US - MIDEAST: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has warned that the failure of President Bush's new Iraq security plan would endanger moderate Arab states in the region. Rice made her comments late Friday to reporters traveling with her on a Middle East trip to promote the Bush administration's new Iraq policy. She urged Iraq's neighbors to commit to helping the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Secretary Rice warned that if Iraq dissolves into chaos, the consequences for the region would be great.
IRAQ: U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is in Iraq, heading a bipartisan delegation that will meet with senior Iraqi officials and U.S. military commanders. Clinton, fellow Democratic Senator Evan Bayh and Republican Congressman John McHugh are the first U.S. lawmakers to visit Baghdad since President Bush announced he was sending more troops to Iraq. Clinton and other Democrats oppose the move to deploy more than 20-thousand additional U.S. troops. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki expressed support today (Saturday) for President Bush's new Iraq strategy. A statement issued by his office says U.S. forces will be working in support of Iraqi troops as they implement the prime minister's plan to restore peace to Baghdad.
ASEAN SUMMIT: Southeast Asian leaders have ended their annual group summit by setting a new direction for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, focusing on terrorism and trade. In the central Philippines city of Cebu today (Saturday), ASEAN leaders signed the outline of a charter that would transform the 10-nation organization into a rules-based grouping similar to the European Union. Southeast Asian leaders also signed the region's first anti-terrorism edict. The accord makes it easier for ASEAN nations to track suspects and money across borders, share intelligence information, and extradite suspects from one member country to another.
JAPAN TSUNAMI: Tsunami fears eased in Japan today (Saturday) after a powerful Pacific Ocean earthquake caused only minor waves in parts of the country. Japan's Meteorological Agency says a 40-centimeter wave hit Chichi island, east of the Okinawa island chain (and about one-thousand kilometers southeast of Japan's main island). Small waves of around 10 centimeters also hit Nemuro and several other areas in northeastern Japan. No damage has been reported in any areas. An eight-point-three magnitude earthquake hit this afternoon (Saturday) east of the Kuril Islands, at 1:24 local time (0424 UTC).
UN - BURMA: China and Russia have cast a rare double veto in the U.N. Security Council to block a U.S.-drafted resolution criticizing Burma. The draft urged Burma's military government to release all political prisoners, speed up progress toward democracy, and stop attacks against ethnic minorities. South Africa also voted against the resolution Friday. Nine countries voted in favor and three abstained, but the resolution failed because of the vetos by Beijing and Moscow, who are permanent members of the council. The acting U.S ambassador to the United Nations (Alejandro Wolff) said the resolution would have been a strong and urgently needed statement by the council about the need for change in Burma.
SOMALIA: Lawmakers in Somalia's transitional parliament have authorized the government to impose martial law. The 275-member parliament approved the measure today (Saturday) during a session in the southern Somali town of Baidoa. Lawmakers declared a three-month state of emergency in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been mired in anarchy and chaos since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
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