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Obama Addresses Town Hall Meeting in Shanghai


OBAMA - CHINA: U.S. President Barack Obama met with local political leaders in Shanghai, China Monday and held a town hall meeting with Chinese college students. At the town hall meeting, Mr. Obama answered questions from the audience and submitted by the Chinese public on various Web sites. The Chinese government carefully controlled media coverage of the event, allowing it to be broadcast on local television but not nationally. In opening remarks, Mr. Obama stressed the importance of China and the United States working together to tackle global challenges.

During the question and answer session, Mr. Obama called climate change one of the most critical challenges and said the world will be watching what the U.S. and China do on the issue. The president also said one country should not impose its system of government on another. But, he made clear that he would stand up for the basic freedoms Americans hold dear.

On the sensitive topic of Taiwan, Mr. Obama said the United States supports a one-China policy. He added that he hopes for improved China-Taiwan ties, and he said economic links had helped lower tensions across the Taiwan Strait. He did not answer a question about arms sales to Taiwan.

After the town hall session, Mr. Obama flew to Beijing where he meets Monday evening and Tuesday with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

AFGHANISTAN: U.S. President Barack Obama says terrorist networks likeal-Qaida pose the "greatest threat" to U.S. security. Mr. Obama said in Shanghai Monday the terrorist groups are dangerous because their militants have "no conscience" when killing innocent civilians. The U.S. president has promised a decision soon on if or how he will reinforce the nearly 68,000 U.S. troops fighting militants in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have said a key issue for the president is the credibility of Afghan President Hamid Karzai as a partner in his country's war.

Meanwhile, Afghan police in volatile Kandahar province say militants have attacked a police checkpoint in southern Afghanistan, killing as many as eight police officers and wounding at least three others.

PAKISTAN: Pakistani police say a suicide bomber blew up his pickup truck filled with explosives near a police station in the country's northwest, killing at least four people and wounding more than 25. Officials say the bombing is the seventh in a week to explode in and around the city of Peshawar. Monday's blast severely damaged the police station, a mosque and other nearby buildings. The area has seen a wave of attacks that has killed hundreds of people since the army launched its offensive on the Taliban's stronghold in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region. Militants say they are taking revenge for the government assault that began in mid-October.

IRAN - NUCLEAR: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned that Western pressures about Iran's nuclear program will only make the country "more powerful." The Iranian student news agency ISNA quoted President Ahmadinejad Monday as saying Iran's nuclear rights are "non-negotiable" and that nuclear cooperation with his country is in the West's best interest. Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran's nuclear activities would continue within the framework of the United Nations nuclear agency.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday that time is running out for Iran to agree to a U.N.-backed plan to ship its low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing. The plan would send the uranium to Russia, which announced Monday that the controversial nuclear power plant it is building in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr will not launch this year as planned.

WORLD FOOD SUMMIT: The United Nations opens a three-day World Food Summit Monday in Rome with UN officials saying one-billion people -- one out of every six -- go to sleep hungry each night. The head of the Food and Agriculture Organization Jacques Diouf says this is not just a moral outrage, but a serious threat to world peace and security. Pope Benedict and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plan to address the summit. But many advocates for the hungry say the meeting will be a waste of time. Most major world leaders will not be there.

CAMBODIA POL: Cambodia's parliament on Monday stripped immunity from main opposition leader Sam Rainsy, leaving him open to charges of uprooting border markings with neighboring Vietnam. A statement from the legislative body said Sam Rainsy, currently out of the country, had committed acts of uprooting border posts between Cambodia and Vietnam and inciting people to commit criminal offenses in southeastern Svay Rieng province.
Lawmakers from the Sam Rainsy Party boycotted Monday's closed parliamentary vote and denounced the decision as political intimidation. Critics, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, have said the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has used the judiciary in several cases to suppress criticism.


PHILIPPINES POL: An independent poll released in the Philippines Monday finds that the son of the late president and democracy icon Corazon Aquino is the most favored candidate in next year's presidential elections. Senator Benigno Aquino the Third was the top choice of 44 percent of respondents in the survey. Senator Manuel Villar, a billionaire property developer, was second, with only 19 percent.

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