March 26th, 2012
09:56 AM ET

Roundup: Obama in Seoul for Nuclear Summit

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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.

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"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.

Expert Minxin Pei looks at the political transition under way in China and discusses prospects for change in this CFR Interview.


U.S. Compensates Families of Afghan Victims

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.

AFGHANISTAN: A man wearing an Afghan army uniform shot and killed two NATO soldiers (BBC) at a military base in Helmand province before being killed by coalition troops.

This CFR Timeline examines the events that precipitated the U.S. war in Afghanistan as well as the history of the war.


U.S., Turkey to Give Syrian Rebels 'Nonlethal' Aid

The United States and Turkey agreed to provide Syrian opposition groups with "nonlethal" aid, including communications equipment and medical supplies (NYT), while Turkey announced today it would withdraw its diplomats from the Syrian capital.

Expert Joshua Landis discusses the fault lines in the Syria uprising in this CFR Interview.

IRAN: The Iranian government is set to increase the cash subsidies it provides citizens (al-Jazeera) by more than 50 percent, amid rising inflation and a depreciating currency.


Wade Concedes Defeat in Senegal Election

Longtime Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade conceded victory to rival Macky Sall (Reuters) in the country's closely watched presidential election, boosting the West African nation's democratic standing.

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.

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Merkel Likely to OK Euro Rescue Fund Increase

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to shift course and drop her long-held opposition to increasing the size of the eurozone bailout mechanism ahead of a summit of eurozone finance ministers in Copenhagen (DerSpiegel) at the end of this week.

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.


Pope Presides Over Open-Air Mass in Cuba

Pope Benedict XVI delivered an open-air Mass to half a million people in León at the end of a three-day visit, which is expected to boost support for the conservative National Action Party (NYT) of President Felipe Calderón. The Pope is set to travel to Cuba today.

Under President Raul Castro, Cuba has begun economic and political reforms while bolstering ties with the Vatican, says CFR's Julia E. Sweig in this CFR Interview.

VENEZUELA: President Hugo Chávez began chemotherapy treatment in Cuba (AP) over the weekend, one month after having a tumor removed. Chávez's time in Cuba will overlap with Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the country.


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.

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Nuclear • President Obama

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Marine5484

    A few years ago, South Africa made a deal at the U.N. saying that that country can have nuclear energy but not nuclear weapons. Both Iran and North Korea need to do the same. Leave it to Barack Obama to make stupid threats to both countries!

    March 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Reply
    • Lionel Mandrake

      How do you know this?
      Can you quote any verifialble information?

      March 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    According to police findings in Chongqing Heywood died of alcohol poisoning. His friends said he was a teetotaller.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:11 am | Reply
    • Lionel Mandrake

      According to you this is true, but I cannot find anything close to what you are saying in my research.

      March 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Iran sets to increase cash subsidies for its people to cope with inflations. Soon it wouldn't have the means to do so.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:14 am | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    It's fair that those families got compensated for Bales' atrocities. But the Taliban would punish them for accepting "blood money" from the U.S.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:18 am | Reply
  5. Syahrul

    To have a chance for true cnhage, we must take lesson from our past Our history proves we have a foundation of rebellious nature among other questionable behaviors. Let's not argue that but accept it! Now we have a rebellious president who refuses to do things based on the same old policies, procedures and political traditions. I have read the opinions and blogs of others on various website, I see a people afraid of the unknown Without rebellious people like OBAMA true leaders do not exists! If there were not rebellious people standing up for civil rights of woman and minorities than we would still be living in a world as backwards as some third world countries. Without people who are not afraid to admit that the old policies, procedures and practices of this nation are failing the people than progress will not be made. To break free from a failing system something completely new and different must take place and many will not understand the new at first.Obama's leadership style is democratic meaning internal drives and impulses that are centered on human relations and teamwork. He fosters communication that is open and usually two-way creates a spirit of collaboration and joint effort that result in staff satisfaction. I agree he does have some traits of permissive (laissez-faire) style, internal drives and impulses that tend to have some established policies; but abstains from complete leadership. What that tells me about President Obama is that he has enough humility and compassion for others to admit that being the President of the United States is not a ONE MAN JOB! Unless it is Jesus Christ himself than there is not a MAN capable, trustworthy or intelligent enough to handle that load! He is a leader who teaches us to work together. As humans we are all imperfect and until we all fully grasps that concept than many President Bush’s (prideful and self centered) will destroy this country. I wish people would stop judging and being so critical instead ask how they can help. We have a leader who does not mind gathering intelligent minds together so working towards the best possible solution can be achievable. Based on history the democrats do not have all the answers and nor do the Republicans, but given the opportunity to come together no one can come against us! Finally, remember another piece of American history: United we stand divided we fall. We use to be the leading nation in many aspects but now each side, each party and the American people have become so prideful and selfish that we are destroying the fabric that made us great. Yet, one day we will die but our children learning from our mistakes we continue in those mistakes only to destroy what little we have left behind. We cannot continue in the old way the new way must come even if it is uncomfortable at first.Jesus was a rebel in his day too, breaking the traditions of religious leaders and political powers of that time.

    April 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Reply
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