Top of the Morning: Blue Helmets for Mali? Syria Pledging Conference Nets $1.5bn; USA-Russia Nuke Talks

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

Donors Pledge $1.5 billion for Syria Aid

Of course a “pledge” is very different than cash on hand so we will have to wait to see whether or not donors actually follow through. Still, this is a good sign because this is precisely the amount that was requested by humanitarian agencies.“The largest donors were the Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates each pledged $300 million), the United States ($155 million) and the European Union ($136 million), though donors from as far as Iran, China and Botswana also made contributions. The final tally is still being calculated.  Most of the money will go towards the UN’s  Regional Response Plan for more than 700,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and its Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan for aid within Syria, but some contributions will also go through the International Committee of the Red Cross and NGOs from the donor countries, while others have yet to be allocated.” (IRIN

UN Blue Helmets for Mali?

It would appear the Security Council is seriously considering a UN peacekeeping mission once offensive operations in Mali are complete. “‘There is increasing talk of moving straight to a U.N. peacekeeping operation,’ a senior Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Another diplomat and a U.N. official confirmed that, saying the discussions would begin within days. It is an issue that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice first mentioned last week during a Security Council meeting. Other council members are now warming to the idea, the diplomats and U.N. officials said. Deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force would require Security Council approval. Another option would be to send in an African Union force mandated by the council with logistical and other support from the United Nations, similar to the AU’s Somalia mission.” (Reuters

USA and Russia May Start New Nuke Talks

Relations between Russia and the USA have turned sour in recent months, but this is a hopeful sign.“Vice President Joe Biden will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this weekend in Munich and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will travel to Moscow next month to try to kick-start a new round of U.S.-Russia nuclear reduction negotiations, The Cable has learned…Biden and Donilon are leading the charge to reinvigorate that reset, following a series of setbacks in the U.S.-Russia relationship that has included President Vladimir Putin accusing the United States of meddling in Russian politics, anger over a new U.S. law to sanction Russian human rights violators, and a new Russian ban on Americans adopting Russia orphans.” (Foreign Policy