WORLD ECONOMY: Word stock markets rose sharply today (Monday) amid signs the U.S. government is prepared to take new action to tackle a deepening recession. Hong Kong's key Hang Seng index rose nearly nine percent, while the Nikkei in Tokyo closed more than five percent higher. Key European markets were up between four and more than six percent in morning trading. Among the positive signs are spending plans by the incoming Obama administration to rebuild the country's infrastructure, and indications Congress is ready to take action to help the ailing auto industry. World markets are also reacting to signs China is considering measures to bolster growth in the country.
INDIA ATTACKS: Reports from Pakistan say security forces have raided premises used by Jamat-ud-dawah, the front organization of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group that is blamed by India for last month's deadly attacks on Mumbai. The reports quote sources who say the operation took place Sunday in and around Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. They say at least 20 members of the group were taken into custody.
News Updates: A Pakistani government official says the suspected planner of last month's deadly attack in India's financial center, Mumbai, has been arrested in Pakistan. The official said today (Monday) that Pakistani police detained Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and several other men during a security forces raid on premises used by Jamat-ud-dawah. That group is the front organization of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group blamed by India for the Mumbai attacks.
PAKISTAN VIOLENCE: Suspected Taliban militants have attacked another transport terminal in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar. Today's (Monday's) attack was the second in as many days and destroyed about 50 containers carrying military vehicles destined for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Witnesses said the militants stormed the terminal, torching supply trucks and containers, and throwing grenades. The U.S. military and NATO officials have said the recent attacks will have only a minimal impact on operations against Afghan Taliban militants.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: Six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programs have resumed in Beijing, with three of the participants predicting disagreement with Pyongyang over taking samples from disabled facilities. As the talks began today (Monday), U.S. envoy Christopher Hill told reporters in Beijing that he did not expect any speedy breakthroughs. The United States, South Korea and Japan want the North to let international inspectors take samples from nuclear sites to verify disarmament. But Pyongyang denies that it earlier agreed to allow sampling, and has said that doing so would violate its sovereignty.
BURMA: More than 200 Asian lawmakers are urging United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to obtain the release of all political prisoners in Burma before the end of this year. In their letter, lawmakers urged Mr. Ban to personally travel to the military-ruled country and engage in serious dialogue with its leaders. The lawmakers also noted that over the past year Burma has not only defied calls from the international community to release prisoners, but almost doubled the number of those being held to more than 21-hundred. The letter was sent to the U.N. Secretary General late last week (Friday), just days after more than 100 former presidents and prime ministers urged Mr. Ban to gain the prisoners release.
US - CHINA - TAIWAN: China has called on the United States to cancel weapons sales to Taiwan and cut all military ties with the island. The official Xinhua news agency said today (Monday) that Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie told former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers that arms sales to Taiwan has poisoned bilateral military relations and endangered China's national security. The news agency said Liang made the remarks at a meeting with Myers in Beijing. China and Taiwan split in 1949 during a civil war. Beijing regards the self-ruled island as part of its territory and has threatened to use force if Taiwan takes any formal steps towards independence.
IRAN NUCLEAR: Iran says U.S. President-elect Barack Obama needs to abandon a "carrot and stick" approach to Tehran's nuclear program when he takes office next month. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said today (Monday) it will never suspend the country's uranium enrichment, despite Mr. Obama's attempt to sway Iran away from its current nuclear track. Mr. Obama said in an interview Sunday he is prepared to offer Iran economic incentives to stop its nuclear program. But Mr. Obama warned that the international community could tighten sanctions on Iran if it refused.
ZIMBABWE: The European Union is calling for Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to step down as his country wallows in a humanitarian and political crisis combined with a worsening cholera epidemic. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters today (Monday) in Brussels the time has come to pressure Mr. Mugabe into leaving the leadership and to give the people of Zimbabwe a chance to move their country forward.
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