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Blair: Next Two Days Critical in Iran Standoff over British Sailors


Iran – Britain: British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the next two days will be critical in efforts to secure the release of 15 British sailors captured by Iran.
Mr. Blair told a Scottish radio station (Glasgow-based Real Radio - today / Tuesday) the most important thing is to get the people back safely. He also said the "door is open" if Iran wants to resolve the issue in a diplomatic way.
Iran's national security chief, Ail Larijani, said Monday he believed diplomacy could quickly resolve the issue.
A spokeswoman for the British Foreign Office responded by saying London shares Tehran's preference for early bilateral discussions to resolve the case.
Earlier, Iranian media said all the British sailors and marines had confessed to illegally entering Iranian waters.
Britain says its personnel were in Iraqi waters when they were seized March 23rd.

South Asia Summit: Leaders of eight South Asian nations have begun a two-day a summit in the Indian capital with strong appeals for greater cooperation in fighting terrorism that afflicts all the countries in the region.
At the opening session today (Tuesday) in New Delhi, the leaders also pointed out that the group has yet to fulfill its goal of boosting regional trade.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the nations of the group must now "join hands" to realize what he called the region's "shared destiny" of "economic vibrancy and social change."
As the first order of business, leaders of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives signed a declaration that formally brings Afghanistan as a new member of the South Asian group.

Thailand Politics: Thailand's military-installed Prime Minister, Surayud Chulanont, says the investigation of his predecessor may be finished by the end of this month.
Mr. Surayud said today (Tuesday) during a visit to Japan that investigators are nearing the end of their probe into former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thai prosecutors have already charged Mr. Thaksin's wife, Pojaman, and her brother with tax evasion.
Pojaman and her brother (Bhanapot Damapong) face two counts of tax evasion relating to a 1997 transfer of shares in the family telecom business (, now known as Shin Corporation).
Military leaders removed Mr. Thaksin from office last September and created an interim government. Coup leaders accused Mr. Thaksin of corruption, but have failed so far to prove their allegations.

Japan – Thailand: Japan and Thailand have signed a free-trade agreement that cuts tariffs on a wide range of goods.
The deal was signed today (Tuesday) in Tokyo by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his visiting Thai counterpart, Surayud Chulanont. It was approved earlier today by Japan's Cabinet, but still needs the backing of Japan's parliament before it can go into effect.
Under the deal, Thailand will reduce tariffs on Japanese autos and automobile parts. Japan will scrap tariffs on tropical fruit such as mangoes and durians.
The free trade agreement was originally negotiated by Thailand's former leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed from power in a military coup last September.
Japan is Thailand's top export market. The two countries have traditionally had strong economic ties.

Thailand – Vietnam: A Thai appeals court has overturned a decision to extradite a Vietnamese anti-government activist wanted in his homeland on charges of violating airspace and threatening security.
The court said today (Thursday) that Ly Tong's act was a political offense, not a security threat as charged by Vietnam's government.
Tong was jailed in 2000 for hijacking a plane in Thailand and using it to drop anti-communist leaflets over Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City during a visit by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Tong is a former South Vietnamese air force pilot who became an American citizen. He was detained when he landed the plane back in Thailand.
The decision means Tong is a free man and can return to his home in the United States.

Listen to our World News for details.

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