US - AFGHANISTAN: A senior White House official says U.S. President Barack Obama is
calling on his national security team to revise the options for the
U.S. war strategy in Afghanistan.
Mr. Obama asked for the revisions Wednesday during the latest review of
his Afghanistan policy. The official says the president wants his
advisors to determine how and when U.S. troops can hand over security
responsibility to the government in Kabul. Administration officials say
Mr. Obama wants to make clear to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the
U.S. commitment in Afghanistan is not "open-ended."
OBAMA - ASIA TRIP: U.S. President Barack Obama leaves Thursday for his first trip to Asia,
with the economy and a widening trade deficit with China high on his
The White House says the president will make a statement on job creation and economic growth before boarding Air Force One.
Mr. Obama's nine-day tour begins in Tokyo, Japan and includes a stop in
Singapore for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. That stop
will be followed by visits to Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul.
Mr. Obama has said when he visits China, he will speak with the Chinese
about revaluing their currency, as well as encouraging Chinese
consumers to spend more.
BURMA: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called again for the
unconditional release of detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San
Clinton told reporters in Manila on Thursday that the U.S. government
believes that Aung San Suu Kyi's detention over so many years "is
baseless and not founded on any concern other than her role as the
leader of the political opposition."
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party won elections in
1990 but was barred from taking office. She has been held under some
form of detention for 14 of the past 20 years.
NORTH KOREA: North Korea says South Korea will pay "an expensive price" for firing at a North Korean patrol boat on Tuesday. The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper published a commentary Thursday saying the clash in the Yellow Sea was not an accident, but instead was a "premeditated act of aggression" by the South. The commentary said the incident was meant to escalate tensions and dampen a positive atmosphere between the two countries. South Korea's military has been on high alert for possible retaliatory moves after the North Korean boat was set ablaze Tuesday.
CHINA - BLACK JAILS: A human rights group has accused Chinese authorities of regularly
abducting citizens and detaining them for days or months in illegal
jails to bar them from bringing grievances to the central government.
In its report, New York-based Human Rights Watch says that many of
those who are detained in illegal centers or "black jails" are
petitioners seeking redress from authorities.
The group says the petitioners are subject to physical and
psychiological abuse and imprisoned illegally by government officials,
security forces and their agents.
PAKISTAN: Police in Pakistan say one or more gunmen have shot and killed a Pakistani spokesman for the Iranian consulate in Peshawar. Officials say Abul Hasan Jaffri was shot Thursday as he left his home in the Gulberg neighborhood. He died later on his way to the hospital. The attack came almost exactly a year after assailants kidnapped an Iranian diplomat as he was driving to his office in Peshawar. Militant attacks have risen around the northwestern city, which borders the tribal region on the Afghan border where the government is conducting an offensive against the Taliban.
IRAN - HUMAN RIGHTS: Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi is urging the international community to
throw its support behind a United Nations resolution condemning the
lack of human rights in her native Iran.
Ebadi said Wednesday she has invited U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
to visit Iran and see for himself the deteriorating state of freedoms
there. She noted numerous abuses, including the execution of minors,
discrimination against religious minorities and women, and the lack of
NEPAL - PROTESTS: Thousands of Maoist protesters have taken to the streets of Nepal's capital for one of the biggest anti-government protests in months. Demonstrators shouting "down with the puppet government" surrounded government headquarters in Kathmandu Thursday, blocking the way into the complex. A Maoist leader organizing the protests has said he expects several hundred thousand demonstrators to participate. The anti-government protests began in May after Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal stepped down as prime minister in a dispute with President Ram Baran Yadav.
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