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Obama Tackles Toughest Issues on First Day in Office


US - OBAMA - WEDNESDAY: U.S. President Barack Obama will spend his first full day in office addressing some of the toughest issues facing the country -- the financial crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A day after taking of oath of office, the 44th U.S. president is meeting today with his economic advisers to discuss efforts to help the struggling economy. Mr. Obama has supported a plan to stimulate the economy with an 800-billion dollar plan aimed at saving or creating millions of jobs. He will also meet with top military officials to discuss the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

INAUGURATION - WORLD: World leaders are welcoming Barack Obama as the new president of the United States, while reminding him of the many international challenges he must face. In a congratulatory message, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak urged Mr. Obama to make the crisis in the Middle East an "urgent priority." Mr. Mubarak has been involved in efforts to negotiate a truce between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. Meantime, Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Mr. Obama should change U.S. policy in the Middle East to improve America's image in the region.

CHINA - US INAUGURATION: Chinese state run media are expressing concern about the future of China-U.S. relations under newly-inaugurated President Barack Obama. An editorial in the official China Daily newspaper (published today) says many in the country worry that Mr. Obama may ignore what it calls hard-earned progress in bilateral ties. The newspaper says his predecessor, George Bush, helped to stabilize the relationship between the world's lone superpower and the largest developing country. The China Daily praised the Bush administration for launching twice-a-year economic meetings of senior U.S. and Chinese officials in 2006.

BUSH - FAREWELL: Former U.S. President George Bush has returned to his home state of Texas after serving eight years as the nation's chief executive. Mr. Bush and his wife Laura were welcomed by some 20-thousand supporters at a ceremony in the town of Midland, after leaving Washington Tuesday following the inauguration of Barack Obama. In remarks to the crowd, Mr. Bush acknowledged that people did not always agree with his decisions. But he reflected on what he considered his greatest accomplishments, including his effort to fight terrorism -- noting that America has not been attacked since September 11, 2001.

US - GUANTANAMO: U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking to suspend military trials for terror suspects at the U.S. naval facility in Guantanamo, Bay Cuba for 120 days. In one of his first actions as president, Mr. Obama directed prosecutors to ask for the trials to be suspended. Military judges are expected to rule on the request today. A halt in legal proceedings would give the Obama administration time to review individual cases, as well as the entire military tribunal system. The order would affect 21 pending cases, including cases against five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

AFGHANISTAN - US: The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq has met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. U.S. officials say General David Petraeus and Mr. Karzai discussed how to combat regional terrorism, prevent civilian casualties and gain the trust of the Afghan people during their meeting late Tuesday. The talks came shortly after Mr. Karzai told parliament that he can no longer tolerate civilian deaths resulting from U.S. and NATO air strikes. Mr. Karzai said that although he supports efforts to battle extremists in Afghanistan, the U.S. and its Western allies must do more to reduce the risks to civilians.

THAILAND - BURMA: The United Nations refugee agency is seeking more access to Burmese refugees in Thailand, following allegations of abuse by the Thai military authorities. Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in Geneva Tuesdaythatthe U.N. has requested access to 126 Rohingya boat people being held by Thai authorities to determine if they need international protection. The Rohingya are stateless Muslims from western Burma. An estimated 200-thousand live in neighboring Bangladesh, about 28-thousand in U.N. refugee camps.

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