IRAQ - CONFERENCE: Iraq has urged its neighbors to stop militants from entering the country and deny them access to any financial and political help. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made the appeal today, the second and final day of the international conference in Egypt, which is aimed at stabilizing Iraq. Mr. Maliki said his government will not allow terrorists to use Iraq as a safe heaven.
US POL: The U.S. Republican Party's presidential contenders have voiced their support for the Iraq war effort in the first debate of their 2008 campaign. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani called for persistence in Iraq during the (nationally televised) debate Thursday. The United States should never retreat in the face of terrorism, Giuliani said, adding that to do otherwise would be a terrible mistake.
PHILIPPINES - ELECTION: Philippine officials say six relatives of a congressional candidate were shot to death today in the deadliest attack so far in the run-up to local and congressional elections. Officials say Cecilia Luna's relatives came under fire while in a vehicle in the country's northern province of Abra. Three people also were wounded. The gunmen have not been identified. Luna, mayor of the town of Lagayan, told local television that she blames the attack on her political rivals.
UN - CLIMATE CHANGE: Scientists and climate change experts from around the world have agreed that the world has the technology and money to manage the effects of global warming, but that it must act now to prevent disasters. Delegates from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change formally endorsed a report today in Bangkok after five days of intense talks.
US - SINGAPORE: Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, is meeting with President Bush today in Washington for talks expected to cover economic relations and a range of global issues. Singapore is one of the United States' closest allies in Southeast Asia. Speaking in Washington Thursday, Mr. Lee urged the U.S. not to let Southeast Asian nations' relationships with Burma harm U.S. relations with the region.
ASEAN - EU: The European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to hold free trade talks, embarking on one of the world's largest regional trade negotiations. The agreement was reached today in Brunei during a meeting between members of the 10-member ASEAN organization and the European bloc. The European Union has 27 member nations. ASEAN members are Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
VIETNAM - DISSIDENTS: Vietnamese authorities say six political dissidents will face trials next week on charges of spreading propaganda against the one-party state. Officials say two human rights lawyers, Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, will go on trial in Ho Chi Minh City May 11th. Both are members of an outlawed pro-democracy group. On May 12th, three other people will also face trial in the capital, Hanoi.
CHINA - OIL: China's official Xinhua news agency reports the China National Petroleum Corporation has made the largest discovery of oil in the country in more than 40 years. Xinhua quotes the corporation today as saying the oil was found in Tangshan city, in northern China's Hebei province. The company says it could contain up to one billion tons of oil. China is the world's second-largest overall energy user.
VENEZUELA - NATIONALIZATION: Venezuela's oil minister says his country will not pay cash to foreign oil companies for their multibillion-dollar stakes that the state is taking over. In an interview Thursday, Rafael Ramirez also said that Venezuela would not reimburse the estimated four billion dollars in debt the companies had incurred for their operations in Venezuela's Orinoco basin.
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