Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In the first visit to Myanmar by a U.S. secretary of State in over fifty years, Hillary Clinton said the United States would allow Myanmar to receive international financial assistance (NYT) and join a regional development group. The move follows recent political and economic reforms in the country that followed the election of a civilian government led by President Thein Sein.
Clinton said if Myanmar continued to democratize, the United States would consider upgrading diplomatic relations and exchanging ambassadors with the isolated Southeast Asian nation, but was not yet ready to lift sanctions. She warned that the steps taken thus far by Myanmar have been "insufficient" (al-Jazeera).
Clinton called on Myanmar to rein in military violence, release more political prisoners, and suspend ties with North Korea (WSJ).
Clinton is set to travel from the capital of Naypyitaw to the commercial city of Yangon to meet with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (Telegraph) this evening, ahead of more formal talks on Friday.
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In this Policy Innovation Memo, CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick argues that the United States should play a much larger role in shaping Myanmar's reforms by launching a new strategy of engagement, including a sizable aid package, upgraded diplomatic relations, and, if reforms continue, an end to U.S. sanctions.
Clinton is in Myanmar to gauge recent reforms by the military-backed regime, but experts are calling for further democratization, including strengthening the rule of law and reconciliation with ethnic minority groups.
In a CFR meeting conducted via videoconference, Aung San Suu Kyi discusses recent changes in Myanmar, her decision to rejoin the political system, and Myanmar-U.S. relations.
Myanmar is a changed place, and it's not just Aung San Suu Kyi's omnipresence that signals a remarkable transformation, writes TIME's Hannah Beech.
UK Downgrades Diplomatic Ties with Iran
The UK downgraded diplomatic relations with Iran and closed the British embassy in Tehran after it was raided by Iranian students earlier in the week. British officials have given Iranian diplomats forty-eight hours to leave the UK, as EU foreign ministers consider new financial sanctions on Iran (al-Jazeera).
This CFR Crisis Guide traces Iran's history, its evolution as an Islamic republic, and its controversial nuclear program.
EGYPT: The Islamist party formed by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood claimed victory (NYT) in the country's first parliamentary election since the ouster of former leader Hosni Mubarak, with early results showing the group garnering 40 percent of the vote.
This Backgrounder looks at the divide in views over whether the Muslim Brotherhood will choose a path of moderation or extremism.
PACIFIC RIM: China Manufacturing Activity Falls
Manufacturing activity in China contracted in November for the first time in almost three years, signaling amarked downturn in Chinese output (WSJ). Industrial activity continued to weaken throughout the region, including in South Korea and Taiwan.
China Manufacturing Activity Falls
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Obama Won't Issue Formal Apology to Pakistan
U.S. President Barack Obama rejected calls by the State Department (NYT) to issue a formal apology to Pakistan over last week's NATO airstrikes that killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border. Relations between the United States and Pakistan continue to quickly deteriorate.
One casualty of the latest U.S.-Pakistani frictions is the cutoff of critical supply routes for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, raising questions about cooperation in the region, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.
KYRGYZSTAN: Almazbek Atambayev was sworn in as president (BBC) in the first peaceful transfer of power in the former Soviet state, despite accusations of election fraud.
U.S. Congressional Report Warns on Nigeria's Boko Haram
A U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security released a new report outlining the "emerging threat" to U.S. interests (HuffPost) posed by the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, urging increased intelligence gathering on the organization.
Widening violence by Boko Haram has caused concerns about its possible links to international terrorist groups, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
SOMALIA: A French court sentenced five Somali pirates (Telegraph) to up to eight years in jail for taking a French couple hostage on their yacht off the coast of Somalia in 2008.
Another Mexico-U.S. Drug Tunnel
Mexican authorities discovered an eighteen hundred-foot drug-smuggling tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego (SFC), the second to be unearthed in two weeks. U.S. officials confiscated thirty-two tons of marijuana.
This three-part CFR Timeline looks at the history of U.S.-Mexico relations from Mexican independence to the present.
LATIN AMERICA: A new report by the World Bank said the region's financial systems (MercoPress) are "stable and solid," but cited weakness in the consumer banking sector.
Central Banks Lower Borrowing Costs for European Banks
The U.S. Federal Reserve and five other central banks lowered the cost of borrowing U.S. dollars, easing inter-bank lending in the strained eurozone, as global markets surged (DeutscheWelle).
In the wake of financial regulatory overhaul, experts continue to differ on the role of the Federal Reserve and its powers, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
UNITED KINGDOM: Manufacturing activity (Guardian) dropped at its fastest pace since summer 2009, fueling fears that Britain's economy could fall back into recession.
Pitfalls in Delayed American Airlines Bankruptcy
Industry critics question the fact that American Airlines (Bloomberg) failed to file bankruptcy and attempt to restructure sooner. Bankruptcy protection will now allow American to slash costs, but it won't eliminate the advantages given to its rivals who have already restructured.
IMMIGRATION: A second foreign worker for the Japanese automaker Honda Motors was stopped by Alabama authorities and issued a citation. Alabama's controversial immigration law (Reuters) requires identification to be produced during routine traffic stops, and has been protested by businesses in the state.
Renewing America is a special CFR project focused on the domestic underpinnings of U.S. global competitiveness, including the debt and deficit, infrastructure, education, innovation, trade, and corporate regulation and taxes.
Why can't we get Hillary on the ticket for 2012. I'd vote for her.
It'll be an affront for Barack Obama. She wouldn't run, unless he steps down.
"British officials have given Iranian diplomats forty-eight hours to leave the UK". It must be tough to be thrown out within short notice, leaving – almost – everything behind.
Reblogged this on The Political Jar.
nothing but add troubles in the world, not aisa please. Us saved by China bonds no thank, gave the world a bloom by the hard working people no thank, rio tino saved by Chinese no thank.
Where are the Red Inidans? Should they have a say and approved by them.
Australia, India (while on aids from tax payer) and others should buy bits more of US bonds.
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