– GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney hopes to challenge President Obama on foreign policy but a new Washington Post/ABC poll suggests that might be an uphill battle as Americans trust Obama over Romney on international affairs by 53 to 36 percent.
– Shelling by Syrian government forces has come to an end as a U.N.-Arab League brokered ceasefire goes into effect, say Syrian activists, but the exiled Syrian National Council reports that raids and arrests of the government’s opponents in some suburbs of Damascus are ongoing.
– Testing a U.N.-backed agreement, Syria’s main opposition group called for the “Syrian people to protest strongly” on Friday, but urged caution in expectation that the fragile ceasefire enacted just today will not hold, and government forces will attack demonstrations.
– Iran will offer unspecified “new initiatives” at the upcoming nuclear talks between the P5+1 and Tehran, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saed Jalili, said on Wednesday.
– A massive oil price spike caused by a military confrontation with Iran is now seen as the biggest threat to the U.S. economy according to nine out of 18 economists surveyed by CNNMoney.
– Iran offered favorable credit terms to potential buyers of its oil — a sign that the reduction in exports due to Western sanctions is biting — though few have yet taken up the Islamic Republic on the deal.
— Israeli officials quietly met this week with the Finnish diplomat charged with organizing a conference on making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, though its not clear if Israel will attend.
– Improved battlefield diagnosis has led to a record number of concussions detected among U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq last year. It was the highest pace for traumatic brain injuries of any period in 10 years of combat, according to data provided to USA Today.