World News Brief, Thursday August 6

US journalists' release could open door to North Korea talks; Charges laid in Aussie terror plot; Russian subs off US coast; Clinton urges intra-Africa trade; and more

Top of the Agenda: North Korea Frees Journalists

After meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, former U.S. President Bill Clinton secured the release of two U.S. journalists (Korea Times), Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who had been imprisoned in North Korea since March. Clinton and the two women arrived in California this morning.

Analysts say Clinton would not have traveled to North Korea without assurances in advance that Ling and Lee would be released. The Wall Street Journal reports Pyongyang specifically requested that the Obama administration send Clinton to deal with the issue by having Lee and Ling deliver the message in phone calls to their parents last month.

Some experts speculated that the talks could be an opening for U.S.-North Korean relations discussions on other issues, including their disagreement over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

CFR's Korea expert Scott Snyder says Clinton's visit to Pyongyang provided a rare chance to gauge North Korea's views as talks on the country's nuclear program remain stalled.

In a Washington Post op-ed, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says Clinton's trip represents "a significant propaganda victory for North Korea."

NPR asks experts whether Clinton's trip was "worth the risk" of undermining U.S. interests.

In the Korea Times, North Korea experts predict that economic and military talks between the United States and North Korea are imminent.

A CFR interactive Crisis Guide looks at the roots of tensions on the Korean peninsula.


PACIFIC RIM: Charges in Australia Terror Plot

Australia charged four men (Australian) with plotting a suicide terror attack on an army base in Sydney. Police arrested the suspects in raids on Tuesday. Officials believe the men are linked to the Somalia-based al-Shabaab group.

CFR profiles al-Shabaab in this Backgrounder.



Secretary Clinton in Kenya.
Ahmadinejad sworn in by parliament.
Russian subs spotted off U.S. coast.


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