“One day after its nuclear test drew angry and widespread condemnation, North Korea continued to defy the international community on Tuesday by test-firing two more short-range missiles, a South Korean government official said,” the New York Times reported on May 26. The BBC pointed out on the same day that South Korea’s Yonhap news agency “said the test involved one ground-to-ship missile and one ground-to-air missile.”
IRNA, Iran's state-controlled news agency, quoted a statement made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on May 20 that his country has test-fired the new Sejil-2 missile, which has a range sufficient to reach Israel, southeastern Europe, and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The launch came at a time of increased tensions between Iran and eastern nations suspicious of the Islamic state's nuclear-enrichment program and its potential to produce nuclear weapons.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has denied a speculative report appearing in the New York Times for May 19 that Zalmay Khalilzad, who was former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in the administration of President George W. Bush, might assume an important unelected position inside the Afghan government. The Times report, which cited senior American and Afghan officials, said that Ambassador Khalilzad has been talking with President Karzai for several weeks about taking on a position that the two described as "the chief executive officer of Afghanistan."
After months of initiatives and statements from the new Obama administration indicating it intended to reverse U.S. policy and reopen relations with Syria, President Obama, on May 7, signed an executive order renewing sanctions on Damascus that had been put in place by President George W. Bush in 2004.
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Amman, Jordan, on May 8 at the beginning of an eight-day Holy Land pilgrimage. Besides Jordan, the pope’s tour will include visits to Israel and the Palestinian territories. The spiritual leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics had barely set foot in predominantly Muslim Jordan, however, when it became apparent that the reaction to his visit among followers of Islam would vary widely.