World News Brief, Thursday October 24

Obama and Sharif to meet in Washington; Manila backtracks on South China Sea accusations; NASA lifts ban on Chinese scientists attending conference; China and India sign border agreement; Spain ends two-year recession; and more

Top of the Agenda: Obama, Sharif to Meet in Washington

Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif will meet President Barack Obama at the White House today, but few breakthroughs are expected on contentious issues such as drone strikes or Pakistan's alleged support for the Taliban (AP). While officials from both countries hope to reduce bilateral tensions, analysts are skeptical that there will be a dramatic reassessment of the relationship (CSM). Human rights organizations have renewed their criticisms of the Obama administration's counterterrorism policies, saying some drone strikes may constitute war crimes, a charge that U.S. officials deny (al-Jazeera).


"It certainly would be useful for the Obama administration to press Sharif hard on his country's support for several terrorist groups, including those behind the killings of American soldiers in Afghanistan and the Mumbai massacre of 2008. The group backing that slaughter, Lashkar-e-Taiba, continues to openly operate in Pakistan," writes Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg.

"Peace talks, worryingly, could also fail in dangerous ways. In 2004, the first U.S. drone strike in Pakistan killed Nek Muhammad, an al Qaeda-linked Taliban commander who had just concluded a peace deal with the Pakistani army. Rightly or wrongly, [opposition leader Imran] Khan is far from the only Pakistani pointing to that episode as evidence that the United States aims to pit Pakistanis against each other. Therefore, Khan argues, rejecting cooperation with the United States is Pakistan's best course of action," writes CFR Senior Fellow Daniel Markey for Reuters.

"The United States government can help reduce the dominance of the Pakistani military by strengthening key civilian institutions, particularly Parliament and the police. The American government should renew its main civilian assistance program to Pakistan, which is financed only through 2014," writes Michael Kugelman in the New York Times.


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Manila Backtracks on South China Sea Accusations

Philippine president Benigno Aquino said that concrete blocks found on a disputed shoal in the South China Sea were "very old," backtracking from previous accusations that Beijing was building new structures in the area (Reuters).

This CFR InfoGuide examines maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas.

CHINA: U.S. space agency NASA lifted a ban prohibiting Chinese scientists from attending a November conference in California, a move that was lauded by Beijing (Xinhua).


China and India sign border agreement

Spain ends two-year recession

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