Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, making her first major policy speech, urged North Korea on Friday not to take any "provocative" actions that could undermine peace efforts. Amid press reports that North Korea might be preparing a long-range missile test, Clinton pledged to hold the communist regime to its commitments to give up its nuclear programs in return for international aid and political concessions.
"We will need to work together to address the most acute challenge to stability in northeast Asia: North Korea's nuclear program," she said. Clinton spoke to New York's Asia Society on the eve of a trip to visit China, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea — her first as secretary of state — and noted that their major economies and huge populations will be critical to turning around the global financial crisis.
She also sought to reassure Japan, promising to meet with the families of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.
5 kids killed in fighting, Australian military says
Five children were killed in predawn fighting Thursday between Australian special operations troops and Taliban guerrillas in south central Afghanistan, the Australian military said, the latest episode of civilian casualties that have hurt support for American and NATO troops here.
The skirmish, which occurred in darkness in Oruzgan province, north of Kandahar, was condemned by the provincial governor, Assadullah Hamdam, who said it would have a "negative effect" on relations between Afghans and foreign troops in the country. He offered a different casualty toll, saying three children had been killed and four wounded after a sustained firefight. He said provincial officials had already pleaded with troops not to carry out raids where civilians are present.
Kidnappers threaten to kill American U.N. worker
Kidnappers threatened Friday to kill a U.S. employee of the United Nations within 72 hours and issued a grainy video of the blindfolded captive saying he was "sick and in trouble." A letter accompanying the video delivered to a Pakistani news agency said the hostage, John Solecki, would be killed unless authorities released 141 women it said were being held in Pakistan. The video and the demands indicated that Solecki, the head of the U.N. refugee agency in Quetta, a city near the Afghan border, was alive and that his captors wanted to negotiate.
The commander of a government paramilitary unit in Quetta dismissed the claim of female prisoners as fiction. The death threat comes a week after Taliban militants apparently beheaded a Polish geologist abducted in another border area of Pakistan after the government did not respond to demands for a prisoner release.
Madoff losses caused Brit's suicide, his son says
A retired British army major killed himself after losing his life savings in the alleged fraud perpetrated by U.S. financier Bernard Madoff, his son said Friday. "I want him to see that people have died as a result of what he's done," Willard Foxton said.
Police in the English town of Southampton said that William Foxton, 65, died from a single gunshot to the head Tuesday and that a pistol was recovered at the scene. Willard Foxton said his father told him that he had lost all of his money in a Madoff-linked fund about a week before the shooting.
Zimbabwe: On the very day Zimbabwe's new coalition government was sworn in, agents of President Robert Mugabe's security forces arrested Roy Bennett, the third-highest-ranking member of the opposition party that is supposed to share power with Mugabe. Bennett was picked up at a small airport in Harare on Friday and charged first with trying to leave the country illegally, and later with treason.
WASHINGTON: The White House is planning a concert to honor Stevie Wonder, whose music provided part of President Obama's campaign soundtrack. The White House says the Obamas will present Wonder a Library of Congress award on Wednesday. The concert will be broadcast the next day on PBS as part of its Performance at the White House series.
Indian Ocean: Somali pirates released a Japanese ship held hostage for months, but a maritime watchdog warned Friday that pirates are stepping up their attacks as weather improves in the Indian Ocean. U.S. and Russian warships patrolling off Somalia have arrested 26 pirates this week and rescued three ships. In the Ukraine, 20 joyful but exhausted sailors stepped off a plane and into the arms of loved ones Friday after being freed last week from the MV Faina.