ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

China, US Pledge 20 Billion Dollars to Finance Trade


US - CHINA - ECON: China and the United States have completed two days of high-level economic talks in Beijing with a pledge to spend 20 billion dollars to boost international trade. The Strategic Economic Dialogue ended today in Beijing with the two sides signing accords on energy and environmental projects. Both sides vowed to work together to strengthen the global economic system and fight trade protectionism. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who led the delegation from Washington, says the 20 billion dollars will be made available to creditworthy importers in developing economies to finance exports from the U.S. and China.

THAILAND POL: Thailand is marking the birthday of its revered king, amid concerns about his health and the nation's prolonged political crisis. King Bhumipol, who turned 81 today, was scheduled to deliver his annual pre-birthday radio address to the nation Thursday from the royal palace in Bangkok. But his children, the crown prince and princess, told listeners their father was suffering from a throat problem. They both insisted his illness was not serious. Many in Thailand were looking forward to the speech for guidance on resolving the crisis, which has paralyzed the country.

THAILAND - VIOLENCE: At least five people are dead in a bomb attack in southern Thailand, which has been plagued by a nearly five-year old bloody insurgency waged by Muslim separatists. The attack occurred today at a market in Narathiwat province. At least ten others were wounded in the bombing. More that three-thousand people have been killed in Narathiwat and the neighboring provinces of Pattani and Yala since 2004. The Muslim-dominated region was an independent sultanate until Buddhist-dominated Thailand annexed it a century ago. The three provinces are located near the Malaysian border.

US - ZIMBABWE: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says it is "well past time" for Zimbabwe President Rogert Mugabe to step down, as the country faces an economic and humanitarian crisis. Speaking in Denmark Friday, Rice said Zimbabwe had witnessed a sham election followed by sham power sharing talks and now was facing devastation. She added that it was the responsibility of Zimbabwe's neighbors to ensure Mr. Mugabe quit. A similar stance was taken by South African Nobel laureate archbishop Desmond Tutu. He said if Mr Mugabe would not go willingly then he should be forced from office -- if necessary by the threat of indictment at the Hague for human rights violations.

INDIA - ATTACKS: India's top law enforcement official has acknowledged there were security lapses ahead of last week's deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The country's new Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters today that he will do what he can to improve security. His predecessor, Shivraj Patil, resigned as home minister last week, in the wake of the terror attacks that killed more than 170 people. Meanwhile, India is looking into the possibility that one of the planners of last week's assault in Mumbai has been in police custody for months.

IRAQ: The top U.S. military commander in Iraq says American troops will have to make changes to how they carry out their mission now that the two countries have a new security pact. In a statement released today, General Ray Odierno says the U.S. will issue new rules of engagement for combat troops stationed in Iraq. He says U.S. forces will still be able to defend themselves, but that the U.S. will have to coordinate and carry out all future operations with Iraqi security forces. He also says U.S. forces targeting al-Qaida and other extremist groups will do so with respect for the Iraqi Constitution and laws.

CLUSTER BOMBS: Delegates from 94 countries have signed a treaty banning cluster bombs -- weapons that threaten civilians years after they explode. The delegates signed the pact during a two-day signing ceremony that ended Thursday in Oslo, Norway. A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says Mr. Ban applauds the signatory countries and looks forward to the treaty taking effect. Mr. Ban calls the treaty a step forward in protecting civilians and controlling the spread of deadly weapons. He urges countries that have not signed the pact to do so.

HORN OF AFRICA - FOOD: The International Red Cross warns that the food crisis in the Horn of Africa is getting worse and could soon turn into a famine. Bekele Geleta, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said Thursday the food shortage in the region is the most severe in years due to frequent droughts and floods. He said if the next harvest is bad, thousands of people could face famine. The Red Cross has identified at least 600-thousand needy people in Ethiopia and thousands of others in Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya.

BUSH - NEW HOME: The White House has confirmed that U.S. President George Bush and his wife have bought a house in Dallas, Texas, where they will live after he leaves office next month. Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, declined to give any details about their new home. A White House spokesperson today simply confirmed that the couple has bought a house in the upscale Preston Hollow neighborhood. "The Dallas Morning News" newspaper says Mr. Bush's accountant recently purchased as a trustee, a four bedroom house in a cul-de-sac in Preston Hollow. It says the home is valued at more than two million dollars.

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