World news Brief, Tuesday May 7

 Syrian rebels may have used chemical weapons; Palestinian and Israeli leaders meet Chinese president Xi Jinping; North Korea says it won't be using imprisoned American Kenneth Bae as bargaining chip in talks with US; EU urges Africa to open up its markets; and more

Top of the Agenda: Chemical Weapons Questioned in Syria As Israel Launches Second Strike

Syrian rebels said they shot down a government helicopter in the east of the country, killing eight (NYT) troops as new accusations emerged that the opposition seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad may have used chemical weapons in the war. Carla del Ponte, the UN's leading investigator (BBC), said Monday that there were "strong, concrete suspicions" that rebels used the nerve agent sarin, but that there was no "incontrovertible proof." Meanwhile, Israel reportedly launched a second air strike targeting a military research center in Syria after reports that the Israel Air Force had carried out a strike (Haaretz) early Friday targeting a shipment of missiles bound for Hezbollah.


"Israel's highest ranking defense officials have made it clear that Israel would also stop "game-changing" weapons from making their way to Hezbollah. And not only chemical weapons. The Israeli airstrikes, according to Western Intelligence sources, around Damascus over the weekend were proof that Israel means business," writes Ben Caspit for al-Monitor.

"Hezbollah's operations against Israel have nothing to do with protecting Lebanon and defending Palestine. Hezbollah is merely an Iranian brigade which has been founded for more than 30 years to serve the aims of the Ayatollah's regime in Tehran," writes Abdulrahman al-Rashed for al-Arabiya.

"Israel did not seek permission from the United States before launching two missile strikes this weekend hitting targets inside Syria—but the strikes were part of a policy that Washington had already signaled its acquiescence to," writes Eli Lake for the Daily Beast.



Palestinian, Israeli Leaders Meet China's Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Beijing on Monday (AFP), and is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this week. The anticipated agenda includes Israeli-Palestinian talks and tougher sanctions against Iran.

NORTH KOREA: North Korea announced it had no intention of using Kenneth Bae (WashPost), an imprisoned American, as a bargaining chip in talks with the United States.


EU urges Africa to open up its markets

More austerity talks for Portugal


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