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Daily Brief: Tillerson in China for Second Trip Amid North Korea Tensions

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September 28, 2017

Daily News Brief

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Tillerson in China for Second Trip Amid North Korea Tensions

Rex Tillerson is set to arrive in Beijing on Thursday, his second visit to China (SCMP) as U.S. secretary of state, for talks covering North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, trade, investment, and U.S. President Donald J. Trump's scheduled November visit.

Tillerson's three-day visit comes as the U.S. administration has upped sanctions against Pyongyang in recent weeks. Trump warned on Tuesday (Reuters) that U.S. military action against it would be "devastating," though he said using force is not Washington's first choice. A State Department spokeswoman said the United States wants to thank China for "steps it has taken in the right direction" regarding North Korea. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also visited Beijing earlier this week to highlight U.S. efforts to reduce its trade deficit. 


"China, thus far, has refused to use the full extent of its unique leverage against North Korea because of its well-known aversion to instability, its fears of a reunified Korean Peninsula, and its general distaste for regime change, which runs counter to its foreign-policy mantra of noninterference," Patricia Kim writes for Foreign Policy.

"China does pay close attention to the security policies of Japan and South Korea, not wishing to see these U.S. allies strengthen their military capacities or their security alliances with the United States," Jeffrey A. Bader writes for the Brookings Institution.

"One might dismiss Trump's tariff talk as yet another example of the president's bark outstripping his bite. But Trump has repeatedly suggested that his trade war with China is but a dream deferred," Eric Levitz writes for New York Magazine.


Thai Government Says Former PM in Dubai

The Thai government announced that former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sentenced this week in absentia to five years in prison, is in Dubai (Channel News Asia). Yingluck was ousted in a 2014 military coup (VOA); her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has lived in Dubai since he was ousted in a 2006 coup.


U.S. Strike in Kabul Hits Civilians

The U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan said a missile it launched in Kabul to repel an insurgent attack (WaPo) malfunctioned, hitting civilians, but did not provide details on the number of casualties.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani discussed the challenges facing Afghanistan at this CFR event.

INDIA: India's home minister met with Syria's grand mufti (PTI) in New Delhi on Wednesday to assure him of the country's support for Syria in the fight against terrorism, according to an official statement.


Regional Government: Iraqi Kurds Overwhelmingly Back Secession

The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq said that 92 percent of people who cast ballots in a Monday referendum (BBC) favored independence. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he would "never have dialogue" about the vote with the regional government.

SAUDI ARABIA: Eman Al-Ghamidi was appointed assistant mayor of Al Khobar Governorate on Wednesday, becoming the first woman to occupy a senior government post (Reuters) in the kingdom. The appointment comes a day after Saudi Arabia announced it will lift its ban on female drivers.


Report: A Hundred Thousand Nigerian Refugees Forced to Leave Cameroon

Cameroon's military has forced some one hundred thousand refugees who fled Nigeria amid violence carried out by the militant group Boko Haram (Guardian) to return to their home country since 2015, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. Many of the refugees reported facing torture, assault, and sexual abuse in Cameroon.

SOUTH AFRICA: A court has ruled that Parliament must amend legislation regarding access to information to compel political parties to reveal their private funding sources (Mail and Guardian).


EU Proposes Resettling Fifty Thousand African Refugees

The European Commission has proposed resettling fifty thousand refugees (EUobserver) from Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and Sudan by late 2019 among EU member states. A two-year program that ended Wednesday resettled less than a fifth (BBC) of the commission's goal of 160,000 asylum seekers.

RUSSIA: The head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons congratulated Russia on Wednesday for destroying its arsenal of Cold War-era chemical weapons (AP), calling the move a "major milestone." Efforts to destroy the weapons have spanned nearly two decades.


Mercosur May Seek Deal With Canada, Australia, New Zealand

Argentina's commerce secretary said the Mercosur trade bloc, which also includes Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, may seek a trade deal (Reuters) with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and that negotiations could begin this year.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at Mercosur's early ambitions.

MEXICO: The cost of reconstruction after two major earthquakes (LAHT) that killed more than four hundred people earlier this month could exceed $2 billion, President Enrique Pena Nieto said Wednesday.


U.S. Cuts Annual Refugee Limit to Forty-Five Thousand

The State Department announced that the United States will resettle a maximum of forty-five thousand refugees (DW) in the upcoming fiscal year, the country's lowest-ever ceiling since its refugee system was established in 1980 (Al Jazeera).

This CFR Backgrounder explains how the U.S. refugee system works.

Executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google have been called to testify at public hearings (Bloomberg) in the House and Senate about Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election using social media. 

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