BUSH TRIP: President Bush is in the Latvian capital, Riga, for a NATO summit expected to focus on alliance operations in Afghanistan. The president arrived from neighboring Estonia, where he thanked that country for sending forces to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq. Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves pledged that his country would not falter in making Afghanistan secure, working hand-in-hand with the United States.
POPE-TURKEY: Pope Benedict is in Turkey on his first official visit to a predominantly Muslim country. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church was greeted by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan today (Tuesday) after stepping off the plane at the airport in Ankara. The two had a brief meeting there before Mr. Erdogan was to leave on a trip to Latvia for a NATO summit.
THAILAND MARTIAL LAW: hailand's military-installed government has decided to partially lift martial law, easing restrictions for the first time since a September coup deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The interim government said today (Tuesday) martial law will be lifted in 41 of of the country's 76 provinces, and in the capital, Bangkok. King Bhumibol Adulyadej must approve the decision before it goes into effect.
BIRD FLU: Indonesia's Health Ministry says a 35-year old woman has died of bird flu, bringing to 57 the number of people who have died from the virus there. The woman from Banten province had been undergoing treatment in a Jakarta hospital since earlier this month. Indonesia has the highest number of human bird flu deaths in the world. Also today, South Korea confirmed a second outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu on a poultry farm.
VIETNAM-WTO: Vietnam's National Assembly has ratified the country's membership in the World Trade Organization, clearing the final hurdle to membership in the global trade group. Today's (Tuesday) approval was widely expected. The Asian nation will officially become the 150th member of the trade body in 30 days, when the W.T.O formalizes the membership.
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