Looking Forward

Looking Back

June 19, 2005



President Bush is to serve as host of the annual U.S.-European Union Summit in Washington. One topic likely to be on the agenda is a discussion of deteriorating conditions in sub-Saharan Africa and a call for increased aid and debt relief. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the European Union last week for its recent commitment to almost double aid in five years and pointedly added at a news conference, "'I look to all donors to follow their example." The United States has declined to make a similar commitment.

The U.S. Supreme Court issues orders. The court has a couple of weeks until it wraps up its term. The most widely anticipated of the cases to be decided focuses on whether governments can post the Ten Commandments on public property. The court also has yet to rule in cases involving the public taking of property for private development, and file-sharing networks that allow Internet swapping of music and movies. One of the most important questions of the term continues to be: Will the term end with a retirement announcement from Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit the Middle East and Europe through Thursday. Rice will be checking on plans for a historic Israeli withdrawal from areas that would become part of a separate Palestinian state. The pullout is a major benchmark of progress toward a peace deal. She will be looking for proof that both sides are living up to their part of the bargain - a smooth and timely withdrawal for the Israelis, and workable Palestinian plans to keep a lid on violence when the Israeli settlers depart. Israel plans to begin pulling back in August from all 21 Jewish settlements on the Gaza Strip and four of the 120 in the West Bank.


President Bush meets with Vietnam's prime minister, Phan Van Khai, in Washington, making Khai the first leader of that communist country to meet a sitting U.S. president since the end of the Vietnam War. Khai is expected to seek accelerated negotiations for Vietnam to join the World Trade Organization. Washington is looking to solidify relations with another Southeast Asian country to help counter China's rapidly growing regional influence.


A Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee will hold a hearing on the financial stability of airlines. A number of the nation's largest airlines have been operating in the red, and some have warned that they might be forced to declare bankruptcy and terminate their employee pension plans. A House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee is also holding a hearing on airline pension plans.


In Washington, President Bush meets with Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Bush is expected to use the meeting to assert that the Iraqis are appreciative of American sacrifices in the effort to build a stable nation in Iraq. With U.S. combat deaths mounting, there has been growing pressure from members of Congress for Bush to set a timetable for American withdrawal from that country.


The World

Six U.S. soldiers were killed in one day in the town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Five Marines died when a roadside bomb exploded, and a Navy sailor was killed by small arms fire.

A suicide bomber in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk joined a line of people waiting in line at a bank before detonating his explosives, killing at least 23 and injuring over 80. Kirkuk is being reclaimed by Kurds who had been driven out of the important oil city by Saddam Hussein, adding to ethnic tensions in the region. Another bomber, dressed in a military uniform, blew himself up inside a restaurant at an Iraqi National Guard base north of Baghdad, killing at least 25 Iraqi soldiers and wounding 28 others. Eight Iraqi police officers died when a suicide car bomber drove into three police cars.

Iraqi Army soldiers rescued Douglas Wood, an Australian who lives in California and had been held hostage since late April. Officials said Wood was found, along with an Iraqi hostage, in a Baghdad neighborhood when soldiers raided the area looking for weapons.

Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez, 37, was charged in the deaths of two of his superior officers - Capt. Phillip T. Esposito, 30, and Lt. Louis E. Allen, 34 - who died in Iraq on June 7 in what was originally reported as a mortar attack on their barracks in Tikrit.

Iraqi political leaders reached an agreement on the makeup of the 55-member panel drafting a constitution that brought Sunni Arabs, who had been threatening a boycott, into the Shiite-dominated group. The apparent agreement gives 15 seats to the Sunnis and promises that 10 more Sunnis will be consulted as advisers to the body.

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