BUSH-ASIA: President Bush and Asia-Pacific leaders have opened a summit in Vietnam, where trade, regional security and North Korea's nuclear program are dominating the agenda. U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said in Hanoi today (Saturday) that the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group is preparing a joint statement urging North Korea to renounce nuclear weapons and return to six-party disarmament talks. On the sidelines of the annual summit, President Bush has discussed the nuclear issue with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.
BUSH-ASIA: MIA: President Bush has made a brief visit to a joint U.S.-Vietnamese center where experts are working to find and identify remains of American soldiers from the Vietnam War. Taking a break from APEC meetings in Hanoi, Mr. Bush visited the joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command. He viewed displays and listened to workers discuss the painstaking excavation and research process. More than 58-thousand Americans and around three million Vietnamese were killed in the war. More than 18-hundred Americans remain unaccounted for.
BUSH-ASIA: DEMOCRACY: President Bush has discussed the challenges facing democracy in the Asia-Pacific region with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian nations. Meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Hanoi, Mr. Bush addressed recent developments in Thailand and the situation in Burma. The President called on ASEAN leaders to urge fellow member nation Burma give its people greater freedom and an opportunity to participate in the government. Mr. Bush also spoke about the need for Thailand to return to a constitutional democracy.
RICE-NORTH KOREA-BURMA: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is urging North Korea and Burma to follow the example of Vietnam in joining the international community and opening their economies to the rest of the world. Speaking in Hanoi today (Saturday) at a forum on the sidelines of the APEC summit, Rice praised Vietnam for its success in reforming its economy and overcoming the past in seeking good relations with the United States. She said that if the leaders of North Korea and Burma were to follow the example of Vietnam, it will open a new path of peace and opportunity.
IRAQ: U.S. and Iraqi forces continue to search for Western security contractors kidnapped in southern Iraq. Iraqi officials said today (Saturday) security forces were searching areas near the southern city of Basra where four Americans and an Austrian were seized from a convoy Thursday. The fate of the hostages was not clear. Iraqi officials said Friday one hostage was found dead and two others were freed in a police operation. But Basra police told the Associated Press none of the hostages had been freed.
AUSTRALIA - G-20: Violent clashes have erupted between Australian riot police and a group of anti-globalization protesters outside a heavily-fortified venue in where some of the world's most powerful economic officials are meeting. Police in Melbourne used batons to repel bottle-throwing demonstrators trying to break through barriers set up around a hotel where the G-20 meeting began today (Saturday). Thousands of protesters are participating in demonstrations, but the violence appears to be centered around one group dressed in white with faces covered by bandanas. The two-day G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers is likely to focus on the stalled World Trade Organization talks, foreign aid and aging populations, as well as the effects of rising interest rates and climate change.
TONGA RIOTS: A contingent of troops from New Zealand and Australia began arriving in Tonga today (Saturday) to help restore order after violent pro-democracy riots left at least eight people dead. A total of 110 military personnel and more than 40 police were sent from both countries after Tonga requested the assistance on Friday. The contingent is to help keep peace in the capital, Nuku' Alofa, and secure Tonga's airport, which has been closed since Thursday when violence erupted. Most of those killed in Thursday's riots are believed to have died in buildings that rioters set ablaze as they rampaged through the city.
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