ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

China Pledges More Action on Economy if Warranted


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 projects. 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 inappropriate. 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 countermeasures." 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 association) 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 organizations. "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 Thursday.

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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