Like many policy issues regarding North Korea, the U.S. has no good options regarding the question of whether or not to resume deliveries of food aid to the isolated country. Last year’s flooding and severe weather have combined with Pyongyang’s perverse policies and rising world food prices to produce major shortfalls in food supplies in many parts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The United States used to be one of North Korea’s major food donors until the deterioration in bilateral relations in 2008-2009 and the refusal by DPRK authorities to allow extensive monitoring of the aid flows […]

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Colombia recently signed a deal with South Korea for the development of several oil projects in Colombia. In an email interview, Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, discusses Colombia’s oil sector. WPR: What is the current state of Colombia’s oil sector, including extent of reserves and level of infrastructure? Eric Farnsworth: Simply put, Colombia has enjoyed an energy renaissance over the past decade. As noted in a recent Americas Society/Council of the Americas report on Colombia’s energy sector security is vastly improved and successive governments have placed an emphasis on attracting investment through regulatory stability, open […]

After almost 40 years of intermittent and fruitless talks, Bangladesh and Myanmar appear close to a final settlement of their maritime boundary dispute in the Bay of Bengal. Frustrated with stalled negotiations, Bangladesh submitted the case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in 2009. After a series of oral hearings in September, which included numerous technical arguments, the court recently adjourned and plans to deliver a ruling in March 2012. The speed with which the case has progressed is in stark contrast to other maritime boundary disputes in Asia, but that is not surprising: There […]

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Iran recently joined Russia in expressing concern about negotiations among the European Union, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan over a proposed trans-Caspian pipeline. In an email interview, Gawdat Bahgat, a political science professor at National Defense University, discussed diplomacy among the Caspian littoral states. WPR: What are the main issues facing the Caspian littoral states in terms of maritime boundaries and resource rights? Gawdat Bahgat: Though the Caspian region does not have the massive proven oil and gas reserves the Persian Gulf region holds, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have proven themselves as major energy producers and exporters. The intense disagreement over maritime […]

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from the so-called oil sands in Canada’s Alberta province through an almost 2,000-mile pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has in many ways become ground zero in the U.S. debate over fossil fuels, the environment and climate change. But perhaps most relevant in the current row, though practically absent from the debate, is the increasing awareness that energy security must be included as part of the calculus in determining energy sources. Indeed, terminology such as “friendly” supplier — regularly applied to Canada in U.S. energy discussions — underscores what is […]

The real clash of civilizations in the 21st century will be not over religion, but over food. As the emerging East and surging South achieve appreciable amounts of disposable income, they’re increasingly taking on a Western-style diet. This bodes poorly for the world on multiple levels, with the most-alarmist Cassandras warning about imminent resource wars. But the more immediate and realistic concern is the resulting health costs, which will inevitably trigger a rule-set clash between nanny-state types hell-bent on “reining in” a number of globalized industries — agriculture, food and beverages, restaurants, health care and pharmaceuticals — and those preferring […]

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Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently visited Indonesia, where he and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono agreed to establish joint patrols of their countries’ maritime border. In an email interview, Donald Weatherbee (.pdf), a professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina, discussed Indonesia-Vietnam relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Indonesia-Vietnam diplomatic, trade and defense relations? Donald Weatherbee: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to Indonesia earlier this month was the usual courtesy call by a newly named head of government to his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Indonesia and a Hanoi-based […]

This is the second of a two-part series examining the policies and political challenges facing the new government of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Part I examined domestic issues. Part II examines foreign policy and the implications for regional stability. With its domestic opponents watching closely for missteps, the government of Thailand’s recently elected prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, will have to tread extremely carefully in matters of foreign policy. The mishandling of relations with Cambodia by the administration of Yingluck’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, had resulted in border skirmishes that killed 28 people this year alone. Yingluck’s Pheu […]

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Indian and Mongolian troops are currently holding a two-week military exercise in Mongolia, following a visit by the Indian army chief to the Central Asian country. In an email interview, Sharad K. Soni, an assistant professor of Mongolian and Central Asian studies at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, discussed India-Mongolia relations. WPR: What is the recent history of India-Mongolia relations? Sharad K. Soni: The two countries, known as “spiritual” neighbors, have been in close contact not only on the basis of their historical relationship, but also on the basis of post-Cold War realities. The Treaty of […]

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Last month, Honduras deployed soldiers and police to the province of Colón to quell a series of deadly clashes over land disputes. In an email interview, Orlando J. Pérez, a professor of political science at Central Michigan University, discussed Honduras’ land disputes. WPR: What is the historical background of land ownership and land disputes in Honduras? Orlando J. Pérez: Conflicts over land are common in Honduras, with increased conflict since 2008. Land disputes are a symptom of the broader political, social and economic crises facing Honduras. They reflect the highly unequal nature of the country’s economy and represent yet more […]

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Mozambique recently offered Brazilian farmers 15 million acres of farmland at a symbolic price to be used for the production of soy, corn and cotton. In an email interview, Adriana de Queiroz, an executive coordinator at the Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI) who writes in a personal capacity, discussed Brazil-Africa relations. WPR: What are the main countries and sectors for Brazilian investment in Africa? Adriana De Queiroz: Brazilian companies have been investing mainly in mining, infrastructure and oil and gas in Africa. A significant proportion of this investment has been in Portuguese-speaking countries, such as Angola and Mozambique. Brazilian […]

A memorandum of understanding between the Armenian Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Isle of Man-registered International Minerals & Mines Ltd. is paving the way for the exploration of Armenia’s shale reserves. Should large-scale commercial extraction proceed, Armenia’s energy find could grant the landlocked Caucasus nation a measure of energy independence and, with it, newfound geopolitical freedom. The Aug. 3 deal comes on the heels of another agreement between the Energy Ministry and the U.S. State Department in June to cooperate in energy exploration, commercialization and investment. This agreement plans “cooperative assessment and technical studies of Armenia’s energy […]

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Last month, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak embarked on a tour of Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, resulting in the signing of a number of trade deals. In an email interview, Matteo Fumagalli, head of the department of international relations and European studies at the Central European University, discussed South Korea-Central Asia Relations. WPR: What is the extent of South Korea’s diplomatic and trade relations with Central Asia? Matteo Fumagalli: Unlike his predecessors, who did not place a high priority on Central Asia, President Lee Myung-bak has paid considerable attention to the region. In 2009 Lee launched a new Asia Initiative, […]