World News Brief, Friday August 19

Libyan rebels take control of oil refinery outside city of Zawiyah--they are now just 30 miles from Tripoli; Joe Biden begins visit to China to strengthen economic relations; Japan records trade surplus for second month in a row; UK pledges another $48 million to Somali famine relief; protesters in Madrid take to streets to demonstrate against Pope's US$72 million taxpayer-funded visit; and more

Top of the Agenda: Libyan Rebels Advance Toward Tripoli

Libyan rebel fighters wrested control of a critical oil refinery (Reuters) outside the coastal city of Zawiyah from forces loyal to leader Muammar al-Qaddafi this morning. The opposition's conquest is considered a significant blow to Qaddafi's troops, who have relied on the refinery for fuel.

Zawiyah is just thirty miles west (BBC) of the capital of Tripoli, bringing the rebels within reach of Qaddafi's stronghold for the first time during the six-month conflict.

Rebel forces prepared to move south from Misurata along a coastal highway (Bloomberg) linked to Tripoli. Meanwhile, NATO jets bombed (AP) numerous targets in the capital controlled by the Qaddafi government.



Qaddafi's regime might be finished, but a bitterly divided opposition means Libya's troubles may just be starting, writes Abdel Bari Atwan in the Guardian.

Public disorder and instability in Libya could emerge if the Qaddafi regime falls. The United States should support a stabilization effort, says a CFR report by Johns Hopkins' Daniel Sewer.



Biden Meets Chinese VP

On the first day of a state visit to China, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that global economic stability (BBC) depends on closer ties between the two countries. Biden's visit comes amid growing frustration within China over the U.S. debt burden.

As Biden begins his visit to China, analysts say both the United States and China will have to restructure their economies to lessen global imbalances and strengthen recovery, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.

JAPAN: The country recorded a trade surplus (WSJ) for the second straight month in July, even as a strong yen and a lack of global demand hurt exports.



Britain pledges another $48 million to famine relief

Protest against Pope's $72 million visit to Spain

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