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THAILAND PROTESTS: Thailand's prime minister says his government will not give in to the demands of tens of thousands of anti-government protesters who want parliament dissolved. Speaking on national television Monday, Abhisit Vejjajiva said members of his coalition government agreed they could not bow to protesters demands. Some 100,000 people have been demonstrating in the capital since Sunday. On Monday, thousands joined in makeshift convoys to take the protest to the military barracks where government leaders have been meeting. Many headed back to the city center after Prime Minister Abhisit made his announcement. Mr. Abhisit headed out of the compound Monday morning by helicopter, and the military reinforced the forces around the base.
Later, four grenades were fired at a separate military base in Bangkok, injuring two soldiers. An army spokesman (Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd) said he it is not clear who was responsible for the attack, or whether is was connected to the protest. Many of the demonstrators, wearing red shirts, are backers of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup.
US - ASIA: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell is in Jakarta,
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Indonesia, the latest stop on a 10-day tour of Asia. The State Department tells VOA the U.S. envoy arrived in Jakarta Sunday after a two-day visit in Brunei. There, he met with Brunei's minister of foreign affairs and trade (Prince Mohamed Bolkiah) to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues.
Campbell will return to Thailand on March 15 before ending his trip in Tokyo, Japan. While in Thailand last week, the envoy urged all political parties to exercise restraint as thousands of anti-government protesters prepared for Sunday's huge rally in Bangkok. Thailand has been wracked by political turmoil since the 2006 ouster of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Campbell arrived in Thailand after visiting Laos, where he and Laotian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith discussed cooperation between the United States and the communist nation.
BIN LADEN - IRAN: A son of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is reportedly accusing Iranian authorities of imprisoning and beating members of the bin Laden family. Khalid bin Laden is said to have made the accusations Monday in a letter published on the Internet by the group Global Islamic Media Front, which is connected to al-Qaida. In the letter, purportedly by the al-Qaida chief's son, he says family members including women and children who fled Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion and entered Iran through "unofficial means." The letter says the group was detained by Iranian intelligence agents and has asked repeatedly to leave Iran, only to be "beaten and silenced." Khalid bin Laden urges Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to intervene to secure the group's release. There has been no immediate response from Tehran.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: A senior U.S. official says Israel's plan to build more homes in disputed East Jerusalem appears to be calculated to undermine efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Presidential advisor David Axelrod denounced the latest Israeli housing plan Sunday as insulting and destructive. Israel's interior ministry announced approval of the project last week while Vice President Joe Biden was in the region to urge Israelis and Palestinians to start indirect peace talks under U.S. mediation. Biden also condemned the Israeli plan. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and insist Israel cancel the plan to build 1,600 new apartments for a Jewish community in the area. Israeli media say Washington also is urging Israel to scrap the project. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital and has rejected international calls to stop construction in its eastern sector.
MEXICO - VIOLENCE: The United States government says it is outraged by the killing of three people associated with the U.S. consulate in the drug-plagued Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez. Officials say a U.S. consulate employee and her husband, both U.S. citizens, were killed Saturday in a drive-by shooting. The couple's baby, who was also in their vehicle, was not injured. In a separate shooting, gunmen killed the husband of a Mexican citizen employed by the consulate. Two children were wounded.
Officials say they believe drug cartels were behind the killings.
The White House said U.S. President Barack Obama is outraged at the brutal murders and pledged cooperation with Mexican law enforcement in the search for the gunmen.