US keen for M’sia to join pact

THE United States said on Thursday it was keen for Malaysia to enter negotiations on a trans-Pacific trade deal after the two countries shelved talks on a bilateral agreement.

US Trade Representative Ron Kirk held talks this week with Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed, who traveled with colleagues from Brunei, Indonesia and Laos to Seattle to promote business opportunities across the Pacific.

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Iran invites UNSC for dinner

IRAN invited all 15 UN Security Council members to dinner on Thursday in New York, prompting a US response that it will give Teheran a chance to show it is willing to play by international rules.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki issued the unexpected invitation on the sidelines of the Non-Proliferation Treaty review at UN headquarters. It also came as the five permanent Security Council members – China, the United States, France, Britain and Russia – began talks on a fourth sanctions resolution against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

Britain faced tense wait

IF BRITAIN ends up with a hung parliament – as suggested by exit polls after general elections on Thursday – it will be for the first time since 1974. On that occasion, the country had to wait uncertainly for several days to learn the identity of its new government.

In the Feb 28, 1974 ballots, the Conservatives under then-premier Edward Heath won 297 seats against 301 for Labour, led by Harold Wilson. Both were still short of a majority of 318 in the then 635-member House of Commons. As the incumbent prime minister, Mr Heath – a bachelor known for his love of classical music and yachting – got first shot at forming a government.

New Hampshire bomb scare

SEVENTEEN people were briefly held hostage aboard a Greyhound bus on Thursday in New Hampshire after an individual warned a bomb was aboard, police said.

Heavily armed police, backed by armored vehicles, swarmed around the bus in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, after a phone report of a bomb and an apparent hostage-taking.

Barrack Obama warns Republicans

US SENATE Democrats on Thursday blocked a Republican bid to amend plans to shield consumers from predatory lending, after President Barack Obama warned the move would ‘gut’ his financial reform bill.

Two Republican senators joined the Democrats to defeat the amendment to legislation that Obama has characterized as the most sweeping regulatory reform since the 1930s, by 61 votes to 38.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party

MYANMAR democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, for two decades the symbol of resistance against the ruling junta, was dissolved at midnight on Thursday under laws laid down ahead of elections.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) refused to meet a May 6 deadline to re-register as a political party – a move that would have forced it to expel its own leader – and boycotted the vote scheduled for later this year.

New York suspect ’still cooperating’

THE man accused of planting a car bomb in crowded Times Square last week is continuing to cooperate with US authorities three days after his arrest, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.

Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born US citizen whose large but poorly made bomb failed to detonate, has undergone extensive questioning ever since he was arrested aboard a plane as it prepared to take off for Dubai.