CLIMATE CONFERENCE: Hundreds of protesters marched towards the site of the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen as world leaders prepared to meet in an attempt to broker a new global warming deal. Climate activists, angry at the slow pace of negotiations, descended on the Bella Center Wednesday where leaders from more than 100 nations are gathering for the summit. Police say more than 100 demonstrators were arrested after breaking through a security perimeter. Nine days of talks have produced no major breakthrough with some saying that delegates have spent too much time posturing and repeating positions rather than compromising.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is in Copenhagen for the conference, said that a failure to act could effect the quality of life for millions of people.The White House says US President Barack Obama is confident that an agreement can be reached this week. World leaders have until Friday to agree on a final accord for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or for financing poorer countries' efforts to cope with the effects of global warming.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: U.S. officials say President Barack Obama has sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as international efforts to get Pyongyang to return to talks on its nuclear program intensify.Speaking on condition of anonymity, State Department officials said that the letter was delivered last week when the administation's special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, traveled to Pyongyang. Officials declined, however, to comment on its contents. It is relatively unusual for an American president to send the North Korean leader a personal letter so early in his term.
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also sent letters to Mr. Kim, but not as early in their terms and only after efforts to restrain the North's nuclear ambitions. Following Bosworth's visit to North Korea last week, he said officials in Pyongyang did not agree to a timetable to resume six-party talks on ending its nuclear weapons program.
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to meet with three high-ranking elderly members of her political party outside her home Wednesday.
BURMA-SUU KYI: The Nobel Peace laureate was taken from her lakeside Rangoon home to a state guest house for a brief meeting with National League for Democracy chairman Aung Shwe, secretary U Lwin and Lun Tin, a member of the NLD's executive committee. All three men are either in their late 80s or early 90s. Wednesday's meeting is the latest concession towards Aung San Suu Kyi since she wrote military ruler General Than Shwe in late September offering her help in getting international sanctions lifted against the regime
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has hosted his Vietnamese counterpart for talks on regional security and bilateral defense relations.
VIETNAM-US: A Pentagon spokeswoman said Secretary Gates hosted a working lunch on Tuesday for General Phung Quang Thanh in Washington. She said the two men acknowledged positive cooperation in de-mining, military medicine, and the identification and return of deceased POWs and MIAs (prisoners of war and those missing in action) from the Vietnam War.
The former adversaries also agreed to expand military-to-military cooperation in peacekeeping, search and rescue, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
IRAN - MISSILE: Iran has test-fired an improved version of one of the country's long-range missiles. State television showed video of the Sejil 2 missile launch Wednesday, calling the test a success. The Sejil 2 has a range of about 2,000 kilometers, making it capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in southeastern Europe.
Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the missile was meant as a deterrent and told Iranian state television that its speed and maneuverability make the missile "impossible to destroy." British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (in Copenhagen for climate change talks) said the missile launch makes the case for additional sanctions against Tehran, which is in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program. On Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers voted in favor of sanctions on foreign companies selling gasoline to Iran. One lawmaker (Representative Howard Berman -- who co-sponsored the legislation) called the vote a response to Iran's continued rejection of President Barack Obama's efforts to engage Tehran.