World News Brief, Tuesday May 18

Gun battles across Bangkok as army cracks down (+ analysis); Iran concedes to international condition and agrees uranium swap; Euro hits four-year low; BP makes progress on oil spill; and more

Top of the Agenda: Thai General Dies, Protests Continue

Gun battles took place (NYT) across Bangkok as security forces warned protestors to leave their encampment or risk "harmful" consequences.

Red-shirt protests head earlier intensified in Bangkok (NYT), with the official death toll since Thursday rising to 36 dead and 256 injured. The renewed spate of violence was triggered by the shooting Thursday of renegade general Khattiya Sawatdithol, who had sided with the protesters and was reported dead Monday. Sunday, the government offered safe passage for any protesters who wished to leave the downtown area where they have been stationed for six weeks. Protest leader Nattawut Saikua offered to withdraw militant fighters from the streets and negotiate through the United Nations if the government also called a ceasefire and withdrew its troops. The government rejected the condition of involving the UN, since it would legitimize the protesters as an internationally recognized party.

The government said it would agree to talks (BBC) as long as protestors showed "sincerity" by leaving their camp. It offered free transportation home for those who left, and warned that the area was not safe and anyone who stayed could face up to two years in prison. Few of the five thousand protestors appeared willing to leave.


In the China Post, Kavi Chongkittavorn says Thailand's election to the UN Human Rights Council last week boosted its diplomatic capital. But the government will need to preserve freedom of expression and improve public diplomacy to stay credible.

A Bangkok Post op-ed says Thailand does not need UN intervention to mediate its political conflict.

The escalating standoff between Thai government troops and red shirt protesters reflects a fundamental shift in Thai politics and a weak government, writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick.


PACIFIC RIM: US Urges China for Open Technology Policy

Amid concerns about China's local innovation policies, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke urged China to remain open to US (Reuters) and other foreign technology as it increases investment in clean energy.



Iran Agrees on Uranium Swap with Turkey
BP makes progress on oil spill
Euro Hits Four-Year Low Against Dollar


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