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3/21/06 World News: Laos Gets New Communist Chief


Laos: The 8th congress of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, the country's communists, named a new leadership today, with Choummaly Sayasone, the current vice-president of the government, as the new party chief replacing octogenarian Khamtay Siphandone, who stepped down as head of the ruling Communist Party.

Iraq: Insurgents in Iraq have attacked the government compound in the town of Muqdidiya, north of Baghdad, killing at least 16 people and freeing several prisoners.

Police say most of the victims were officers killed when the attackers raided the police headquarters and set fire to the building. They say two policemen were killed in a roadside bomb blast as they tried to reach the government compound. It was not clear how many inmates were freed.

Belarus: Belarusian opposition figures say police detained two opposition politicians as protesters held a third day of rallies against Sunday's re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko. They say the two senior members of the United Civil Party (Anatoly Lebedko and Alexander Dobrovolsky) were detained early today (Tuesday) in the capital, Minsk. At least 400 opposition activists set up a tent camp in the city's October Square late Monday. They vowed to hold a round-the-clock vigil, despite freezing temperatures.

Sokor-Cambodia: South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun and visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen have agreed to increase economic, cultural and political exchanges. Mr. Roh's office said that during talks in Seoul today (Tuesday), the two leaders agreed to form a joint committee to enhance ties in areas including tourism and infrastructure development and labor. They also observed the signing of several documents, including the extension of a water development loan from South Korea to Cambodia. The leaders also called for cooperation in speeding up the conclusion of free trade talks between South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Cambodian Prime Minister arrived in South Korea Monday for a four-day visit.

US Taiwan-China: Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has assured the United States that he will not push for independence from mainland China during the rest of his term. Mr. Chen met with the new U.S. envoy to Taiwan (Stephen Young) today (Tuesday). He said there will be "no more surprises." Mr. Chen was referring to his decision last month to scrap a government body dedicated to unification with mainland China. The U.S. requested clarification on the issue. China, meanwhile, reacted angrily to Taiwan, warning that the decision could bring disaster to the island.

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