By Julian Pecquet - 05/15/12 11:00 AM EDT
Your morning global affairs speed-read
The U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement enters into force today. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk marks the occasion with remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at noon.
Free trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea were negotiated under President George W. Bush and signed into law by President Obama. Columbia is the third-largest economy in Latin America
Iran: The Obama administration is moving to remove the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MeK, from its list of terrorist groups, The Wall Street Journal reports, further straining relations with Iran.
Separately, the Iranian regime hanged an alleged Mossad agent for the murder of an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2010.
And today, the House votes on a resolution “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the importance of preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.” (H. Res. 568).
The moves come as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Monday for the establishing “red lines” that would trigger a military response by Washington or Tel Aviv. Iran is due to restart negotiations with the international community over its nuclear program later this month in Baghdad.
China: The House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on human rights holds a hearing on Chen Guangcheng and the Obama administration's response to his flight from house arrest last month. The hearing will also focus on Chen's cause – his fight against forced abortions and sterilizations – which panel chairman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) says has been largely ignored by Chen's champions in the Democratic Party.
Global Affairs has more on that here.
North Korea: The House votes this evening to reauthorize the North Korea Human Rights Act for five years and authorize appropriations:
• for grants that promote democracy and a market economy in North Korea;
• to increase the availability of non-government controlled information inside North Korea; and
• for organizations or persons that provide humanitarian assistance to North Koreans who are outside of North Korea.
The bill (H.R. 4240) is sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). According to the Congressional Budget Office it would cost $24 million per year including:
• $20 million for humanitarian assistance for North Korean refugees and emigrants;
• $2 million to promote human rights, democracy, rule of law, and development of a market economy; and
• $2 million to promote freedom of information.
Arctic: Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns is leading the U.S. delegation to the meeting of deputy ministers of the Arctic Council in Stockholm. The group is scheduled to launch new efforts to address climate change and stand up a new secretariat for the council.
Europe: Francois Hollande takes office today as president of France. And the European Union's finance ministers try to reach agreement on new capital requirements for banks.
What you might have missed on Global Affairs:
White House shoots down GOP proposal for nuclear weapons in South Korea
Sen. Feinstein warns of political crackdown in Mongolia ahead of June elections
Obama to skip September economic summit in Russia
Report says NATO ignoring civilian deaths in Libya campaign