World News Brief, Thursday August 23

Greek PM wants more time to implement austerity measures; Japan's ambassador to return to South Korea two weeks after recalled; North Korea takes major step in efforts to build nuclear reactor; Syria warns US against intervention over "unconventional weapons"; Ethiopia's acting PM to stay in post till 2015; and more

Top of the Agenda: Greek PM Calls for More Time to Implement Austerity

Ahead of a meeting with Euro Group President Jean-Claude Juncker today, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called for "breathing space to get the economy going" (DerSpiegel) before implementing an additional $14.3 billion in budget cuts needed to receive the next tranche of an international bailout, according to German newspaper Bild. Greece's troika of creditors--the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank--have said next month's vital payment of approximately $39 billion is contingent upon the Greek government enacting fresh austerity measures. Samaras will also meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande later this week amid renewed speculation that Greece could be forced to abandon the euro.


"If the Europeans accept that a Greek exit is not in their interest, they should recognise the efforts made and give it a real chance to adjust further and recover within the euro. Obviously they cannot remove the redenomination risk entirely but they can at least make speculation of exit a less-assured bet. Beyond a reasonable extension of the assistance programme, this means giving clear signals that Europe believes in a possible success," writes Jean Pisani-Ferry in the Financial Times.

"If it was ever the goal of Merkel and her allies to rescue Greece from bankruptcy, then they have failed. The only thing the drastic austerity measures have done is to exacerbate the economic crisis and push Greece's debts even higher. The end of this approach now appears to have been reached. Neither euro-zone countries nor the IMF can provide Greece with more aid without sacrificing their own credibility. Given these circumstances, there is only one option left: Greece must go broke," writes Der Spiegel's Stefan Kaiser.



Japan to Return Ambassador to South Korea

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba announced today he will return the country's ambassador to South Korea, nearly two weeks after he was recalled in protest over a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima islands (WSJ).

NORTH KOREA: Recent satellite pictures suggest North Korea has placed a dome on a light-water reactor (Telegraph), which would constitute a "major step" in its efforts to build a nuclear reactor, according to IHS Jane's Defense Weekly.

This CFR Independent Task Force report identifies three elements of an internationally coordinated response to the threat posed by North Korea, including the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and an approach that attempts to resolve rather than simply manage the nuclear issue.



Syria warns US against intervention over unconventional weapons

Ethiopia's acting PM to stay in post till 2015


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