World News Brief, Wednesday May 6

Syria peace talks kick off in Geneva; Indian PM Modi to make first visit to China; South Korea and Vietnam sign free trade agreement; EU revises economic forecast upwards; and more


Syria Peace Talks Open in Geneva

UN Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura launches (BBC) the latest international effort to end the conflict in Syria on Tuesday in Geneva with representatives from some of Syria’s fighting faction, the Syrian government, and regional powers such as Turkey and Iran. The talks are being described as "low-key" consultations (AFP) as opposed to formal peace talks. The self-declared Islamic State and al-Nusra Front were not invited, despite the territory they hold in the country. Four years of civil war have killed more than 220,000 people and caused millions to flee the country.


"Civilians in the city of Aleppo, Syria are being subjected to appalling human rights violations committed by the Syrian government and many armed opposition groups. These violations amount to war crimes and in the case of those committed by the Syrian government, are so systematic and widespread that they constitute crimes against humanity," writes Amnesty International in a new report.

"If Washington maintains an arm’s-length approach to protection of civilians and political-military support of Syrian nationalists, one year from now the humanitarian abomination will have deepened significantly and the country will be uneasily and unofficially partitioned between IS and the regime as it hemorrhages people," says Fred Hof in Foreign Policy.

"The shift of momentum could create an opportunity for the United States and its allies to leverage the change of rulers in Syria that President Obama first endorsed nearly four years ago. But it could also lead to disaster, if the crumbling regime is replaced by the jihadist forces of the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, as already occurred in eastern Syria. In short, the battlefield developments add new urgency to the need for a coherent U.S. strategy," writes the Washington Post.


Modi to Make First Visit China

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to make his first visit (IANS) to China as head of the Indian government next week in a move to improve ties between the two countries. Modi's visit is part of three-country Asia tour, which includes stops in Mongolia and South Korea. 

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea and Vietnam signed (Korea Times) a free trade agreement in Hanoi, officials said on Tuesday. The deal is set to take effect this year. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $30 billion last year. 


Pakistan opens its first solar power plant

EU revises economic forecast upwards

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