Condi Rice makes unannounced trip to Pakistan, backgrounding Lashkar-e-Taiba; US and China re-open economic talks; Sarkozy's US$33b stimulus plan; and more
Top of the Agenda: Rice Visits Pakistan
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced trip to Pakistan and met with the country's president, Asif Ali Zardari, in an attempt to strengthen lines of communication between Pakistan and India following last week's Mumbai attacks. Rice's trip to Pakistan follows meetings she held yesterday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Zardari vowed to Rice that Pakistan would investigate (BBC) whether Pakistani militants had anything to do with the Mumbai attacks, and would take strong action against any people found to be involved.
Zardari's statements follow accusations from India that Pakistani militants coordinated the attacks, and requests from New Delhi that Pakistan find and turn over twenty suspects, including the head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group. The Pakistani paper Daily Times notes that Rice herself has made no such accusation, saying that she wouldn't make conclusions until more evidence has been gathered. Rice added that she wouldn't rule out the possibility of al-Qaeda involvement (Dawn). Meanwhile, the BBC reports the spokesman for one Pakistani group, Jamaat-ud-Dawah, a Wahhabist Muslim charity group that many experts say is a front for the LeT and is led by its founder, denied any involvement and said the attacks were likely carried out by Indian Muslims.
Separately, intelligence reports that terrorists might be targeting Indian airports or aircraft put Indian officials on high alert today. The Times of India reports officials at India's civil aviation ministry are holding emergency meetings to discuss how to confront the threat.
- This CFR.org Backgrounder profiles the Lashkar-e-Taiba group.
- This one looks at counterterrorism efforts in India more broadly.
Pacific Rim: U.S.-China Dialogue
The United States and China today reopened their bilateral strategic economic dialogue, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing. Both sides urged progress on passing a bilateral investment protection agreement, Xinhua reports.
China threatened European countries, however, saying the fact that European leaders are hosting the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama could prompt China to restrict trade with Europe (BBC).
South Korea: Yonhap reports on how the economic crisis is affecting South Korea's ability to export goods globally, a major source of income for the country.