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Daily Brief: North, South Korea Reopen Border Hotline


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. January 3, 2018 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA North, South Korea Reopen Border Hotline Liaison officers from North and South Korea spoke on a hotline between the countries (Korea Times) on Wednesday for the first time since the line was closed in February 2016. The reopening of the line comes a day after Seoul proposed holding high-level talks with Pyongyang next Tuesday. A spokesperson from the North said that leader Kim Jong-un "welcomed" South Korean President Moon Jae-in's offer to discuss receiving a delegation of athletes from the North (Guardian) for the upcoming Winter Olympics there. The North's tensions with the United States again flared on Tuesday, as President Donald J. Trump tweeted that U.S. nuclear capabilities are "more powerful" than those of Pyongyang (FT).  ANALYSIS "Moon sparred with Trump last year over offers of dialogue to North Korea, and has repeatedly sought to reassure his citizens that he's doing everything to prevent a war," Kanga Kong and Jihye Lee write for Bloomberg. "It may not be an unalloyed success for South Korea's progressive President Moon Jae-in, who has staked his political future on improving relations in the North. In reality, it’s an attempt to put him in an impossible bind," CFR's Scott A. Snyder writes for the Atlantic. "Any military strike against North Korea—even with clear signaling from the U.S. that it is not a prelude to a decapitation attempt—would present Kim with a potential use-or-lose dilemma," Jung H. Pak and Ryan L. Hass write for the Brookings Institution [PDF]. PACIFIC RIM China to Top Japan as Largest Natural Gas Importer China is expected to surpass Japan as the world's largest natural gas importer this year amid a crackdown on pollution (Reuters) in the country. China is already the world's largest importer of oil and coal.  SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA U.S. Pressures Pakistan on Counterterrorism Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Tuesday that the United States will soon announce steps it will take to compel Pakistan to increase its counterterrorism efforts (RFE/RL). The move comes after Washington suspended $255 million in military aid (Dawn) to Islamabad. AFGHANISTAN: A U.S. soldier was killed and four other people were wounded in the eastern Nangarhar Province (TOLO) on Monday in what the military said was a "combat engagement." In Foreign Affairs, Kosh Sadat and General Stanley McChrystal (Ret.) discuss America's longest war. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Israel Orders African Migrants to Leave Israel's immigration authority has ordered thousands of African migrants in the country to return to their home nations (AP) or move to a third country within ninety days. Authorities said they will begin jailing remaining migrants (BBC) in April. IRAN: Thousands of Iranians took part in state-organized pro-government rallies (FT) across the country on Wednesday following six days of massive anti-government protests. CFR's Ray Takeyh writes in Politico Magazine that Iran is entering a period of prolonged transition. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Ethiopia to Release Political Prisoners Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that Ethiopia will release all political prisoners (BBC) in a bid to encourage dialogue with the opposition and shutter a police station jail (Addis Standard) where detainees have allegedly been tortured. EQUATORIAL GUINEA: The security minister said that security forces from his country and from Cameroon foiled a plot by mercenaries to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (AFP) last month. This CFR Backgrounder looks at Africa's longest-serving leaders. EUROPE Germany's Jobless Rate at Record Low Following a six-month decrease, the unemployment rate in Germany reached 5.5 percent (Bloomberg) in late 2017. It is the country's lowest rate since 1991 (FT). AMERICAS Petrobras to Pay $3 Billion in U.S. Settlement The Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras has agreed to pay nearly $3 billion (Reuters) in a class-action lawsuit by U.S. investors who say they lost money due to widespread corruption at the company. The settlement must still be approved by a New York federal judge. HONDURAS: Opposition presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla said on Tuesday that he will continue to challenge the results of a November election (LAHT) over alleged fraud and that his center-left coalition plans to hold rallies this weekend.  UNITED STATES U.S. Blocks Sale of MoneyGram to Chinese Firm A U.S. government committee has rejected a planned $1.2 billion merger (Reuters) of the international money transfer service MoneyGram and China's Ant Financial, citing concerns about the security of U.S. citizens' data. U.S. colleges nationwide saw a 7 percent decrease (NYT) in new international students this past fall, according to a new report by the New York-based Institute of International Education. GLOBAL Oil Nears Highest Price Since 2015 The price of oil rose above $67 a barrel on Wednesday; analysts say buying has been stoked by uncertainty (FT) due to popular protests in Iran. Oil prices plummeted after 2014 when U.S. shale swamped the market.         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: January 03, 2018 at 11:05PM