ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

Clinton Ends Key Diplomatic Visit to Indonesia


CLINTON - ASIA: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on her way to South Korea, after wrapping up her two-day visit to Indonesia Thursday. Clinton briefly held talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the presidential palace in Jakarta, then visited a poor neighborhood that is being revitalized with U.S. assistance funds, greeted by hundreds of residents. Clinton, who is on a four nation tour of Asia, told reporters after her talks with Mr. Yudhoyono that the United States is determined to be fully engaged in world affairs. During an interview on a popular youth music show, Clinton pledged that she and President Barack Obama will increase U.S. efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East.

NOKOR - NUCLEAR: North Korea is stepping up its bellicose rhetoric against South Korea, ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Seoul. In a statement released Thursday by the official Korean Central News Agency, a spokesman for the military's general staff says Pyongyang is prepared for "an all-out confrontation" with its bitter democratic rival. South Korea's defense minister said Wednesday that North Korea will conduct a test of its long-range Taepondong-2 missile within two or three weeks. The missile is believed capable of reaching the northwestern U.S. state of Alaska.

US - NATO: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says NATO members must join the United States and make a larger non-military contribution to Afghanistan, to bolster police training and drug enforcement efforts. Gates flew to the Polish city of Krakow for a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers Thursday, during which the alliance's peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan will be a major topic. Speaking to reporters before his arrival in Poland, Gates said he will ask NATO members to send more troops to Afghanistan this year. However, he added that he expects the allies are more likely to limit their contributions to non-military assistance, to help the Kabul government create stronger civilian institutions.

US - KYRGYZSTAN: The Kyrgyz parliament has voted to evict U.S. forces from Manas Air Base, a key supply point for Western forces fighting in Afghanistan. The parliament overwhelmingly supported Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's decision to end U.S. access to the base Thursday, with a vote of 78 to one. Mr. Bakiyev's Ak Zhol party dominates the assembly. If Bakiyev signs the bill and the government issues an eviction notice, the United States will have to leave the base within 180 days. The Manas Air Base is the only base in the region open to U.S. forces.

US - ECONOMY: In his latest move to shore up the faltering U.S. economy, U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced a $75 billion plan to help millions of homeowners facing possible foreclosure. The plan is meant to help people restructure or refinance their mortgage loans so monthly payments are more affordable. The government will subsidize modified loans to help avoid foreclosure in some cases where homes have lost value. The U.S. Commerce Department announced Wednesday that the number of new homes under construction fell to a record low last month.

US - CANADA: U.S. President Barack Obama takes his first foreign trip Thursday since becoming president, meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss economics, the environment, energy, and Afghanistan. Mr. Obama will meet with Mr. Harper in the Canadian capital, Ottawa. There will be little time during his seven-hour visit to address any subject in depth, but economic matters are expected to top the agenda. Canada is the United States' largest trading partner and the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the United States.

IRAQ: A judge in Iraq has adjourned the trial of an Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush. The judge said the trial of Muntazer al-Zaidi will resume on March 12th. He said the court needs the time to determine if Mr. Bush was on an official visit to Iraq when the shoe-throwing incident occurred in December. The postponement came soon after al-Zaidi's trial began Thursday in Baghdad. He faces up to 15 years in jail on charges of assaulting a foreign leader. Al-Zaidi's lawyers say they will argue the charges should be dismissed.

JAPAN - POLITICS: Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has apologized for appointing former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, who resigned after coming under fire for appearing intoxicated at a recent international conference. Mr. Aso made the apology Thursday during an appearance before the budget committee of the lower house of parliament. Nakagawa appeared drowsy and slurred his speech during a news conference last week in Rome, where ministers from seven of the world's biggest industrialized nations were meeting.

ASEAN - HUMAN RIGHTS: Rights groups are urging the Association for Southeast Asian Nations to do more to protect human rights, especially in military-ruled Burma. Speaking at a press conference Thursday in Bangkok, human rights activists called on members to use ASEAN's newly established human rights body to improve conditions in the region. Activists applauded ASEAN for creating the human rights body, which was officially established late last year, but say that so far it appears unwilling to take on human rights violators like Burma's military rulers. ASEAN leaders will hold their annual summit in Thailand's resort town of Hua Hin next week.

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