World week ahead: Pope Francis’ inauguration, Obama’s first trip to Israel, ceasefire in Turkey, and Musharraf return to Pakistan
By Jasper Wenban-Smith, international editor of ForesightNews.
Monday 18 March
On Monday, the UN Human Rights Council will formally consider a highly critical report on Israeli settler activities that was published at the end of January.
Meanwhile, in Yemen a national dialogue conference is scheduled to open to try resolve the deep tensions in the country, with a view to holding credible elections next February.
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
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.
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.
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.