U.S. President George Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao have discussed a wide range of social and economic issues on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific leaders summit in Sydney, Australia. President Bush said the two leaders agreed today to work together to combat climate change. Mr. Bush said they also talked about Iran, Sudan and North Korea as well as the safety of Chinese products sold in the U.S. -- many of which have recently failed to meet U.S. safety standards.
AUSTRALIA - US: U.S. President George Bush has met with
Australia's opposition leader, who is posing a serious challenge to Mr. Bush's close ally, Prime Minister John Howard, in elections later this year. Mr. Bush met Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd today in Sydney, ahead of Friday's Asia-Pacific summit. Mr. Bush was expected to defend his Iraq policy to Rudd. The opposition leader says he will withdraw Australia's troops from Iraq if he becomes prime minister. Under Mr. Howard's leadership, Australia has been one of Mr. Bush's staunchest allies on Iraq. But the Australian public's support for the war and Mr. Howard is waning.
INDONESIA - RUSSIA: Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Indonesia to boost defense and economic relations. Mr. Putin arrived in Jakarta today for a one-day visit. He is expected to sign a one-billion dollar defense deal to enable Indonesia to purchase Russian military hardware. The countries also are set to sign energy and mining agreements. Last month, a Russian plane-maker announced it will deliver six fighter jets to Indonesia in a 300-million-dollar deal. The company (Sukhoi) has already supplied four planes to Indonesia.
BURMA: Witnesses in Burma say Buddhist monks have torched
government vehicles and are holding local officials in their monastery, where anti-government protests took place a day earlier. Some of the monks told VOA (Burmese service) the Pakokku town officials have been in the monastery for several hours, but they would not confirm or deny whether the officials were being held captive. The monks told VOA the officials were sent to warn them today against holding any more protests. Other reports say the officials attempted to apologize for firing shots over the monks' heads during the protest Wednesday.
BURMA - HOLLYWOOD: Hollywood celebrities are urging the United Nations to help win the freedom of Burma's detained pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. More than 25 U.S. actors have signed a letter calling on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to secure Aung San Suu Kyi's release. They also are calling for Burma's military government to end its alleged attacks on civilians. The celebrity letter campaign was launched by the Washington-based Human Rights Action Center and the U.S. Campaign for Burma. Among the signatories are movie stars Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson.
UN - SUDAN - DARFUR: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-
moon will hold a second meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir today, after visiting a camp for displaced persons in the troubled Darfur region. Mr. Ban was cheered by thousands of refugees during his visit to a refugee camp (Al Salaam) in North Darfur on Wednesday. The U.N. leader says he was shocked by the poverty and hardship of the refugees and said his visit strengthened his resolve to bring peace to the region. Mr. Ban met initially with the Sudanese president on Monday.
IRAQ: U.S. and Iraqi special forces clashed with suspected Shi'ite militiamen in western Baghdad today. Residents say at least 14 people were killed. The U.S. military says the fighting broke out when militiamen fired from rooftops at coalition troops conducting a pre-dawn raid against a suspected terrorist cell (in the capital's Al-Washash area). The military says four buildings were damaged when coalition forces directed airstrikes at gunmen on rooftops. The neighborhood is known to be a stronghold of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.
AFGHANISTAN: The U.S. military says Afghan and U.S.-led coalition
troops have killed more than 40 Taleban insurgents during a 12-hour battle in restive southern Afghanistan. A military statement today says a group of insurgents ambushed a coalition patrol Wednesday in the Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The statement says the coalition responded with air strikes that targeted enemy firing positions. The military says nearly 200 Taleban fighters have been killed in fighting in the district since August 27th.
US - FRANCE - NORIEGA: A federal judge in Miami, Florida has temporarily blocked the extradition of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who has been fighting efforts to send him from the United States to France to face money laundering charges. Judge William Hoeveler issued the order Wednesday, after lawyers for the former strongman filed papers to block Noriega's extradition. The order called on the defense to present what it called "credible" evidence to show that if Noriega were sent to France, he would not receive Geneva Conventions protection as a prisoner-of-war. Noriega is seeking to return to Panama.
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