World News Brief, Thursday February 2

International pressure builds on Russia to back Syria sanctions as violence continues; US opens door to North Korea – if it mends ties with the south; NATO report claims Pakistani link to Afghan Taliban; Romey regains lead in primary race with Florida win; Julian Assange goes to court; and more

Top of the Agenda: Pressure Mounts on Russia Over Syria

World diplomats gathered at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to hash out a resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's nearly eleven-month crackdown against anti-government protesters and opposition forces. But Western and Arab countries continued to face stiff resistance from Russia, which opposes any UN measure that might enable the international community to pursue regime change in Syria (NYT). Moscow has been outspoken in its opposition to UN intervention in the domestic affairs of nation-states.

A Morocco-drafted Security Council resolution, which could be voted on as early as Friday, called for Assad to step down, while violence on the ground in Syria continued unabated.


"There are a lot of reasons why Russia may be contrary right now. They have presidential elections on March 4. Vladimir Putin, Russia's strongman, has his own protest movement to deal with, and the Russians have their close ties over years with Syria. And I'm sure that some of Moscow's resistance is due to spite," says Middle East expert Andrew Tabler in this CFR Interview.

"With the veto built into the structure of the UN Charter, we cannot expect the Council to function smoothly at times of great power friction. If in the case of Syria Washington ultimately deems decisive action imperative, it may need to act outside the United Nations, as it did in Kosovo and Iraq," writes CFR's Stewart M. Patrick in his blog, The Internationalist.

"Russia's pretentious support for Syria's beleaguered government cannot be explained solely by an earnest desire to help its long-time partner and biggest importer of its conventional weapons in the Middle East. Russia's stance also reflects a politically inspired eagerness to confront the West, as well as the Kremlin's fears of Russia's own fast-growing internal opposition movement." writes Michel Nehme in Lebanon's Daily Star.



US Calls for Improved Inter-Korea Relations

US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell indicated that Washington would be "open to diplomacy" with North Korea (NYT) if the regime of Kim Jong-un moves to mend ties with South Korea.

This CFR Crisis Guide presents an interactive multimedia guide to the dispute between North and South Korea.

SOUTH KOREA: A delegation of senior officials is set to visit the United States to continue discussions on US-led efforts to sanction Iran (Yonhap) over its nuclear program as Seoul weighs reducing its imports of Iranian crude oil.



NATO says Pakistani secret service in league with Taliban

Romney wins Florida primary, takes lead in race (+ victory speech)

Wikileaks founder to face Supreme Court


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