Thursday, July 1, 2010

FP morning brief 7/1

Aid from flotilla makes its way to Gaza

Top story: Humanitarian aid from the Gaza-bound flotilla, which the Israel Defense Forces raided when it attempted to breach its blockade on May 31, killing nine, began arriving in Gaza by land. The cargo had been delayed while Israel, Hamas, and international aid organizations debated the terms of its release. Israel insisted that the aid should not be distributed by the Turkish Islamic organization IHH, which sponsored the flotilla, because of its ties to Hamas. The United Nations eventually agreed to distribute the aid.

The first items to cross into Gaza were 82 battery-powered scooters, for use by the handicapped. Israel had considered withholding the batteries and chargers for the scooters, fearing that they could be diverted to military use. World Health Organizations officials eventually convinced Israel to let the batteries into Gaza. 128 trucks lined up along the Israeli border, carrying the ships' former cargo into Gaza.

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell oversaw the convoy of aid from the Israeli side of the border, and offered praise for Israel's decision to ease the Gaza blockade. "We appreciate the changes that have been made," he said, adding that the United States would consult with Israel on "further steps that will be taken in the near future."

Latin American tigers: While most of the world's economies remain in the doldrums, Latin American has witnessed surprisingly robust growth. The World Bank forecast that the region's economy will grow at 4.5 percent this year.

Gen. David Petraeus briefed U.S. allies at NATO headquarters in Brussels before heading to Afghanistan.
Congress cut $4 billion in aid to the Afghan government over fears of corruption.
Pakistan is combating a new militant group that arose to avenge the 2007 assault on the Red Mosque in Islamabad.

Hurricane Alex made landfall in Mexico, and has already been blamed for the death of one man.
Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue reopened after a $4 million renovation.
The brother of a murdered gubernatorial candidate will run as the replacement candidate in northern Mexico.

The Sudanese government freed opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga had an operation to remove fluid from his brain.
Imam Abubakar Shekau, the leader of a radical Muslim sect in Nigeria, released a videotaped threat calling for renewed violence.

A suspect in the Russian espionage ring who was located in Cyprus has gone missing.
Iceland's female prime minister married her longtime girlfriend, becoming the first head of state to enter a gay marriage.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's candidate for president won in unimpressive fashion, deeply damaging Merkel's political fortunes.

Middle East
Turkey and Israel held their first high-level meeting after Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla killed 9 Turks.
Iran has reportedly provided Syria with sophisticated radar equipment.
17 people have been killed in clashes in Turkey's Kurdish areas.
-David Kenner
JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

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