US - ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: The international Quartet on Middle East peace has called on Israel to
freeze all settlement activity and urged Israel and the Palestinians to
return to peace negotiations.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon read a statement from the group
following talks Friday in Moscow. It repeated condemnation of Israel's
plan to build 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, saying the annexation
of the area has not been internationally recognized.
The quartet, comprising the U.S., U.N., Russia and the European Union,
also called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with
the goal of reaching a final agreement within 24 months.
AFGHANISTAN - TALIBAN: The U.N.'s former envoy to Afghanistan has criticized Pakistan for
arresting top Taliban leaders, saying the moves have stopped secret
talks between the United Nations and the Taliban.
Kai Eide told the BBC he communicated with senior Taliban members in
person and through written messages starting about a year ago. But he
says the process stopped when Pakistan arrested the group's number-two
leader in February.
The comments mark the first time Eide, who stepped down from his post
earlier this month, has publicly acknowledged the discussions.
CHINA - US: China is again urging the United States not to politicize the dispute about the value of its currency.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing Friday, Commerce Ministry official He
Ning rejected a proposal by a group of U.S. senators to impose
penalties on China if it does not revalue the yuan.
He Ning says the measure in an "external disturbance" that would complicate negotiations on the issue.
Tensions have grown between Beijing and Washington in recent weeks over
the value of the yuan, which has been effectively pegged to the U.S.
dollar since 2008.
INDONESIA - US: Officials in Indonesia and Australia say they understand U.S. President
Barack Obama's decision to postpone his visit to their respective
Mr. Obama was originally scheduled to leave Sunday for Indonesia, but
is staying in Washington to rally wavering lawmakers to support his
health care bill, which is scheduled for a vote in the U.S. House of
Representatives that day.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday the trip has been moved to June.
An advisor for Mr. Obama's Indonesian counterpart, Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, says he relayed a message to Mr. Obama encouraging him to
stay in Washington to focus on the health care vote.
THAILAND - PROTESTS: Leaders of Thailand's anti-government movement are planning for another massive rally in their effort to force Prime Minster Abhisit Vejjajiva to call elections. Leaders of the "Red Shirts" are planning to lead a large convoy of vehicles through Bangkok's streets on Saturday in the hopes of drawing more supporters. More than 100,000 protesters from across Thailand converged on Bangkok last Sunday, buy their numbers have dwindled to the tens of thousands. Many of the protesters are from poor, rural Thailand and support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption.<!-- IMAGE -->
UN - TUNA BAN: Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama says he is pleased a proposed
ban on the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna has been defeated.
The ban was rejected Thursday during a meeting of the United
Nations-backed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species,
or CITIES, in Doha, Qatar. Only 20 of the 175 nations at the conference
voted for the ban, including the United States and Norway.
Atlantic bluefin tuna is used mainly in Japanese foods such as sushi
and sashimi. Environmentalists say overfishing has threatened the
species' survival, but Japan and scores of other nations said the ban
would devastate fishing economies.
ETHIOPIA - VOA: Ethiopia's prime minister says he has ordered the government to try to
develop a way to jam VOA broadcasts in Amharic, the country's main
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told reporters Thursday that as soon as the
jamming equipment is working properly, he will authorize the broadcasts
to be jammed.
He compared VOA Amharic to the hate media that incited the 1994 Rwandan
genocide, including Radio Mille Collines. Mr. Meles said the station
practiced a "wanton disregard of minimum ethics of journalism."
Listen to our World News for details.