World Wrap: June 25, 2013
Peace talk prospects take a hit after Taliban attacks in Kabul, Brazil’s Rousseff makes surprising call for referendum, and Obama has big boots to fill in Africa. Today is Tuesday, June 25, and we wish Mozambique a very happy Independence Day. Here’s the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
Taliban attack near presidential palace deals blow to peace talks
Afghan security forces run to the site of an insurgent attack in Kabul, June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Not how peace talks work. Taliban militants attacked buildings close to Afghanistan’s presidential palace and CIA headquarters in Kabul on Tuesday, further threatening fragile peace talksbetween U.S. and Taliban officials:
A senior government official told Reuters four or five attackers had used fake identity papers to try to make their way through security gates in the Shash Darak district, which leads to Kabul’s most tightly guarded areas. One car made it through, but a second vehicle was stopped and those inside began shooting. Grenades were thrown. The area is home to the presidential palace compound, the Ministry of Defense and an annex of the U.S. embassy at the old Ariana Hotel. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s Afghanistan station is based there.
Several assailants and two security guards were killed in the attack, which occurred in the early morning Kabul time as reporters gathered to meet a U.S. envoy at the embassy. Reuters correspondent Mirwais Harooni tweeted the attack from in front of the palace, noting there were about 20 journalists present to cover a Karzai press conference. Peace talks got off to a rough start last week when Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his government wouldn’t participate, objecting to the Taliban’s new embassy-like office in Doha. U.S. officials said they hoped to move forward with the summit after some cosmetic adjustments were made to the office over the weekend.
A demonstrator holds a sign that reads, “Neymar for president,” in reference to Brazilian soccer player Neymar, during a protest in Porto Alegre, June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Edison Vara
If you can’t beat them… Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Monday announced a plan to enact sweeping reforms in response to a massive anti-government movement, an ambitious goal that could be unrealistic:
Rouseff proposed a national vote on amending Brazil’s constitution in a meeting with governors and mayors the week after the country’s largest protests in 20 years jolted politicians of all stripes. It immediately raised questions about whether she could deliver on such an undertaking as she heads to what may be a more difficult re-election in 2014. Brazil’s last sweeping political reform was 25 years ago, when the current Brazilian constitution was ratified in 1988 by the country’s last constitutional assembly, three years after the end of its military dictatorship.
Rousseff introduced proposals that would expand public transport, improve health services and address corruption in government. However, Brazil’s slowing economic growth in recent years leaves Rousseff little budget flexibility and makes short-term improvements unlikely.
Artist Ouzin puts the finishing touches on a painting honoring the upcoming visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Dakar, June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney
In W.’s shadow. President Barack Obama will make his first extended visit to Africa on Wednesday in an attempt to live up to the high precedent set by his predecessors:
Critics of Obama’s Africa policy point to George W. Bush’s program to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa, with an initial commitment of $15 billion over five years when it was launched in 2003. As a result, the United States is credited with directly supporting antiretroviral treatment for more than 4 million people… Before him, Bill Clinton generated enormous goodwill by becoming the first American president to make more than one trip to Africa and for signing the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which dropped trade restrictions on more than 6,000 exports to America from 35 African countries.
Africans first excited by the prospect of a black U.S. president with Kenyan roots have been disappointed by his lack of engagement with the continent. Now, Obama will try to win over the African public as Nelson Mandela’s ailing health threatens to overshadow the trip. Obama is slated to visit Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania.
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
G8 Summit: a group of world leaders failed to mention the fate of Syrian President Assad in an official statement calling for peace. G8 leaders also called on the Syrian authorities and Syrian opposition groups to commit to cutting ties with all organizations affiliated with al Qaeda.
Photo: campaigners wearing giant heads resembling the G8 nations leaders, wave as they arrive on a replica Viking longboat, during a protest near the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland on June 17, 2013. The campaigners represented the Enough Food For Everyone ‘IF’ campaign, calling for action to eliminate the causes of hunger. REUTERS/Andrew Winning
U.S. President Barack Obama sparred with Russia’s Vladimir Putin over how to end the war in Syria during an icy encounter at a G8 summit where divisions over the conflict eclipsed the rest of the agenda.
Putin said Moscow and Washington had differing views over Syria but agreed the bloodshed must stop and that the warring parties should be brought to the negotiating table. Both leaders looked tense and uncomfortable, with Putin staring mostly at the floor.
"Our positions do not fully coincide, but we are united by the common intention to end the violence, to stop the number of victims increasing in Syria, to resolve the problems by peaceful means, including the Geneva talks," Putin said.
"We agreed to push the process of peace talks and encourage the parties to sit down at the negotiation table, organize the talks in Geneva."
Obama tried to lighten the mood by discussing judo but Putin, a black belt in the martial art, replied the U.S. president was simply trying to get him to relax.
Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping discussed foreign policy on Friday and Saturday at a retreat near Palm Springs, California.
"We are more likely to achieve our objectives of prosperity and security of our peoples if we are working cooperatively rather than engaged in conflict," Obama told reporters.
View our top photos of the week.
Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
You could hold my umbrella-ella-ella: famous people don’t always hold their own umbrellas, but when they do, they do it with worldly stature and infinite wisdom.
Pictures by REUTERS - Jason Reed; Caroline Blumberg; Tobias Schwarz; Regis Duvignau; Brian Snyder; Suzanne Plunkett.
"I’ll be probably calling around, looking for somebody to play cards with me or something, because I’m getting kind of lonely in this big house. So maybe — maybe a whole bunch of members of the House Republican caucus want to come over and socialize more."