World News Brief, Thursday February 28

No breakthrough on Iran nuclear programme; prominent Chinese sign open letter urging government to ratify human rights treaty; Dennis Rodman and Harlem Globetrotters arrive in North Korea; six killed in suicide bomb in Mali; Chuck Hagel confirmed as US defense secretary; and more

Top of the Agenda: No Breakthrough on Iran Nuclear Program

Six world powers ended two days of talks on Iran's nuclear program without a breakthrough, agreeing to meet in Istanbul next month and resume negotiations (Reuters) in Kazakhstan on April 5. France, Germany, the United States, China, Russia, and Britain offered to lift some sanctions if Iran scaled back nuclear activity (al-Jazeera)--a request Tehran rejected. Chief negotiator Saeed Jalili said the parties had been "more realistic" than in the past, and the EU's chief delegate said she hoped Iran was "looking positively" at the proposals brought up during negotiations. The talks were the first since the July 2012 round that also ended without a breakthrough.


"Diplomats at the talks believe that this - in itself - should count as an achievement. But talking does not necessarily lead to agreeing. From what we can tell, Iran has not agreed to two of the principal demands made by the P5 + 1 in previous rounds of talks: stop all uranium enrichment and shut down the underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom," writes James Reynolds for the BBC.

"The difficult dilemma facing the Obama administration, therefore, is not simply one concerning the rights or responsibilities of Iran under the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It is how to address and navigate the crisis of political legitimacy haunting Khamenei and his radical base of power," writes Hussein Banai for the Los Angeles Times.

"The view that Iran does not want to negotiate is a misreading of the signals – often conflicting – from Tehran. Some maintain Tehran is dragging its feet on negotiations as a way to increase significantly its nuclear capability before entering direct talks from a position of power. This is wrong," writes Hossein Mousavian for the Financial Times.



China Letter Urges Political Reform

More than 100 Chinese intellectuals signed an open letter urging the country's government to ratify an international treaty on human rights (Telegraph). The letter was posted on several prominent Chinese websites and blogs, but was rapidly censored.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the Communist Party of China and traces its governing challenges, including reform.

NORTH KOREA: Ex-NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman (NYT) landed in Pyongyang Tuesday, beginning a trip with three Harlem Globetrotters and a documentary film crew to shoot footage for a TV show.


This CFR Backgrounder outlines the China-North Korea relationship.



Six killed in suicide bomb in Mali

Chuck Hagel confirmed as US defense secretary

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