World News Brief, Friday December 9

Merkel & Sarkozy call for "new common legal framework" as crucial EU summit convenes; Leaders divided on "quick  fix" vs long-term reforms; European Central Banks cuts rates to all-time low; US insists China a partner not "adversary"; Syria imposes blockade on Turkey border, while South Sudan responds to Sudanese bombing; Australia refuses to sell uranium to Pakistan; Putin blames Clinton for fomenting protest after Russian elections; and more

Top of the Agenda: EU Leaders Prepare for Crucial Summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged all twenty-seven members of the EU to agree to broad amendments to the EU treaty (DeutscheWelle) in order to ensure greater fiscal coordination and budget discipline. Merkel and Sarkozy called for decisive action to stem the tide of the eurozone sovereign debt crisis ahead of an EU summit that gets underway Thursday evening.

Still, many European leaders remained sharply divided over the next set of measures to enact in the nearly two-year sovereign debt crisis. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy argued against treaty changes--which could take up to two years--and instead put forward a fast-track plan that would have individual countries write shared budget obligations into their own laws. Berlin remains adamantly opposed to a "quick fix" agreement (NYT).

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank cut interest rates (BBC) to a historic low of 1 percent, as EU leaders increasingly look to ECB President Mario Draghi to take decisive action in addressing the euro crisis.


On the eve of a crucial summit in Brussels, Berlin is not amused--and has made it clear that compromise is not an option, writes Der Spiegel's Philipp Wittrock.

To see off the bond markets, the eurozone has to create a credible sovereign--but that may divide the larger EU, writes the Guardian's Timothy Garton Ash.

The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, is buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed, explains this CFR Backgrounder.



US Defense Official Moves to Reassure China

US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy sought to reassure Chinese General Ma Xiaotian that China was not the target of a US strategic shift toward the Pacific during the twelfth round of Defense Consultative Talks (WSJ) in Beijing on Wednesday.

THAILAND: A Thai court jailed a US citizen for two-and-a-half years after he admitted to insulting the monarchy (BBC) by posting links on his blog to a banned biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The US consul general in Thailand called the sentence "severe."



Border tensions in Syria and South Sudan

Australia won't sell uranium to Pakistan

Putin accuses Clinton of "giving the signal"


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