LAOS-CHINA: Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit Laos for the first time next week, following the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. Reports in Beijing and Vientiane say Mr. Hu will arrive in Laos on Sunday and depart Monday. The Vientiane Times (newspaper) says this will be Mr. Hu's first visit to Laos since he was elected president in Beijing three years ago. The Chinese leader is expected to meet with high-ranking Lao officials, including President Choummaly Sayasone. The two leaders are scheduled to sign several agreements. From Vientiane, Mr. Hu will travel to India (Nov. 20-23) and Pakistan (Nov. 23-26).
IRAQ: Police in Baghdad say gunmen have kidnapped at least 100 people
from a research institute of Iraq's Higher Education Ministry. The assailants were dressed in police commando uniforms and driving government vehicles when they arrived today (Tuesday) at the institute in (the Karradah district of) central Baghdad. Scores of gunmen were involved in the kidnap raid. Police say they forced people into about 20 vehicles and drove off.
BLAIR-MIDEAST: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for dialogue with Iran and Syria ending the continuing bloodshed in Iraq. In a major foreign policy speech in London Monday, Mr. Blair said a "whole" Middle East strategy is needed to end violence in Iraq and combat global terrorism. He said "a major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself but outside it, in the whole region where the same forces are at work, where the roots of global terrorism are to be found."
BUSH-ASIA: President Bush is to leave Washington later today (Tuesday)
on a week-long tour of Southeast Asia that includes stops in Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. On his way to Asia, Mr. Bush is to make a brief visit to Moscow Wednesday for an informal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Bush travels to Singapore Thursday to give the keynote address of his Asia trip. U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley says the speech will focus on how the United States can cooperate with Asia to tackle major challenges such as poverty, disease and terrorism.
THAILAND-MARTIAL LAW: Thailand's interim Prime Minister says his
cabinet did not discuss the possibility of lifting martial law at its meeting today (Tuesday), despite earlier suggestions that it might end this week. Surayud Chulanont said martial law is still a matter of national security -- and that no action will be taken before the country's military rulers issue a recommendation. Last week, Thailand's interim defense minister said martial law might be lifted before Mr. Surayud departs for a regional summit later this week in Vietnam.
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