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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Obama Calls For Nuclear Arms Cut in Berlin Speech

US President Barack Obama announced his intention to reduce the country’s deployed nuclear arsenal by one-third and negotiate with Russia to “move beyond Cold War nuclear postures”. The policy was announced during a speech in Berlin on Wednesday. “After a comprehensive review I have determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one third”, he said. Addressing concerns about the NSA surveillance programmes, he said that they were aimed at “threats to security, not the communications of ordinary persons” and that they kept “people safe in Europe as well as the US”. Obama also pledged to listen to dissenting opinions on other aspects of US policy such as the use of drones and the long interment of prisoners at Guantánamo without judicial review. “We must listen to voices that disagree with us, and have a open debate about how we use our powers and remember that government exists to serve the power of individual not the other way around. That is what keeps us different to those on the other side of the wall. That’s what keeps us true to our better history”, said the president.

Afghan Government Now Threatens to Boycott Taliban Talks

The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has changed its stance on proposed peace talks with the Taliban, with the Afghan leader now stating that his officials will not take part in any discussions in Doha unless the process is “Afghan-led”. “The president suspended the BSA talks with the US this morning. There is a contradiction between what the US government says and what it does regarding Afghanistan peace talks”, said Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi. He was referring to the Bilateral Security Agreement, which establishes how many troops will remain in the country, where they will be stationed and how they will operate after the US formally exists Afghanistan in 2014. He also said the Afghan government took issue with how the Taliban referred to itself through its representation in Qatar. “We oppose the title the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ because such a thing doesn’t exist. The US was aware of the president’s stance”, said Faizi.

Brazil Deploys National Force to Quell Protests

The Brazilian government has deployed the country’s National Public Security Force (FNSP) to five of the cities hosting the Confederations Cup after another night of protests and localised rioting in the country’s major cities. In São Paulo, largely peaceful protests were marred by masked activists who tried to force their way into the mayor’s office and looted shops and banks in the vicinity, all in the city’s centre. FNSP officers were deployed at the request five state governors and will be stationed in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Fortaleza and the capital Brasília. The Ministry of Justice said the state of Pernambuco was the only one not to request additional assistance for its capital, Recife. The Secretary-General of the Presidency of Brazil, Gilberto Carvalho, said the government was still “stunned” by the protests. “Our country still looks at this emergency in a stunned manner, at this growth of a mass protest movement, of calls for rights, of struggle, and we have to be generous enough to be able to understand these calls”, he said. He also said politicians had to be careful not to be “run over by history”.

Cyprus Slams Rescue Bailout Terms

In an angry letter to the heads of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades slammed the terms of the bailout offered to the island nation. He said the limits imposed on large deposits, one of the conditions of the bailout, had eroded the capital kept in banks. “Artificial measures such as capital restrictions may seem to prevent a bank run in the short term but will only aggravate the depositors the longer they persist. Rather than creating confidence in the banking system they are eroding it by the day”, he wrote. Anastasiades also complained about the speed with which the measures were implemented on the local economy. “An alternative, longer-term, downsizing of the banking system away from publicity and without bank runs was a credible alternative that would not have produced such a deep recession and loss of confidence in the banking system”, wrote the president. Speaking after the letter was made public, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said conditions would eventually improve, “but it will take time. It can’t happen from one day to the next”.

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