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October 13, 2009
Posted: 1628 GMT

clinton

The hot topic today in Moscow where U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with her Russian counterpart: Iran's nuclear program.

At a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Mrs Clinton said Russia had been "extremely co-operative in the work that we have done together" on a common approach to Iran.

There are analysts who've said the United States would have wanted a firm commitment from Russia that they would back sanctions against Iran if it refused to agree to inspections of its nuclear program.

After all, President Barack Obama scrapped a Bush administration missile defense shield program, a key Russian demand. In July, talk from the U.S. was pledging to "restart" relations with Russia.

But others say this is as much as Clinton could have hoped for – or perhaps was aiming for – in this first visit to Russia after talks in Geneva with Iran. There may be disagreements on sanctions, but the outward appearance is one of cooperation and friendliness.

We will go live to our Jill Dougherty, who is traveling with Secretary Clinton.

Also today, we will go live to New York, where Richard Roth is covering the trial of two former Bear Stearns executives. This is day one of a trial that will determine the extent of the responsibility of big financial firms in last year's credit meltdown.

Plus, we will go live to Colombia where Karl Penhaul has put together a series of exclusive reports on Colombia's war against drugs and organized crime.

We will preview one of his reports at the IDesk. Karl's material will be featured throughout our primetime line-up tonight.

At the White House, we'll be monitoring President Obama's meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister. If he makes any comments on troop levels in Afghanistan, we will bring those to you. Suzanne Malveaux is standing bi in Washington.

We are also live on Wall Street, in Islamabad and London.

See you at the Idesk!

Hala

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October 12, 2009
Posted: 1649 GMT

pakistan

Hello everyone,

In the last week alone: four bombings and more than a hundred killed in Pakistan. The country is in a crisis. Government forces are in a pitched battle against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

As the world's focus was on Afghanistan and the debate over troop levels in the last week, insurgent elements have been striking neighboring Pakistan with deadly force.

And today's bombing happened in a region that the Pakistani army said it had secured, just outside the Swat Valley where the military staged a massive anti-insurgent offensive earlier this year.

We will be live in Islamabad with a local reporter who covered the suicide attack in the small town of Alpuri. I'll ask him why the militants are able to stage such deadly and precise attacks on the Pakistani state.

We are also live in Jerusalem, where theIsraeli Prime Minister hasmade statements on the Goldstone Report to the opening session of the Knesset. We will have that and Palestinian reaction.

We are also live on Wall Street, were investors are in a cheery mood this Monday. We'll tell you why.

Plus – and I'm delighted to be able to report this news – a woman has won the Nobel Prize for economics for the first time ever. As a student of economics and one whose best teachers were often women, I'm very happy the Nobel Committee chose Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University, alongside Oliver Williamson of the University of California at Berkeley to be honored this year.

We are also live in London for the latest reaction to the posthumous release of Michael Jackson's latest song. Nicola Lapin will join me in the studio for online reaction to the release.

We are live in Baghdad and Kabul this hour.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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October 9, 2009
Posted: 1607 GMT

obama

There were audible gasps of surprise from journalists gathered in Oslo when the Nobel committee announced it was giving U.S. President Barack Obama its peace prize.

Critics said it was too soon to give Mister Obama, in office only nine months, whose country is involved in two wars, an award that should be reserved for men and women whose achievements are more tangible.

Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating wrote in his blog: "If ever there was a moment for Kanye West" to intervene, this would be it, referring to West's spectacle at the MTV Video Music Awards.

"Giving the president this award only nine months into his presidency (and nominating him less than two weeks into it) will draw attention to his shortcoming more than his actual achievements," writes Keating.

Others, such as 2006 Nobel winner Muhammad Yunus, whom I interviewed this morning, welcomed the Nobel committee's decision. Yunus said Obama's multi-lateral approach to foreign policy and his willingness to open dialogue with foes was reason enough to merit the honor.

Then, we heard from the man himself. President Obama addressed his critics head on by acknowledging he didn't feel he "deserves" to be in the company of past recipients, but that he will accept the Nobel as a "call for action" to achieve peace.

Hundreds of you have already voted in today's Idesk poll on whether you think President Obama deserves to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Keep voting and commenting: we will read results on air at 7pm CET.

Also today, we will take you live to Islamabad. A suicide bomber killed dozens in an open-air market in Peshawar. This type of bloodbath highlights precisely what Obama will have to take into account when making tough decisions on Afghanistan: Al Qaeda militants are wreaking havoc and gaining strength in parts of neighboring Pakistan.

Should the U.S. effort focus more on Afghanistan? What type of cooperation does America need to establish with Pakistan to fight insurgent groups on both sides of the border? Does sending more troops to Afghanistan drain resources that are needed elsewhere?

We are also live on Wall Street and around the world, with reaction to the day's top stories.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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Posted: 1307 GMT

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October 8, 2009
Posted: 1612 GMT

mitt

The debate over whether the United States will send more troops to Afghanistan continues. The American president has been meeting with military commanders and political figures to hammer out U.S. strategy in the volatile warzone.

All this as violence in Afghanistan has gotten worse (today again a deadly bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul) and while the Taliban are in control of larger part of the country.

We will be talking live to Atia Abawi in Kabul and Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Also today, we will cross over live to Paris for a report on a sex controversy surrounding the French culture minister, Frederic Mitterrand.

An impassioned supported of film director Roman Polanski, currently awaiting extradition to the United States for having sex with a minor in the 70's, parts of Mitterrand's 2005 autobiography have resurfaced. In the book, he admits to having paid for sex with "boys" in Thailand.

Why are people bringing up Mitterrand's sordid sex tourism now? Politics seem to be playing an important role: extreme right party leaders and opposition socialists have said they are shocked an admitted sex tourist is France's culture minister.

