RUSSIA - VIOLENCE: Russian officials say two suicide bombings in the southern republic of Dagestan have killed at least 12 people and wounded 18 others -- two days after deadly attacks on the Moscow metro. Wednesday's blasts happened in the city of Kizlyar, near the border of Dagestan and Chechnya Dagestan's interior minister says the first suicide bomber detonated explosives in a car when he was pulled over by traffic police. A second suicide bomber was dressed in a police uniform. The minister says at least nine police officers were among the dead. On Monday, twin suicide blasts killed 39 people on the Moscow metro.<!-- IMAGE -->
AFGHANISTAN - VIOLENCE: Afghan authorities say at least 13 people have been killed in a bombing in southern Afghanistan.
The attack took place Wednesday in the Nahr-e-Sarraj district near
Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. NATO said its helicopters
evacuated at least 40 of the wounded to hospitals.
Afghan officials say the bomb exploded as people gathered to receive
free seeds as part of a program aimed at discouraging farmers from
growing opium poppy.
A provincial government spokesman said earlier the explosion was caused
by a suicide bomber, but the Interior Ministry said the bomb was
attached to a bicycle.
AFGHANISTN - DRUGS: The United Nations says Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of
opium, is now also the top producer of cannabis, also known as
In a report released Wednesday, the U.N.'s Office on Drug and Crime
said that half of Afghanistan's 34 provinces are growing cannabis,
which is three times cheaper to cultivate than opium.
UNODC says between 10,000 and 24,000 hectares of cannabis are grown in
Afghanistan every year, much of it concentrated in the country's south.
The report says like opium, cannabis cultivation, production and
trafficking are taxed by those who control the territory, providing an
additional source of revenue for insurgents.
KOREA - CHINA: A spokesman for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak says there is "a
high possibility" that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will visit China
in the near future.
Spokesman Kim Eun-hye made the announcement at a press briefing Wednesday in Seoul, but declined to go into details.
A high-ranking South Korean official told South Korean news agency
Yonhap earlier Wednesday that he had received intelligence about
"unusual activity" near the Chinese border city of Dandong and in
China is North Korea's major ally. Beijing is host of the six-nation
talks aimed at convincing Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons
THAILAND - PROTESTS: The United States is voicing support for talks to resolve Thailand's political turmoil and urged protesters there to avoid violence. A State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said Tuesday that the Untied States is encouraged by recent talks between the government and opposition leaders. He said the U.S. hopes the situation can be resolved through democratic institutions and certainly not through violence. Earlier Tuesday, Thailand's anti-government "Red Shirt" movement refused the prime minister's offer of further talks, saying negotiations had failed because he refused to meet their 15-day deadline to call elections.<!-- IMAGE -->
VIETNAM - US ENERGY: Vietnam and the United States have signed an agreement that will allow
U.S. companies to work in Vietnam to develop atomic power for energy.
US Ambassador Michael Michalak described Tuesday's agreement as an
important moment in bilateral relations between the two nations, adding
that it is a key step in advancing non-proliferation goals.
In November, Vietnam approved plans to build the country's first two
nuclear power plants in the south central province of Ninh Thuan. Media
reports say Vietnam signed a deal with a Russian firm to build the
HAITI - UN: Representatives from more than 100 countries will gather at United
Nations headquarters in New York Wednesday for a high-level donors
conference on rebuilding earthquake-stricken Haiti.
Haitian President Rene Preval is leading the meeting, which U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host. U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton will be present, along with her husband, former U.S.
President Bill Clinton, who serves as the U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti.
United Nations officials have said Haiti will seek about $3.8 billion
from the international donors to cover reconstruction costs for the
next 18 months.
US - OFFSHORE DRILLING: U.S. President Barack Obama is prepared to open large areas off the
east and southern coasts of the United States to oil and natural gas
White House officials say Mr. Obama will announce on Wednesday the end
of a more than 20-year ban on coastal drilling outside the Gulf of
The largest new areas to be opened to exploration and drilling are the
waters about 80 kilometers off America's east coast, and stretching
from the mid-Atlantic state of Virginia to the southern state of
Florida. His plan also would allow new drilling platforms in the
eastern Gulf of Mexico if the U.S. Congress allows a moratorium on
drilling there to expire.
Listen to our World News for details.