ASIA: South Korea says North must talk about its nuclear weapons.
EUROPE: Romania wants to finalize talks on US missile shield this year.
LATIN AMERICA: Haiti vote results could come 31 January.
MIDDLE EAST: Iraq troop withdrawal on schedule despite attacks.
TECHNOLOGY: World “running out of Internet addresses.”
Japan and US sign new 5-year base-hosting deal
The two countries agreed to a new treaty stipulating that Tokyo will continue to maintain the yearly costs of hosting US bases at an unchanged level of 188.1 billion yen (2.26 billion US dollars) from fiscal year 2011 onwards.
The agreement also contains provisions and costs to be incurred by Tokyo on the transfer of F-15 fighter jet exercises from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa to Guam.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said he was confident that once the treaty is ratified, it will help ease the base-hosting burden on the local Okinawan populace.
Algeria: The opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy party will defy a protest ban in Algiers on Saturday to call for more democracy. (AFP)
Ivory Coast: Laurent Gbagbo issued a government order calling on police and army officials to stop and search all UN vehicles. (AP)
Somalia: Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater Worldwide, is reportedly backing an effort by Saracen International, a controversial South African mercenary firm, to train Somali troops and battle pirates and Islamic militants. (NYT)
Tunisia: Dissident Tunisian journalist Taoukif Ben Brik, who was jailed for criticizing Ben Ali, said he intends to run in the country’s upcoming presidential election. (AFP)
India: Authorities accused Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Committee of the Red Cross of “facilitating” treatment of Maoist insurgents. (BBC)
Korean Peninsula: Seoul insisted that North Korea accept separate talks on its nuclear weapons. (AFP)
Pakistan: In a national survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan, 74 percent of Pakistanis believe the country can survive without taking a loan from the International Monetary Fund. (Xinhua)
Pakistan: The World Bank approved a $250 million loan and $35 million grant for Pakistan to bolster vulnerable communities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas. (AFP)
Region: France’s Minister for European Affairs Laurent Wauquiez said that a premature entry of Romania or Bulgaria into the Schengen Information System could pose a security risk to Europe. (AFP)
Romania: President Traian Basescu announced his desire to finalize negotiations this year on US plans to deploy elements of a new missile defense shield. (AFP)
Russia: A government commission focused on the development of the North Caucasus will consider a federal program worth 150 billion rubles to improve social and economic conditions in Chechnya and Ingushetia. (Itar-Tass)
Haiti: UN Peacekeeping Chief Alain Le Roy said Haiti’s electoral council intends to announce the definitive first round results on 31 January. (AFP, BBC)
Mexico: Authorities made their largest seizure of opium gum – 540 pounds, worth over $12 million – in Chilpancingo. (AFP)
Mexico: A report by TS security consultants found that forty percent of robberies, extortion schemes, and kidnappings attacking Mexican businesses involve one or more accomplices inside the targeted firms. (EFE)
Region: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that his recent remarks about pulling out of Lebanon mediation talks were “taken out of context,” and noted that the Kingdom “will always support Lebanese legitimacy.” (DPA)
Iraq: The US is on track to complete its withdrawal of troops by the end of 2011 despite a recent surge in violent attacks. (AFP)
Lebanon: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US is ready to help Lebanon resolve its political crisis, but the responsibility ultimately lies on Beirut. (AFP)
TECHNOLOGY & COMMUNICATIONS
World: According to Google Vice President Vint Cerf, who helped create the 4.3 billion addresses within the web, the world will run out of Internet addresses “within weeks.” (AFP)
Cyclones: Nothing to report.
Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
Volcanoes: Volcano Kizimen, Russia.
Erupting and sending ash plumes high into the air.