GAZA - DIPLOMACY: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has renewed his call for an
"immediate and durable" cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants
in the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Ban re-issued his plea at a news conference today in
Cairo, after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The U.N. Chief is in Egypt at the start of a Middle East trip aimed at
ending the conflict in Gaza. Egypt has been at the forefront of efforts
to mediate a truce between the two sides. Mr. Ban will also hold talks
in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey,
Syria, Lebanon and Kuwait, but he will not travel to Gaza or meet with
RUSSIA EUROPE GAS: The European Union's executive branch says it will advise businesses in member states to take legal action against Russian and Ukrainian energy companies if the flow of gas to Europe is not restored. In comments to the European Parliament today,EU Commission President Jose Barroso called it "unacceptable and incredible" that gas supplies have not resumed following an EU-brokered agreement between Russia and Ukraine Monday. Barroso says that if the agreement is not honored, it means Russia and the Ukraine can no longer be considered reliable and that alternative sources of gas supply and transit must be found.
US - CONFIRMATION - CLINTON: Senator Hillary Clinton says if confirmed as the next U.S. secretary of state, she would pursue "smart power" diplomacy to promote a safe, peaceful Middle East. Clinton testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday as part of a vetting process to become the top diplomat in President-elect Barack Obama's administration. She pledged to improve Washington's relations with its allies, saying she believed foreign policy must be based on principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology. Clinton said she would apply this "smart power" diplomacy to address Israel's security needs, as well as the Palestinians' political and economic aspirations.
CHINA - TAINTED MILK: A group of Chinese parents whose children were sickened by contaminated
milk have rejected a government-backed compensation plan.
The group's organizer, Zhao Lianhai, told reporters Tuesday that more
than 200 parents have signed a petition rejecting the plan.
Zhao's son was among nearly 300-thousand children who fell ill last
year after drinking milk tainted with the chemical melamine. Six
The disgruntled parents are calling for milk companies to cover future
medical costs for children who drank contaminated products.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: The United States says North Korea must satisfy its commitments under a
disarmament deal before it can realize diplomatic benefits.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday that the
obligations under a six-nation aid-for-disarmament pact are clear.
McCormack said Pyongyang must complete the de-nuclearization process
before it can enjoy normal relations with the world community.
His comment came in response to a North Korean statement that Pyongyang
will not give up its nuclear weapons until the United States
establishes diplomatic relations with it.
BURMA - DISSIDENT: A human rights group says a Burmese student activist is the latest
political dissident in the military-ruled nation to receive a lengthy
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says Bo Min Yu Ko
was sentenced earlier this month to 104 years in jail by the Obo Prison
Court in Burma's Mandalay Division.
The AAPP says Bo Min Yu Ko, who is in his early 20s, is a member of the
All Burma Federation of Students Unions. He was arrested last
September. The group says he was denied a defense attorney, and his
family was barred from attending his court hearing.
INDIA - PAKISTAN: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is downplaying the significance of a dossier handed over by India about the Mumbai attacks, calling it, in his words, "information" and "not evidence." Pakistan's state media say Mr. Gilani made the statement to lawmakers late Tuesday, saying that Pakistan was continuing to examine the dossier. Last week, India handed over evidence it says proves the Mumbai attacks were carried out by Pakistanis who were part of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. The dossier includes transcripts of phone calls allegedly made during the siege between the attackers and their handlers in Pakistan.
OBAMA - ECONOMY: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is working to persuade lawmakers to
release the second-half of the 700-billion-dollars approved late last
year to help financial companies.
Mr. Obama discussed the financial rescue plan with majority Democratic
leaders Tuesday, as his aides answered questions about the plan before
the House Financial Services Committee.
Critics say the outgoing Bush administration did not do enough to make
sure the first 350 billion dollars of the package was spent wisely.
Some members of Congress have threatened to block distribution of the
remaining funds unless banks that get the aid are more accountable.
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