AFGHANISTAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has visited U.S. commanders in
Afghanistan, assuring them that extra forces ordered by U.S. President
Barack Obama will give them what they need to successfully defeat the
Taliban. Gates toured a new command headquarters Wednesday that serves as a
joint operation center for all NATO combat troops. He told commanders
that international forces "have all the pieces coming together to be
successful" in the fight against violent extremists in the country.
Gates' trip follows Mr. Obama's decision to quickly send an additional
30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan and then begin withdrawing them in 18
months as Afghan forces take on more responsibility. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday it may be five years
before the army and police are ready to take on insurgents, and 15 to
20 years before his government can afford to pay for its own security.
BURMA-SUU KYI: Burma's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with the
military government's liaison officer at a state guesthouse for 45
minutes Wednesday. Officials say her meeting with labor minister and government liaison
Aung Kyi took place at a guest house near the Nobel laureate's home. It was not immediately clear what was discussed during the meeting. The meeting Wednesday is their third since the beginning of October. It
also comes after the country's Supreme Court agreed last week to hear a
final appeal against her ongoing detention. Burma's military rulers have kept Aung San Suu Kyi under some form of detention for 14 of the last 20 years.
PHILIPPINES-MASSACRE :Philippine police say they have identified and are seeking 161 people,
including government militiamen, for involvement in last month's
gruesome massacre of 57 people.
National police chief Jesus Verzosa says witnesses identified Andal
Ampatuan Jr., a local mayor, as the person who led the killings. He is
accused of leading the group to stop supporters of a rival politician
from registering him for next year's provincial governor elections in
Maguindanao. Ampatuan Jr. has already been arrested and charged with 25 counts of
murder. About 30 of those suspected of involvement have also been
arrested. Ampatuan Jr.'s father, the governor of Maguindanao, and other members
of his powerful clan have also been detained and may face murder
charges. The government has imposed martial law in the province to allow thousands of troops to make arrests without warrants.
INDONESIA-CORRUPTION: Thousands of Indonesians rallied Wednesday in several major cities to
mark international anti-graft day, as they urged the government to take
more action to end corruption among police, politicians and public
officials. In Jakarta, more than a thousand protesters marched to the state palace
carrying banners that urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to take
action. Hundreds of anti-riot police were stationed outside the palace, backed up by two water cannons. Mr. Yudhoyono is under mounting pressure as lawmakers probe allegations
of corruption linked to a contentious $700 million dollar for a failed
bank (Bank Century) last year. The president has denied accusations that some of the money that was
given to the bank was channeled into his campaign for re-election in
July. Mr. Yudhoyono was re-elected on a campaign to stamp out
CAMBODIA ECONOMY: The International Monetary Fund has called on Cambodia to strengthen its banking system as it tries to recover from recession. In a report issued Tuesday, the IMF encouraged the Cambodian government
to strengthen banking supervision, after fluctuating real estate prices
and bad risk-management policies strained the financial sector.
It said Cambodia's economy is expected to shrink at a rate of 2.7
percent this year before recovering. Growth was projected for 2010,
though, at a rate of 4.3 percent.
The IMF said Cambodia took an especially hard hit from the global
economic crisis, after a decade of strong growth. It noted Cambodia saw
a drop in tourism, export sales, and demand for agricultural products.