Bush–Asia: President Bush has delivered the keynote address of his Southeast Asia tour, focusing on trade issues and the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program.
In a speech to the National University of Singapore today (Thursday), Mr. Bush
urged Asia-Pacific leaders to revive stalled global trade talks and give serious consideration to a free-trade zone that includes all 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
He also said one of the biggest security threats facing the region is North Korea proliferating weapons of mass destruction to hostile regimes or terrorist groups.
APEC–US-Security: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Asia Pacific nations must confront terrorism and other security threats if they want to maintain economic prosperity.
Rice discussed the issue today (Thursday) with regional foreign ministers at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi.
She says the prosperity of the region is closely tied to combating threats such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the spread of pandemic disease.
Secretary Rice warned her colleagues that if regional security is fundamentally compromised, there would be serious consequences for trade and economic growth.
North Korea: A senior Democratic lawmaker in the U.S. Congress is urging the Bush administration to hold direct talks with North Korea about its nuclear weapons program.
Representative Tom Lantos says Washington must adopt a new approach to North Korea that combines high-level diplomacy and forceful actions. He was speaking Wednesday at a congressional hearing on foreign policy.
Lantos welcomed Pyongyang's agreement to resume six-party talks on its nuclear program, but warned the talks could stall once again without additional diplomatic steps.
He recommended that U.S. envoy Christopher Hill be sent to Pyongyang after the next round of six-party talks in Beijing, expected in December. Lantos says direct talks with Pyongyang would demonstrate Washington's "peaceful intent".
South Korea says it will vote in favor of a U.N. resolution condemning North North Korea – Human Rights: abuses, reversing its previous policy of abstaining from criticizing Pyongyang.
South Korea's foreign ministry says the government will support the resolution because it wants to encourage dialogue between Pyongyang and the world community on human rights.
The U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote in the coming days on a non-binding resolution that calls on Pyongyang to fully respect human rights and basic freedoms.
Pakistan–Britain Justice: Pakistani officials say President Pervez Musharraf has commuted the death sentence of a British national convicted of murder.
Officials confirmed today (Thursday) that Mirza Tahir Hussain will instead be given a life sentence. The British national of Pakistani descent has spent the past 18 years in prison for murdering a taxi driver in 1988.
Hussain says the driver tried to sexually assault him at gunpoint and that he acted in self defense.
His case has drawn outcry from human rights groups and Hussain's family, who said the trial was unfair.
Burma–Diplomacy: Indonesian Foreign Minsiter Hassan Wirayuda
says Southeast Asian leaders are open t o discussing Burma’s lack of progress on democratic reforms during a meeting with President Bush later this week.
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