Lebanon: French President Jacques Chirac has opened an international aid conference for Lebanon, saying that the country needs "more than ever" the support of the international community.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined representatives from more than 40 countries and organizations for the conference in Paris today (Thursday).
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal announced that Riyadh will give more than one billion dollars in new aid to Lebanon.
The U.S., France and the European Commission also pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in new aid.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora says he hopes to raise five billion dollars for his country, which has more than 40 billion dollars in debt and is struggling to rebuild following last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.
The conference is also meant to increase support for Mr. Siniora's pro-Western government in its power struggle with Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran.
Ecuador – Minister: Ecuador's new defense minister and her
daughter have been killed in a helicopter crash.
Officials say a helicopter carrying Guadalupe Larriva and her 17-year-old daughter collided in flight with another helicopter Wednesday in the port city of Manta, located more than 200 kilometers from the capital of Quito. Five members of Ecuador's military were also killed in the collision. The two helicopters were performing a night maneuver when the crash occurred.
Larriva was named Ecuador's first female defense minister by President Rafael Correa, who took office January 15th. The former teacher served as president of the Socialist Party before becoming defense minister.
India – Russia: Russia has agreed to build four nuclear reactors in India to help the country cope with its increasing energy demands.
The two countries' nuclear agencies signed a memorandum of understanding today (Thursday) in New Delhi, following a meeting between Russian President Vladmir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Some of the nuclear reactors will be built in the southern Indian town of Kudankulam, where Russia is already constructing two reactors. President Putin is in India for a two-day visit. On Friday, he will be the guest of honor at Republic Day celebrations, marking India's founding as a republic in 1950.
Analysts say Russia also hopes to win a multi-billion-dollar contract to sell India 126 multi-purpose fighter jets.
South Korea - Roh: South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun says he
will not make any efforts to hold an inter-Korean summit until six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program are successfully concluded.
In his annual news conference today (Thursday), Mr. Roh said arranging a summit with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Il, would be "difficult" for the time being. He says the six-party nuclear talks must be completed before inter-Korean issues can be fully addressed.
Mr. Roh also accused American news media of biased reporting on North Korea aimed at portraying Pyongyang in bad light.
The South Korean president urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to refrain from visiting a controversial shrine in Tokyo that honors Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals. Seoul views the (Yasukuni) shrine as a symbol of Japanese militarism.
Malaysia -Education: Malaysia has revised some of its textbooks after the country's ethnic Indian and Chinese communities said the books inaccurately portrayed them.
Malaysian news reports quoted Higher Education Minister Mustapha Mohamed as saying that the new versions take into account the viewpoints of various groups in Malaysia.
The original textbooks were criticized for what was described as a biased portrayal of the Chinese and Indian roles in racial clashes.
Malaysia is 60 percent ethnic Malay and officially a Muslim nation. Ethnic Chinese make up about a quarter of the population, while ethnic Indians are about seven-percent.
Listen to our World News for details.