World News Brief, Wednesday August 14

Keita wins Mali election; South Korean and Russian officials meet to discuss denuclearising North Korea; Pakistan PM urges new beginning with India; US embassies across Middle East and North Africa reopen; and more

Top of the Agenda: Keita Wins Mali Election

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won Mali's presidential election (BBC) after rival Soumaila Cisse conceded defeat in the second round runoff on Monday. Electoral sources had showed that Keita, who served as prime minister from 1994 to 2000, was comfortably ahead with two-thirds of the runoff votes counted (France24) in Mali's first election since 2007. The vote is viewed as crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion from international donors who halted aid (AFP) in the wake of last year's coup that ignited an Islamist insurgency and a French military offensive. The election will also allow France to withdraw most of the 4,500 troops it had sent to the country in January to oust al-Qaeda-linked extremists that occupied the north.


"This is yet another example that politics is not an exact science—many had predicted chaos if Mali held elections so soon. France, anxious to get its troops out of Mali after routing Islamist militants from northern regions earlier this year, faced criticism for pushing for early polls," writes Abdourahmane Dia for the BBC.

"Mali's persistent challenges include an unresponsive and corrupt political class and its failure to reconcile with the [Tuaregs] (and other minorities) in the north. It remains to be seen if these elections will address either of those issues," writes CFR's John Campbell on his blog, Africa in Transition.

"Taken together, these data suggest that Mali's problems are rooted in its institutions and further corroborate what some scholars have already asserted: the coup, Tuareg rebellion, al-Qaeda penetration and corruption of the state were all symptoms of the same basic institutional dysfunction. Nothing has fundamentally changed to address the deficiencies in accountability and oversight, yet over US$4 billion of development aid is poised to come online at the conclusion of the current political transition," writes IRIN.



South Korean Official Heads to Moscow

A South Korean official headed to Moscow on Tuesday to hold talks (Yonhap) with his Russian counterpart in a bid to resume the long-stalled dialogue to denuclearize North Korea. The three-day meeting will be the first of its kind after denuclearization talks paused in late 2008.

This CFR Backgrounder traces the history and trajectory of the Six Party Talks.

CHINA: Hong Kong-based activists intending to land on the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands to assert Chinese sovereignty (JapanTimes) have called off their trip.

CFR's Sheila Smith addresses the possibility of a Sino-Japanese clash in the East China Sea in this Contingency Planning Memorandum.


Pakistan PM urges new beginning with India

US embassies across Middle East and North Africa reopen

  This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on