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India Urges Pakistan to Act on Terror Threat


INDIA - ATTACKS: Indian government ministers have asked Pakistan to crack down on terrorists operating within that country, and vowed that New Delhi will "take all actions" necessary to prevent future terror attacks. India's home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, addressed parliament today in his first official comments following last month's deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai. He announced plans to overhaul India's intelligence agencies, adding a new coastal command and establishing a national investigation agency. The home minister also said he has "undeniable" proof linking the attacks to Pakistani territory.

US - AFGHANISTAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Afghanistan, where he says the Pentagon aims to send at least two more combat brigades by next summer (2009). Before arriving in Kandahar today, Gates told reporters on the plane that he expects the U.S. to remain involved in what he called "this struggle" -- a reference to the war in Afghanistan -- for quite a long time. But he said he wanted to make sure Afghan forces are "out in front" in the battle against insurgents and the Taliban. U.S. officials have said the U.S. could send as many as 20-thousand troops to Afghanistan next year, to join the 32-thousand it already has there, along with nearly as many from other NATO countries.

SOMALIA - PIRATES: A United Nations envoy says the world has ignored piracy long enough. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said today at an international piracy conference in Kenya that underestimating the pirates off the coast of Somalia has cost the world tens of millions of dollars in ransom money this year. On Wednesday, diplomats at the U.N. said the United States is seeking international authorization to pursue Somali pirates on land. Those diplomats say the U.S. has circulated a draft resolution proposing that all nations and regional groups chasing pirates off the Somali coast be allowed to follow them onshore.

US - ECONOMY: The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a multi-billion-dollar rescue plan for the country's struggling auto industry. Introduced by majority Democrats, the bill is nearly identical to one pending in the Senate, where Republican opposition is making its chances for passage uncertain. The bailout proposal would extend taxpayer-funded loans or lines of credit to the so-called Big Three U.S. automakers, and would create a federal government post of "car czar" to oversee the industry. House members approved the measure by a vote of 237 to 170 Wednesday night, after a lengthy debate.

ADB - ECON OUTLOOK: The Asian Development Bank says region's developing nations will have slower economic growth in 2009 as the global financial crisis weakens demand for exports. A report released today by the Manila-based institution says Asia's emerging nations will experience growth of nearly six percent next year, down from its earlier forecast of just over seven percent. The ADB also lowered its forecast for 2008, cutting it from seven-and-a-half percent to six-point-nine percent. The bank says East Asia will see economic growth reach nearly six percent next year, down from nearly seven percent for 2008.

NOKOR - NUCLEAR: The chief U.S. envoy to the North Korean nuclear disarmament talks says the regime has refused to endorse a proposal to create an independent verification of its nuclear disarmament efforts. The current round of talks ended today in Beijing after four days of negotiations. The talks stalled over Pyongyang's apparent refusal to consider a draft proposal put forward by China. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Hill headed for Beijing's airport immediately after the end of today's talks. He told reporters that North Korea is "not ready" to agree to verification "with all the required standards."

INDONESIA - ALATAS OBIT: Officials in Indonesia say former foreign minister Ali Alatas has died at the age of 76. Ali passed away today in a hospital in Singapore after suffering a heart attack. He served as Indonesia's top diplomat from 1988 to 1999, a year after longtime dictator Suharto was ousted from power in the wave of massive street protests. Before serving as foreign minister, he represented Indonesia at the United Nations in Geneva from 1975 to 1979, and again from 1982 to 1988 at the New York headquarters. Ali's reputation was tarnished after Indonesian-backed militias went on a deadly rampage on East Timor after the island voted for independence from Jakarta in 1999.

BANGLADESH - TAJ: Bangladeshi filmmaker Ahsanullah Moni has built a life-size copy of India's famed Taj Mahal near the capital, Dhaka. During an unveiling ceremony Tuesday, Moni said he was inspired to build the replica of the "monument to love" after visiting the iconic landmark in Agra in 1980. He said most Bangladeshis cannot afford to go to Agra to see the "real thing", so he has brought it to them. Unlike the real Taj Mahal, which took 20 years to built, Moni's version was created in less than six years at a cost of about 57 million dollars. No expense was spared -- architects traveled to India several times to measure the original, and imported Italian marble and Belgian diamonds were used in its construction.

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