Region: Ministers from western and central African countries pledged to cooperate to halt the spread of sea piracy in the region at a meeting in Benin. (AFP)
Central African Republic: The UNSC condemned CAR rebels, who have staged attacks and threatened new hostilities against the government. (AFP)
Egypt: Justice Minister Mekki asked to be removed from his post over the public’s growing anti-judiciary sentiments. (Xinhua)
Mali: French President Hollande said Mali’s sovereignty over almost all of its territory would be restored within “a few days.” (AFP)
Zimbabwe: South African MPs called for a total removal of sanctions and restrictions imposed by the EU against Zimbabwe. (Xinhua)
Haiti: The UN criticized Haiti for failing to establish democratic institutions while it struggled with health and development problems arising after the 2010 earthquake. (DPA)
United States: An al Qaeda veteran who fought US troops in Afghanistan has been held in secret federal custody in New York since October. (WaPo)
United States: A top general warned the Pentagon that budget cuts will undermine the US military’s efforts to seize illegal narcotic shipments out of Latin America. (AFP)
Venezuela: FM Jaua said the country has cut off all diplomatic contact with the US because Washington is meddling in its domestic affairs. (AP)
Afghanistan: A roadside bomb killed a district administrator and two of his bodyguards in the north of the country. (AP)
Australia: PM Gillard faced down a leadership challenge, emerging victorious from a party vote after former leader Kevin Rudd made a last-minute decision not to run. (AFP)
Burma: At least 10 people have been killed in riots in the central Burma in the country’s worst communal violence since clashes in western Rakhine state last year. (AFP)
Korea, North: The DPRK’s supreme military command said its “precision attack” weapons have US navy bases in Guam and Okinawa in their sights and will attack them if provoked. (Reuters)
Pakistan: At least 12 people were killed and 30 injured after a car bomb was detonated at the Jalozai refugee camp near Peshawar. (BBC)
Region: EU Foreign Policy Chief Ashton said a deal to normalize ties between Serbia and Kosovo is close and could be sealed next month. (AFP)
Cyprus: The European Central Bank said it will continue to provide emergency funding to Cyprus until next Monday. (AFP)
Russia: Three gunmen and one special tasks policeman were killed in a special operation in Dagestan. (Itar-Tass)
Spain: Police at Madrid’s Barajas airport seized 55 kilos of cocaine hidden in the luggage of three passengers who arrived on a flight from Lima, Peru. (AFP)
Turkey: Jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan is set to call a “historic” ceasefire. (AFP)
Iran: US President Obama said the US will do “what is necessary” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (DPA)
Iraq: A top UN official in Iraq expressed his deep concern about the decision to postpone the governorate council elections in the provinces of Anbar and Ninewa. (Xinhua)
Iraq: US Ambassador Beecroft said the staffing in the US Embassy in Baghdad and other sites around the country has fallen to 10,500, down from 16,000 last year. (AP)
Syria: The UN said Syria has made no formal request for a UN investigation into government claims that opposition rebels have used chemical weapons. (AFP)
Syria: The UN refugee agency said the number of Syrians seeking asylum in developed nations tripled last year. (AFP)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Cybersecurity: South Korea said it had sourced a damaging cyber attack on its broadcasters and banks to an IP address in China, fuelling suspicions that North Korea may have been responsible. (AFP)
Cyclones: Nothing to report.
Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK (22MAR)
Global: International Water Day, a high-level Interactive Dialogue of the 67th session of the General Assembly will also be convened in New York to mark the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation.
Europe: The Russian government and European Commission officials are to meet in Moscow to analyze outcomes of the latest Russia-EU summit on 21DEC12, and start preparing the next top-level meeting in June this year.
Israel: President Obama is expected to visit Mount Herzl and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Institute before leaving for neighboring Jordan.
Russia: Chinese leader Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Russia at President Putin’s invitation to discuss bilateral cooperation and the most pressing international and regional problems (to 24MAR).
Russia: Posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky will begin.