OBAMA - LATAM: U.S. President Barack Obama is flying to the Caribbean island of
Trinidad and Tobago Friday for the start of the 34-nation Summit of the
Americas, where he will face growing demand to change U.S. policy
towards communist Cuba.
In an editorial published in newspapers across the Americas Thursday,
Mr. Obama says the summit offers the opportunity of "a new beginning"
in the relationship between the U.S. and Latin America. The president
hailed his recent decision to to relax travel and money transfers by
Cuban-Americas to relatives on the island as part of an effort to end
"the old debates of the past.
THAILAND - POLITICS: Police in Thailand say the founder of the country's so-called "yellow
shirt" protest movement and media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul has been
wounded in an attack by gunmen.
Authorities say two men opened fire on Sondhi's car near a Bangkok gas
station early Friday. Television footage of the car showed a shot out
back window and dozens of bullet holes dotted across the automobile.
Police say the attackers fired more than 50 rounds at the car from
semi-automatic weapons, hitting Sondhi in the shoulder and wounding his
bodyguard and assistant.
PAKISTAN - JAPAN - AID: International donors have pledged more than $5 billion dollars in aid
to Pakistan, as the country's president promises to step up the fight
Participants of the Friends of Pakistan conference, meeting in Japan
Friday, said the money will help support the country's economic
development. Japan and the United States pledged $1 billion each.
Addressing the conference earlier, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari
said he is ready to intensify the fight against Islamist militants in
his country, including al-Qaida.
AFGHANISTAN - QUAKE: Two earthquakes struck eastern Afghanistan Friday and local officials say at least 19 people are dead. The U.S. Geological Survey says first a magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck in the Hindu Kush region in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistan border, at around two in the morning local time. It was followed by a less powerful earthquake two hours later. At least 100 homes were reportedly destroyed in the quake, and villagers say the death toll could be as high as 40. Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan are often hit by earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush range, where the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates meet.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: Four U.S. nuclear experts left North Korea Friday, complying with an expulsion order by the regime for inspectors who have been monitoring nuclear disarmament measures. On Thursday, group of U.N. experts departed the country after removing seals and disabling surveillance cameras at the Yongbyon atomic facility. North Korea expelled the inspectors after the United Nations passed a resolution condemning the regime for its April 5 rocket launch. Pyongyang also withdrew from the six-nation disarmament talks, and vowed to restart production of its weapons-grade plutonium.
US - MIDEAST: The U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, discussed peace efforts with Palestinian leaders Friday, a day after meeting with officials in Israel. Mitchell held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials in the West Bank. On Thursday, he pressed Washington's support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in meetings with Israel's new leadership in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has does not want to rule the Palestinians, but he expressed concerns about creating a separate Palestinian state.
BANGLADESH - BURMA - STORM: Weather forecasters say Cyclone Bijli is gaining strength in the
northern Bay of Bengal, and is expected to make landfall as early as
Friday near the border between Bangladesh and Burma.
Forecasters say the storm is likely to intensify as it moves closer to shore.
Authorities in Bangladesh are warning fishermen and other coastal
residents about Bijli. Red Crescent volunteers are also standing by in
Bangladesh in case of an emergency.
Storms batter the region every year. At least 134-thousand people were
killed or missing after Cyclone Nargis devastated Burma last year.
Listen to our World News for details.