CHAD UNREST: French Defense Minister Herve Morin is in Chad for a meeting with beleaguered President Idriss Deby, whose government has been holding off rebels threatening to take the capital. France has promised to come to the aid of its former colony. President Nicolas Sarkozy says Paris will "do its duty" in response to what he called rebel aggression. France has about 15-hundred troops stationed in Chad. But Morin told Paris Radio Tuesday that France's military agreement with Chad is limited to logistical, medical, and training support.
RICE - BRITAIN - NATO: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says a only a small number of NATO countries have troops in the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan and that more allies need to share the combat burden. Rice spoke to reporters traveling with her to London, where she is to meet today with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Talks are expected to focus on two nations' common goal of getting more NATO members to commit troops to enter the fight against a resurgent Taliban in southern Afghanistan.
AFGHANISTAN - OPIUM: A new U.N. report predicts that opium growth in Afghanistan will continue at an alarming rate this year. The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime released its report today based on field visits and interviews in Afghanistan. U.N. agency's chief Antonio Maria Costa said in a statement that although opium cultivation appears to have peaked in the country, the 2008 amount will still be "shockingly high." He warned that Afghanistan's opium will continue to be a huge source of income for Taliban militants, raising an estimated 100-million-dollars this year.
THAILAND - POL: Thailand has sworn-in a new cabinet today, making it the first elected government to rule the country since a military coup removed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from office in 2006. In a televised swearing-in ceremony at his palace in Bangkok today, the cabinet of newly elected Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was approved today by King Bhumipol Adulyadej. The new cabinet is filled with several close aides of former prime minister Shinawatra. Mr. Samak has decided to take up the post of defense minister himself.
CHINA - BRIBERY: A Chinese court has sentenced a former major Communist Party leader to life in prison for corruption. The Xinhua news agency reports that former number two party official in Shandong province, Du Shicheng, accepted more than 800-thousand dollars in bribes between 2000 and 2006. Despite the life sentence, Xinhua says the court was lenient with Du because he confessed to crimes about which prosecutors knew nothing. It did not say what those crimes were. Shandong is one of China's most populous provinces.
US SANCTION - BURMA: The United States has imposed financial sanctions against a Burmese business tycoon, as well as family members of Burma's government leaders. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said Tuesday that sanctions can help reduce economic activity in Burma and further isolate its military government. A U.S. Treasury official Tuesday announced the sanctions against Tay Za, calling him "an arms dealer and financial henchman of Burma's repressive junta." The Treasury's action also targets several individuals and companies that are affiliated with Tay Za's business empire.
BANGLADESH - HASINA: Bangladesh's High Court has ruled that the corruption trial of former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina under emergency rules is unlawful. Analysts say the court's ruling today can put into doubt the trials of more than 150 former leaders the military-backed interim government rounded up as part of its widespread anti-corruption campaign. The government is expected to appeal the High Court's ruling to the Supreme Court. Ms. Hasina is accused of extorting more than 400-thousand dollars during her tenure as prime minister, from 1996 to 2001. She faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted.
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