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Pakistan Hunts for Cricket Team Attackers


PAKISTAN - SRI LANKA: Police in Pakistan are hunting for the gunmen responsible for the deadly ambush on Sri Lanka's cricket team in the eastern city of Lahore. Tuesday's assault killed eight people, mostly police officers, and left seven Sri Lankan players among the more than 16 wounded. Police say they are questioning several people in connection with the assault, but add that their involvement is unclear. At least 12 men attacked the Sri Lankan team's convoy with rockets, hand grenades and automatic weapons as it approached Lahore's Gaddafi stadium.

CHINA - DEFENSE BUDGET: China says it is increasing its defense spending this year by more than $70 billion in order to raise salaries in the world's largest standing army. The spokesman for China's parliament, Li Zhaoxing, described the near 15 percent increase of the country's budget as modest. Li said the double-digit growth would not pose a threat to any country. Li said the extra money would go to salaries for China's more than two million troops and be spent on raising capabilities in what he described as "non-warfare military operations."

US - MIDEAST: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and is set to talk with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his West Bank headquarters. Officials say the Palestinian leaders are urging Clinton to push Israel to freeze construction in West Bank settlements and open blockaded Gaza Strip borders. Clinton also visited Egypt and Israel this week as part of an effort to revive the Middle East peace process. She said Tuesday the United States will vigorously pursue the creation of a Palestinian state, calling its establishment "inescapable."

IRAN - US - ISRAEL: Iran's supreme leader has accused U.S. President Barack Obama of following the same mistaken path as George W. Bush in supporting Israel, calling the Jewish state a "cancerous tumor." Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday during a conference in Tehran that Mr. Obama's support for Israel is, in his words, "unconditional." Mr. Khamenei also said Palestinians can only save their territory through resisting Israel, rather than trying to negotiate. Mr. Obama has said his administration is looking for opportunities to engage Iran and has called on Iran to "unclench its fist."

SUDAN - DARFUR: The International Criminal Court in The Hague is due to announce Wednesday if it will issue an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes. The chief prosecutor for the war crimes tribunal said Tuesday he has "strong evidence" against the Sudanese president, including dozens of witnesses who can testify that Mr. Bashir is orchestrating a genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. Mr. Bashir did not appear too concerned Tuesday about possible arrest. The African Union, the Arab League and China have all said an indictment could destabilize the region and harm efforts to bring peace to Darfur, where the central government has been fighting rebels since 2003.

BRITAIN - US: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress Wednesday, where he is expected to urge lawmakers to abandon protectionism. Mr. Brown's speech comes a day after the British leader held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. The two leaders discussed an international effort to spur the recovery of the global economy from its current severe recession. The two leaders emphasized the need to reform regulatory structures. Mr. Obama warned against protectionist policies and said the reform process will be neither easy nor quick.

NOKOR - NUCLEAR: The new U.S. envoy for North Korea will hold a second day of talks with Chinese officials Wednesday aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. Stephen Bosworth is scheduled to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing. Bosworth met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei upon his arrival in the Chinese capital Tuesday. Bosworth will also visit Japan and South Korea on his trip, which is his first to Asia as U.S. special representative for North Korea policy. While in the region, Bosworth will also consult Russian officials, but the U.S. State Department said there are no plans to meet with North Korean officials.

CHINA - POLLUTION: A city in eastern China's Jiangsu province has ordered chemical plants to close following a leak that contaminated drinking water last month. Chinese state media say 33 of Yancheng city's 317 chemical plants will be shuttered by the end of March. The reports said the plants are located near a river that supplies the city with drinking water. Mayor Li Qiang told the Xinhua news agency Tuesday that some of the plants will be compensated for relocation, while others will be closed permanently. Li also said the city is working to increase capacity for the city's water supply.

SOUTH KOREA - AUSTRALIA: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has arrived in Australia where he is expected to announce the start of talks on a free trade agreement. Mr. Lee and Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will meet on Thursday. The two are expected to announce a new security cooperation agreement that would cover enhanced intelligence exchanges, high-level security dialogues and other areas. Speaking with reporters Wednesday after arriving in Sydney, Mr. Lee said that South Korean industries were interested in boosting trade relations with Australia.

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