Obama As Willing to Reassess U.S. Missile Defense Plan

President Obama and his Russian counterpart, President Dmitry Medvedev, have both denied reports of a U.S. offer to abandon missile defense plans in Central Europe in return for Russian help in the West’s nuclear dispute with Iran. Read

New Stem Cell Advance is Both Ethical and Safe But Embryo Drive Continues

As the scientific world ponders another breakthrough in developing stem cell therapies that do not involve the destruction of human embryos, lawmakers in the U.S. and elsewhere are pushing ahead with measures facilitating the use of embryonic stem cells. Read

Europeans Criticize Racism Conference, But No Word Yet on Attendance

European governments are using the current session of the U.N. Human Rights Council to voice concern about next month’s international racism conference, although none has announced plans to join Israel, Canada and possibly the United States in boycotting the event. Read

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tensions Mount as Sudan Awaits Int’l Court Ruling

The Sudanese government and its allies – and the people of Darfur – are bracing for Wednesday’s International Criminal Court response to a prosecutor’s request for an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir. Read

Monday, March 02, 2009

U.S. Returns to Human Rights Council As An Observer, For Now

Nine months after the Bush administration ended its already pared-down involvement in the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, its successor has reversed the move, a step that could lead to membership for the first time. Read

U.S. Backs Away from Durban II, Shifting Focus to Other Democracies

The Obama administration’s decision to disengage from a major United Nations’ racism conference in Geneva moves the spotlight onto other democracies that have been troubled about the event but have not yet withdrawn. Read