Thursday, May 20, 2010

FP morning brief 5/20

North Korea accused of sinking South Korean ship; Scientists attack Obama's handling of Gulf oil spill

Top story: An international investigation into the sinking of a South Korean navy ship, which was destroyed on March 26, resulting in the deaths of 46 sailors, was caused by a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak promised to take "stern action" against the north. U.S. officials have promised to back South Korea "strongly and unequivocally" in its response, which could result in action by the United Nations Security Council. China, the traditional patron and ally of North Korea, has been more cautious in accusing the north; a foreign ministry spokesman "noted" the report but said that China would make its own assessment of the causes behind the Cheonan's sinking.

The rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula threaten to complicate international diplomacy between the United States and China. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are scheduled to travel to Beijing to discuss an array of issues with Chinese officials, including renewed sanctions against Iran and China's exchange rate. Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, stated that a "central issue" of Secretary Clinton's upcoming discussions would be the Chinese leadership's reaction to the report.

Scientists condemn handling of oil spill: Prominent oceanographers accused the Obama administration of failing to investigate the scope of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing energy giant BP to cover up the true cost of the disaster. The scientists are particularly concerned with possible damage to ecosystems in the deep ocean caused by the oil spill. They are calling on the government to release water samples from the deep ocean.

The Thai government extended a curfew in Bangkok, in the wake of clashes between police and anti-government protestors.
Pakistan blocks access to YouTube, calling its content "sacrilegious."
Japanese media is reporting that the Japanese government will agree to adhere to an agreement to relocate the U.S. air base on Okinawa.
Middle East
The Obama administration will pursue additional Iran sanctions, in spite of the Iran nuclear deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil.
Dubai World announced that it has reached a deal with its lenders to restructure its $23.5 billion debt.
A Russian official said that work on Iran's first nuclear plant will begin operation in August.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has renewed his criticism of Arizona's immigration law during his visit to Washington D.C.
Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner criticized the British government for refusing to reopen talks over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.
The Venezuelan government is facing charges that it facilitated training between the FARC, a Colombian terrorist organization, and the ETA, a separatist militia in Spain, in a bid to weaken U.S. ally Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Somalia criticized the United States for prosecuting a Somali pirate who attempted to hijack a U.S. ship in 2009.
Gun battles break out in Madagascar's capital of Antananarivo.
Chad denied entry to Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim, ordering him to return to Libya.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, warning that the euro was "in danger," called for stricter financial regulation.
Greece's transportation network has been paralyzed by a new general strike.
Britain's new coalition government laid out a plan to cut back on the personal information that the government collected on its citizens.
-David Kenner
Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images

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