IRAN - BRITAIN: Britain says it is waiting for Iran's response to its proposal of direct bilateral talks to resolve the issue of 15 British naval personnel seized by Iran on March 23rd. A statement from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's office late Tuesday said there have been further contacts between British and Iranian officials, including Iran's chief negotiator Ali Larijani.
IRAN - US: Iran's official news agency says an Iranian envoy will meet with five Iranians detained by U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil in January. The report did not say when or where the meeting will take place. It said a representative from the Iranian embassy in Baghdad will meet the detainees. There was no immediate comment on the report from the U.S. military in Iraq.
US - SYRIA: The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus today on a visit criticized by the White House as undermining U.S. policy. Pelosi arrived in Damascus Tuesday, when she met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem for the start of her two-day visit. President Bush says meetings with President Assad lead Syria to believe it is part of the mainstream.
IRAQ: Iraqi police say gunmen have ambushed a bus carrying workers of a power plant in northern Iraq, killing at least five people. Police say the attack took place today near the town of Hawija, about 70 kilometers southwest of the oil city of Kirkuk. Separately, the U.S. military says coalition forces captured nine suspected terrorists during raids across Iraq today.
SRI LANKA UNREST: Sri Lanka's military says air force jets have bombed a major Tamil rebel naval base in the northeast of the country, setting it on fire. An air force spokesman says the base is in Mullaithivu district. He says Sri Lankan warplanes hit a fuel storage tank inside the base today which contributed to the fire. The rebels made no immediate comment on the attack.
SOUTH ASIA SUMMIT: Leaders of eight South Asian nations have begun the final day of a (two-day) regional summit in New Delhi aimed in part at boosting cooperation in fighting terrorism. The members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation also are expected to discuss climate change, food shortages and regional trade.
CHINA - JAPAN: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is warning his Japanese counterpart not to visit a controversial war shrine. Speaking in Beijing today, Mr. Wen said that visits to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo by Japanese leaders have hurt the feelings of Chinese people, and he hopes this will never happen again.
CHERRY BLOSSOM: Hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world are expected in Washington D.C. over the next two weeks for a popular springtime festival. The flowering cherry trees in Washington are the main attraction of the two-week Cherry Blossom Festival, especially the trees that line a waterfront area near a monument for Thomas Jefferson.
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