World News Brief, Wednesday August 19

Mubarak at White House to discuss Mideast peace (+analysis); Obama speech: Afghanistan "a war of necessity"; UN to investigate Australian aboriginal laws; Thai protests demand Thaksin pardon; and more

Top of the Agenda: Mubarak at the White House

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for talks at the White House today. They are expected to discuss Egypt's role in Arab-Israeli peace efforts (NPR), Iran's nuclear ambitions, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Egypt's human rights record, among other issues.

Mubarak will likely tell Obama that although Arab nations are willing to work for peace in the region, Israel must make the first gesture (NYT) toward restarting the peace process. Ambassador Hossam Zaki, spokesman for Egypt's foreign ministry, said Mubarak would ask Obama to pressure Israel to freeze settlements and to ease pressure on Gaza, among other suggestions. Mubarak discussed the Mideast peace process Monday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The visit is Mubarak's first to the White House since 2002, when the relationship between the two allies hit a rocky period (BBC) over Bush administration policies in the Mideast and U.S. criticism of Egypt's human rights situation.

U.S.-Egyptian relations appear to be on the rebound (Al Ahram Weekly) under the Obama administration. Obama gave a major speech in Cairo in June to underscore his desire to embark on a new era in the U.S. relationship with the Middle East.

CFR's Steven Cook, in a new Contingency Memo, assesses the probability of political instability in Egypt caused by military intervention or an Islamist push for power.

Foreign Policy looks at possible successors to Mubarak, who is 81 years old.

TIME looks at labor unrest that has boiled over in Egypt as Mubarak visits the United States.

An interactive CFR Crisis Guide examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Reuters has a Q&A on Mubarak's visit.


PACIFIC RIM: Thai Protests

Thousands of people demonstrated in Bangkok (Bangkok Post) to demand the pardon of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Protesters delivered a petition with 3.5 million signatures to the king in support of Shinawatra, who was deposed in a coup in 2006 and convicted on conflict of interest charges. The petition has been forwarded to the government for review.

South Korea: Former President Kim Dae-jung, who pioneered Seoul's "Sunshine Policy" of engagement (LAT) with North Korea, died Tuesday. He is reported to have died of heart failure. Kim served as the country's president from 1998 to 2003, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000.

Australia: The United Nations is investigating claims by Aboriginal and human rights groups that a government intervention in Aboriginal communities is in violation of their rights (Sydney Morning Herald). The government suspended anti-discrimination laws two years ago, purportedly in an effort to prevent child abuse. Aboriginal people have since been prohibited from drinking alcohol, and residents have been forced to spend some of their welfare payments on food and children's needs.



Obama addresses war in Afghanistan.
Criticism of UN Human Rights Council.

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