Hacking allegations on the docket as Obama meets Chinese president

June 7, 2013

Talks between Obama and Xi could get testy, North Korea’s ready to make nice, and Putin’s strange marriage ends strangely. We hope you enjoy a deep-fried treat on this National Donut Day, Friday, June 7. Here’s the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

President Barack Obama (R) meets with China’s Vice President Xi Jinping in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, February 14, 2012.  REUTERS/Jason Reed.

Hello, pot? Kettle on line 1.  President Barack Obama is expected to address hacking allegations when speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California, though his indignation will likely be undercut by recent reports of the U.S. government’s collection of telephone records as part of counter-terrorism efforts:

Meeting at the luxurious Sunnylands estate near Palm Springs in California, Obama will seek Xi’s assurance that he takes seriously accusations of growing Chinese cyber spying, including snooping on advanced U.S. weapons designs. “All nations need to abide by international norms and affirm clear rules of the road,” a U.S. official told reporters in previewing the summit. “That’s the backdrop to the discussions that the two presidents will have.” Dispute over cyber security could test the two men’s ability to get along when they meet in the Californian desert in talks that are billed as an informal get-to-know-you encounter.

Obama aides don’t expect major breakthroughs during the informal meeting, and a more in-depth discussion of cyber disputes may be scheduled for later this summer. The Council on Foreign Relations told the New York Times that onlookers shouldn’t expect much on the cyber hacking front. In addition to hacking, the leaders are expected to talk about North Korea, China’s territorial disputes, human rights, and trade problems. Xi is expected to raise concerns about Washington’s “pivot” toward Asia, which Beijing considers an encroachment on China’s economic and political growth.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un greets a child during the 7th Congress of the Korean Children’s Union (KCU) at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang, June 6, 2013, in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) June 7, 2013.

Koreas begin to bury the hatchet. North Korea reopened a Red Cross hotline with South Korea it had severed in March amid escalating threats on Seoul and the U.S., and proposed holding the first talks with its southern neighbor since February 2011:

South Korea has proposed cabinet level talks on June 12 in Seoul to discuss a range of issues including commercial projects and families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War. In response, the North invited South Korea to a working-level meeting on Sunday in the border city of Kaesong, where South Korean companies employed 53,000 North Korean workers to make cheap household goods until the North ordered it closed. Later on Thursday, South Korea used the restored hotline to accepted the proposal for working-level talks but suggested they be held at the Panmunjom truce village straddling the border. It also suggested the talks include preparatory work for the ministerial-level meeting

North Korea’s proposition comes ahead of the U.S.-China summit, where North Korea’s nuclear program and threats of attack will likely be discussed. One of North Korea’s best-known defectors met with human rights officials this week to discuss the horrors of North Korean prison camps.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) toasts with his wife Lyudmila as they visit a restaurant in Moscow after voting in elections, December 2, 2007. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin. Click here for more photos of the troubled couple.

Mrs. Putin, we hardly knew you. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife confirmed rumors that they are no longer a couple, giving the Russian people a rare glimpse into their personal affairs:

The announcement removes a big question mark about the private life of a president who has increasingly touted traditional values and championed the conservative Russian Orthodox Church as a moral authority. Politically, Putin may have calculated that it was better to be seen coming clean about a separation many Russians have long taken as fact than to be suspected of hiding the truth or living a secret second life.

Lyudmila Putin told reporters that “our marriage is over due to the fact that we barely see each other,” confirming that the split had been “our common decision.” In 2008, Putin denied a newspaper report saying he had been dating and was ready to marry an Olympic rhythmic gymnast. Putin keeps his family life under wraps, and the newspaper folded soon after story was published. May we recommend a dating profile picture?

Nota Bene: A remote island fights for a new Greece.


Iran’s election won’t be tweeted – Elections are coming up and the Internet is going down. (Reuters)

Mad men – The 4,000 workers in North Korea’s massive propaganda art factory are available for hire. (Businessweek)

Qusair eyewitness – An eyewitness describes the capture of Syria’s strategic town. (Al Monitor)

Chocolate collusion – Canadian authorities charged sweets producers Nestle and Mars with price-fixing. (BBC)

Red card – What one soccer game says about the zany world of Georgian politics. (The Atlantic)

From the File:

  • Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan demanded protesters cease immediately.
  • Iran is not the only country causing trouble for the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog.
  • Kerry will return to the Middle East next week in a continued effort to push for peace.
  • A suicide bomber killed at least nine people in an attack on Iranian pilgrims.
  • Putin says Russia can replace Austrian peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
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