- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2011

THAILAND

Election board endorses first female premier

BANGKOK — Thailand’s Election Commission on Tuesday certified the victory of Yingluck Shinawatra, clearing a major hurdle for her to become the country’s first female prime minister.

Mrs. Yingluck, the sister of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva were among 142 candidates in the 500-member lower house of parliament whom the commission failed to endorse last week pending investigation of complaints that they violated electoral law.

Mr. Abhisit also was among the 12 winners endorsed Tuesday in the ruling announced by Commission Secretary-General Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn.

Mrs. Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party won 265 seats in the July 3 general election. Parliament must convene and elect her as prime minister before she can take office.

Parliament is supposed to open within 30 days of the election, but the house cannot legally convene unless 95 percent of its members are certified by the electoral body.

Thailand has been racked by political turmoil since Thaksin was ousted by a 2006 military coup after he was accused of corruption and disrespect for the monarchy.

INDIA

U.S. promises counterterrorism aid

NEW DELHI — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday pledged robust counterterrorism cooperation with India while assuring Indian officials that the Obama administration won’t ease pressure on Pakistan to combat extremists or allow the Taliban to regain power in Afghanistan with a precipitous withdrawal of American troops.

While hailing improved U.S.-Indian ties, Mrs. Clinton also called on New Delhi to ease trade restrictions keeping U.S. firms out of India’s massive market and urged the government to quickly resolve a dispute over investments in nuclear energy.

But her meetings with top Indian officials focused largely on fighting terrorism, improving ties between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

She made her second visit to India as America’s top diplomat less than a week after a triple bombing killed 20 people in India’s financial capital of Mumbai, the country’s worst terrorist strike since Pakistan-based gunmen rampaged through the city in 2008.

AFGHANISTAN

NATO turns over security in eastern capital

MEHTERLAM — NATO handed over responsibility for the security of the capital of an eastern province to Afghan forces Tuesday, the latest step in a transition process that will lead to the withdrawal of all foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.

The U.S.-led coalition has started a process of transferring security in parts of the country where they feel Afghan forces are strong enough to take control, though so far that has largely been restricted to provincial capitals as much of the country remains lawless and unstable after a decade of war.

U.S. forces turned over control of Mehterlam, the capital of Laghman province, but they will retain responsibility for the other areas in the predominantly Pashtun province that remain under the influence of the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

JAPAN

Crippled nuclear plant reaches stability

TOKYO — The crippled reactors at Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear power plant have reached stability more than four months since the disaster and the plant is on track for a cold shutdown within six months, the government and plant operator said Tuesday.

Workers have toiled in hot and harsh conditions to stabilize the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami destroyed reactor cooling systems, triggering partial meltdowns of the reactors and making the disaster the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

The assessment of reactor stability was based on several milestones: temperatures at the bottom of reactor pressure vessels are no longer climbing, a makeshift system to process contaminated water works properly after initial problems and nitrogen injections are helping prevent more explosions.

Radiation around the plant has shown a “sufficient decrease” from peak levels measured soon after the disaster.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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