The two top U.S. officials in Iraq go before Congress today (Tuesday) to present their latest assessment of the war. General David Petraeus - the U.S. Commander in Iraq - and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee. They are expected to discuss, among other issues, the so-called "surge" strategy, which increased U.S. forces in Iraq by about 30-thousand last year. The two men are likely to face questions from all three presidential candidates - Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.
OLYMPIC TORCH: Olympic chiefs meeting in Beijing this week will discuss ending international torch relays for future Games, after protests that have disrupted the Chinese torch runs. Kevan Gosper, a member of the International Olympic Committee executive board told reporters in Beijing today (Tuesday) that there are no plans to scrap the current torch relay after violent protests in London and Paris. China strongly condemned the protests, with a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman (Jiang Yu) accusing what she called Tibetan "separatist forces" of "despicable activities" that tarnish the Olympic spirit.
ZIMBABWE ELECTION: Zimbabwe's High Court today (Tuesday) will hear a petition filed by the country's main opposition party to force the electoral commission to release the results of the March 29th presidential election. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, says its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, defeated President Robert Mugabe, but independent monitors say Mr. Tsvangirai fell short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Some political analysts say the ruling ZANU-PF party is intentionally trying to delay the results by demanding a full recount, in order to give Mr. Mugabe more time to consider his next political move.
RUSSIA-KOREA SPACE: A Russian spacecraft has taken (today/Tuesday) off from from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, carrying the first South Korean astronaut into space. Twenty-nine-year-old South Korean woman Yi So-yeon joined Russian astronauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko on the Soyuz spaceship, which is on its way to the International Space Station. Yi will return to Earth on April 19th with the crew from the previous expedition. Volkov and Kononenko will stay for a six-month mission to conduct experiments.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: The United States and North Korea have opened a new round of talks to resolve a deadlock over the Stalinist nation's nuclear program. U.S. envoy Christopher Hill and North Korea's Kim Kye Kwan began their talks today (Tuesday) at the American Embassy in Singapore. Before heading for the meeting, Hill told reporters he would discuss what he called "the fact" that time is "running out" for a solution.
Audio in Lao.