Wednesday, February 12, 2014

North and South Korea Open High-Level Talks

High-Level Talks

Top news: Officials from North and South Korea sat down Wednesday for their first high-level meeting since 2007. The talks are expected to focus on plans for reunifying families spearated by the Korean War and discussions of upcoming military exercises for U.S. and South Korean forces.
"We approach today's talks with an intention of probing for opportunities to open a new relationship on the Korean Peninsula," Kim Kyu-hyun, the South's chief representative, told reporters in Seoul Wednesday, according to the New York Times. The two sides met for 90 minutes at the Panmunjon border village Wednesday and reconvened for four hours in the afternoon.
North Korean officials have recently spoken of the need to improve relations, and Wednesday's talks come as an opportunity to probe the country's intentions ahead of a scheduled round of family reunifications later this month. North Korea has threatened to cancel the reunifications because of planned U.S-South Korean military exercises.

FP's John Hudson reports: "In a first of its kind case, federal prosecutors say a Mexican businessman funnelled more than $500,000 into U.S. political races through Super PACs and various shell companies. The alleged financial scheme is the first known instance of a foreign national exploiting the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in order to influence U.S. elections. If proven, the campaign finance scandal could reshape the public debate over the high court's landmark decision." Read the full story here.

Middle East
  • Fighters from the radical Islamist group ISIS slaughtered 15 members of an Iraqi army unit in Mosul, outside of the group's usual area of operation in Anbar province.
  • The U.N. restarted its aid mission in the besieged rebel-held city of Homs, where cases of starvation have been reported.
  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani marked the 35th anniversary of his country's Islamic revolution by urging support for the current round of nuclear negotiations and arguing that Iran will always maintain a nuclear program.
  • A new report by Amnesty International says international peacekeepers in the Central African Republic have failed to prevent the ethnic cleansing of the country's Muslims.
  • A new round of peace talks to resolve the crisis in South Sudan began in the Ethiopan capital of Addis Ababa.
  • Clashes between armed villagers and members of an al Qaeda linked group left 30 people dead near the Mali-Niger border.
  • Stronger than expected trade growth in China sparked a debate among analysts and investors over whether the country is out-performing expectations or the data is unreliable.
  • China and Taiwan held their first official bilateral meeting since the conclusion of the Chinese civil war in 1949.
  • A grenade attack on a movie theater in Peshawar, Pakistan, left at least 11 people dead.
  • Petr Necas, the former prime minister of the Czech Republic who was forced to resign amid corruption allegations, was charged with bribery.
  • Amid reports that executives from more than 100 French companies visited Iran last week, President Obama warned at a press conference alongside his French counterpart that he will come down like "a ton of bricks" on firms that violate sanctions.
  • The European Union quickly retaliated against Switzerland by pausing negotiations on an energy treaty after a referendum endorsed immigration quotas.
  • Less than four months ahead of the country's election, a new poll finds Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos poised for re-election on the second ballot.
  • Brazilian police arrested a man suspected of throwing the flare that mortally injured a cameraman covering clashes between protesters and police in Rio de Janeiro.
  • The El Salvadorean castaway who survived for more than a year adrift at sea arrived home once more.

-By Elias Groll

South Korean Unification Ministry via Getty Images

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