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On deck for Monday: Syria to top the agenda at the U.N. General Assembly, another high-profile Burmese guest arrives in America and farming reforms expected in North Korea

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David Guttenfelder / AP

Ears of field corn lay in piles along a roadside during the autumn corn harvest on a farm on the edge of Kaesong, North Korea, Sept. 12, 2012.

U.N. General Assembly — The civil war in Syria will top the agenda at the United Nations General Assembly session in New York this week, reports VOA News. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the Syrian conflict is “an issue that has be addressed most urgently,” as the world’s major powers remain deadlocked on how to deal with Syria, where more than 20,000 people, largely civilians, have died from the civil war. Other topics on the General Assembly agenda include the ongoing tension between Iran and Israel and the deadly protests in the Middle East over the anti-Islam film made in the U.S.

Burmese President – Reuters reports that, on the back of Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit, Burmese President Thein Sein will arrive in the U.S. Monday to attend the U.N. General Assembly and try to end sanctions against the Southeast Asian country. The 67-year-old former general has ushered a series of reforms since assuming office last year, which has prompted the international community to roll back on sanctions and authorize American investment. Signs of growing rapprochement between the U.S. and Burma could “benefit not only the cash-starved southeast Asian nation, but could help a superpower intent on boosting its political and economic muscle in a booming region,” wrote Reuters.

China-Afghan Ties — China and Afghanistan have signed multiple economic and security deals during Chinese domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang’s visit to Kabul, notes the BBC. Under the new deals, China will help train roughly 300 Afghan police officers over the next four years. Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, including the Chinese, “are seeking to expand their influence in their country ahead of the pullout of U.S.-led troops from the country in 2014,” said the BBC.

Farming Reform – North Korea is allegedly set to introduce farming reform that would let farmers keep more of their crops, the BBC reports.  The reforms have been viewed as a means to “boost productivity in a state-run economy that suffers chronic foods shortages.”  Though the changes have not been officially announced, reports from both inside and outside of the impoverished country have surfaced. The reforms would give peasants an incentive to grow more food, a source cited by Reuters said. Two thirds of North Korea’s 24 million population suffers from chronic food shortages, according to a U.N. report released in July.

Rafsanjani Returns – The son of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has returned to Iran after three years of exile, according to Reuters.  Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani is due to answer charges for inciting unrest after the contested re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. His return has been viewed as an indication that a deal with authorities may have been struck, which suggests that “his father’s political fortunes may be reviving.” The activist’s return to Iran occurred as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to New York for the U.N. General Assembly—a visit that led to a verbal warning from U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon regarding the contentious figure’s trademark incendiary rhetoric, Reuters reports.

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