GAZA - DIPLOMACY: An Israeli envoy is in Cairo
today for talks on an Egyptian-brokered truce plan for the
Representatives of Hamas met with Egyptian mediators in Cairo on
Wednesday. Hamas official Salah al-Bardawilm said the group does not
reject the broad outlines of the plan, but stopped short of accepting
it. He said Hamas had given its views, and would wait for Israel's
response. Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in Israel
part of his regional trip to address the Gaza conflict. Mr. Ban says
the death toll from fighting has become "unbearable."
PAKISTAN - INDIA: A top Pakistani official says authorities have arrested 124 people in a crackdown on a group blamed for the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. Pakistani Interior Ministry official Rehman Malik announced the arrests today. Last week, India gave Pakistan evidence it says proves the Mumbai attacks were carried out by Pakistanis who were part of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group. Tensions have run high between Pakistan and India since the assault, which killed more than 170 people. Separately today, Pakistani police say they raided a militant hideout in the southern city of Karachi, detaining more than a dozen Islamic militants.
US - TRANSITION: Today's confirmation hearing for U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to head the Treasury Department
has been delayed until next week.
Democratic Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance
Committee, announced the delay Wednesday, after some Republicans asked
for more time to consider the nomination of Timothy Geithner.
Geithner told committee members Tuesday that he failed to pay Social
Security and Medicare taxes between 2001 and 2004. He said he paid more
than 30-thousand dollars in past-due taxes after learning of the
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: A South Korean delegation led by senior nuclear envoy Hwang Joon-kook
is due in North Korea today to discuss the possible purchase
of unused fuel rods from the North's plutonium-producing facility.
Before leaving South Korea Wednesday, Hwang told reporters his team
will inspect the Yongbyon reactor and discuss what to do with its
unused fuel rods.
Pyongyang has acknowledged it still houses 14-thousand unspent fuel
rods at the facility. Seoul has expressed interest in buying the unused
rods if they can be adapted to work at South Korea's nuclear power
THAILAND - PM: Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has promised to end his country's
political divisions by placing national reconciliation and economic
recovery at the top of his government's agenda.
Speaking at a dinner for foreign correspondents in Bangkok Wednesday,
Mr. Abhisit said new government policies are designed to end, what he
called "artificial divisions" between urban and rural areas, as well as
He also expressed hope that the government's economic recovery program will help fight the global recession.
PHILIPPINES - KIDNAPPING: Three workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross have been kidnapped in the southern Philippines by suspected Islamic militants. Philippine Senator Richard Gordon, the head of the nation's Red Cross, says the trio were seized today while traveling to a jail on the island of Jolo. They were on Jolo for a relief and medical mission. Jolo is a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, an al-Qaida linked terrorist group notorious for kidnappings. No one has claimed responsibility for today's abductions. The three workers have been identified as Andreas Notter from Switzerland, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Jean Lacaba of the Philippines.
CAMBODIA - TRIBUNAL: Cambodia's UN-backed genocide tribunal met today to set a
date for the long-awaited trial of the first of five former Khmer Rogue
leaders accused of atrocities in the 1970s.
Former Khmer prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, is
expected to be the first suspect to stand trial for crimes committed by
the regime. He will appear in court during the two-day session to
determine his health condition and readiness to stand trial.
Duch is one of five Khmer Rouge leaders who have been detained by the
court for their alleged roles in the regime on charges of crimes
against humanity and war crimes.
RUSSIA - EUROPE - GAS: Russian and Ukrainian authorities say they will meet Saturday in an
attempt to find a solution to the stalemate that has cut gas supplies
to much of Europe.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her Russian counterpart,
Vladimir Putin, agreed to hold the talks in Moscow during a telephone
conversation early today.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev expressed hope the meeting would
facilitate a way out of the crisis that has left much of Europe
freezing without adequate heat
European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has called the standoff
unacceptable and incredible.
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