NATO SUMMIT: U.S. President George W. Bush and his Romanian counterpart, Traian Basescu, have stressed the importance of the success of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Speaking after talks in a Romanian Black Sea resort (Neptun), Mr. Bush expressed satisfaction with pledges by alliance countries to send more troops for Afghan operations. He specifically praised a recent French announcement. Mr. Basescu agreed, noting that any NATO failure will significantly weaken the alliance and threaten other countries worldwide. Mr. Bush again expressed support for continued NATO expansion.
ZIMBABWE ELECTION: Zimbabwe's state-run media say unofficial results of Saturday's presidential election indicate neither opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai nor President Robert Mugabe will garner more than half of the vote -- forcing a run-off. "The Herald" newspaper today, citing analysts, also said Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and the ruling ZANU-PF party appear headed for a tie in parliamentary elections held the same day. Zimbabwe's electoral commission has yet to release any results from the presidential vote.
CHINA - OLYMPICS - PROTESTS: Amnesty International says the Olympics have failed to bring human rights improvements to China. The London-based rights group said Tuesday that the Olympics instead have been a catalyst for the current wave of repression against activists in China. In a new report, Amnesty highlights China's recent crackdown on Tibetan protesters. The report says hundreds of detainees could face torture and other ill-treatment. Also Tuesday, 15 U.S. lawmakers called on U.S. President George W. Bush to not attend the Beijing games.
CHINA - UIGHUR PROTEST: Authorities in China's Muslim-dominated western region of Xinjiang have confirmed protests took place there late last month. Media reports initially said the protests occurred over two days in Khotan prefecture. Muslim Uighurs were demanding authorities scrap a possible ban on wearing traditional head scarves. They also called for an end to the torture of ethnic Uighurs and the release of all political prisoners. But authorities blame the demonstrations on "splittist" elements who are trying to establish a separate Islamic nation in Xinjiang.
NOKOR - SOKOR: South Korea is urging North Korea to stop remarks that have increased tensions between the peninsular rivals, including Pyongyang's direct insults of the new conservative government in Seoul. South Korea's Defense Ministry made the request today in a message to Lieutenant-General Kim Yong-chol, the North's chief representative to inter-Korean military talks. The message called on Pyongyang to end its "slander" and its efforts to foster tension on the Korean peninsula. The ministry says Seoul is always ready to hold talks with North Korea.
THAILAND - CLIMATE CHANGE: Delegates from more than 190 countries have met for a second day of talks in Thailand aimed at forging a new agreement to combat global warming. Tuesday's talks in Bangkok touched on differences on what assistance poorer countries should receive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of global warming. Delegates from developing countries also urged industrialized countries to make good on their commitments under an earlier climate agreement - the Kyoto protocol - before negotiating new commitments from developing countries.
BURMA - REFERENDUM: The party of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is urging voters to reject a proposed new constitution conceived by the country's ruling military regime. The National League for Democracy issued a statement today calling on citizens vote "no" when the charter comes up for approval in a referendum scheduled for May. General elections will be held in 2010. International critics have denounced the proposed constitution, saying it solidifies the military junta's hold on power.
WORLD ECON: Many Asian stock markets have gained ground in today's trading after U.S. stocks surged Tuesday on rising investor confidence. Tokyo's Nikkei index rose more than four percent by the close of today's trading, while markets in Taiwan gained two percent. Share prices also finished higher in South Korea and Australia, and Hong Kong's main Hang Seng index surged more than four percent in mid-morning trading. U.S. stocks surged more than three percent higher Tuesday as some investors expressed confidence that the worst of the credit crisis is over.
ASIA ECON OUTLOOK: The Asian Development Bank says the region's economy will grow more slowly this year, due to a global downturn and rising inflation. The report released today by the Manila-based institution says Asia's economy, excluding Japan, will grow by about seven-point-six percent in 2008. The region's economy grew more than eight percent in 2007. Ifzal Ali, the bank's chief economist, says growth will remain solid because of the major economic changes in the region in recent years.
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