BUSH - EUROPE: U.S. President George Bush is meeting with European Union leaders in Slovenia to discuss a broad range of issues, including Iran's nuclear program. Ahead of the summit with EU leaders, Mr. Bush met with Slovenian President Danilo Turk and the country's prime minister, Janez Jansa, at Brdo Castle in Kranj. During today's summit President Bush said he wants to discuss joint action to tackle high energy costs, including the need to cut dependence on fossil fuels. He also plans to ask for European help in Afghanistan and to put more pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear program.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: A senior U.S. envoy has arrived in North Korea, on a trip aimed at speeding the disabling of Pyongyang's nuclear facilities. The U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea said today that the State Department's top Korean specialist, Sung Kim, crossed at the border village of Panmunjom. He is due to return Wednesday to South Korea, before heading back to Washington Thursday. Coinciding with Kim's visit, North Korea released a statement today reaffirming its opposition to terrorism. The Stalinist state is pressing for its removal from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in return for its efforts to shut down its nuclear weapons programs.
CHINA - QUAKE: China says the water level in the Tangjiashan quake-lake in southwestern Sichuan province is finally dropping, after three days of drainage efforts. The official Xinhua news agency said today that water was flowing out of the lake at one-thousand-760 cubic meters per second, or 16 times faster than the estimated influx of water. Drainage efforts began Saturday, and Chinese troops were forced to use anti-tank weapons to blast away rocks to speed up the drainage when water continued to rise. The lake formed when a quake-caused landslide formed a dam in the Tongkou river.
BURMA - RIGHTS: Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party says the military government has released 15 party members detained last month for marching to the Nobel Peace laureate's home. The National League for Democracy members were detained on May 27th, after they marched from the party's headquarters to Aung San Suu Kyi's home in Rangoon to demand her release from house arrest. Party spokesman Nyan Win said today that all 15 were released Monday night. The NLD won a general election by a landslide 18 years ago, but the military never recognized the result and did not let the party take power.
SOKOR - US BEEF: South Korea's entire Cabinet offered to resign today, amid an uproar over a plan to resume beef imports from the United States. A government spokesman said Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and the entire Cabinet tendered their resignations to President Lee Myung-bak during a weekly Cabinet meeting. The president's office said it could not confirm the move because the prime minister was still meeting with the president. Since late last month, thousands of South Koreans have been holding daily protests against a decision by Mr. Lee to lift a ban on U.S. beef imports.
SOMALIA: A hardline Somali Islamist leader has rejected a cease-fire deal brokered by the United Nations between the Somali government and some opposition figures. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys said today the fight will continue until Somalia is liberated from occupiers. Aweys is listed by the United States as a terrorist. Aweys told Reuters (news agency) that he sees the cease-fire agreement not as a peace deal, but as a trap. A U.N. official said Monday the Somali government and opposition figures in exile had signed the cease-fire deal during U.N.-led talks in Djibouti.
US ECONOMY: The U.S. Federal Reserve chairman says the likelihood of a severe economic slump for the country has diminished, even with an unexpected jump in the unemployment rate, the rising cost of gas, and the ongoing mortgage crisis. Ben Bernanke's comments late Monday reinforced indications that the U.S. is not likely to cut interest rates further, even amid weak economic conditions. The reserve chairman says he expects the economy will be helped by a number of factors, including the government's tax rebates totaling 168 billion dollars, and progress in repairing the problems in the financial and credit markets.
CHINA MARKETS: Chinese stock prices plunged today after the central bank announced new tightening measures. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost seven-point-seven percent (257 points), closing at three-thousand-72, while the smaller Shenzhen index lost more than eight percent (81 points) to close at 928. Chinese financial markets were closed Monday for a national holiday, so today was the earliest investors could react to a central bank decision ordering banks to keep more deposits on hand. Some analysts note that the real problem is China's undervalued currency and say its gradual appreciation has not slowed the flow of cash into the country.
INDIA - AUSTERITY MEASURES: Several Indian Cabinet ministers have canceled their official trips abroad after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked them to cut costs. Prime Minister Singh made the request in a letter to all ministers following the government's decision last week to raise fuel prices. Mr. Singh said the government has a moral duty to cut out all wasteful expenditures, especially after it asked the people to bear some of the financial burden of India's oil imports. New Delhi said the fuel price increase is necessary to bail out state oil firms that have incurred tens of millions of dollars in losses due to record high global oil prices.
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