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Daily Brief: Trump to Meet Britain's May at White House

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January 27, 2017

Daily News Brief

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Trump to Meet Britain's May at White House

British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet U.S. President Donald J. Trump at the White House on Friday in what will be Trump’s first meeting with a foreign leader since taking office. May is expected to discuss forging a U.S.-UK trade deal (Sky News) once Britain leaves the European Union, a move decided in last year's Brexit referendum. May arrived in the United States Thursday to address Republican lawmakers at a Philadelphia convention, urging them to "beware" of Russia (AFP) and advising U.S. allies to "step up" their roles in global security. May said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which Trump has called "obsolete," is at the "heart" of Western security (FT). May also said she is willing to voice her differences with President Trump, including her condemnation of the use of torture (Guardian), which Trump endorsed in an interview this week.


"This approach, of seeking a close relationship with the new president while setting out distinct policies, is an early indication of how May hopes to manage the diplomatic challenge of the Trump presidency. It is also the closest she has come to setting out her own philosophy on foreign affairs. Blair’s close alliance with George W. Bush, which saw Britain and the US take the lead in the controversial invasion of Iraq, has cast a long shadow over politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, and was revisited in detail in the damning Chilcot report last summer. The House of Commons rejected the idea of intervening in Syria in 2013, scarred by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan," Heather Stewart writes for the Guardian.

"By courting Trump, White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, and other Euroskeptic figures in the US administration, May’s government is playing a dangerous and shortsighted game. In her recent speech, May claimed that 'the UK is leaving the European Union, not Europe.' But she would do well to remember that Britain’s security and prosperity is primarily linked to the EU, not to an isolationist, 'America first' US. The vast majority of the UK’s trade is with the EU, not with the US; and this, like the UK’s geographical location and security environment, is not going to change," Guy Verhofstadt writes for Project Syndicate.

"Mr. Trump and Ms. May, like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher before them, represent a rejection of decades of tired wisdom about governance in the West. Instead of contributing to the disintegration of the trans-Atlantic partnership, their meeting has the potential, once again, to begin its reinvigoration," Michael Doran and Peter Rough write for the Wall Street Journal.


Number of Foreign Workers in Japan Hits Record High

Japan's foreign labor workforce surpassed one million people (Reuters) for the first time last year, after increasing about 20 percent from 2015. Japan has increasingly looked to foreign workers to offset domestic labor shortages.

AUSTRALIA: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that Pacific nations want "more U.S. leadership, not less," (WSJ) and have "no desire to see powers other than the U.S. calling the shots." Bishop made the comments in a speech in Los Angeles (Canberra Times).

CFR's Edward Alden argues that by abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Trump gave away his biggest piece of leverage to deal with trade challenges.


Fourteen Indian Soldiers Killed in Kashmir Avalanche

Rescue operations have saved eight soldiers (Indian Express) while at least fourteen died in an avalanche near the Line of Control, India’s de facto border with Pakistan.

TURKMENISTAN: The Foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing a reported proposal to open a rail line (RFE/RL) from Tajikistan to Russia, which would bypass Turkmenistan, calling it "unethical." The statement also said that Turkmenistan has completed the first phase of rail construction for a Turkmen-Afghan-Tajik line and that the country seeks continued cooperation from its neighbor.


Geneva Talks on Syria Postponed, Russia Says

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that UN-sponsored Syria peace talks slated to begin February 8 would be postponed until the end of that month (Al Jazeera), though a UN spokeswoman did not confirm the delay. The UN’s Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs accused the Syrian government on Thursday of blocking aid delivery (AP) to hundreds of thousands of people despite an official cease-fire.

IRAN: British, French, and U.S. warships led by the UK’s Royal Navy will participate in "war games" (Middle East Eye), which will include a simulated confrontation with Iranian forces, in the Gulf beginning next week.

Ali Vaez argues that renegotiating the Iran nuclear agreement rather than repudiating it is a better deal for Trump in Foreign Affairs


Al-Shabab Claims Attack on Kenyan Military Base

Al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group, claimed it killed more than fifty soldiers and seized weaponry and vehicles (BBC) in an attack on a Kenyan military base in southern Somalia. The number of casualties has not been confirmed (Africa News) by Kenyan officials. 

NIGERIA: London's High Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over a pollution case (Al Jazeera) raised by residents of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region against British oil giant Shell, saying the case should be settled in Nigeria.


Merkel, Putin Expected to Speak With Trump

A Kremlin spokesman said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump will have their first official phone conversation (WaPo) on Saturday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Reuters) is also expected to speak with Trump about Russia that day. 


Senior U.S. State Department Leadership Resigns

Four top diplomats (WaPo) in the U.S. State Department, including the undersecretary for management and the director of the Office of Foreign Missions, left their posts. None made public comments (BBC) linking their departures to the recent installment of the Trump administration.

This CFR Timeline chronicles U.S. immigration policy in the postwar era.

CHILE: The worst wildfire in Chile's modern times (BBC), caused by drought and high temperatures in the country's central region, has killed at least nine and destroyed more than one thousand homes (LAHT). France, Mexico, Peru, Russia, and the United States have sent aid to help fight the blaze (Reuters).


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