IRAN - CHINA - NUCLEAR: China says it will continue to seek a peaceful resolution to the dispute about Iran's nuclear activities, a day after the United States said Beijing was ready to discuss new sanctions against Tehran. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday that China will continue to work with all parties on the issue. His comments came as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili arrived in Beijing for talks on Iran's nuclear program. On Wednesday, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said China has agreed to begin serious negotiations as a first step toward getting the entire U.N. Security Council on board with tough new sanctions against Iran.<!-- IMAGE -->
CHINA - US - NUCLEAR: China says President Hu Jintao will travel to the United States this
month to attend an international summit on nuclear security.
Thursday's announcement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang puts an
end to weeks of speculation that Mr. Hu would boycott the forum due to
increasing tensions between Beijing and Washington.
U.S. President Barack Obama will host the summit in Washington on April
12-13. The summit will focus on nuclear disarmament and strategies to
prevent acts of nuclear terrorism.
RUSSIA - VIOLENCE: Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev has arrived in Dagestan in the North Caucasus' region for an emergency meeting after explosions there and in Moscow killed more than 50 people. Kremlin officials said Mr. Medvedev arrived Thursday in Dagestan and will meet with regional leaders and security officials. The latest of a series of deadly blasts occurred early Thursday, when two people were killed as their car exploded in Dagestan. The cause of the blast is still being investigated. On Wednesday, two suicide bombers killed at least 12 people, including a police chief, in the town of Kizlyar in Dagestan, near the border with Chechnya.<!-- IMAGE -->
INDIA - CENSUS: India has begun counting its more than one billion population, in what is being called the world's largest census. President Pratibha Patil marked the start of the 11-month exercise on Thursday, with census workers taking down her information at the presidential palace in New Delhi. Some 2.5 million census-takers will travel throughout India, visiting more than 600,000 villages in an effort to gather information about the population. For the first time, workers will collect fingerprints and a photograph of residents to be used in a new National Population Register.<!-- IMAGE -->
MALAYSIA - CANING: Islamic authorities in Malaysia have dropped a caning sentence against
a Muslim woman who was caught drinking beer in violation of Islamic law.
The lawyer for Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno says her family received a
letter from authorities in the state of Pehang informing them that the
Sultan, or ruler, had decided to commute the sentence.
Kartika's father says she must report to Islamic authorities on Friday to perform three weeks of community service.
The former model and mother of two children was sentenced last July to
receive six strokes after being convicted for drinking beer at a beach
HAITI - UN: International donors have met at United Nations headquarters in New
York and pledged $5.3 billion in assistance to Haiti for the next two
years as it recovers from January's devastating earthquake.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the announcement Wednesday at
the end of a one-day donors' conference that brought together
representatives from more than 100 countries. The money pledged is part
of a longer term commitment of some $9.9 billion for the Western
Hemisphere's poorest country.
On behalf of the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
pledged $1.15 billion for Haiti's long-term recovery and
US - OFFSHORE DRILLING: U.S. President Barack Obama has announced plans to open large areas of
the east and southern coasts of the United States to oil and gas
exploration and drilling.
President Obama said the move is part of a broader strategy that shifts
American dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil to domestic fuels
and clean energy.
The plan would end a more than 20-year ban on most offshore drilling
outside the Gulf of Mexico and would cancel all but one pending or
proposed drilling lease in the far-northwestern state of Alaska, where
controversy over new drilling has been high.
Listen to our World News for details.