CHINA - ECONOMY: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says his country is prepared to introduce
additional stimulus measures if the economy continues to struggle.
Speaking Friday in Beijing at the end of the annual session of the
National People's Congress, Mr. Wen said the government has "adequate
ammunition" if conditions become more difficult. China unveiled a $585
billion stimulus plan in November, much of it devoted to infrastructure
But Mr. Wen acknowledged China's annual goal of a minimum eight percent
economic growth would be difficult to achieve this year.
US - CHINA: Chinese naval officials are calling a U.S. decision to dispatch
destroyers to protect a surveillance vessel in the South China Sea
The surveillance vessel, the USNS Impeccable, was involved in a standoff Sunday with Chinese ships.
A report Friday in the official China Daily newspaper quotes Chinese
naval sources who say the military is was watching developments closely.
Chinese sources say the decision to send the world's most advanced
destroyers to the area reflects the Pentagon's intention to keep on
pressing China in the South China Sea.
NOKOR - SATELLITE: Japan and South Korea have warned North Korea that it will face
international sanctions if it follows through with a planned rocket
launch in early April.
A statement issued Friday by South Korea's Foreign Ministry warned
Pyongyang that the launch would violate a 2006 United Nations Security
Council resolution barring it from developing ballistic missile
technology. The ministry says the test would lead to "consultation and
North Korea informed international agencies earlier this week that it
will launch a communications satellite between April 4th and April 8th.
PAKISTAN - POLITICS: Pakistani police blocked anti-government marchers for a second straight
day Friday, as demonstrators vowed to defy a government ban on rallies.
Pakistani lawyers and opposition activists are staging a so-called
"long march", which runs from several cities to the capital of
Islamabad. Police blocked one convoy Friday that included rally
organizer, Ali Ahmed Kurd, (president of the Supreme Court bar
as it was trying to enter Sindh province. On Thursday, authorites
arrested dozens of protesters trying to join the march in Karachi.
US - AFGHANISTAN: A U.S. newspaper reports that President Barack Obama's new strategy on
Afghanistan will work to lure militants away from Taliban and al-Qaida
"The New York Times" (newspaper) reports Friday the proposal is part of
President Barack Obama's new plan after an intense review of U.S.
policy in the region.
The newspaper reports the Obama administration also plans to increase
military and financial aid to Pakistan, although according to
administration officials, there is still debate about how much.
JAPAN - SOMALIA - PIRACY: Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada has ordered two warships to
join international anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.
The two destroyers are expected to leave Japan Saturday to join
warships from 17 countries' navies patrolling off the coast of Somalia.
The order Friday follows a decision by Japan's cabinet to approve the
use of the country's self-defense forces to protect Japanese-flagged
ships and Japanese citizens.
Japan is also discussing a bill that would allow its warships to protect foreign vessels.
Japan's post-World War Two pacifist constitution limits its military to defensive operations.
BURMA - UN: The United Nations refugee agency says it plans to expand operations in
a Burmese border area that is home to a Muslim group that has been
fleeing Burma by boat.
The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Thursday
that the Burmese government has agreed to allow the agency to expand
the assistance it provides in northern Rakhine state.
The agency said it will focus on health, education, sanitation, agriculture and infrastructure.
The High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, discussed relief
activities with Burmese leaders during his six-day visit that ended
US - MADOFF: The disgraced U.S. financier charged with one of the worst fraudulent
investment schemes in the nation's history is headed directly to jail.
Bernard Madoff was escorted from a New York City courtroom in handcuffs
after formally pleading guilty Thursday to all 11 charges against him.
About 50 seats were set aside for Madoff's victims and applause broke
out after presiding Judge Denny Chin told Madoff he will be confined to
jail until a formal sentencing hearing in June.
Until now, Madoff had been living under house arrest at his $7 million
New York apartment.
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