Fighting escalates in Democratic Republic of Congo, tens of thousands flee homes; Japan announces major stimulus package; markets rally in Asia and Europe; bombings in India kill almost 50; and more
Top of the Agenda: DRC Fighting Escalates
Clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo escalated today as fighting spread to the city of Goma. The BBC reports chaos gripped the strategic city, located on the DRC's border with Rwanda, as Congolese police attempted to arrest rebels. It remains unclear whether rebels or the government now control Goma. Several news reports indicate that at least nine people were killed in the day's fighting, which ended with calls for a cease-fire from rebel leader Gen. Laurent Nkunda. The Congolese government has reportedly responded that it is "open to talks" with Nkunda (Bloomberg), whose National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) group says it aims to protect Tutsi minorities in the DRC from Rwandan Hutu militias. The New York Times reports tens of thousands of people have fled their homes since fighting broke out four days ago.
The United Nations, which maintains a staff of 17,000 peacekeepers in the DRC but says this force is stretched thin, urged the Congolese government to control its troops (AP) in Eastern Congo and help restore order. Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer visits the country today in a separate bid to resolve the conflict (Bloomberg).
A new Council Special Report examines tensions in the DRC and presses for an expanded UN peacekeeping mandate in the country.
Pacific Rim: Japan Stimulus Plan
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso revealed Japan's second major economic stimulus package in as many months, a deal the Yomiuri reports could set aside as much as 5 trillion yen, or more than $50 billion, to boost the Japanese economy.
South Korea: The Korea Times looks at government misgivings about promoting the convertibility of the South Korean currency through a proposed $30 billion currency swap with the United States.