BELGIUM: No promises yet, Kerry says
After meeting for more than three hours Wednesday with Afghan and Pakistani leaders, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reported progress in relaunching negotiations, but warned, "We're not going to raise expectations or promise results that can't be delivered." Kerry said before boarding a plane to return to Washington that the leaders agreed to "underpromise but deliver." "We're all going to go home and do our homework," he said, flanked by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan's army chief. The trio had lunched together and walked the grounds of a secluded estate outside Brussels in their meeting.
EGYPT: In the dark on chemical war
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that Israeli officials did not share with him their intelligence assessment that Syria has repeatedly used chemical weapons. Hagel, who spent the day in Cairo meeting with government officials, including President Mohammed Morsi, told reporters he was not briefed on the assessment when he met Monday with his Israeli counterpart in Tel Aviv. A senior Israeli military intelligence officer announced the assessment on Tuesday. Hagel said U.S. intelligence officials are still studying the question of chemical weapons use in Syria.
CHINA: Fish smuggling charge
Seven people have been charged with smuggling bladders from an endangered fish in what authorities said Wednesday may be a growing international practice. The bladders are sold for up to $20,000 each to be used in a highly desired soup. Border inspectors in Calexico, Calif., have seized 529 bladders since February that they believe were destined for China and Hong Kong. An inspector spotted about 30 bladders buried in an ice chest. The bladders came from totoaba fish that live exclusively in Mexico's Sea of Cortez. Also known as Mexican giant bass or giant croaker, the fish can measure up to 7 feet long and weigh more than 200 pounds. The bladders alone measure up to 3 feet. The totoaba has been protected since 1976 under the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species and was added to the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1979. Its fishing is also prohibited in Mexico.