ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

US Envoy: Extending Israel-Hamas Truce 'Critically Important'


MIDEAST - DIPLOMACY: U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell says it is critically important to extend and consolidate a cease-fire in the conflict between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers. Mitchell said today that Washington supports Egypt's efforts to mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas militants. He was speaking in Cairo after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mitchell says his visit to the region is a clear signal that the new Obama administration is committed to pursuing Middle East peace and stability. The U.S. envoy also visits Israel today to listen to the views of Israeli leaders on reviving the peace process.

US - DEFENSE: U.S. President Barack Obama meets with the heads of the four U.S. military services today to discuss strategies for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Obama will hold talks with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon. Talks are likely to focus on Mr. Obama's plans to reduce the number of troops in Iraq, while sending more U.S. forces into Afghanistan. Secretary Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that the war in Afghanistan is the "greatest military challenge" facing the United States.

US ECONOMY: The U.S. House of Representatives is votingtoday on President Barack Obama's 825-billion-dollar plan to stimulate the economy. Democrats in the House have enough votes to pass the bill, but Mr. Obama wants broad bipartisan backing for the measure. On Tuesday, Mr. Obama went to Congress to lobby skeptical Republicans who say the plan spends too much and does not offer enough tax cuts. Meantime, a key Senate panel approved its version of the bill after adding another 70 billion dollars in tax cuts, bringing the total cost of the plan close to 900-billion dollars.

KOREAS - LEAFLETS: South Korean officials are warning activists they face prosecution if they attach North Korean currency to the anti-Pyongyang leaflets they send across the border. A spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the communist regime, says it is against the law to bring North Korean banknotes into the South for the purpose of resending it to the North. The activists have attached U.S. dollars to the leaflets in the past. Pyongyang threatened in October to launch military strikes against Seoul if the activists did not stop launching balloons carrying messages denouncing leader Kim Jong Il.

HRW - BURMA: A prominent international human rights group accuses Burma's ruling military junta of subjecting its ethnic Chin people to harsh treatment, including forced labor and torture. New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report today highlighting the abuses suffered by the Chin, who live in Burma's western Chin state near the border with India. It says the Chin face arbitrary arrest, brutal beatings at the hands of Burmese soldiers and are forced to give up their food. Human Rights Watch also says the Chin, who are 90-percent Christian, are subjected to religious persecution in the mostly Buddhist nation.

THAILAND - FIRE: Thai police have arrested the lead singer from a band called "Burn" for allegedly causing a fire that killed at least 65 revelers at a New Year's Eve celebration. Thailand's deputy national police chief, General Jongrak Jutanont, said Tuesday that the singer lit fireworks as part of a stage show shortly before the fire raced through the club. Jongrak said eyewitness and other evidence point to the fireworks as the cause of the blaze. The 28-year-old singer, Sarawut Ariya, denies the charge. Sarawut could serve up to 10 years in prison if convicted of negligence causing death, serious injuries and damaging property.

RUSSIA - US - MISSILES: A Russian military official says the country has suspended plans to install missiles in Kaliningrad because of the attitude of the new administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. The official told Interfax news agency today that Russia halted its plans to move the Iskander missiles because the Obama administration is not rushing U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in November that Russia would deploy missiles in its western outpost in response to the U.S. missile shield plan.

WORLD ECON FORUM: Record numbers of world leaders, economic advisors and business executives are focusing on the global financial crisis at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The forum begins today in the Alpine ski resort and lasts until February 1st. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is giving the opening address. Founder and Chairman of the Forum, Klaus Schwab, says financial crisis is unprecedented in scope. He said it should be seen as a wake-up call to reform global institutions, systems and ways of thinking.

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