CLINTON - ASEAN: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Thailand Tuesday for
meetings with Thai officials and to attend a regional security
conference expected to focus on the North Korean nuclear threat,
Burma's human rights record, and terrorism.
Following a five-day visit to India, Clinton will meet with Thai Prime
Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva after her arrival in Bangkok. She will head
to the resort island of Phuket on Wednesday for the Association of
Southeast Asia Nations Regional Forum before returning to Washington
ASEAN: Southeast Asian foreign ministers have endorsed the creation of the region's first human rights commission.
The commission -- approved at a meeting in Phuket, Thailand Monday --
will not have the power to monitor or punish human rights offenders.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters the body will focus on promotion of human rights.
Critics are concerned the new rights group will have no authority to address abuses in ASEAN countries, like Burma.
ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan acknowledged Monday that Burma's
lack of reform is hurting the regional grouping's credibility.
JAPAN POL: Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso dissolved parliament's lower house on Tuesday and called for national elections on August 30.
In televised remarks, Mr. Aso apologized for his failings and admitted
that his party's internal turmoil had contributed to recent local
Recent opinion polls indicate Mr. Aso's Liberal Democratic Party is headed for defeat in the upcoming election.
One poll found 23 percent of respondents favoring the LDP. Another poll found only 14.8 percent supporting the ruling party.
Mr. Aso took office last September.
MALAYSIA - BURMA: Malaysian police say they have arrested five immigration officials
suspected of selling illegal immigrants from Burma to human traffickers.
Mohammad Bakri Zinin, head of Malaysia's Criminal Investigation
Department, said the five were among nine people detained for receiving
payments from a syndicate that sold refugees, mostly from Burma's
Rohingya minority, as forced labor.
Bakri told the official Bernama news agency that according to a victim,
the suspects took victims to border exit points and sold them to a
syndicate for up to $170 each.
PAKISTAN: Pakistan's military says more than 50 militants have been killed in
recent clashes in the restive northwest.
Military officials say the fighting took place during a two-day search
operation in Lower Dir district.
Officials say many of those killed were militants that fled a military
offensive in neighboring Swat Valley. Three soldiers were also killed
during the operation.
Pakistan's military has been fighting Taliban militants throughout the
country's northwest in recent months.
EU - AFGHANISTAN: European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is visiting
Afghanistan Tuesday for talks with the country's political leaders on
the upcoming presidential election.
Solana met with Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta to discuss the latest developments in the region.
He is also scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai,
several of the country's election candidates, as well as, the head of
the EU election observation mission in Afghanistan.
The European Union is deploying about 100 observers to help monitor
Afghanistan's presidential and provincial elections on August 20.
GUANTANAMO BAY: Officials with the Obama administration say they will miss a
self-imposed deadline for completing a detailed plan on dealing with
terrorist suspects detained at a military prison in Guantanamo Bay,
The officials said the deadline for the report by a Justice
Department-led task force, set for Tuesday, has been extended for
another six months. The panel has instead issued a short interim report
summarizing how they would prosecute the 229 detainees still held at
CONGO - MINERALS: A new report says several European and Asian companies are buying
minerals that are funding armed groups and conflict in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
The report from the private anti-corruption group, Global Witness says
the Thai company THAISARCO, the British company Afrimex, and the
Belgian company Trademet are among the firms buying from suppliers who
trade in conflict minerals. Global Witness says it surveyed more than
200 companies, and found that most had no controls to stop such
minerals from entering their supply chains.
AGING WORLD POPULATION: A new report says the average age of the world's population is increasing at the fastest rate ever.
The U.S. Census Bureau says that within ten years, people over age 65
will outnumber children under age 5 for the first time in human
history. That trend will threaten the global economy.
The report commissioned by the U.S. National Institute on Aging says
there will be 1.3 billion people 65 years old or older by 2040.
People age 80 and older are the fastest growing segment of the
population in many countries, and their ranks will explode more than
200 percent by mid-century. SCIENCE: ASIA ECLIPSE:
Hundreds of millions of people across Asia are waiting to witness what
is being described as the longest solar eclipse of the 21st century.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, so that the Sun is totally or partially covered.
The eclipse on Wednesday will pass over India, Nepal, Bhutan,
Bangladesh, Burma, China, Japan, Indonesia and the Marshall islands.
The total solar eclipse will last six minutes and 39 seconds.
Listen to our World news for details.