G-8 Pledges $40 Billion to Arab Spring, Clinton Seeks to Ease Pakistani Tensions

BY News Desk  May 27, 2011 at 7:09 AM EDT

Group of Eight heads of state and government, and other invited world leaders, pose for the family photograph during the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Deauville, France, on Friday, May 27, 2011.(Stefan Rousseau/Pool via Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Leaders from the Group of Eight nations announced a goal $40 billion in economic assistance to Arab nations where democratic reforms show promise. How the money would be dispersed — or which countries would contribute the most — is yet to be determined.

The aid packages, announced at the G-8 summit in Deauville, France, would include direct funds and loans, as well as debt relief. Unemployment, which helped fuel unrest, and the subsequent decline in tourism have further dented the economies of places like Tunisia and Egypt, raising concern about the success of their new governments. Representatives from both countries attended the meeting to discuss assistance for their fledgling democracies.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was asked to mediate a possible agreement with the government of Libya, though no specific plan has been set forth. In March, Russia refrained from voting on the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing NATO air strikes and has been critical of efforts to oust Moammar Gadhafi. France, Britain and the United States have been driving forces in the air campaign, but Gadhafi’s forces remain entrenched in the western part of the country, with opposition forces holding the east.

The summit was also attended by President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Clinton Visits Pakistan in Bid to Ease Tensions

In the wake of a series of high-profile disagreements between the United States and Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Islamabad Friday in an effort to gauge the relationship and to meet with President Asif Ali Zardari and senior members of the army and intelligence establishment. Her visit was unannounced and accompanied by limited media. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also present in the meetings with senior Pakistani officials.

Secretary Clinton restated the Obama administration’s “strong support for the relationship and our commitment to working with and support for Pakistan, and the recognition of the sacrifice that is made…by your country” in fighting terrorism.”

Pakistani leaders have been upset over the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound without their prior knowledge and the ongoing use of drones to target extremists.

Adm. Mullen said that while much of the relationship and trust must be “rebuilt” in light of recent events, “now is not the time for retreat or for recrimination. Now is the time for action and closer cooperation, not less.”

Clinton said Pakistan must do its part to shore up the alliance and that she did not believe high-level officials knew about bin Laden’s hideout. Still, in the aftermath of the raid, many Pakistani officials were sharply critical of the U.S. action and threatened to withdraw U.S. military advisers working within the country.

In a gesture of cooperation, however, Pakistani officials are allowing the CIA to examine bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad for any intelligence. The search would provide access to materials already confiscated by Pakistan.

According to the Washington Post:

“U.S. intelligence officials have described the materials from the bin Laden compound as the largest intelligence haul ever recovered relating to a terrorist network. The materials include dozens of computer storage devices as well as thousands of pages of documents.

“Even so, U.S. officials said they want to be sure that other material has not been overlooked. The CIA plans involve the use of infrared cameras, X-ray equipment and other devices capable of identifying items embedded behind walls, inside safes or under floors.”

Mladic to Appear at Extradition Hearing

One day after Ratko Mladic was arrested in Serbia after more than a decade on the run, he faces extradition to The Hague to stand trial at the International Criminal Court. His hearing on Thursday was postponed because of his “poor physical state.”

The 69-year-old former Bosnian Serb army general faces charges of genocide from the Bosnian war, including the Srebrenica massacre in which more than 7,500 men and boys were killed.

Serbian President Boris Tadic hopes the arrest of Mladic paves the way for possible membership to the European Union. Serbia had been under intense international pressure to apprehend Mladic, the most prominent suspect to be arrested since Radovan Karadzic, who was arrested in 2008 and is on trial. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was arrested in 2001 and died in his cell in 2006, ending his trial.

North Korea Releases American Held Since November

Following a visit by a U.S. delegation assessing North Korea’s ongoing food shortage crisis, the state’s KCNA news agency reported that Korean-American businessman Eddie Yong Su Jun has been released. Despite maintaining that he was arrested for “committing a crime,” KCNA said he was released for “humanitarian” reasons.

Jun was arrested in November, the same month tensions between the United States, North Korea and South Korea spiked in the wake of the shelling of Yeonpyeong island. Former President Jimmy Carter had asked for his release, as had Robert King, the special envoy for human rights, and Jon Brause of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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