Friday, May 21, 2010

FP morning brief 5/21

U.S. and South Korea weigh options on torpedo attack response

Top news: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was unequivocal today in her condemnation of North Korea for the alleged sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

“Let me be clear: this will not, and cannot be, business as usual,” she said. “There must be an international, not just a regional, but an international response.”

Clinton was speaking in Tokyo on the first stop of a trip to East Asia, which is likely to now be dominated by discussions of how to respond after South Korea formally accused Pyongyang on Thursday of responsibility for the sinking of the frigate Cheonan.

South Korea has suggested it will push for a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea, however China has so far remained silent on the matter and it's unclear if Beijing would support such a measure.

Other responses could include the shutting down of remaining trade between North and South Korea, the closing of the cooperative Kaesong Industrial Park, and the holding of joint U.S.-South Korean naval excercises, including anti-submarine warfare operations.

While in Japan, Clinton also plans to discuss the ongoing dispute over the U.S. Marine base on the island of Okinawa. On Sunday, she and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will lead a delegation of around 200 policy-makers and advisors to Beijing for economic talks.

Science: Researchers led by U.S. biologist Craig Venter say they have created a "synthetic cell."

  • In an address to the U.S. Congress on Thursday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon called for a ban on assault rifles and an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system.
  • Cuba's Catholic Cardinal called for the release of political prisoners in a rare meeting with President Raul Castro.
  • The leader of an anti-government, indigenous autonomy group in Southern Mexico was killed by gunmen.
Middle East
  • Israeli officials say two militants have infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip.
  • The mothers of the U.S. hikers held in Iran were allowed to meet with their sons.
  • Israel released a senior Hamas leader jailed after the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.
-By Joshua Keating


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