World News Brief, Wednesday February 12

UN pressures Russia to join discussion on Syrian aid; China and Taiwan hold historic talks; North and South Korea set for high-level talks; Turkey and Israel look set to renew diplomatic ties; massive protests shut down Sarajevo; and more

Top of the Agenda

UN Pressures Russia on Syria Aid Resolution

Diplomats at the United Nations plan to circulate a draft resolution to boost aid access in Syria to the fifteen-member Security Council on Tuesday with hopes that Moscow and Beijing will join the discussion (Reuters). Peace talks between the Syrian government and its opponents have resumed in Geneva while a fragile cease-fire in the central city of Homs has been extended to allow more civilians to leave an area besieged by Assad regime forces for more than 600 days (al-Jazeera). Those forces, which include an Iranian-trained militia, are furious over the UN humanitarian mission, which they see as aid for armed groups (WSJ). Meanwhile, after missing several deadlines in the international agreement for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons, a third shipment of materials was shipped onboard a Norwegian vessel out of the country (BBC).


"It is time for Mr. Obama to admit that his Syria policy is not working. No one is suggesting sending ground troops. But options range from doing more to arm the moderate opposition, to declaring a no-fly zone. Drones could strike al-Qaeda operatives in Syria; air power could create humanitarian zones near the Turkish and Jordanian borders. The U.S. could also take the lead in referring Mr. Assad and his aides for war crimes prosecution," writes CFR Senior Fellow Max Boot in the Financial Times.

"The recent attacks on the convoys attempting to deliver humanitarian aid into the besieged city of Homs are a case in point: The lifting of the sieges can't be left to the warring factions on the ground. An external, international force must be introduced to guarantee the safe passage of food and medicine to starving Syrian civilians," write Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi in the New York Times.

"It should now be obvious that Geneva is not a process that will end in Assad's departure: instead, it is designed to formalize the status quo with Assad in power and to normalize dealing with him. The redefinition of objectives in Syria is geared toward that end, affording the White House the ability to walk back the position it staked out in 2011, a position it now regrets," writes Tony Badran for NOW.


Pacific Rim

China, Taiwan Hold Historic Talks

Senior officials from Taiwan and China met in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing to talk about establishing representative offices in both countries. But the historic talks, the first since the 1949 creation of the People's Republic of China, didn't include sensitive issues such as a formal peace treaty (Reuters).

NORTH KOREA: The two Koreas are set to hold their highest-level meeting in years on Wednesday, with talks expected to include family reunions and the resumption of joint tourism projects (AP).


Turkey and Israel may renew diplomatic ties

Massive protests shut down central Sarajevo

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