World News Brief, Wednesday May 15

Obama and Cameron support international conference on Syria; Chinese tour company offers North Korea day trips for Westerners; Australian budget projects deficit of AUD$19.4 billion; European retailers agree to support improved safety measures in Bangladesh garment factories; South African platinum miners go on strike after union leader killed; and more

Top of the Agenda: Obama, Cameron Cautious on Syria

As U.S. debate heats up about whether to increase intervention in Syria, President Obama and visiting Prime Minister of Britain David Cameron expressed support for a proposed international conference on Syria (WaPo), but had little optimism that it would produce a political solution. Syria has asked for details on the U.S.-Russian plan (Reuters) before agreeing to attend.


"The Syria crisis has implications for other critically important strategic challenges, including our ongoing conflict with al Qaeda affiliates who have been entering the civil war, and especially our looming showdown with Iran over its nuclear program. No doubt, the Iran challenge casts a large shadow over the president's decision-making on Syria," says CFR's Matthew C. Waxman in this video.

"The lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan are to be humble about what can be achieved – and realistic about the extent of the commitment that may be needed, if the US ultimately decides that it has to act. The fact that Mr Obama is refusing to respond to calls for 'tough action' in Syria now is not a sign that he is a weak leader – it is a sign that he is a good leader," writes Gideon Rachman for the Financial Times.

"If we're going to debate intervention in Syria, let's also debate intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, countries where we have accrued grave moral obligations, obligations that don't end just because we've decided it's easier to focus our attention someplace else," Peter Beinart writes for the Daily Beast.



China Tour Company Offers North Korea Day Trips

A China-based tour company (AP) says it has received North Korea's permission for Westerners to make day trips into the country from the Chinese border.

AUSTRALIA: Australia's new budget projects a deficit of 19.4 billon Australian dollars (WSJ) instead of a promised surplus, with funding for health and education reforms. The Labor government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard blamed a strong Australian dollar and fading mining boom.


European retailers agree to support safety measures in Bangladesh garment factories

South African platinum miners go on strike after union leader killed

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