World News Brief, Wednesday March 18

Confidence vote on Sarkozy; Thailand to roll out fiscal stimulus package; Khatami drops out of Iranian race; Pakistan's strengthening parliament; Russia's military modernisation; and more

Top of the Agenda: France and NATO

France's parliament today holds a confidence vote on President Nicolas Sarkozy that likely will also serve to signal popular support for the country's return to a full membership in NATO, more than forty years after French President Charles de Gaulle withdrew from the alliance in 1966. The BBC reports the vote amounts to a confidence vote in current President Nicolas Sarkozy's government--the piece notes that France is already among the top five contributors to NATO and has nearly three-thousand troops in Afghanistan. The vote is expected to succeed, TIME reported last week when Sarkozy announced his plans, noting that French public opinion has recently swung in favor of the move.

The move could have strategic implications on several fronts. Foreign Policy reports Sarkozy has edged closer to Washington partly in an effort to broaden Paris' influence internationally and to reaffirm what the French president calls "the family of the West." Concretely, the article says, this has led to French support for a tough line against Iranian nuclear development and pledges of support behind U.S.-led military efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Interfax Ukraine examines what the implications of France's decision might be for Russia, noting that the Kremlin has yet to speak out on France's reintegration into a bloc that Moscow has often seen as antagonistic.


- This Backgrounder explains France's military strategy and why it might seek reintegration into NATO.


PACIFIC RIM: China-North Korea Talks

Xinhua previews meetings between a North Korean delegation led by the country's Prime Minister Kim Yong-Il. The visit opens a "Friendship Year" between Beijing and Pyongyang and marks Kim Yong-Il's first trip to China since taking office in 2007.

Meanwhile, South Korean and Japanese leaders met (Yonhap) to discuss methods of dissuading North Korea from launching what it says is a satellite. Pyongyang says the launch will come between April 4 and 8.

THAILAND: Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced the country will roll out a fiscal stimulus package (Bangkok Post) worth around $39 billion over the next three years.



Khatami drops out of Iranian presidential race.

Pakistan judge reinstatement could shift attention to strengthening parliament.

Russia plans major military modernization.


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