BURMA - PROTEST: Burmese security forces have again used gunfire to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters in Rangoon. Witnesses say that some of the demonstrators gathered today near the Sule Pagoda, which has been a focal point of the protests. One protester told VOA (by telephone) that police and soldiers used live ammunition and batons against the crowd. There were no immediate reports of injuries. On Thursday, Burma's military government said its security forces killed nine people and wounded 11 others as authorities tried to disperse tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters.
BURMA - REACTION: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has used unusually strong language to condemn ASEAN member Burma for its crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations. ASEAN expressed "revulsion" today over the killings of at least 10 demonstrators in Rangoon over the last two days --- and called on Burma to halt the violence. Burma's largest aid donor Japan says it will decide whether or not to suspend humanitarian aid after it investigates the death of a Japanese video journalist, who was shot to death by Burmese security forces Thursday.
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Leaders from Lebanon, Britain, China and Russia will be among those who will address the U.N. General Assembly debate today. On Thursday, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said he would welcome the involvement of U.S. officials in a long-running hostage standoff with his nation's Marxist rebels. The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, called for a permanent African representative to be added to the U.N. Security Council. Also Thursday, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame said U.N. troops have failed to counter attacks by Congo-based Hutu rebels in his country.
US - CLIMATE CHANGE: President Bush will address a gathering of high-level diplomats today at a White House-sponsored forum on climate change. Diplomats will be looking for a sign that Mr. Bush is serious about leading a worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gases, largely responsible for global warming. Critics say the forum, which began Thursday, is designed to derail a new initiative by the United Nations to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in 2012. Mr. Bush has rejected the Kyoto treaty, which calls for mandatory cuts of greenhouse gases. He says it will hurt the U.S. economy, and does not include such emerging economies as China and India.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: China is expected to issue a draft acti on plan today at six-party nuclear talks in Beijing, detailing steps on how North Korea should proceed in disabling its nuclear facilities. Speaking to reporters this morning before heading into the second day of talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the six parties still have to resolve differences about what constitutes disabling. North Korea agreed last February to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for fuel and political concessions. It has already shut down its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon and has said it would declare all of its nuclear activities by the end of the year.
IRAN NUCLEAR: Senior officials from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China are scheduled to continue discussions at the United Nations today on Iran's nuclear work. The United States and its allies accuse Tehran of trying to build a nuclear weapon, and they want to impose tougher international sanctions against Iran. However, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says (Thursday) Russia and China are refusing to discuss any new sanctions at the U.N. Security Council until they can review a new report on Iran by the international nuclear agency (IAEA).
PAKISTAN - POLITICS: Pakistan's Supreme Court has ruled that President Pervez Musharraf can seek another term in office while keeping his post as army chief. A nine-judge panel announced the ruling today, dismissing petitions that had challenged General Musharraf's re-election bid. The head of the panel (Rana Bhagwandas) said the court found the petitions "not maintainable." On Thursday, General Musharraf officially registered to run for another term in office in the October sixth presidential ballot. Two other opposition candidates also registered.
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