As expected, North Korea launched its Taepodong-2 long-range rocket on April 5, a move President Obama called "provocative" and "clear violation" of a United Nations Security Council resolution. While the ostensible purpose of the launch, according to official North Korean statements, was to launch a communications satellite, officials from South Korea, Japan, and the United States have all said that the launch was — in actuality — a test of the missile, itself. The three nations stated in advance of the launch that they wanted to level sanctions against North Korea if it proceeded. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on March 31: "Their missile launch violates UN Security Council Resolution 1718 and there will be consequences, certainly (at) the UN Security Council if they proceed with the launch."
Leaders of the 22-member Arab League and 12 South American countries met last week and agreed to an 11-point declaration on everything from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to economic cooperation. The one-day Second Summit of Arab-South American Countries took place in Doha, Qatar, following the Arab League conference. Among the countries attending the summit were some of the world’s largest oil exporting nations, including Venezuela.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two U.S. journalists detained by North Korea on March 17, will be tried for "illegal entry and hostile acts," the communist nation's state-run KCNA news agency announced on March 31. The news organ said, "The illegal entry of U.S. reporters into the DPRK and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements." KCNA added that authorities were "making a preparation for indicting them at a trial on the basis of the already confirmed suspicions."
With an average elevation of 16,000 feet, Tibet has been called "the Roof of the World." But the view was unpleasant for Tibetans this March: Chinese armored vehicles, machine-gun-wielding soldiers, and riot police ruined the landscape. It was the 50th anniversary of Tibet's uprising against communist Chinese rule, and China was taking no chances.
On March 24, the North Korean government warned the UN, the United States, and Japan against issuing sanctions in retaliation for its planned launch of a communications satellite between April 4 and 8. The communist nation's foreign ministry issued a statement published by the Korean Central News Agency that said the imposition of UN sanctions would violate a September 2005 six-nation agreement on mutual respect.
Two journalists for the California-based online media outlet Current TV were taken into custody and detained by North Korean soldiers on March 17. The two women, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were identified by a missionary who spoke to them earlier that day and later shared his information with the Associated Press.
During a mid-March forum organized by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Washington, China's top climate-change negotiator, Li Gao, said his country should not pay for cutting emissions created by producing Chinese goods to satisfy the demands of countries importing Chinese goods. Li had joined envoys from Japan and the EU to engage in preliminary talks in preparation for the December Climate Conference in Copenhagen. The stated purpose of that conference will be to reach an agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol before its provisions expire in 2012. Neither the United States nor China ratified the Kyoto agreement.
As many as 50 suspected Taliban militants destroyed 15 trucks at the al-Faisal terminal in Peshawar, Pakistan, early on the morning of March 16. A NATO supply convoy loaded with supplies bound for U.S. forces in Afghanistan was being assembled at the terminal, according to a Peshawar police official.
The Chinese government, to which the United States is in debt approximately $1 trillion, is preparing to use its leverage to exact concessions from the U.S. government. “We are concerned about the safety of our assets,” Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said at a news conference March 13. “I would like to call on the United States to honor its words, stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets."