ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

British Court Reduces Sentence of Drug Smuggler Convicted in Laos


HAITI - EARTHQUAKE: U.S. military officials say an amphibious force of 4,000 sailors and Marines will be diverted from scheduled deployments elsewhere and sent to Haiti to assist in earthquake relief efforts. A similar unit began to deploy onshore west of the devastated capital, Port-au-Prince Tuesday. The new deployment will bring the number of U.S. forces being sent to Haiti to about 14,000. U.S. President Barack Obama told the ABC television Wednesday the United States cannot afford to ignore the trouble in Haiti. He also said the U.S. does not want its relief efforts to appear as if it is taking over the Caribbean country.

US - PAKISTAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Islamabad for talks with Pakistani leaders on the U.S. war strategy in neighboring Afghanistan. Gates said he will reassure Pakistan that the United States is in the war "for the long-haul" and will continue to work as an ally of Pakistan. The defense secretary met Thursday with his Pakistani counterpart, Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar. The U.S. wants Pakistan to broaden its offensive against mililtants to border areas where members of the Afghan Taliban have been seeking refuge.

HONDURAS: The government of the Dominican Republic has reached an agreement with Honduran President-elect Porfirio Lobo to offer ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya safe passage to the Caribbean nation. Officials say Dominican President Leonel Fernandez and Mr. Lobo signed the deal Wednesday in Santo Domingo. The agreement would let Mr. Zelaya fly to the Dominican Republic as a "guest" after Mr. Lobo takes office January 27. It is not clear whether Mr. Zelaya will accept the offer. Mr. Lobo was elected in November, five months after Mr. Zelaya was removed from office in a military-backed coup and flown into exile.

LAOS - BRITAIN: A British court has ruled a woman convicted in Laos of drug trafficking must serve at least 18 months of her life sentence before being released. Two judges at the High Court in London ruled Wednesday that Samantha Orobator is not being detained unjustly in Britain, where she was repatriated to last year. But the judges did reduce her sentence. Orobator was arrested at the Vientiane airport in 2008 carrying more than half a kilogram (680 grams) of heroin, well above the amount for which convicted drug traffickers can be executed in Laos.

CHINA - ECONOMY: China says its economy experienced a blistering 10.7 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, boosting it past the annual target of eight percent for the full year. The figures were released Thursday by the government's National Bureau of Statistics. The double-digit rise helped the economy finish at 8.7 percent, well above the goal the government deems necessary to preserve social order. Beijing took a number of aggressive moves to boost the country's economy last year as the global recession took hold, including a $586 billion economic stimulus package and a record surge in lending.

CHINA - US - INTERNET: A senior Chinese official says the current dispute with U.S. -based Internet giant Google should not be "over-interpreted" as a sign of Beijing's relationship with Washington. State-run Xinhua news agency says Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei made the remarks Thursday in Beijing. Google announced last week that may end its operations in China due to censorship concerns, and a cyber attack targeting the Google-based e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

PHILIPPINES - POL: The Philippines' election commission has cleared the way for former President Joseph Estrada to run again in this year's presidential election. Petitioners had sought to disqualify Mr. Estrada based on the constitutional ban on presidents seeking re-election after serving a six-year term, but election officials rejected the last remaining petitions Wednesday. They said Mr. Estrada is eligible to run because he is not seeking a second consecutive term. The former president was deposed in a 2001, mid-way through his first term.

VIETNAM - BUDDHA SCULPTURE: A Vietnamese gem company says it will create the world's largest Buddha statue from a solid piece of jade. The Than Chau Ngoc Viet company announced this week it will carve the statue from a 35-ton block of jade it bought from Burma. A company statement says the sculpture will measure three meters high and about two meters wide. It will weigh 16 metric tons when completed in 2011. Some 50 artisans have been hired to complete the work. Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet addressed a ceremony Monday to mark the beginning of work on the statue.

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