ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says an agreement by Israel and the
Palestinians to begin indirect peace talks marks a "moment of
opportunity" for the peace process.
Biden was speaking Tuesday ahead of a meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli
President Shimon Peres. Biden is making the highest-level visit by a
U.S. official to Israel and the West Bank since the Obama
administration took office more than a year ago.
The U.S. vice president is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu later Tuesday and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Wednesday in Ramallah.
AFGHANISTAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in southern Afghanistan for talks with U.S. and British generals overseeing an offensive against Taliban militants. Gates flew to the Afghan province of Kandahar Tuesday from the capital, Kabul. Earlier, he said he was encouraged by the progress of the Marjah offensive in Helmand province, which borders Kandahar. But he also warned that very hard fighting remains ahead for NATO troops. NATO and Afghan forces have been clearing Marjah of insurgents in an operation launched last month to allow Afghan authorities to take control of the area.
PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistan's Taliban have claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed at least 13 people and wounded 70 others in the country's second largest city, Lahore. Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq said the Monday morning explosion was to avenge U.S. drone attacks and Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Local authorities say a suicide car bomber blew himself up outside a building housing the Federal Investigation Agency. They estimate up to 600 kilograms of explosives were used in the blast that collapsed the two-story building and caused major damage to nearby residential houses.
INDONESIA - SECURTITY: Indonesian police say anti-terror forces killed a terrorist suspect and arrested two others in a raid Tuesday on the main island of Java. Anti-terror police chief Brigadier General Tito Karnavian said the suspects were linked to a terrorist cell in the western province of Aceh. Officials said the man killed may be Dulmatin, one of the most wanted senior leaders of the Jemaah Islamiya militant group, which has been blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. Police are trying to identify the body. National Police Chief Bambang Handarso Danuri said Monday that 18 people have been arrested since a crackdown on the Aceh group began last month.
BANGLADESH - BURMA: A U.S.-based rights group says Bangladesh has forced tens of thousands
of ethnic Rohingya Muslims from neighboring Burma into makeshift camps
where they face starvation.
In a report published Tuesday, Physicians for Human Rights describes
the Bangladeshi camps as "open air prisons" for unregistered Rohingya
refugees. It says they are starving because Bangladesh's government has
blocked aid groups from providing food to the camps.
Thousands of Rohingya people have crossed from northern Burma's Rakhine
state into Bangladesh in recent years, many fleeing unrest.
BURMA - ELECTION: Burma issued the first details of long-awaited polling laws Tuesday,
revealing that the ruling military will pick all members of the
country's new election commission.
The government enacted five new laws Monday ahead of elections promised
later this year. The junta still has not given a date for the vote,
Burma's first in 20 years.
State-run newspapers on Tuesday published the first of the laws, the
"Union Election Commission Law," signed by top military ruler Senior
General Than Shwe. The article said the government will itself appoint
the five-member commission.
WOMEN'S DAY: U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday joined with other world leaders
and international organizations in calling for greater rights and
opportunities for women.
At a White House reception marking International Women's Day, where he
was joined by first lady Michelle Obama, the president pledged to work
on empowering women at home and abroad. Mr. Obama said he did not run
for president to see what he described as "the dreams of our daughters"
Mr. Obama praised Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who attended the
reception, for her long-standing efforts on women's rights.
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