KOREAS TENTISONS: South Korea is urging airlines to divert their routes after North Korea
warned Thursday that it could not guarantee the safety of planes that
entered its airspace.
Starting Saturday at midnight local time, South Korea's Civil Aviation
Safety Authority has asked airlines to stop flying near North Korea.
Two flagship carriers, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, have already begun diverting flights.
North Korea says it cannot guarantee the safety of civilian flights because of an upcoming U.S.-South Korean military exercise.
It has warned that the exercises, which start Monday, could trigger a war.
US - RUSSIA: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are meeting Friday in Geneva for their first formal talks since Clinton became the top U.S. diplomat. Clinton told reporters earlier in the day in Brussels that the two sides have a long agenda to begin discussing. She stressed that the U.S. and Russia have a number of areas they can cooperate on, like terrorism and non-proliferation. Clinton also said the two sides disagree on certain things -- stressing Washington's condemnation of Russia's military action in Georgia last year.
US - KYRGYZSTAN: The Kyrgyz parliament voted overwhelmingly Friday to evict U.S. allies from a key military base, after ordering U.S. forces out last month. Lawmakers voted to cancel an agreement that allows 11 allies to use the Manas air base, a key staging point for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, Krygyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) he is ready for a new proposal from the U.S. government on its security efforts in Afghanistan. But Thursday, Kyrgyz officials say the government will not reverse its decision to evict U.S. forces from the base.
THAILAND - RUSSIA - ARMS: An alleged Russian arms dealer says the United States has no proof he
has provided weapons to some of the world's most notorious dictators
Viktor Bout denounced the accusations when he appeared in Thai
courtroom Friday for an extradition hearing. Bout was arrested last
March in Bangkok following a sting operation by undercover U.S. agents.
He is wanted in the United States for conspiring to sell weapons to
Colombia's FARC rebels.
Bout called the allegations nothing more than "rumors and lies," and
said his ongoing detention violated the rule of law and human rights.
WORLD ECONOMY: Asian markets are on the retreat Friday as investors brace themselves for more bad news about the slumping U.S. economy.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei index lost 3.5 percent at the closing bell to finish at (7,173) the
lowest level since October 27, 2008. Hong Kong's key Hang Seng market
fell more than two percent, while share prices in Shanghai, Sydney and
Wellington also closed lower.
Friday's declines followed on the heels of Thursday's selloffs on Wall
Street. Each of the three major U.S. stock indexes lost at least four
percent, with the S & P 500 hitting its lowest level since 1996.
CHINA - CONGRESS: Chinese officials say they see signs that economic growth in China is
recovering, but will also be watching to see if the country's massive
stimulus effort needs to be expanded. Zhang Ping, the head of China's
planning body - China National Development and Reform Commission - says
that officials have seen some positive signs including the recovery of
export growth. Speaking with reporters Friday on the sidelines of an
annual meeting of
China's parliament, Zhang and central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said
the positive economic data shows that Beijing's policies are working.
CHINA - TIBET: Chinese state media have confirmed that a Tibetan Buddhist monk set
himself on fire last week in southwest China and is now hospitalized.
According to an official Xinhua news agency report, the 24-year-old man
identified as Tashi or Tapey was studying at Kitri monastery in Sichuan
province's Ngaba town.
Earlier reports from Tibetan advocacy groups said he had set himself
ablaze in an apparent protest of government restrictions of religion.
They say the monk was holding the banned Tibetan flag and a picture of
the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.
GANDHI - AUCTION: Mahatma Gandhi's personal items auctioned in New York for $1.8 million
are expected to be returned to India.
Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, expressed delight and relief
Friday, after the learning an Indian tycoon bought the items and plans
to return them to India for display.
The auction took place Thursday, despite protests from the Indian
government and a last-minute effort by the owner of the items, James
Otis, to withdraw them shortly before bidding began. Indian businessman
V.J. Mallya bought the items, which include Gandhi's
wire-rimmed glasses, a pocket-watch, a pair of worn leather sandals and
a brass bowl and plate.
Listen to our World News for details.