JAPAN-TSUNAMI WARNING: Japan's meterelogical agency has issued a tsunami warning for the north and east of the country after a powerful earthquake struck the Kuril islands. The agency says the tsunami will be at least two meters high, and is expected to hit Japan's Pacific coast at around 9:10 pm local time (12:10 UTC). It says the preliminary magnitude of the quake was eight-point-one. The U.S. Geological Survey called it a seven-point-eight magnitude earthquake.
IRAQ: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called for the swift arrest of the perpetrators of Tuesday's mass kidnapping at a government building in Baghdad. Speaking at Baghdad University, Mr. Maliki called the kidnappers "worse than extremists" because they abducted intellectuals and prevented universities from carrying out their work. Gunmen dressed as police commandos kidnapped scores of men from a research institute at Iraq's Higher Education Ministry. Officials say many have been freed in operations by security forces, but some are still being held.
BUSH ASIA TRIP: President Bush stopped in Moscow today (Wednesday) for a brief meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. The U.S. presidential jet (Air Force One) arrived on schedule at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport (in the early afternoon / shortly before 12 hours, Universal Time). Mr. Putin, Mr. Bush and their wives are meeting briefly during the refueling, and the American party then will depart for Singapore. The Russian and U.S. leaders will meet again Friday at an official dinner in Hanoi that will open the APEC summit.
APEC-TRADE: Cabinet ministers from Asia-Pacific countries are meeting in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, to discuss ways of reviving talks on a global free trade agreement. The officials are hoping to make progress before their nations' leaders arrive Saturday for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. World Trade Organization chief Pascal Lamy joined the APEC ministerial meetings today (Wednesday) to push for a resumption of the "Doha" round of free trade talks.
NORTH KOREA: Senior U.S. diplomat Christopher Hill says six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program are likely to resume in early December. Hill says he hopes to set the date for the talks soon, but says the negotiations must be carefully planned to ensure they make progress. He was speaking today (Wednesday) in Hanoi, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The U.S. envoy met South Korean and Japanese officials there to discuss plans for the North Korea talks.
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