APEC SUMMIT: Leaders from the Pacific Rim wrap up their summit today (Sunday) in Lima, Peru. They have vowed to maintain a united front in the battle against the global financial crisis. The 21 leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference pledged Saturday to refrain for a year from raising barriers to international trade. The APEC members also pledged to push for the revival of world trade negotiations that collapsed in July. APEC, which accounts for half the world's trade activity, called for an overhaul of global financial institutions, echoing the Group of 20 summit held recently in Washington. The conference is U.S President George Bush's final summit before leaving office. He said in a speech Saturday the three great forces for economic growth are "free markets, free trade and free people.
OBAMA - TRANSITION: Transition officials for U.S. President-elect Barack Obama say he will
officially announce the leaders of his economic team Monday. They say he will name Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary and
Lawrence Summers as director of the White House National Economic
Geithner, a Treasury official during the Clinton administration, is president of the New York Federal Reserve. U.S. stocks rose sharply Friday after it was widely reported he would likely become treasury secretary. Geithner is one of the top central bank officials who set U.S. interest rate policy and made other decisions aimed at keeping inflation and unemployment in check. Summers, a former Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, will advise Mr. Obama in the White House. He is a former Harvard University president and has also served as the chief economist of the World Bank.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan President Hamid Karzai says U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and the region. Officials from Mr. Karzai's office say Mr. Obama pledged during a phone call late Saturday to increase U.S. assistance to Afghanistan. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday the United States wants to send at least four extra combat brigades (of between 35-hundred and five thousand soldiers) to Afghanistan by early next year. Afghan officials have said any additional foreign troops pledged to fight the Taliban-led insurgency should be dispatched near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan to block militants from entering the country.
CHINA - TIBET: Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama warned hundreds of Tibetans from around the world today (Sunday) that plans to gain greater autonomy from China could fail if they do not exercise prudence. The Dalai Lama told about 600 delegates gathered in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala that they were right in deciding to follow what is called the "middle way" of seeking greater autonomy for Tibet rather than independence from China. But the Nobel Peace laureate said Tibetans risk failure if they are not careful in their actions and planning in the next 20 years. A six-day meeting of exiled Tibetan community leaders ended Saturday, with the majority of participants in favor of continuing the middle-way approach. However, the deputy parliament speaker for the exiled government said Saturday if China does not respond positively to Tibetan demands for meaningful autonomy, the Tibetans will pursue "complete independence."
THAILAND PROTESTS: Anti-government protesters are massing in the Thai capital of Bangkok today (Sunday) for what they say will be the "final battle" in their push to topple the government. Leaders of the protest group, which calls itself the People's Alliance for Democracy, hope for 100 thousand demonstrators to turn out. The protesters plan to march on Parliament Monday morning to disrupt a scheduled session of lawmakers. Local television showed police manning steel barricades and trucks with water cannons. Police officials say they will try to handle the protest peacefully, but are ready to call in the military if the march gets out of control. The PAD has been camped on the grounds of Government House since August and is demanding that Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resign.
GUINEA BISSAU: Officials in Guinea-Bissau say the situation is "under control" after an overnight attack on the home of President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira. Military and government sources in the West African country say a group of soldiers fired on the president's home in the capital, Bissau, early today (Sunday). Witnesses say a gun battle between attackers and security guards lasted several hours before calm was restored. Officials say at least one person was killed in the fighting, and several others wounded. There has been no official word on the status of Mr. Vieira, though a Portuguese news agency (Lusa) quotes a diplomatic source as saying "the president is fine." Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade says Mr. Vieira called him during the attack. Mr. Wade, who described the attack as a mutiny, says he offered to fly the Guinea-Bissau president out of the country but that Mr. Vieira refused.
KASHMIR ELECTIONS: Thousands of troops patrolled streets in Indian-controlled Kashmir as
voting stations opened for a second phase of state elections in the
region. Today's (Sunday's) voting comes amid heightened tensions
in the region following the police shooting of two Muslim protesters,
including a teenage boy. Muslim separatist leaders have called for a boycott of the polls saying they will strengthen India's hold on the region. Several separatist leaders have been arrested for taking part in anti-election demonstrations.
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