Israel-Lebanon: Israeli warplanes are hitting targets across Lebanon for a ninth straight day, and a new round of heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas has erupted in southern Lebanon.
Intense battles are reported at two locations today (Thursday) inside Lebanon, near the Israeli border. Few details of the fighting are available, but Israel says three of its soldiers were wounded -- one, seriously.
Israeli ground forces are trying to destroy Hezbollah's weapons bunkers and rocket launch sites in southern Lebanon. Guerrillas have fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns and cities in the past week of fighting.
Lebanon Evacuation: U.S.
Marines have landed on a beach near Beirut to help with the evacuation of thousands of Americans caught up in the weeklong Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.
About 40 Marines came ashore early this (Thursday) morning on a landing craft from the naval vessel USS Nashville.
The massive evacuation is expected to last several days. U.S. officials say about eight thousand of the 25 thousand Americans in Lebanon have asked for help in leaving the country. About one thousand Americans arrived in Cyprus today aboard a U.S.-chartered cruise ship.
Israel-Lebanon Diplomacy: (On the diplomatic front,) The U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will meet in New York later today (Thursday) in an attempt to forge a common position on the Middle East crisis.
The European Union's foreign-policy chief (Javier Solana) also will take part in the Rice-Annan talks, which will follow a Security Council review of the current fighting, and of U.N. diplomats' talks in Lebanon and Israel this week.
Mr. Annan's deputy (Mark Malloch Brown) says the Secretary-General is seeking an immediate end to the fighting between Israeli and Hezbollah conflict, so United Nations can organize a so-called "enhanced stabilization force" to calm regional tensions.
Thailand Violence: Police in Thailand say insurgents today (Thursday) opened fire and killed three officers and wounded one other at a checkpoint in the country's restive south.
Police say at least a half-dozen gunmen carried out the attack in Pattani province.
Pattani is one of the three Muslim-majority provinces near Thailand's border with Malaysia. Since the start of 2004, more than 13-hundred people have died in violence in Thailand's south.
Indonesia - Tsunami: Rescue workers are still
searching for bodies, and possible survivors, on Indonesia's Java island following a devastating tsunami earlier this week. Aid trucks arrived in Pangandaran on Wednesday to help the hundreds of injured residents and the more than 40-thousand people displaced by the tsunami. Many villagers are still seeking temporary shelter on higher ground following a second earthquake that struck Indonesia's Java island on Wednesday. That quake sparked fears of another tsunami. There were no casualties from the second quake. It had a magnitude of six-point-two.
Japan-US-Missile: Japan says the United States will start deploying interceptor missiles in southern Japan, as part of Tokyo's effort to deal with the threat of North Korean missiles.
Japan's Foreign Ministry said today (Thursday) that the U.S. military will install Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles at Kadena Air Base on Japan's southern island chain of Okinawa. The ministry says the missiles will be partially operational by the end of this year. Earlier this month, Japan's defense chief urged the United States to speed up plans to develop a missile-defense system with Tokyo.
The Defense Minister of Laos has rejected a proposal to expand military contacts with the United States. The offer was made Thursday in Vientiane by the commander of U.S. forces in the pacific, who was on his first trip to the country.
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