IRAN - NUCLEAR: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the new U.S. intelligence report on Tehran's nuclear program is "a victory" for the Iranian nation against world powers. Speaking in western Ilam province today, Mr. Ahmadinejad also said Iran will not retreat "one step" in its pursuit of peaceful nuclear technology. The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released this week says Iran stopped a secret nuclear weapons program four years ago -- contradicting the Bush administration's charge that Iran was actively seeking nuclear weapons.. President Bush said Tuesday that he views the new assessment as a "warning signal" that Iran could restart its weapons program.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say a suicide car bomber has struck an Afghan army bus in Kabul, killing at least 13 people and wounding more than 10 others. The blast happened this morning in the southern part of the Afghan capital as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was ending a visit to the city. Officials say the dead include six soldiers and seven civilians, four of them children. Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the blast and an earlier suicide car bombing on Tuesday that hit a NATO convoy near Kabul's airport. No NATO troops were hurt in Tuesday's attack but 22 Afghan civilians were wounded.
IRAQ: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Iraq on an unannounced visit to assess the progress in security that has been achieved with a surge of U.S. forces in the country. Gates flew into northern Iraqi city of Mosul for talks with U.S. commanders today, after ending a visit to Afghanistan. A U.S. defense department spokesman said Secretary Gates wants to see for himself the progress made since his last visit to the country nearly three months ago. The spokesman said Gates will also meet with senior Iraqi leaders, including Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, to get their view of the situation and to see what more they can do to build on the progress made so far.
RICE - AFRICA: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Ethiopia for talks on long-running crises in Africa's volatile Great Lakes region, Sudan and Somalia. During Rice's one-day trip to the capital, Addis Ababa today, she will meet with African leaders, including the presidents of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Rice told reporters traveling with her Tuesday that she is increasingly concerned about several African crisis spots. At her meetings, Rice is expected to talk about strategies to counter, and possibly disarm, insurgents from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC which all operate in vast, lawless stretches of the Congo.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: The United States top nuclear envoy says North Korea's efforts to disable its main nuclear facilities are going well. Speaking with reporters today before leaving Pyongyang for Beijing, Christopher Hill said he was given a full tour of North Korea's main nuclear complex in Yongbyon and had good talks with senior officials during his three day visit. Hill was in North Korea to discuss its plans to disclose a list of all of its nuclear programs as well as efforts to disable nuclear bomb-making facilities at Yongbyon. Pyongyang has pledged to disable those facilities before the end of this year.
JAPAN - US - NOKOR: A parliamentary panel in Japan is urging the United States to keep North Korea on its terrorism blacklist, warning that removing it could harm relations between Washington and Tokyo. The panel in Japan's lower house passed a non-binding resolution today that calls the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s "terrorism." It also urged the Japanese government to do more to help Washington understand its concerns. In the resolution, lawmakers said removing North Korea from the list would be a disappointment to many Japanese and could even have an impact on Japan-U.S. relations.
THAILAND KING: Tens of thousands of people have turned out in Bangkok to celebrate the 80th birthday of the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Crowds gathered outside the royal palace today wearing yellow and waving yellow flags -- a color that represents the king. In a birthday speech Tuesday evening, the world's longest-reigning monarch reiterated a call for unity ahead of potentially divisive elections. To illustrate his point, he made a reference to his recent health problems. He said his legs do not walk in unison but the military and civilians need to be united or else the country will face disaster.
MALAYSIA - INDIA - PROTESTS: Malaysia has charged 31 ethnic Indians with the attempted murder of a policeman during last month's anti-discrimination protest. Authorities say the victim was injured when protesters threw bricks and pipes. On Tuesday, Malaysian authorities charged 26 Indians with attempted murder. Five more protesters were charged today. Thousands of Indians participated in the November 25th rally just outside the capital of Kuala Lumpur, calling for equality and fair treatment in Muslim-majority Malaysia. The government's crackdown of the protest sparked complaints from India's government.
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