ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

Southeast Asian Nations Discuss East Asian Community


ASEAN SUMMIT: Southeast Asian nations, in Thailand Saturday for a summit on regional cooperation, discussed forming a regional economic bloc, and urged action from Burma and North Korea. Officials are considering the possibility of forming an East Asian economic community, modeled on the European Union. The leaders disagree on the role of the United States in the proposed organization. Japan is pushing for the U.S. to be included in some way, saying the U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of their diplomacy.

PAKISTAN: Pakistani officials say the military has captured the hometown of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud. Security sources say soldiers took control of the town of Kotkai Saturday following days of heavy fighting. The operation was part of the army's ongoing offensive against Taliban insurgents in South Waziristan. Also in the northwest Saturday, officials say a suspected U.S. missile strike has killed at least 14 people in the Bajaur tribal region. A government official said the attack targeted a house believed to be used by a senior Taliban commander (Maulvi Faqir) who escaped the strike.

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban insurgents have warned Afghans not to vote in the November 7 presidential runoff, threatening violence against those who participate. In a statement Saturday, the Taliban denounced the election as an "American process", and vowed to take action to stop it. The group added that if anyone gets hurt while voting, it will be their own fault for participating. Campaigning began Saturday for the second-round election between incumbent President Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdullah. Massive fraud in the August election led officials to call for the runoff.

IRAN NUCLEAR: U.N. nuclear inspectors are heading to Iran to examine one of the country's controversial uranium enrichment sites. The team, from the International Atomic Energy Agency, is due to arrive in Iran Saturday, and to tour the nuclear facility in Qom the next day. Iran only recently acknowledged it had been building the enrichment plant. Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said last month that Tehran would allow inspectors to visit the site. Iran is still deliberating over a U.N.-backed arrangement on having Russia enrich uranium for Iran to use in a research reactor.

US - NORTH KOREA: A North Korean envoy in New York on a rare visit to the United States may meet face-to-face with a U.S. negotiator, fueling hopes for progress on stalled nuclear disarmament talks. Ri Gun arrived on Friday and is due to attend academic forums in New York and California. But a State Department spokesman told reporters Friday the U.S. was considering a meeting between Ri and the U.S. special envoy for disarmament talks, Sung Kim. The spokesman said he had nothing to announce, but "wouldn't exclude" the possibility of a meeting.

CHINA - TAIWAN TOURISM: China and Taiwan have each posted a tourism official to each other's territories, a landmark move in the warming of ties between the two rivals. This will be the first time since Taiwan split from China in 1949 that the two governments have posted officials across the Taiwan Straight. Each office will have 10 staff members. The offices could open by early next year. Officials say the move was prompted by the skyrocketing number of mainland Chinese tourists heading to Taiwan. More than half a million Chinese tourists have traveled across the straight since the Beijing-friendly president there raised the quota to allow 3,000 mainland Chinese per day.

ASIA - STORM: Typhoon Lupit has veered to the north, away from the Philippines, sparing residents from facing it full on. But the Luzon region is still on alert for heavy rains, which could cause flooding and landslides in the already saturated earth. Authorities have evacuated thousands of residents to higher ground and sent emergency vehicles and supplies to the areas under threat. The Philippines is still recovering from two devastating, back-to-back storms that began dumping rain and heavy winds on the islands on September 26. Storms Ketsana and Parma caused the worst flooding in four decades, killed more than 850 people, and affected nearly nine million others.

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