News Wrap: Obama Seeks More Help for Seniors
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today: President Obama asked Congress to approve payments of $250 apiece for the nation’s 50 million senior citizens. It would cost an estimated $13 billion. The idea is to compensate seniors for missing a cost-of-living hike in their Social Security benefits next year.
Tensions over an American aid package for Pakistan appeared to ease today. That package is worth $7.5 billion. But the Pakistani military said parts of it would violate the country’s sovereignty. Today, visiting Washington, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he’s been assured that’s not so.
And State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley underscored that point.
P.J. CROWLEY: There’s nothing in this bill that impinges upon Pakistani sovereignty and that, you know, the kinds of reporting that is required in the legislation, you know, goes to the issue of financial accountability, which is something that we put in legislation involving assistance to any foreign country.
JIM LEHRER: The bill’s House and Senate authors also promised in a joint written statement to reassure Pakistan about U.S. intentions.
The government of Iraq has issued its first official report on the human cost of the war there. The country’s human rights ministry said today at least 85,000 Iraqi civilians, police and soldiers were killed between 2004 and 2008.
In the same time period, close to 150,000 Iraqis were wounded. The report did not include figures for how many died in the first months of the war in 2003.
Russian President Putin warned today any talk of sanctions against Iran and its nuclear program is premature. He spoke in Beijing, China. In a warning to other major powers, he said a compromise needs to be found on Iran, instead of imposing new sanctions. Putin’s statement came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Clinton raised the sanctions issue in Moscow.
While Putin was in China, Secretary Clinton issued a challenge to the Russian people. She addressed university students in Moscow and called for opening the Russian political system to dissent and diversity. Clinton also appealed to policy-makers in the Kremlin to move beyond Cold War thinking.