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Obama: G-20 Must Find Common Ground


G-20 SUMMIT: Leaders of the group of 20 major economies are meeting in London at a summit aimed at drafting solutions to the global economic crisis. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown greeted the various heads of government as they arrived at the summit location Thursday. Both Mr. Brown and U.S. President Barack Obama have expressed confidence that G-20 leaders will come up with a strong agreement. The U.S. and Britain want more government spending to spur economic growth but France and Germany have pushed to make tighter financial regulations the primary focus.

US - CHINA: Chinese state media say President Hu Jintao's meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday has set the foundation for greater cooperation between the two countries. An opinion piece published Thursday by the official Xinhua news agency notes that at a time when the international financial crisis continues to spread, the United States and China need to work together to ride out the storm. On Wednesday, the White House announced Mr. Obama accepted an invitation from the Chinese president to visit China later this year.

NOKOR - MISSILE: The United States and South Korea say they will call for a stern and unified response from the international community if North Korea goes ahead with its plans to launch a test rocket in the coming days. Officials say President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, agreed during talks in London Thursday to work closely together on a response in the United Nations. North Korea has said it plans to send a satellite into space for peaceful purposes. The U.S, South Korea and Japan see the launch as a cover to test a long-range ballistic missile.

MALAYSIA - POLITICS: Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has stepped down, clearing the way for Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak to be sworn in Friday as the country's new leader. Mr. Adbullah submitted his resignation Thursday to the country's king, who accepted it. After an hour-long audience with Malaysia's monarch, Mr. Abdullah emerged from the palace smiling and waving to reporters. Najib said Wednesday that he is aware of the heavy responsibility of the position and of the need to maintain public confidence.

BURMA - TAINTED PRODUCTS: Malaysia says it has begun holding and testing Burmese products made with tea leaves, following recalls in Singapore and Burma. The Malaysian Health Ministry's food safety chief, Nooraini Mohd Othman, said Wednesday that the inspections were done after Singapore discovered that Burmese tea products were tainted with the chemical Auramine O. The official Bernama news agency said Malaysian food safety regulations bar use of the chemical dye. Bernama quoted Nooraini as saying that violators can be fined more than $5,000 and imprisoned for up to five years.

US - ISRAEL - IRAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he would be "surprised" if Israel launched military strikes against Iran this year. In an interview with the "Financial Times," Gates says there is still time, perhaps another three years, to persuade Iran to abandon attempts to develop nuclear weapons. Western powers and Israel believe Iran is pursuing nuclear technology in order to make weapons, although they disagree on how close Iran might be to producing a nuclear arsenal.

SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's military says troops have cut off a key supply route to Tamil Tiger rebels fighting a crushing government offensive in the island's north. The defense ministry said forces captured a junction on Wednesday which served as the Tigers' last supply route for reinforcement and logistic transportation to the area. The statement Thursday also reported fierce fighting northeast of the area. The ministry said troops surrounded a group of rebels in an area spanning just one square kilometer, and that after fighting there and elsewhere, troops recovered the bodies of 13 rebels who had been killed.

SOUTH AFRICA - POLITICS: South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is increasing his criticism of the man widely expected to become the country's next president with just weeks to go until the election. The Nobel Peace Prize winner says African National Congress party leader Jacob Zuma should stand trial for corruption, adding he "can't pretend to be looking forward to" having Zuma as president. Prosecutors have accused Zuma of taking bribes, but Zuma claims he is the victim of a political conspiracy and has asked that the charges be dropped.

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