The World

10 ESSENTIAL STORIES

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1 | New York City

Iranian Nuke Debate Continues

Iran was front and center when the U.N. Review Conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty opened May 3. The monthlong event, which takes place every five years, revisits a 40-year-old agreement meant in part to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons. This meeting comes as the U.S. is pushing for the U.N. to impose more sanctions on Iran for the lack of transparency surrounding its nuclear program. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "The onus is on Iran," though Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as usual, criticized the U.S. Later in the week, Ahmadinejad said he agreed "in principle" to Brazilian mediation of a nuclear-fuel-swap deal, which could keep further sanctions at bay, but there was no guarantee of progress.

2 | China

Kim Jong Il Under Wraps

North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il, traveled to China for the first time since 2006, causing much speculation about why he made the trip; neither government would confirm the reason. There are several issues the ailing dictator could discuss with Chinese leaders, such as North Korea's dire economic situation, its nuclear-weapons program and lingering tensions with Seoul over the March 26 sinking of a South Korean warship.

3 | Nepal

Standoff with Maoists

Even as a general strike by Nepal's Maoist opposition crippled the country--closing businesses and schools and halting transportation--the government vowed it would not bow to pressure for the Prime Minister to resign. The strike, which comes as Nepal's Constituent Assembly is drafting a new constitution, began the same day that tens of thousands of opposition demonstrators massed peacefully in the streets of the capital, Kathmandu.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

Countries with highest U.S. troop deployment, in thousands

Iraq

Afghanistan

Germany

Japan

South Korea

SOURCES: DOD; BROOKINGS INSTITUTION; THE MILITARY BALANCE 2010

4 | Okinawa

Base Stays in Place

Backtracking on a key campaign pledge, Japanese PM Yukio Hatoyama has declared that moving an unpopular U.S. base off Okinawa would be "impossible." Okinawans have long opposed the U.S. presence on the island, claiming the base has been responsible for pollution and crime. Hatoyama's acquiescence to U.S. pressure that the base remain has cut his approval rating.

5 | Somalia

Militants vs. Pirates

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