Morning Brief: Obama arrives to controversy in Iraq

Top Story QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images Controversy erupted over the weekend when Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told German magazine Der Spiegel that he more or less agrees with U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama’s timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Through spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, Maliki later claimed he was misinterpreted, but did not specify exactly ...

593875_080721_maliki25.jpg
593875_080721_maliki25.jpg

Top Story

QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images

Controversy erupted over the weekend when Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told German magazine Der Spiegel that he more or less agrees with U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama's timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Through spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, Maliki later claimed he was misinterpreted, but did not specify exactly how -- the translator who allegedly mistranslated the interview works for Maliki, and Der Spiegel stands by its version. The story behind Dabbagh's statement is revealing: The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had contacted Maliki's office, seeking clarification after his remarks to Der Spiegel, and U.S. Central Command distributed Dabbagh's statement to American news organizations.

Top Story

QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images

Controversy erupted over the weekend when Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told German magazine Der Spiegel that he more or less agrees with U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama’s timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Through spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, Maliki later claimed he was misinterpreted, but did not specify exactly how — the translator who allegedly mistranslated the interview works for Maliki, and Der Spiegel stands by its version. The story behind Dabbagh’s statement is revealing: The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had contacted Maliki’s office, seeking clarification after his remarks to Der Spiegel, and U.S. Central Command distributed Dabbagh’s statement to American news organizations.

All of this, of course, happened against the backdrop of a visit by Obama himself, which began Monday. First stop? Basra. He also meets with Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani today. Obama renewed his call Sunday to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Decision ’08

The Obama campaign’s cash on hand is increasing while John McCain’s is decreasing.

After his defeat in 2000, McCain “mastered the art of political triangulation,” according to a long profile of the Arizona senator in the New York Times.

Why does either man want the job, anyway?

Global Economy

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson predicted a period of “slow growth” Sunday, stressing that the U.S. banking sector is sound after two large mortgage companies stumbled last week. Nonetheless, the mortgage meltdown is spurring growing concern abroad.

Americas

A U.S. B-52 bomber has crashed off the coast of Guam.

Tijuana, Mexico, is apparently the place to buy suicide drugs.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has offered to give the king of Spain a hug.

Asia

Twin bus explosions in China’s southwestern Yunnan province may be the work of terrorists.

The six-party talks over North Korea’s nuclear program are about to be kicked up a notch, to the ministerial level.

China and Russia have settled a long-running border dispute.

Thailand and Cambodia’s border dispute, in contrast, is just heating up.

Middle East and Africa

Western powers did not get the response they were seeking from Iran this weekend. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Iran must give a “serious answer” in two weeks.

Zimbabwe’s opposition is reportedly close to signing a framework deal with the government of Robert Mugabe.

Nairobi, Kenya, is a hotbed of computer programming.

Europe

Europe is offering to cut its farm tariffs by 60 percent.

In a game of chicken, who will blink first: BP or the Kremlin?

French authorities admit that a facility where a quantity of Semtex explosive has gone missing wasn’t well-guarded.

Today’s Agenda

British PM Gordon Brown is visiting Israel.

Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers are meeting to discuss a deteriorating situation in Kashmir.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is visiting Ireland to discuss the Lisbon Treaty.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Ukraine to talk about NATO and EU membership.

The White House welcomes Kosovo’s president and prime minister.

The trial of Osama bin Laden’s ex-driver, Salim Hamdan, begins in Guantánamo.

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