US - AFGHANISTAN: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is giving the new U.S. strategy for
Afghanistan and Pakistan a resounding endorsement -- calling it
"exactly what the Afghan people were hoping for."
Mr. Karzai praised the U.S. plan during a news conference Saturday, adding that it is better that what he had been expecting.
The Afghan leader's comments come one day after U.S. President Barack
Obama pledged more troops and a greater emphasis on regional diplomacy
to defeat al-Qaida militants and their allies, calling the situation in
both Afghanistan and Pakistan "increasingly perilous."
NOKOR NUCLEAR: The United States, Japan and South Korea have agreed that any launch of
a North Korean rocket would be taken to the United Nations Security
Japan's nuclear envoy, Akitaka Saiki, told reporters after a meeting
between the three countries in Washington Friday that a North Korean
rocket launch would violate U.N. resolutions and would be taken to the
Security Council immediately.
The three countries have all accused North Korea of using the planned launch to test its ballistic missile capability.
North Korea says it intends to launch a communications satellite between April 4th and April 8th.
CHINA - TIBET: China launched a new holiday Saturday, "Serfs' Emancipation Day," to mark the 50th anniversary of the communist government's overturning of the region's feudal system. The Chinese flag was raised at a televised ceremony in front of the Potala Palace in Tibet's capital of Lhasa, and a crowd of 13,000 heard testimonials from Tibetans who praised the Chinese administration and denounced Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama fled his homeland after Beijing crushed an uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. China says that is when it brought democratic reform to Tibet.
PHILIPPINES - UNREST: Military officials say 20 Muslim rebels and seven soldiers have been killed in clashes in the southern Philippines. Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ponce said Saturday that soldiers clashed with about 80 Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas Friday near the town of Mamasapano on the island of Mindanao. Ponce said that clearing operations are ongoing, adding that five soldiers had been wounded. The military said that the rebels were believed to be under the command of Ameril Umbra Kato, one of the commanders who led a bloody rampage that killed dozens of civilians in several communities following the cancellation of a preliminary peace deal last year.
MALAYSIA POL: Malaysia's prime minister said Saturday that he would meet with the king on April 2nd to submit his resignation.
In an emotional speech Saturday to the annual meeting of the United
Malays National Organization party, or UMNO, Prime Minister Abdullah
Ahmad Badawi said that under the leadership of his deputy, Najib Razak,
the party would be strengthened.
UMNO, which leads Malaysia's ruling (National Front) coalition, elected Najib as its new president Thursday.
Najib ran for the post uncontested and will become prime minister when Mr. Abdullah steps down.
INDONESIA - FLOODING: The death toll from a burst dam on the outskirts of the Indonesian capital rose to 77 Saturday, as rescue workers searched for more than 100 people still missing since a wall of water submerged their homes. The earthen dam collapsed early Friday outside Jakarta after several hours of heavy rain. The collapse sent two million cubic meters of water crashing into homes, leaving hundreds of buildings underwater. Rescuers used rubber rafts to retrieve survivors, who compared the wave to a tsunami. The water was so high in some places that many people had climbed onto rooftops.
US - FLOODS: Bitterly cold weather appears to be slowing down floodwaters that are threatening two midwestern U.S. cities.
The U.S. National Weather Service says frigid temperatures are slowing
the flow of the ice-filled Red River, causing officials to push back
predictions of when the swollen river might overflow its banks.
Officials now say the Red River will likely crest Sunday, and could reach a height of more than 13 meters.
The river has already risen to its highest level in 112 years,
prompting the neighboring cities of Moorhead, Minnesota and Fargo,
North Dakota to evacuate residents from more than 2,600 homes.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: The chief Palestinian negotiator warns the Middle East peace process is living on "borrowed time" and that it will not survive another round of failed negotiations. In Saturday's edition of "The Washington Post" newspaper, Saeb Erekat praises U.S. President Barack Obama for "speaking eloquently" of a new era of American leadership, but he writes that the patience of the Palestinian people is not unlimited. He says the new Israeli government "must unequivocally affirm its support" for a two-state solution that includes a viable Palestinian state.
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