RICE - ASIA: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has ordered the chief U.S. negotiator to the North Korea nuclear disarmament talks to remain in China to bring an end to the ongoing stalemate over the process. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill was supposed to accompany Rice to Tokyo today, but State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Rice asked Hill to stay behind in Beijing after her talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao. McCormack says Rice and Mr. Hu had a "good conversation" and that both sides presented ideas on how to break the impasse with Pyongyang.
RICE SDBR - OKINAWA: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has expressed regret over the alleged rape of a 14-year-old Japanese girl by a U.S. Marine. Rice expressed her regrets upon arrival in Tokyo today on the third and final stop of her regional tour. Staff Sergeant Tyrone Luther Hadnott was arrested two weeks ago for assaulting the young girl, who lives on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa. He has denied the rape charges, but has admitted to forcibly kissing the girl.
THAILAND - THAKSIN: Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to surrender to police when he returns to Bangkok Thursday after 17 months in exile. Shortly after his arrival, Mr. Thaksin will be taken to Thailand's Supreme Court to face corruption charges in connection with the purchase of a prime piece of real estate in Bangkok. The corruption charges were brought against Mr. Thaksin by Thai military leaders, who forced him from office in September 2006 after a bloodless military coup. Mr. Thaksin's official Web site is urging his supporters to greet him when he arrives at Bangkok's International Airport.
CAMBODIA - KHMER ROUGE: A notorious Khmer Rouge leader returned to the prison where he oversaw the torture and murders of tens of thousands of Cambodians in the 1970s. Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, led judges with a United Nations-backed tribunal on a tour of the infamous Tuol Sleng prison today in the capital of Phnom Penh. The 65-year-old jailer is expected to describe how he directed the gruesome operations at the former school. An estimated 14-thousand Cambodian men, women and children were imprisoned, tortured and killed at Tuol Sleng, also known as S-21.
US POLITICS: Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama engaged a heated debate about healthcare, trade and international affairs Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio. The encounter came a week before crucial primary contests in Ohio and Texas. Senator Clinton scolded Obama over campaign pamphlets that claimed her healthcare plan forced people to buy insurance even if they cannot afford it. Senator Obama said his campaign had not "whined" when Clinton's campaign distributed similar negative attacks against him.
TURKEY - IRAQ: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he will tell Turkish leaders that Turkey must conclude its military operation in northern Iraq within the next two weeks. Gates is due in Ankara today, almost one week after Turkish ground troops launched a military incursion into northern Iraq to battle rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (or PKK). The U.S. defense chief (, on a visit to New Delhi, India) said that he would reiterate Washington's position that the military operation end as quickly as possible. And a senior Turkish envoy, Ahmet Davutoglu, is in the Iraqi capital today to discuss the incursion with Iraqi government officials.
PAKISTAN POL: Lawmakers with Pakistan's main opposition parties are scheduled to assemble today for the first time since defeating President Pervez Musharraf's party in parliamentary elections. More than 160 lawmakers from the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and a smaller, secular party from the insurgency-plagued northwest will meet in Islamabad. Officials with the parties say the meeting will be a show of strength for the coalition partners. PML-N leaders continue their calls for a free judiciary and the resignation of President Musharraf.
LAOS - DAM: An international environmental group says efforts to ease the impact of controversial dam in Communist Laos are months behind schedule in an area where waters will begin rising in just a few months. In a report released this week after its visit to the site of the Nam Thuen hydropower project, International Rivers says shortcomings and delays in programs to compensate villagers have not been addressed. Shannon Lawrence, the group's Lao program director says villagers, particularly those living downstream are not ready to face Nam Thuen's impacts and time is running short.
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