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Obama Urges G20 to Take Bold Economic Action


WORLD ECONOMY: U.S. President Barack Obama is calling for world leaders to take "bold, comprehensive and coordinated action" to trigger economic recovery and avert future crises. In an opinion article published in the "International Herald Tribune," Mr. Obama says he hopes next month's London meeting of the world's 20 biggest economies will "galvanize collective action." He calls for the Group of 20 to follow Washington's lead by implementing further stimulus measures to promote growth. Mr. Obama adds that world leaders should adopt a common framework to ensure transparency and accountability in the global financial system.

AUSTRALIA - US: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits the White House Tuesday to discuss progress in Afghanistan with U.S. President Barack Obama. The summit comes as Australians say they oppose any Australian troop increase in Afghanistan. Australian voters who responded to an opinion poll published in Tuesday's edition of "The Australian" newspaper overwhelmingly rejected adding to the 1,100 troops already in Afghanistan. The poll results follow the deaths of two Australian soldiers last week in Afghanistan, bringing Australia's losses there to 10.

BURMA - RIGHTS: A United Nations' body has ruled that Burma's continued detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is illegal under Burmese and international law. An opinion reached by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says Burma is breaking its own law (1975 State Protection Law), which allows detention without charges for those who pose a risk to state security or public peace. The opinion argues that Aung San Suu Kyi does not pose a threat to security, it and noted that the law only allows renewed arrest orders for a maximum of five years. Aung San Suu Kyi's five-year period ended last May. The U.N. group is calling for her immediate release.

NOKOR - NUCLEAR: South Korea's top nuclear negotiator is in China for talks expected to focus on North Korea's plans to launch a rocket early next month as well as stalled negotiations on ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs. Wi Sung-lac arrived in Beijing Tuesday. He is scheduled to meet with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Washington for further talks. Before arriving in Beijing, Wi told Seoul's Yonhap news agency that while the talks would focus on measures to take before and after North Korea fires a missile, as the launch date nears, more attention is being put on counter-measures to be taken afterwards.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's reinstated chief justice has called on lawyers to help wipe out corruption in the judiciary, in remarks made on his first day back in court in nearly two years. Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry told a packed courtroom that Pakistan's real judiciary has now been restored. Supporters showered Chaudhry's car with rose petals Tuesday as the popular justice entered the Supreme Court compound. Chaudhry and 60 other top judges had been fired by former President Pervez Musharraf in 2007. He was reinstated this past week after massive opposition protests threatened to destabilize the government.

ISRAEL POLITICS: Israeli radio says Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu and moderate Labor Party leader Ehud Barak reached a coalition deal Tuesday. The report says the Labor Party will soon vote on the pact, which allows Mr. Barak to remain Israel's defense minister as part of the agreement. Many Labor lawmakers say they oppose joining Mr. Netanyahu's coalition, which includes his right-wing Likud party, ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party and Orthodox Jewish Shas party. Analysts in Israel say the coalition government would appear more broad and moderate if the Labor Party signs on.

US - LIBERAIANS: President Barack Obama has signed an order that allows some 3,600 Liberian refugees living in the United States to remain for another 12 months. Mr. Obama issued a statement Monday saying there are "compelling foreign policy reasons" to allow Liberian refugees to remain for another year after the current order expires March 31st. The United States has provided safe haven since 1991 to Liberians seeking to escape their country's violent civil war, which ended in 2003. Since then, the U.S. government has extended the permission of many Liberians to stay in the country because the situation at home is still volatile.

DEATH PENALTY: Amnesty International says the use of the death penalty is declining worldwide. A new report issued by the human rights group notes that only 25 of the 59 countries that retain the death penalty executed anyone in 2008. The report ("Death Sentences and Executions in 2008") says about 2,400 people were executed worldwide last year. China remained the world's leading executioner, accounting for more than 1,700 executions. The United States was also one of the world's top execution nations, behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

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