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Asian, European Leaders Pledge Economic Reform


WORLD ECONOMY: Asian and European leaders have promised to take effective and comprehensive actions to reform world monetary and financial systems. At the end of their two-day summit in Beijing, the 40 members of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) made a show of unity to reassure frightened investors and try to bring stability to world markets.
During the meeting, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said officials must use every means to prevent the financial crisis from having an impact on the real economy. He called for stricter regulation of economic systems, saying lessons must be learned from the current crisis. The Chinese premier said China will take an active part in the Group of 20 summit on the financial crisis that U.S. President George Bush will host in Washington on November 15th. The G-20 includes major industrialized nations and key emerging-market countries like China, India and Brazil.

US POLITICS: U.S. presidential candidate John McCain will campaign today (Sunday) in the key state of Ohio, while front-runner Barack Obama stays in the west, looking for increased support. Before heading to Ohio - considered one of the most important states to win in the election nine days from now - Senator McCain will hold a morning rally in the Midwestern state of Iowa.
Senator Obama will appear at two rallies in Colorado. He campaigned in the neighboring state of New Mexico, and even farther west in Nevada Saturday, where he again linked McCain to the economic policies of U.S. President George Bush. Obama pointed out that the unpopular president cast an early ballot Friday for Senator McCain.
Campaigning in New Mexico Saturday, McCain warned supporters that if Obama is elected, Democrats will likely control the White House and Congress.

ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Jewish settlers rampaged through the West Bank city of Hebron today (Sunday) after Israeli forces dismantled a settlement outpost. Israeli authorities say at least four settlers were arrested, including a few who attacked members of Israel's security forces, in this latest occurrence of settler violence.
Palestinian residents say the settlers vandalized graves in a Muslim cemetery and slashed car tires. The incident occurred one day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas deployed hundreds of security officers to the city as part of a widening security crackdown.

IRAQ: Iraq's largest Sunni political party says it has suspended official contacts with U.S. military and civilian personnel after an Iraqi man was killed and five arrested in a raid in Fallujah. In a statement Saturday, the Iraqi Islamic Party demanded an explanation about what happened, along with an apology. The party also demanded assurances that those responsible will be punished. The party said the targets of the raid were party members. But the U.S. military said one man had been arrested and one had been killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid against a suspected militant in Fallujah. Also Saturday, the U.S. military in Iraq said Iraqi security forces captured 15 suspected criminals and al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists in separate operations in northern Iraq during the past several days (October 21st through 24th).

BURMA: Members of Burma's opposition party say authorities have removed barbed wire barriers and reduced security around the Rangoon home of detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Witnesses near the lakeside compound where the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been detained for 13 of the last 19 years said barricades and checkpoints preventing people from going near her house have been removed. However, witnesses said the gate to her compound remains closed.
In a statement Saturday, leaders at the Asia-Europe meeting in Beijing encouraged the Burmese government to lift restrictions on political parties and release political prisoners.
Friday marked Aung San Suu Kyi's 13th year of house arrest.

US - BIRD FLU: A U.S. official says the United States will provide an additional 320-million dollars for the global fight against bird flu. Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky announced the pledge today (Saturday) at an international bird flu conference in Egypt at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
She warned against complacency in fighting avian flu, which the United Nations says could cause a pandemic. The U.S. pledge brings to about 950-million dollars Washington's total contribution to fight bird flu, which has killed 245 people in Asia, Africa and Europe since 2003.

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