World week ahead: Pope Francis’ inauguration, Obama’s first trip to Israel, ceasefire in Turkey, and Musharraf return to Pakistan

Iran’s nuclear programme will be discussed at a technical meeting of representatives from the p5+1 (E3+3) grouping in Istanbul. It follows talks last month in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Finally, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will hold his monthly press conference in Brussels at which the focus is expected to be Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai’s recent inflammatory rhetoric.

Tuesday 19 March

On Tuesday, Pope Francis will be inaugurated as head of the Catholic church amid much fanfare in Rome. The Argentine septuagenarian was selected on just the second day of the conclave of cardinals.

Also Tuesday, incumbent governor of Japan’s central bank Masaaki Shirakawa will step down. He will be replaced on Wednesday by Haruhiko Kuroda, who is moving across from the Asian Development Bank. Kuroda has pushed for looser monetary policy in Japan.

In New York, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will host a UN Security Council debate on Afghanistan, in what is billed as the highlight of Russia’s presidency of the UNSC this month.

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In Washington DC, the Senate Armed Services will hold a hearing on cyber security, at which the CEO of Mediant Corporation will testify. Mediant published a report last month effectively accusing the Chinese military of being responsible for large numbers of cyber attacks in the US.

Wednesday 20 March

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama will begin his first visit to Israel since taking office. The trip, which will also see him travel to the West Bank and Jordan, was nearly overshadowed by post-electoral wrangling as Netanyahu sought to form a coalition government.

In Japan, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will deliver what is billed as a major foreign policy address. Observers will be particularly interested to see what Kishida has to say about relations with China, and the Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute.

Finally, in Brussels EU High Representative Catherine Ashton will host another round of negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Thursday 21 March

In Turkey, imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan is expected to declare a ceasefire between the PKK and Turkish government, timed to coincide with Nowruz.

Meanwhile, an immigration appeals tribunal will hold a bail hearing in the case of Jordanian radical cleric Abu Qatada, who was arrested earlier this month for breaching his bail conditions.

Finally, in Italy talks are expected to begin between President Giorgio Napolitano and representatives of the main parties on forming a government following elections held at the end of February.

Friday 22 March

The oft-delayed posthumous trial of whistleblowing Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky is scheduled to resume, after it was delayed again on March 11.

Also Friday, the trial of so-called Devil’s Advocate lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano on fraud charges is expected to conclude. Di Stefano has previously represented figures including Gary Glitter, Saddam Hussein and Ian Brady.


A final hearing in former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s appeal against his conviction on tax evasion charges is scheduled for Saturday, when a verdict may come. He has called for nationwide protests in piazzas against what he alleges is a politicised judicial process.

Pervez Musharraf
On Sunday, if reports are to be believed, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is due to return to Pakistan, where he faces arrest, ahead of elections due in May.

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