No escaping the conundrum of Syria's war
Monday-Tuesday, June 3-4 – Russian and European leaders face an agenda packed with economic and political issues at their two-day summit in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. But as with most diplomatic gatherings these days, the debate and discussion are expected to be dominated by the protracted tragedy of Syria.
Russia, a longtime ally and key weapons supplier to the government of Syrian President
“We will discuss urgent global issues, such as measures to stimulate economic growth and jobs, and international issues, in particular Syria and Iran,” the
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also will be on hand for the talks with the EU's 27 member states. But he will be headed for Geneva immediately afterward, for another session with Kerry on when and how to get Assad's allies and the rebels to sit down together and talk peace.
Internet coming to
Tuesday, June 4 – In a pragmatic acceptance of reality, the Communist government in Cuba will offer citizens full access to the World Wide Web when it opens 118 Internet connection points at offices of the state-owned telecom monopoly ETECSA.
Less than 10% of Cubans have Internet access, and most can go online only through their government office computers or surreptitiously at tourist facilities where they or trusted friends work. About 1 in 5 Cubans has some ability to go online at kiosks that provide access to a limited "intranet" of websites vetted for political and other undesirable content.
In announcing the expanded access, a government decree last week warned users against visiting sites that "endanger or prejudice public security, or the integrity and sovereignty of the nation," making clear that state censors would be on the lookout for those viewing "counter-revolutionary" content.
Cost will now be the biggest obstacle to unfettered surfing. An hour of online access will go for $4.50, or nearly a quarter of the average Cuban's monthly wage, probably limiting the new service to those who receive remittances from relatives aboard.
The government appeared to be taking a calculated risk that it would succeed in maintaining control over the sources of information and public discourse for most of Cuba's 11.2 million citizens while tapping the remittance dollars.
For new Pakistani premier, it's twice burned, once shy
Wednesday, June 5 -- Incoming Pakistani Prime Minister
Forced out of office early by corruption allegations the first time he served as prime minister from 1990 to 1993, Sharif’s second stint as government chief was abruptly ended midway through the four-year term by the military coup in 1999 led by Gen.
Sharif and his
The incoming government chief's control of the legislature this time could allow him to maintain a stable leadership, although he faces daunting economic and security challenges.
Sharif, who in the past often displayed a confrontational posture toward Washington, had signaled since the election his interest in a more cooperative relationship this time. However, last week’s U.S. drone strike that killed the Pakistani
Hopes of reviving Pakistan's struggling economy depend on international aid and investment, and Washington needs Islamabad's cooperation in battling the Taliban in the region and evacuating the massive equipment deployed in Afghanistan as it winds down a 12-year war.
The U.S. image in Pakistan has been badly damaged in recent years by Washington's use of drone strikes on suspected terrorists that have often inflicted unintended civilian casualties.
Sharif has said he will attempt to improve relations with archrival India during this term and he invited Prime Minister
Chinese leader to meet
Friday-Saturday, June 7-8 – Chinese President
Xi’s meetings in
Once Xi and his Mexican hosts talk tariff reductions and opportunities for expanded trade that will come with the 2014 opening of a widened Panama Canal, the Chinese leader will travel northward to meet Obama at Sunnylands, an estate in the California desert town of Rancho Mirage.
It will be the first meeting between Obama and Xi since the latter was elevated to China's top position during the fall's once-a-decade leadership transfer.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that the Chinese president's visit with Obama was intended to show that Beijing wants improved relations. State-run media have also cast the desert meeting as a more relaxed, intimate get-together between two leaders often portrayed as waging competing battles for dominant influence in the world.
"It's not like in the 19th century, when countries divided their sphere of influence in a certain area," Tao Wenzhao of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Global Times, an English publication of the People's Daily. "China and U.S. involvement in Latin America is not a zero-sum game."
Mubarak retrial, twice delayed, to resume with more charges
Saturday, June 8 – Ousted Egyptian leader
He will also be confronted this time with charges of alleged corruption – accusations that were rejected during his first trial two years ago.
Mubarak, 85, was convicted in June 2011 for ordering, condoning or ignoring the killings attributed to his security forces and vigilante supporters. He was given a life sentence, but an appeals court in January struck down the conviction and ordered a new trial. The conviction and sentence of his former interior minister, Habib Adli, also were vacated.
Some who suffered under Mubarak's authoritarian rule welcome a second chance for prosecutors to argue that he deserves the death penalty. Others, though, fear that a judiciary still riddled with Mubarak appointees might issue a softer verdict, perhaps even acquittal.
In April, Judge Mustafa Hassan Abdullah delayed the retrial when he withdrew from the case the day it was to start, saying that he felt "unease" presiding over the matter. Mubarak opponents had sought the removal of Abdullah after he acquitted 25 of the ex-dictator's loyalists of charges they attacked protesters in a mounted raid atop camels and horses.
A second attempt to begin the new proceedings was put off last month, to give the new presiding judge time to review the corruption charges that prosecutors had added to the complicity case.