NEPAL: Nepal's former communist rebels have agreed to rejoin the government in a political deal that includes abolishing the country's centuries-old monarchy. Nepalese political leaders today (Monday) are discussing making changes to the country's interim constitution. The talks come after the Maoists ended a political stalemate Sunday, signing a 23-point agreement with the country's six other political parties. The group had quit the government in September, after demanding election reform and an immediate end to the monarchy.
U.S-PAKISTAN: A report published in a major U.S. newspaper says more than five billion dollars of anti-terror aid to Pakistan has been wasted or diverted. "The New York Times" quotes U.S. military officials who say money intended to bolster the Pakistani military serving near the restive Afghan border never reached troops. American officials say they saw some of the nearly 100-thousand (Frontier Corps) soldiers serving in Pakistan's tribal areas wearing sandals and World War I-era helmets, with barely functional weapons.
INDONESIA-Security: Indonesian authorities have increased security across the archipelago as Christians in the Muslim-majority country prepare to celebrate the Christmas holiday. Officials have tightened security at churches, malls and tourism sites, with soldiers and police checking bags and inspecting cars for possible bombs. The Southeast Asia terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for a series of bombings that have claimed the lives of more than 200 people in Indonesia.
ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators plan to meet today (Monday) for the second time since re-starting the Middle East peace process, with the issue of Jewish settlements expected to dominate the talks. Israel unveiled plans Sunday to build 740 new apartments in Israeli-occupied areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Palestinians say settlement construction violates the 2003 Middle East roadmap peace plan, which calls on Israel to stop all settlement activity. The roadmap also calls on Palestinians to rein in militants.
Audio in Lao.