OBAMA -ASIA: U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in South Korea after wrapping
up his first tour to China with a private visit to the Great Wall.
South Korea is the last stop of Mr. Obama's four-nation Asian tour.
During his time in Seoul, trade issues and North Korea are expected to
be high on the agenda.
As he departed for South Korea, Mr. Obama urged North Korea once again to reach an agreement on its nuclear weapons.
Earlier Wednesday, at a final round of bilateral talks and working
lunch with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Mr. Obama said his discussions
with leaders in China had been productive.
THAILAND - LAOS - HMONG: The United Nations refugee agency is urging Thailand to release 158
ethnic Hmong refugees from detention, and allow them to move to another
An agency spokesman Tuesday said the refugees held in a Thai detention
center have not committed any crimes. He also noted that Australia, the
United States, Canada and the Netherlands have offered to resettle them.
The Hmong have been held since 2006, when they entered Thailand from their homeland in neighboring Laos.
Tens of thousands of Hmong have sought asylum in Thailand, saying they
face political persecution by the communist Lao government.
IRAQ: Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president has vetoed part of a key election law,
casting further doubt over plans for general elections in January.
Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi announced Wednesday that he is sending
the law back to parliament to be amended. He says he wants more
representation for Iraqis living abroad, many of whom are Sunni Arabs.
Lawmakers must now re-open discussion of the legislation, which they
debated for weeks before finally granting their approval last week.
Iraq's presidency council must also approve the law.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: The United States says it is dismayed that Israel has authorized the
construction of 900 new housing units in occupied east Jerusalem.
Israeli officials announced the planned settlement expansion on
Tuesday, despite U.S. and Palestinian objections. A White House
spokesman said the move makes re-launching Middle East
peace talks more difficult. A State Department spokesman
the Obama administration believes neither party should engage in
actions that could "unilaterally preempt or appear to preempt
AFGHANISTAN: U.S. President Barack Obama says his administration is presenting "very
clear benchmarks" for the Afghan government to secure the war-torn
Mr. Obama did not elaborate on those measures during an interview with
CNN, saying only that the U.S. has a vital
interest in making sure that Afghanistan is "sufficiently stable."
The president has promised a decision soon on if or how he will
reinforce the nearly 68,000 U.S. troops fighting militants in
Afghanistan. But Mr. Obama said he first must clearly convey to the
American people that it is imperative to make sure that al-Qaida cannot
attack Americans or use Afghanistan as a "safe haven."
HONG KONG DEMOCRACY: Hong Kong has unveiled a blueprint for electoral arrangements in 2012
that are seen as a crucial step in the former British colony's struggle
with Beijing to hold direct elections.
Hong Kong Chief Secretary Henry Tang says the government will consult
the public on expanding the legislature by 10 seats and a leader
selection panel by 400 seats.
Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 and has since struggled with
Communist Party leaders in Beijing on bringing greater democracy to the
China ruled in December of 2007 that Hong Kong could elect its own leader in 2017 and all of its legislators in 2020.
US - AFRICA -TERRORISM: The United States says it is alarmed by the threat from al-Qaida's
North Africa branch in Africa's Sahel region. Assistant Secretary of
State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson says
over the past six months, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has been
implicated in the killing of an American aid worker, a British hostage,
a senior Malian officer and the attempted suicide bombing of the French
embassy in Mauritania. Carson told a Senate hearing Tuesday that the
United States is committed to helping countries in the Sahel region fight terrorist activity.
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