About 50 countries have convened a donor conference in Rangoon to discuss pledging funds to help in parts of Burma devastated by Cyclone Nargis. The meeting began today (Sunday) just hours after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived from China, where he was touring areas devastated by by a powerful earthquake on May 12th. Many of the potential donors at the Rangoon conference say they want to see that Burma's military government honor its pledge to allow foreign aid workers into the country.
Chinese authorities are warning that nearly 70 dams weakened by the force of a deadly earthquake are in danger of collapsing, while weather forecasters have issued heavy rain warnings for devastated areas of Sichuan province. The Water Resources Ministry issued a statement today (Sunday), warning that 69 dams in central Sichuan province are in danger of bursting. Earlier in the day, the State Meteorological Bureau said heavy rains are on the way, with torrential downfall predicted for tonight and Monday. The rain could trigger mudslides and hamper work to construct shelters for the estimated five million people who lost their homes in Sichuan province in southwestern China.
LEBANON: Lebanon's parliament is set to elect the country's new president today (Sunday), filling a post left vacant since November by a volatile political crisis. The election of the consensus candidate, army chief General Michel Suleiman, is part of an Arab-brokered deal to ease the 18-month-long political stalemate. Lebanon's parliament had tried 19 times to elect a new head of state after pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud stepped down in November. But each vote was postponed by political bickering between Lebanon's western-backed ruling coalition and pro-Syrian, Hezbollah-backed opposition.
The prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region says the hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq would be catastrophic for the country and the region. Nechirvan Barzani told VOA (Kurdish service) in an exclusive interview Saturday that people should not underestimate the progress that has been made in Iraq since U.S. forces toppled Sadaam Hussein in 2003. He said Iraq is a special situation that requires patience. Mr. Barzani met U.S. President George Bush in Washington Friday.
US POL: U.S. Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigned in the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Saturday for the Democratic presidential primary to be held there next Sunday. Front-runner Obama spoke about veterans issues, and then led a "caminata," or political parade, through San Juan - the capital and largest city on the Spanish-speaking Caribbean island. Clinton spoke at an evening rally in Aguadilla, at the western end of the island. She reminded the crowd of her ties to Puerto Rico as U.S. first lady, and now as a senator from New York, which has some one million Puerto Rican residents.