NOKOR - NUCLEAR: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has told a visiting Chinese delegation that his country is committed to a stalled six-nation nuclear deal. China's official Xinhua news agency says Mr. Kim told the Chinese delegation Wednesday that current difficulties are temporary. The United States is stepping up efforts to restart talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and pressing Pyongyang to deliver a complete list of its programs. Sung Kim, a U.S. State Department expert on North Korea, departs today from Beijing for a three-day visit to Pyongyang.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller is scheduled to oversee the opening of a regional office in Phnom Penh today. The U.S. Legal Attache office - one of 60 the FBI has around the world - will serve Cambodia as well as its neighbor Vietnam. Mueller is also scheduled to meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during his visit. The FBI chief was in Hanoi Wednesday, where he met with senior Vietnamese law enforcement officials.
US - BURMA: The White House says it is disappointed with Burma's lack of progress in reconciliation talks between the military leadership and opposition groups. A White House spokesman said Wednesday that Burma's military rulers refuse to set a time frame for the talks. He called on the military to immediately begin a "time-bound" dialogue with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic minorities. A Burmese official granted a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi earlier today at a military guest house in Rangoon. She was not told when the official, Aung Kyi, would meet her again.
CHINA - SNOW: A top Chinese agricultural official says brutal winter storms in China are having an extremely serious impact on winter crops. Speaking with reporters today in Beijing, Chen Xiwen said the impact on crops in southern China was already extremely serious. He called the damage to fruit and fresh vegetable crops catastrophic. Chen said it is still unclear what the full impact and losses will be, adding that would largely depend on the weather. He said the situation could worsen if storms move north and threaten winter grain supplies.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say a suicide bomb attack inside a mosque has killed the deputy governor of southern Helmand province and five other people. Authorities say 18 people were wounded in the blast, which occurred today in the capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah. Local officials confirmed that the province's deputy governor, Pir Mohammad, was killed. In other violence today, a car bomber targeted an army bus in the capital, Kabul, killing a civilian and wounding four others. A Taliban spokesman said his group was responsible for the attack.
US POLITICS: The remaining Republican presidential candidates faced off in a debate Wednesday in California, as the field of U.S. presidential contenders narrowed ahead of next week's multi-state primaries and caucuses. In a heated exchange, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney accused Arizona Senator John McCain of employing "dirty tricks" before last Tuesday's Florida primary by saying Romney advocated an early end to the war in Iraq.
US - ECON - SIMULUS:
The U.S. Senate will hold debates on two competing versions of an economic stimulus plan today. The Senate Finance Committee passed one version Wednesday that would provide tax rebates between 500 and one thousand dollars to all but the richest taxpayers, and extends benefits for the unemployed. The bill attracted support of both Democrats and Republicans, but faces an uphill battle in the full Senate.
KENYA: A second Kenyan opposition lawmaker has been killed, as the country's bitter political rivals began talks to end the post-election violence that has left more than 800 people dead. Authorities say David Too of the Orange Democratic Movement was gunned down today by a traffic police officer in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret. Police sad the killing was related to a dispute over the officer's girlfriend. But ODM officials said it was an assassination. His death comes days after gunmen killed fellow ODM legislator Mugabe Were at his home in the capital of Nairobi.
CHAD - UNREST: The Chadian government says it has deployed its troops to intercept a convoy of rebel soldiers who have advanced near the capital of N'Djamena. Sources say the rebel column of about 300 vehicles is located more than 200 kilometers from the capital, after advancing Wednesday from the eastern town of Oum Hadjer to the town of Ati. The rebel movement is taking place days before the deployment of European Union peacekeepers to Chad to protect refugees from the neighboring war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur.
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