US - ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: U.S. President Barack Obama has criticized Israel's plan to build homes
for Jews in disputed east Jerusalem as "not helpful" to Israeli-Arab
In an interview Wednesday with U.S. television network Fox News, Mr.
Obama said the United States and Israel disagree about how to move
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks forward.
But, he denied any crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations and said the
American and Israeli people have a "special bond that is not going to
Israel announced the plan for 1,600 homes in east Jerusalem last week,
triggering condemnations from senior U.S. officials.
RUSSIA - US: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Moscow for talks with
Russian leaders on clinching a new treaty to cut the nuclear arsenals
of the two powers.
Clinton arrived in Moscow early Thursday ahead of meetings with her
Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov later in the day and with President
Dmitri Medvedev on Friday.
Russian and U.S. officials have spent almost a year trying to negotiate
a new agreement to replace their 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,
or START, which expired last December.
U.S. President Barack Obama and President Medvedev agreed last year to
further reduce their nations' stockpiles of nuclear weapons under a new
CHINA - US: The U.S. ambassador to China says current disputes about trade and
foreign policy should not keep the two sides from cooperating on a
number of issues.
Jon Huntsman expressed U.S. concerns about a host of issues to a group
of students at Beijing's Tsinghua University Thursday, such as the
dispute over China's valuation of its currency.
Washington has accused China of keeping the yuan artificially low so
its exports will be cheaper on the international market, a charge
Huntsman called on China to show more "flexibility" on the exchange
rate, and insisted that other trading partners beside the U.S. have
made similar complaints.
CHINA - AUSTRALIA - RIO TINTO: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says "the world will be watching"
China's prosecution of four executives of Anglo-Australian mining giant
Rio Tinto on charges of corporate espionage and bribery.
Canberra said Wednesday the four executives, including Chinese-born Australian Stern Hu, will go on trial Monday in Shanghai.
Hu and his three Chinese colleagues were arrested last July during
negotiations about iron ore prices between Rio Tinto and China's steel
industry association. They were suspected of obtaining inside
information that helped Rio Tinto during the talks.
NORTH KOREA - CURRENCY: News reports from South Korea say North Korea's former finance director has been executed over last year's disastrous currency reform scheme. Yonahp news agency says it has learned that Pak Nam-gi was put to death at a shooting range in Pyongyang last week. The regime revalued the nation's currency last November in order to reassert control of its centrally-planned economy. But prices rose sharply because of the already limited supply of goods in the state-run distribution system, and ground North Korea's emerging market-based economy to a halt.<!-- IMAGE -->
BURMA - US - RIGHTS: A Burmese-born U.S. human rights activist has been deported from his native land, weeks after he was sentenced to prison on fraud and forgery charges. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon says Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, boarded a flight out of the country Thursday. His aunt says he is flying to Thailand. He was arrested last September after arriving in the country to visit his ailing mother. A court sentenced him to three years in prison last month for possessing a fake national identity card and undeclared foreign currency, and violating immigration laws.<!-- IMAGE -->
GUATEMALA - PORTILLO: A Guatemalan court says former president Alfonso Portillo will be
extradited to the United States, where he is wanted on money laundering
The court ruled in favor of the U.S. extradition request on Wednesday.
Mr. Portillo also faces corruption charges in Guatemala.
Mr. Portillo was indicted in New York last month. Authorities accuse
him of embezzling more than a million dollars between 2000 and 2004
from donations from Taiwan that were intended for school library books.
The prosecutor in New York alleges Mr. Portillo laundered the money through bank accounts in the United States and Europe.
CUBA - PROTEST: Authorities in Cuba have broken up a protest march involving the wives
and mothers of jailed dissidents who took to the streets to demand the
release of their loved ones.
Police Wednesday moved in to detain some 30 women from the opposition
group "Ladies in White" during the march through the capital, Havana.
As the women walked down the street carrying flowers, hundreds of
government supporters crowded around them, shouting insults along with
"Long Live Fidel."
Female officers later forced the marchers onto a bus, which drove off to an unknown location.
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