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US Envoy, Afghan President Discuss Strategic Review


US DIPLOMACY-SOUTH ASIA: Afghan President Hamid Karzai says his nation will take part in a strategic U.S. review of the war in Afghanistan.
Mr. Karzai made the announcement Sunday during a joint news conference with the new U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke. The two held talks on Saturday.
The Afghan leader says a delegation led by Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta will visit Washington to take part in the reassessment of the fight against the country's growing Taliban insurgency.
PAKISTAN ABDUCTIONS: Chinese officials say a Chinese engineer who has been held hostage for the past six months in Pakistan has been freed.
China's state-run news agency (Xinhua) reports Long Xiaowei is safe, and that he arrived at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad early Sunday.
Pakistani Taliban abducted Long last August.
Meanwhile, United Nations officials say they are seeking direct contact with kidnappers who are holding a U.N. official captive, in order to confirm that he is alive.

VENEZUELA-REFERENDUM: Venezuelans are casting their ballots today (Sunday) on a referendum to end term limits in Venezuela, a move which could allow President Hugo Chavez to seek reelection indefinitely.
President Chavez says the passage of the referendum is vital to allowing him to transform the country into a socialist state.
Meanwhile, Mr. Chavez said Saturday he is ready to improve relations with Washington and begin direct talks with U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Venezuelan president said he would talk with Mr. Obama "any day."

CLINTON-ASIA: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clintonis departing for Asia on Sunday, her first trip abroad as President Barack Obama's chief diplomat.
Clinton's week-long visit to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China signals the administration's interest in the region as Washington seeks to halt North Korea's nuclear arms program and stabilize the global economy.
At her first stop in Japan and later in South Korea, Clinton is expected to reinforce traditional alliances with two countries hosting U.S. troops.
In Indonesia, she is expected to forge closer cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, especially regarding the economy and security.


BURMA-ATTACK: State media in Burma said Sunday that rebels have attacked a town bordering Thailand, hours before a visit to the area by a United Nations human rights expert.
The official New Light of Myanmar newspaper said rebels from the Karen National Union launched two mortar shells into the town of Myawaddy, in Karen state early Saturday. No casualties were reported.
The KNU is the only major ethnic rebel group that has not signed a peace agreement with Burma's military government.
The attack came on the day that U.N. human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana arrived in Burma for a six-day visit.

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