U.S. President George Bush is on his way to Europe for a week-long visit aimed at strengthening the trans-Atlantic partnership between the U.S. and European nations. He left Washington this morning (Monday). Mr. Bush's first stop will be Slovenia, where he will take part in an annual summit between the U.S. and European Union Tuesday. Mr. Bush will also visit Germany, Britain, France, Italy and at the Vatican. During his trip, the president is expected to ask for Europe's help in Afghanistan and for more pressure on Iran, which the U.S. and its allies accuse of working to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.
WORLD ECONOMIC: Stock markets in Asia and Europe fell today (Monday) as investors reacted to Wall Street's sharp Friday losses amid growing concerns over record oil prices and a sluggish U.S. economy. Japan's Nikkei closed more than two percent lower, while markets in South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand were all down one percent or more. Indian shares were hit hardest, with (the benchmark Sensex in) Mumbai down three percent in afternoon trading.
PAKISTAN POLITICS: T
housands of activists and lawyers in Pakistan have begun a series of protests in major cities, demanding the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf. Some four-thousand protesters gathered today (Monday) in Karachi for their so-called "Long March," which will lead to a rally to be held later this week in the capital, Islamabad. Among those participating in the demonstrations are former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N party.
Afghan officials say five policemen have been killed in two separate attacks. Authorities say three officers were killed by a roadside bomb in Ghazni province. The other two officers were killed during a militant attack in the western province of Ghor. Three rebels were also killed in that incident. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. On Sunday, the British military said three British soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in in Afghanistan's restive Helmand province.
NDONESIA RELIGION: Indonesia's government has placed tough new restrictions on a minority Islamic sect that has been the target of large and sometimes violent protests from hardline Muslim groups. In a statement today (Monday), the government ordered members of Ahmadiyah to stop spreading beliefs that deviate from mainstream Islamic teachings. It did not ban the sect as some orthodox Islamic groups had hoped. Indonesia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but many in the majority-Muslim nation consider the sect offensive because it does not recognize Muhammad as the religion's last prophet.
Audio in Lao.