TAIWAN POL: Prosecutors in Taiwan have indicted the wife of embattled President Chen Shui-bian for corruption in connection with the alleged misuse of state funds. High Court prosecutors also said today (Friday) that they have evidence against the president himself, but that he is immune from criminal charges until his term ends in May 2008. The prosecutors accused first lady Wu Shu-chen and three former presidential aides of embezzling more than 400-thousand dollars in government diplomatic funds, using false receipts between July 2002 and March 2006.
THAILAND-SECURITY: Thailand has dropped charges against 92 Muslim demonstrators involved in a anti-government rally in southern Thailand in 2004, when 78 Muslims died in army custody. Thailand's attorney-general made the announcement today (Friday), one day after interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont apologized for the former government's hard-line policies against an Islamic insurgency in the southern region.
THAILAND POL: Thailand's interim Prime Minister Surayud
Chulanont says his government remains committed to market policies, despite his emphasis on a so-called "sufficiency economy." In his first speech to parliament outlining his government policies, Mr. Surayud said today (Friday) that his post-coup government would adopt a self-sufficient economy, referring to an approach used by Thailand's king shortly after the Asian economic crisis in 1997-1998. The concept emphasizes moderation, and stands in contrast to the capitalistic approach of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
CHINA-AFRICA SUMMIT: African leaders are gathering in Beijing for a summit with Chinese leaders expected to focus on increasing economic and political ties. The China-Africa summit begins Saturday, with high-level meetings taking place today (Friday). The forum is one of the biggest diplomatic events ever hosted by China. The discussions with about 40 African leaders are likely to focus on economic issues. Trade between China and Africa's 53 nations grew 10-fold in the past decade and is expected to reach 50 billion dollars this year.
NOKOR-NUCLEAR: The United States says two of its top diplomats
will travel to Japan, China and South Korea next week to prepare for a new round of multinational talks on North Korea's nuclear program. A State Department spokesman (Sean McCormack) says the pair will discuss with officials how to create the best atmosphere in order to ensure progress can be made at the negotiations. He said the diplomats also plan to press for the implementation of sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council after North Korea's nuclear test last month.
IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition troops have killed 13 suspected insurgents in a raid of two buildings south of Baghdad. The military says the insurgents were found today (Friday) hiding in buildings near Mahmudiyah, 30 kilometers south of the capital. It says U.S. soldiers stormed the buildings after those inside refused to surrender. Among those killed was a man wearing a vest rigged with explosives. The military says explosives, hand grenades and other explosive-rigged vests were found in the area.
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