Park to become South Korea's first woman leader


Park Geun-hye will make an emotional return to South Korea's presidential mansion in February as South Korea's first female leader, more than three decades after she left it following the assassination of her father.

Park scored a decisive victory ensuring that South Korea's conservatives, who pushed through a free trade agreement with the United States, hold on to the powerful presidency for a second consecutive time after the end of incumbent Lee Myung-bak's mandatory single term in office.

Despite spending more than 15 years as a national politician and serving as the nation's first lady at her father's side, the single, 60-year old woman remains an enigma and her policy stances amount to little more than a series of campaign slogans.

Park's camp has a "Happiness Promotion Committee" and her campaign was launched as the "National Happiness Campaign", a slogan she later changed to "A Prepared Woman President".

She has promised greater "economic democratization" for a country that has achieved astonishing success in rising from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War to become the world's 14th largest economy, but where the rewards have been thinly spread.

South Korean economic growth recorded a blistering annual rate of 5.5 percent for decades, but as it has grown richer, that pace has slowed and it will expand by about 2 percent this year.

It is the world's fastest aging country and has one of the globe's lowest birth rates thanks, in part, to policies that discourage mothers from staying in work, according to studies by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

As well as economic and demographic challenges, Park will have to deal with an unpredictable and hostile North Korea, led by the untested 29-year old Kim Jong-un, the third of his line to hold power in Pyongyang.

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ISI enjoys immunity in 26/11, says US


Efforts to bring Pakistan’s former spy masters before a New York court to face charges filed by relatives of American victims in the Mumbai terror attacks are getting nowhere with the US Government taking the stand that the notorious Inter-Services Intelligence and its top brass enjoy immunity under the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

In response to a civil case filed on behalf of the American victims, a top official of the Department of Justice said the United States strongly condemns the 26/11 attacks and believes that Pakistan "must take steps to dismantle Lashkar-e-Taiba and to support India's efforts to counter this terrorist threat".

But the ISI and its former chiefs Shuja Pasha and Nadeem Raj cannot be proceeded against in a US court because of immunity conferred under the American law. In a 12-page affidavit, the State Department has determined that Pasha and Taj are immune because the allegations by the plaintiffs relate to actions taken by them in their official capacities as directors of ISI, which is a fundamental part of the Government of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Obama administration has notified US Congress that the Pentagon would reimburse Pakistan $688 million towards support for American forces stationed in Afghanistan.

The sum is in addition to $2 billion that the US provides to Pakistan in annual security assistance. Release of the amount is being projected as a sign of normalization of relations after more than a year of turbulence that had included Pakistan shutting down NATO supply line to Afghanistan and ordering CIA to close an operational base.


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Eurozone dominates G8 talks

President Obama hosted the G8 Summit set for May 18-19. Leaders of the world's eight richest economies gathered to discuss how to deal with the European debt crisis amid fresh concerns that it could spark widespread financial turmoil.The leaders are also concerned about issues including the conflict in Syria and the threat of nuclear-weapons proliferation. They plan to talk about global efforts to guard against famine and malnutrition.

But the big and unavoidable issue is clear. Europe's sovereign debt crisis has flared anew since recent elections in Greece and France, sending negative financial ripples worldwide. Getting the eurozone back on track is Job No. 1.

 This was 38th G8 summit and was held in Camp David, Maryland, United States. The G8 consists of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

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Syrian forces face prosecution for Houla - U.N.

Syrian forces and pro-government militia accused of committing a massacre in Houla could face prosecution for crimes against humanity, the United Nations said on Friday and rights experts said Syrian authorities had directly ordered torture.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called again for the Security Council to refer Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and for world powers to help implement Kofi Annan's peace plan to end the violence.

In a speech read out on her behalf to an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, she cited allegations that the Syrian military unleashed a barrage of heavy weapons on the town of Houla a week ago and that shabbiha groups killed dozens of the 106 victims, including women and children.

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