Friday, April 28, 2006

NATO Eyes Partnerships in the East

Prodded by the United States, NATO is actively seeking formal partnerships with countries in the Pacific Rim, a move reflecting changing priorities for the security alliance in the 21st century. Read

Partnership with NATO Could Hold Pros and Cons for Australia

A partnership between Australia and NATO would help Canberra's efforts to be taken seriously as a player in the international community, but could also pose difficulties for its already tricky relations with China. Read

Thursday, April 27, 2006

US Strategic Foothold in Central Asia at Risk

Nine months after an Asian bloc dominated by Russia and China moved to set a time limit on the U.S. military presence in Central Asia, the last American airbase in the highly strategic region may be at risk. Read

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

UN Rights Expert Has Controversial Track Record

Among the many uncertainties hanging over the United Nation's new Human Rights Council is the inclusion of a human rights specialist who has defended dictators while consistently attacking U.S. and Israeli policies. Read

Under Fire From the West, Iran and Sudan Cozy Up

As the U.N. Security Council deadline looms for Iran to suspend its nuclear activities, Tehran found common cause this week with another regime that is at loggerheads with the international community, Sudan. Read

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Now Saudi Arabia Wants Seat on UN Rights Body

Saudi Arabia has become the latest undemocratic state with a poor human rights record to seek a seat on the United Nation's new Human Rights Council. With elections for the body just two weeks away, the number of controversial would-be members is slowly climbing, even as human rights campaigners step up efforts to ensure the best membership possible. Read

Beijing Strengthens Ties With Africa

Chinese President Hu Jintao is visiting three countries in Africa this week. The trip highlights a key element in Beijing's foreign policy - building alliances with developing nations that offer both political and economic benefits. Read

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bin Laden Tries to Put Religious Spin on Darfur Conflict

Osama bin Laden is trying to portray the bloodshed in western Sudan as part of a Western anti-Islamic crusade, even though both the aggressors and victims of the three-year-old Darfur conflict are Muslims. Read

Friday, April 21, 2006

Islamic States Press for Limits on Free Expression

In a drive pursued largely away from the headlines, Islamic groups and governments are pressing ahead with a campaign to have international organizations take steps, including legal ones, to provide protection for their religion in the wake of the Mohammed cartoon controversy. Read

Human Rights Voice Heard at White House

President Bush did not specifically raise the subject of Chinese persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in his talks Thursday with President Hu Jintao, but he did speak about human rights broadly, according to a National Security Council representative. Read

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rights Violations Hang Over Hu Visit

On the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the White House, outspoken critics of Beijing threatened to sour the atmosphere with stinging criticism of China's human rights record. Activists also released new allegations about U.S. Internet firms accused of abetting Beijing's repression against political dissidents. Read

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

China's Oil-Driven Policies Under Scrutiny

When President Bush hosts his Chinese counterpart in Washington this week, a key concern on the part of the U.S. government will be China's quest for energy supplies around the world -- and the implications for U.S. foreign policy. Read

China Ready to Admit Iran to Asian Bloc

An Asian security and economic bloc driven largely by China may soon open its doors to Iran and other contenders for membership, a move that may help to "make the world more fair," a senior Iranian official said. Read

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

China-Japan Dispute Tied to Quest for Energy

Asia's two biggest economies are locked in a dispute over undersea natural gas reserves claimed by both, a row underlining the increasingly important role energy is playing in China's foreign relations. Read

Vietnam's Communists Grapple With Corruption, Calls for Democracy

Facing a corruption crisis and confronted by increasingly strident calls for democratization, one of the world's last ruling communist parties opened a major gathering Tuesday. Read

Monday, April 17, 2006

Arroyo Commutes Death Sentences, But Will Filipinos Be Safer?

Drawing mixed responses in a country plagued by violent crime and terrorism, Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has commuted the death sentences of more than 1,200 convicts on death row, including more than a dozen al-Qaeda-linked terrorists. Read

Jesus Yes, Mohammed No, on South Park

Postings on Comedy Central's website have been running hot over the Easter weekend as viewers commented on the network's refusal to allow a depiction of Mohammed in a South Park episode that instead lampooned Jesus. Read

Friday, April 14, 2006

US-China Differences Go Way Beyond Protocol for Hu's Visit

When China's Hu Jintao was preparing to make his debut trip to the U.S. as president last fall, differences emerged over the exact status of the visit. In the end, it was called off because of Hurricane Katrina, but with the trip now on, the same issues have re-emerged. Read

Thursday, April 13, 2006

MTV Pokes Fun at Jesus' Crucifixion

As Christians around the world prepare for Easter, magazine readers in Germany were confronted this week by full-page advertisements depicting Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns but descended from the cross, enjoying a television program. Read

Australian PM Denies Knowledge of Oil-for-Food Bribery Claims

Called to answer questions about alleged bribes paid by Australia's wheat export body to the regime of Saddam Hussein, Prime Minister John Howard on Thursday become the country's first political leader to testify before a commission of inquiry in more than two decades. Read

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Iran's Nuclear Announcement Could Impact South Asia

Amid growing resistance at home to a historic nuclear cooperation deal with the U.S., India's government now faces an additional headache as a result of Iran's announcement on Tuesday that it has successfully enriched uranium. Read

Selling Sickness: Pharmaceutical Firms Accused of 'Disease-Mongering'

The pharmaceutical industry is under fire at a conference in Australia, where experts are discussing "disease-mongering" -- allegations that drugmakers create, hype, popularize and promote ailments to turn consumers into pill-poppers and boost profits. Read

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Events in Troubled Nepal Following Maoist 'Script'

The U.S. government is urging Nepal's King Gyanendra to restore democracy, amid continuing concerns that the repression is advancing the agenda of rebel Maoists bent on seizing control of the Himalayan nation by force. Read

China Accused of Prolonging Sudan Bloodshed Because of Oil

The continuing carnage in Sudan's Darfur region is dragging on because of China's support for the Islamist government in Khartoum, according to Irish celebrity campaigner for Africa, Bob Geldof. Read

Monday, April 10, 2006

Australian Gov't Caught Up in Iraq Oil-for-Food Scandal

Five months after he launched a commission of inquiry into allegations of bribery by Australia's wheat exporting body relating to the U.N. oil-for-food program, Prime Minister John Howard faces a deepening scandal and unrelenting questions about what his government knew about the affair. Read

US, China to Discuss Competing Interests in Latin America

Ahead of Hu Jintao's first visit to the U.S. as Chinese president, a senior State Department official is due to hold talks in Beijing about Latin America - a region the U.S. has long considered within its sphere of interest, but which is of increasing interest to China. Read

Friday, April 07, 2006

US Decision Not to Join UN Rights Council Draws Praise, Flak

The Bush administration's decision not to seek election to the new U.N. Human Rights Council has drawn praise from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), while critics of the move said it was a missed opportunity to ensure a good foundation for the council in its inaugural year. Read

Vietnam Accused of Blocking Lawmaker's Visit

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is due to become the most senior U.S. lawmaker to visit Vietnam since ties were established a decade ago, but a row is brewing over an attempt by another member of Congress -- a critic of the communist government' human rights record -- to visit the same week. Read

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Islamic Attire Debate Continues Around the World

A police union in New Zealand has called for a driving ban on Muslim women wearing the all-encompassing burqa, adding fuel to a widening debate over how Western societies should deal with the issue of strict Islamic dress. Read

Cuba Declares Its Candidacy for UN Human Rights Body

Pledging to share its experiences in the human rights field with the international community, Cuba's communist government has announced its candidacy for the United Nations' new Human Rights Council (HRC). Read

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Iran Seeks Seat on UN's New-Look Human Rights Body

Iran has declared itself a candidate for the United Nations' new human rights body, joining several dozen other states that have put forward their names ahead of next month's election. Read

Thailand PM Hopes Pledge to Stand Down Will End Political Crisis

After a snap election failed to defuse a severe political crisis, Thailand's embattled prime minister has announced he will step down once lawmakers have elected a successor. Read

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

UK Catholic Leader Clashes With Gov't Rules on 'Morning-After Pill'

Access to the "morning-after pill" has become a political issue in the United States, and now a Catholic leader in Britain is taking a stand against government regulations requiring doctors who object to providing "reproductive services" to refer patients to another physician. Read

Indonesia, Australia in Diplomatic Chill Over Separatists

A year after Indonesia and Australia put aside years of suspicion and ill feeling to hail a "new era" in relations, ties between the world's most populous Islamic state and Washington's closest ally in the Asia-Pacific have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Read

Monday, April 03, 2006

Australia Signs Sensitive Deal to Sell Uranium to China

Australia on Monday signed an agreement with China, allowing the Asian giant to buy uranium to feed its fast-developing nuclear energy sector. Read

Indonesia Puts Execution of Catholics on Hold

Authorities in Indonesia at the eleventh-hour postponed the planned execution of three Catholics convicted of spearheading violence against Muslims during a wave of bloodshed in Central Sulawesi province in 2000-2001. Read