IRAQ: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says his government will crack down on illegal militias that are blamed for widespread sectarian violence. Mr. Maliki said in a news conference today (Wednesday) the government will deal harshly with anyone who breaks the law. His comments came one day after the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Iraqi leaders had agreed to set a timeline for improving security and the economy within the next year.
SOUTH KOREA POL: In continuing political fallout following North Korea's nuclear test, South Korea's principal envoy to Pyongyang is offering to step down from his Cabinet post. Government officials in Seoul say (today / Wednesday that) Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok delivered his resignation offer directly to (South Korean) President Roh Moo-hyun (on Tuesday). The president has not announced his response.
FRANCE-CHINA: French President Jacques Chirac has arrived in China for a four-day visit aimed at fostering bilateral ties and expanding economic links between the two countries. Mr. Chirac is scheduled to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Thursday.
EAST TIMOR: East Timorese officials say the country's international airport has been closed after deadly clashes erupted between rival gangs in the capital, Dili. An airport official said today (Wednesday) the facility is closed because there is not enough security for staff and passengers. One person was killed near the airport this (Wednesday) morning, and another was shot dead Tuesday. Gang fights are common in the impoverished country.
HONGKONG- AVIATION: Asia's first discount long-haul airline is beginning flights from Hong Kong to London today (Wednesday), challenging competitors like Cathay Pacific and British Airways on one of Hong Kong's busiest routes. For the first month of operations, Oasis Airlines is charging just 128 dollars for a one-way ticket to London - half the price of its rivals. The company is starting with four weekly flights but will increase to daily service next month.
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