ASEAN: Thai officials say helicopters have begun evacuating Asian leaders after anti-government protesters forced the cancellation of a regional summit in the resort town of Pattaya. Hundreds of red-shirted demonstrators, demanding the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, breached police lines and broke through glass doors to enter the hotel where the ASEAN summit was to take place. Prime Minister Abhisit declared a state of emergency in Pattaya and said in a television address that the focus would now be to ensure the safety of the leaders as they return home.
IRAQ: Iraqi police says a suicide bomber killed nine people and wounded more than 20 others in an attack south of Baghdad targeting U.S.-allied Sunni militiamen. Officials say the bomber struck Saturday as members of community security forces, known as Awakening Councils,lined up to receive paychecks at a military headquarters. The Sunni militias include former insurgents who have turned against al-Qaida and other groups. They have been credited with helping reduce violence in Iraq over the past year. On Friday, suicide bomber killed five U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq, in the single largest loss of American life in Iraq in more than a year.
SOMALIA - PIRATES: A pirate chief onshore in Somalia warns dire consequences could result
if the U.S. resorts to force to rescue an American hostage held by
pirates in a lifeboat at sea.
He says the pirates holding U.S. captain Richard Philips are waiting for reinforcements.
Other pirate ships are said to be searching for the lifeboat, but a
hijacked German ship with 24 hostages returned to port after failing to
reach the scene. A regional maritime group says Somali elders are also
trying to reach scene of the standoff to negotiate secure the release
FIJI - POLITICS: Fiji's President Ratu Josefa Iloilo has reappointed military head Commodore Frank Bainimarama as caretaker prime minister, ensuring the military retains control over the nation despite a court ruling to the contrary. News reports say Mr. Bainimarama is expected to appoint his cabinet later Saturday. Fiji's latest upheaval started on Thursday with an appeals court ruling that the military government, established by coup in 2006, was illegal. The move prompted Mr. Bainimarama to announce his resignation from the prime minister's post.
OBAMA ADDRESS: U.S. President Barack Obama is urging nations to come together to fight the global challenges he saw first hand during his recent overseas trip. In his weekly broadcast address Saturday, Mr Obama pointed to this week's Christian holiday of Easter and the Jewish Passover as times to reflect on unity and the obligations to each other irrespective of race or creed. He said no single nation can solve the problems stemming from the financial meltdown, climate change, nuclear weapons or terrorism. Instead he said nations need to put aside old differences and mistrust so that the entrenched problems of the world can be worked on in a cooperative manner.
UN - LAOS: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid a short visit to
communist Laos Saturday, the first trip to the impoverished country by
a U.N. chief in 24 years.
At the opening of a new U.N. headquarters in the capital, Vientiane,
Mr. Ban expressed his hope that Laos, one of the world's poorest
nations, would make progress in meeting the U.N.'s Millennium
The MDGs are eight international development goals that 192 United
Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have
agreed to achieve by the year 2015.
BURMA POL: State media reported Saturday that Burma's deputy leader urged military
officers to take responsibility for the success of next year's planned
The New Light of Myanmar newspaper quoted General Maung Aye as telling
a graduating class of new officers Friday that it was their job to
ensure the country's transition to democracy. The general said election
violence has destabilized some countries where democracy had not been
The precise election date has not been set and it is not known who will
be running. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been forbidden from
participating, because she was once married to a British citizen.
CLINTON - LAO NEW YEAR: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement on Friday saying that "on
the occasion of the traditional Lao New Year celebration, I would like to
extend my warm wishes for a peaceful, prosperous year to the Government and the
people of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. In this year of new
beginnings, I look forward to continuing and enhancing cooperation between our
two countries on many areas of mutual interest. Sook
dii pii mai"
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