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Daily Brief: Trump, Guterres Make UN General Assembly Debuts

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September 19, 2017

Daily News Brief

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Trump, Guterres Make UN General Assembly Debuts

U.S. President Donald J. Trump is expected to call on world leaders to take greater action against Iran and North Korea (Bloomberg) for their nuclear and ballistic missile development during his first address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, seeking in particular the support of Russia and China.

The assembly will also be the first for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who has rolled out a series of reform proposals for the body. On Monday, Trump addressed a meeting on UN reform organized by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, telling leaders that the United States "pledges to be partners in your work" (NYT).


"Trump's debut at the UN—highlighted by his speech Tuesday to the General Assembly—is his most consequential moment yet on the global diplomatic stage, with more at stake than at the two economic summits he attended in Europe," Margaret Talev and Ladane Nasseri write for Bloomberg.

"The president's biggest challenge will be himself: the media pack will be hoping and praying that Trump will cause ructions at the UN," Richard Gowan said in an interview with CBS News.

"Antonio Guterres was elected last fall and started in January, and he's the first to have been selected through a more transparent process, so there's a lot of enthusiasm around him," Minh-Thu Pham said in an interview with Foreign Policy Interrupted.


U.S. Says North Korean Missiles Yet to Pose Threat

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Monday that North Korea's missiles have not yet posed a threat to the United States (VOA). He also said the United States has a military option for Pyongyang that will not put South Korea at risk (WSJ) of a counterattack, though he did not detail such a plan.

MYANMAR: State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi said in a public speech Tuesday that Myanmar condemns "all human rights violations" (WaPo) after the United Nations described a military campaign in the country's Rakhine State as "ethnic cleansing."

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick writes in the Washington Post that there is no political benefit for Myanmar to challenge majority views toward the Rohingya.


Thousands More U.S. Troops Head to Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Mattis said Monday that three thousand additional troops were en route to Afghanistan to boost the eleven thousand U.S. servicemen already there (RFE/RL); the move comes several weeks ahead of the war's sixteenth anniversary (VOA)

Daniel Byman and Steven Simon discuss ending the war in Afghanistan in Foreign Affairs.

BANGLADESH: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she spoke to U.S. President Trump following a UN event (Reuters) about the flood of Rohingya refugees entering her country from Myanmar, but that he did not comment on the subject. 


Dozens Receive Life Sentences in Mass Trial in Egypt

Forty-three protesters were sentenced to life in prison (BBC) and others, including a U.S. citizen, given years-long sentences in a trial of nearly five hundred people over violence that erupted following the military's ouster of President Mohammed Morsi (Reuters) in 2013.

IRAQ: The Supreme Court ordered the semi-autonomous Kurdish regional government on Monday to suspend an independence referendum (WSJ) scheduled for next week. The United States has urged the Kurdish government to postpone the vote. 


Kenyan Election Rerun May Be Delayed

Kenya's electoral commission said a rerun of an annulled presidential election scheduled for October 17 may be delayed by about ten days so that the French company that supplied electronic voting kits (DW) can reconfigure them. 

DRC: Congolese military commanders oversaw massacres that killed hundreds of people (Reuters) between 2014 and 2016, according to a new report from New York University.


Iceland to Hold Snap Election Next Month

Icelandic President Guoni Th. Johannesson accepted a request from Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson to dissolve parliament and host a snap election in October (Iceland Monitor). The center-right government collapsed following revelations the prime minister's father wrote a letter in support of a convicted pedophile (Politico).

TURKEY: The U.S. Senate has blocked a $1.2 million sale from U.S. gunmaker Sig Sauer (DW) to security guards for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying such a deal would endorse their "history of excessive force."


Dominica's Prime Minister Says Island Devastated by Maria

Hurricane Maria intensified to a Category 5 storm (Reuters) on Tuesday and is expected to move toward Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said Dominica suffered "widespread damage" (BBC), including to his own home.

BRAZIL: Raquel Dodge was sworn in Monday as Brazil's attorney general, the first woman in the position. She will take over the vast anticorruption investigations (NYT) known as Lava Jato, shortly after her predecessor charged President Michel Temer with obstruction of justice.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at Brazil's corruption fallout.


Tillerson Orders Stricter U.S. Visa Rules

The State Department has issued new rules requiring all visitors to the United States to follow through with plans provided in their visas interviews (NYT) for at least three months. Visitors found to have done activities not mentioned during their interviews, such as marry a U.S. citizen or go to school, could be deported.

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