OBAMA - SUMMIT: Cuba has been a dominant theme at the Summit of the Americas. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other leaders are pressing Mr. Obama to lift the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Mr. Obama says he wants to see a change in U.S.-Cuban relations, but
also democratic change on the communist-led island. Cuba is excluded
from the summit. This past week, President Obama lifted restrictions on travel and money transfers by Cuban-Americans to the island. The other main topics among the leaders at the hemispheric meeting in
Trinidad and Tobago have been how to revive their economies, maintain
trade and keep the global financial crisis from causing more poverty. Mr. Obama announced Saturday the formation of a 100-million dollar
program to help small entrepreneurs in the Western Hemisphere.
SUMMIT SDBR: VENEZUELA: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says heexpects to send an ambassador
back to the United States soon, in a move that would come months after
both nations expelled the other's envoys.
The Associated Press quotes a State Department official as saying the
United States and Venezuela will work on returning ambassadors to both
Washington and Caracas.
The United States has had contentious relations with Venezuela,
reaching a new low in September when Mr. Chavez expelled the American
ambassador and the U.S. reciprocated.
PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistani officials say three people were killed and five wounded when
missiles fired from a suspected U.S. drone targeted a militant
stronghold in northwest Pakistan's South Waziristan region Sunday.
South Waziristan is known as a stronghold for Pakistan Taliban leader
Baitullah Mehsud, who is accused of orchestrating the assassination of
former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The drone strike came a day after a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a military convoy at a security checkpoint in
the northwest, killing 25 soldiers and police and tpassers-by. 62 security personnel and civilians
were wounded in the attack Saturday near the town of Hangu in North
West Frontier Province.
MEXICO - DRUGS: Mexico's public security ministry says eight law enforcement officials
were killed Saturday when gunmen tried to a free drug cartel suspect
from a police convoy. Authorities say the law enforcement officials came under attack when
they left an airport in the western state of Nayarit after picking up
nine suspects, including a top member of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel
-- Jeronimo Gamez. Gamez was arrested in Mexico City in January. The public security ministry says the gunmen failed to free the prisoners and escaped in three trucks.
KOREAS - TENSIONS: South Korean officials say they they have accepted a North Korean
proposal for talks on their joint industrial complex, in Pyongyang's
first official contact with Seoul in more than a year. South Korean Unification Minister spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo told
reporters Sunday that officials of the two sides plan to meet in the
border town of Kaesong on Tuesday to discuss the factory complex. Saturday the unification ministry said that North Korea proposed a
meeting in the Kaesong industrial zone, without specifying what the
talks would be about. South Korean officials have repeatedly called for access to a South
Korean who has was detained at the complex last month for allegedly
criticizing North Korea.
THAILAND POL: Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva called for calm in his weekly
televised address Sunday, after a week of deadly protests and an
assassination attempt on a leading opposition activist. Mr. Abhisit vowed to find those responsible for the attack on Sondhi Limthongkul in Bangkok on Friday.
The deputy national police chief (Jongrak Jutanond) said he believes five men armed with AK-47s and M-16s were involved in the assault that wounded Sondhi, his driver and an aide. The Prime Minister urged people Sunday not to use the assassination attempt to widen violent protests against the government. Doctors (at Chulalongkorn Hospital) say Sondhi is recuperating well after having bullet shards removed from his head, but his driver is still in critical condition.
CHINA - US MILITARY: The top officer in the U.S. Navy has praised cooperation between the
U.S. and Chinese navies in fighting piracy and downplayed a recent
confrontation between the two countries in the South China Sea. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead told a news conference
in Beijing Sunday he had a good briefing on China's navy in a meeting
with Chinese Admiral Wu Shengli on Saturday. Roughead said he and Wu discussed an encounter between the U.S. warship
Impeccable and Chinese vessels in March. The American side claims the
Impeccable was operating in international waters, while Beijing says
the U.S. ship was in China's Exclusive Economic Zone. Roughead also praised U.S.-China cooperation in counter-piracy efforts off the coast of Somalia.
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