US - MIDEAST: U.S. President Barack Obama met Israel's prime minister at the White
House Tuesday for unusual low-key talks as the two allies try to
resolve a dispute about Israeli housing plans in East Jerusalem.
U.S. officials say Mr. Obama initially met with Benjamin Netanyahu for
90 minutes in the Oval Office before retiring to his residence. They
say the president returned to the Oval Office for a second, 35-minute
meeting with Mr. Netanyahu after the Isreali leader consulted with
The White House made no statement afterward and kept photographers away
from the talks, an unusual step for a visit of a key U.S. ally.
PAKISTAN - US: The first ever U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue at the ministerial
level begins in Washington Wednesday, with Pakistan hoping for a
fundamental change in bilateral relations and the U.S. taking a
The two-day gathering will be co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Also present will be senior defense officials and military officers,
including the chief of the Pakistani Army and the top U.S. military
The two sides are expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including
expanded economic and military cooperation and requests for more
assistance on ending water and energy shortages.
CHINA - AUSTRALIA - RIO TINTO: A lawyer for one of the four Rio Tinto mining executives charged with
bribery and corporate espionage in China says their trial has ended.
One Australian and three Chinese nationals went on trial Monday in a
Shanghai courtroom. The lawyer says no verdict was delivered at the end
of Wednesday's proceedings, which dealt with charges of stealing trade
The men were arrested last July during negotiations on the price of iron ore with China's major steel mills.
All four pleaded guilty to charges of taking bribes from Chinese
companies, although they disputed the amounts of money involved.
US - NORTH KOREA: A U.S. State Department spokesman said Tuesday that the United States would consider resuming delivery of food aid to North Korea if the isolated communist nation will accept it. The State Department's P.J. Crowley made the statement to reporters Tuesday in response to a question. He said if the U.S. starts providing aid once again, it will try to make sure the food is routed to the North Korean people rather than diverted to other groups such as the military. The questions about North Korea came as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visits South Korea.<!-- IMAGE -->
JAPAN - LAOS: Prince Akishino, the second son of Emperor Akihito, and his 18 year-old daughter, Princess Mako, arrived in the capital city of Vientiane of the Lao PDR, late Tuesday nigh, for a four-day working visit. The prince and his daughter are scheduled to pay a courtesy call on President Choummaly Sayasone at the Hokham Palace and attend an exhibition of farm equipments on Wednesday. They will leave on Thursday for the northern province of Luang Namtha, where the Prince will further his private research on the relationship between humans and wild chickens, presumably in connection with the spread of diseases such as avian influenza. He is scheduled to depart Saturday. The royal visit follows Lao President Choummaly's official four-day visit to Japan to mark the 55th anniversary of bilateral ties between the two Asian nations earlier this month.<!-- IMAGE -->
US - HEALTH CARE: U.S. President Barack Obama signed sweeping health care reform into law
on Tuesday, that for the first time makes insurance coverage available
to nearly every American.
During a ceremony at the White House, Mr. Obama said the law will
enshrine the core principle that everybody should have some basic
security when it comes to their health care. Vice President Joe Biden
called it a "historic day."
The $940 billion legislation will extend health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans who currently are without it.
US - MEXICO: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged continued U.S.
efforts to assist Mexico in its fight against drug cartels, while
acknowledging that U.S. demand for illegal drugs helps fuel the problem.
Secretary Clinton Tuesday led a high-level delegation to Mexico for
talks that assessed the Merida Initiative, a multi-year, $1.4 billion
partnership aimed at helping Mexico fight the cartels. The delegation
included Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Homeland Security Secretary
Janet Napolitano and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral
WORLD TB DAY: The World Health Organization says despite efforts against
tuberculosis, one-third of the world's population is currently infected
with the disease.
Wednesday is World TB Day and the United Nations health body says the
disease is growing fastest in South East Asia.
The WHO says in spite of advances in fighting TB in the 11 countries
that make up its Southeast Asia region, the disease still causes half a
million deaths there each year.
The WHO pointed out drug resistant strains of TB as an area of
particular concern. It says one such variety, known as extensively drug
resistant TB, has been detected in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and
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