US POLITICS: New York Senator Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, while Arizona Senator John McCain emerged as the winner for the Republicans Clinton's narrow victory Tuesday came a week after she finished in third place in the Iowa caucuses, well behind Illinois Senator Barack Obama. In her victory speech, the New York senator and former first lady said she was ready to give America "the kind of comeback New Hampshire has just given me."
BUSH - MIDEAST: President Bush is in Israel at the start of an eight-day Mideast trip, aimed at further encouraging peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and also discussing the threat posed by Iran. Speaking at a welcoming ceremony at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, Mr. Bush said there is a new opportunity and a deep desire for peace and freedom across the region. In his welcoming remarks, Israeli President Shimon Peres warned Iran not to underestimate Israel's resolve for self defense. He also urged Mr. Bush to help "stop the madness" of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.
IRAN - US NAVY: The U.S. Department of Defense has released video showing the confrontation between Iranian speedboats and U.S. Navy ships Sunday in the Persian Gulf. On the video, a member of the U.S. Navy can be heard trying to contact the Iranian boats and identifying the naval ships as coalition vessels. A voice from one of the Iranian boats can be heard warning by radio that a U.S. ship will soon explode. President Bush told reporters at the White House Tuesday that the situation is dangerous. He spoke shortly before leaving for the Middle East, on a trip designed partly to counter Iranian influence in the region.
KENYA: The chairman of the African Union is holding talks with Kenya's key political leaders today to mediate an end to the political crisis that has left nearly 500 people dead. Ghanian President John Kufuor met briefly with President Mwai Kibaki before holding talks with opposition leader Raila Odinga. Mr. Kufuor's efforts were complicated Tuesday when his Kenyan counterpart unveiled half the members of his new Cabinet -- none of them members of Mr. Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement party. The opposition denounced the appointments as evidence Mr. Kibaki is unwilling to negotiate an end to a stalemate following last month's disputed presidential election.
INDONESIA - SUHARTO: Doctors say the health of former Indonesian president Suharto has improved slightly, but he still remains in critical condition as physicians struggle to control internal bleeding and fluid build-up in his lungs. On Tuesday Mr. Suharto's health deteriorated seriously as doctors struggled to keep his heart, kidneys and lungs from failing. Speaking with reporters today (Wednesday), the chief doctor treating Mr. Suharto said his condition was better than Tuesday, noting that he was weak, but conscious. The doctor said his lungs have shown some improvement.
ASEAN - BURMA: Indonesia has expressed frustration with the effectiveness of diplomatic efforts in hastening Burma's democratization. Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said Tuesday that neither diplomatic engagement with Burma nor sanctions have produced results. Wirajuda was speaking ahead of next week's visit to Jakarta by Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein, who will be meeting with Indonesian leaders. On Monday, Singapore's elder statesmen Lee Kuan Yew voiced similar frustration. Lee said fellow southeast Asian nations have little influence on Burma's military government.
CHINA - HEALTH CARE: A newly released government survey on social issues in China says the rising cost of health care is the number one concern of most Chinese. According to the survey of more than 100-thousand families across China, the largest percentage of respondents said finding affordable health care was their top concern. China's National Bureau of Statistics released the survey today one day after Chinese officials pledged to reform the country's health care system and provide health care services at reasonable prices.
NEPAL: Nepalese media say the country's prime minister is opposed to integrating thousands of former Maoist rebel fighters into the national army. Prime Minster Girija Prasad Koirala is reported as saying the government will consider alternative ways to incorporate the Maoist army into a legal force. The reports say Mr. Koirala has ruled out merging "politicized" fighters into the national army. Government officials say a decision has not yet been reached on the issue. More than 31-thousand former Maoist fighters have been confined to United Nations-monitored camps since the signing of a peace agreement in 2006.
VIETNAM - LAOS: Vietnam has agreed to work with its communist neighbor Laos to search for oil and gas in two southern Lao provinces. The state-run Vietnam News Agency says the country's national oil and gas company (PetroVietnam Oil Exploration and Production Corporation) will lead the search in a 14-thousand-square kilometer area in the southern Lao provinces of Champasak and Salavan. Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung and his Lao counterpart Somsavad Lengsavat witnessed the signing of the contract on Tuesday in the Lao capital of Vientiane. Landlocked Laos is one of Asia's poorest nations and relies heavily on hydropower, minerals, tourism, foreign aid and loans for income.
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