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
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
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
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
At her first stop in Japan and later in South Korea, Clinton is
expected to reinforce traditional alliances with two countries hosting
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.