Mitterrand is quite a colorful character: he is the nephew of former Socialist President Francois Mitterrand, a former TV host, and an openly gay best-selling author.

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Mitterrand to his cabinet a few years ago, it was a PR coup. Is he a liability today? Will he resign? What do you think? Leave your comments and I will read a few on air at the IDesk.

Plus, we will go live to London for a look at an important speech by British opposition leader David Cameron. We spent a lot of time covering Prime Minister Gordon Brown's appearance at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, asking if Brown was doing enough to boost his sagging ratings. Today, we want to talk about Cameron's strategy, and how likely it is he will be the UK's next Prime Minister.

We are also live in Moscow, Lagos and on Wall Street.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

(File photo of Frederic Mitterrand/Getty Images)

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October 7, 2009
Posted: 1636 GMT

Today is the eighth anniversary of the start of the U.S and Nato war in Afghanistan.

In 2001, former U.S. President George W. Bush said American would "make no distinction between the terrorists who committed the attacks and those who harbor them."

Eight years late, the situation in Afghanistan hasn't gotten easier. The Taliban are making a comeback in key regions and Al Qaeda has relocated to lawless provinces in Pakistan.

If the goal was to neutralize Al Qaeda, the strategy has failed. If it was to stabilize Afghanistan, that has not happened.

We will speak with retired U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt about what he thinks should be done in Afghanistan as the debate in America rages on over whether to send additional troops to the warzone.

Also today, breaking news from Italy: a constitutional court has annulled a law granting Silvio Berlusconi immunity from prosecution while in office. We will take you live to Rome, where Paula Newton is standing by.

And, in another eye-popping Saudi court verdict, a Saudi man has been sentenced to five years in prison and a thousand lashes for bragging about his sex life on a Lebanese television network. We'll talk to Mohammed Jamjoom about the case.

We will go to Central America to discuss the latest on a crisis meeting in Tegucigalpa to try to resolve the political standoff between the country's deposed president and the interim Honduran government. Jose DeCordoba of the Wall Street Journal will join us live.

Plus live reports from Wall Street, Istanbul and Berlin and much more.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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Posted: 1420 GMT

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October 6, 2009
Posted: 1619 GMT

obmcc

Hello everyone,

We are starting the show with Afghanistan and the decisions that need to be made quickly about what the mission is for international forces there. Once that decision is made, politicians in the United States will have to decide whether to send additional troops to the unstable country.

Today, U.S. President Barack Obama is meeting with lawmakers at the White House to talk about the Afghan war problem. Is the end goal to stabilize the country or is it only to neutralize Al Qaeda?

If it is the latter, then it is difficult to justify sending many more troops. If the mission is to stabilize and pacify Afghanistan, then more counter-insurgency help is needed, but also more money, more civilian advisors, more doctors, more engineers.

And a whole lot more money.

Will the United States decide that it is responsible for turning Afghanistan around? U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has signaled that the U.S. should pursue a narrower anti-terrorism campaign whose end goal is to defeat Al Qaeda.

But the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has called a mission that doesn't support a wider pacification campaign is "short-sighted."

Meanwhile, the American Defense Secretary said yesterday at a Washington event co-hosted by Christiane Amanpour: "We're not leaving Afghanistan. There should be no uncertainty in terms of our determination to remain in Afghanistan and to continue to build a relationship of partnership and trust with the Pakistanis. That's long term. That's a strategic objective of the United States."

This very public debate in America over what to do in Afghanistan is consuming military and political leaders and the U.S. public, which is progressively withdrawing its support for the war.

We will look into all angles of this story today.

We will also report live on the floods in India, that have forced about a million people to flee the disaster area. Sara Sidner will join us at the IDesk.

Speaking of natural disasters, we are live in Indonesia with more on how earthquake survivors there are coping. Arwa Damon will join us. We will ask her if hospitals and rescue services are able to respond to the overwhelming needs of the wounded and the homeless.

We will also take you live to Istanbul, Baghdad, Wall Street and Rome.

Plus, Michael Holmes will join me at the IDesk for a special segment.

See you on TV!

Hala

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October 2, 2009
Posted: 1834 GMT

Just a quick note to thank you all for voting in our poll and commenting on today's note.

I am off Monday. Michael Holmes will be filling in for me.

See you all on Tuesday at the I-Desk!

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Posted: 1615 GMT

rio

Well, we don't know yet. We know Chicago (in a stunning upset) and Tokyo, were both eliminated in the first round of voting.

So either Rio de Janeiro or Madrid will be chosen by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2016 summer games.

Here at CNN Center, the newsroom let out a gasp of astonishment when the IOC announced Chicago had received the smallest number of votes. Many here expected Chicago – that U.S. President Barack Obama personally flew to Copenhagen to support – had the best chances.

Did his trip backfire? What do IOC members take into account when choosing a city to host Olympic events?

We will be speaking with renowned sports journalist Christine Brennan of USA Today and ask for her reaction to today's big announcement.

We will also go live to all the cities in contention today – the three losers and the winner. If it's Rio, I expect our Shasta Darlington, covering reaction to the IOC's vote results, might have trouble being heard over the crowd of thousands gathered in an open field, ready to celebrate their city's big win.

Also today, we will continue to cover the aftermath of the deadly and destructive earthquakes that hit Indonesia. We'll have reports from the ground and we will tell you how you can help by donating to charities involved in rescue and relief efforts.

Plus, we will show you the first ever video of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The "proof of life" video shows Shalit holding up a newspaper dated September 14th. Hamas released the video in exchange for 20 Palestinian female prisoners.

We'll go live to Jerusalem.

See you at the IDesk,

Hala

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International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

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