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Palestinian President Calls for Early Elections


Palestinian Pol: The Palestinian presidential guard says suspected Hamas gunmen have attacked a training base in Gaza, killing a guard and wounding several others.
Security officials said the attackers were wearing uniforms like those worn by Hamas militants when they carried out the attack early today (Sunday) at a training base for guards loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas. The gunmen set fire to tents and traded fire with guards. Hamas denies any involvement in the attack.
On Saturday, Mr. Abbas called for new parliamentary and presidential elections to resolve what he calls a crisis in the Palestinian leadership.
The Fatah party leader said in a televised speech that new elections are necessary after months of failed talks with the ruling Hamas party to form a unity government.
Hamas leaders denounced the new vote as a coup against a democratically elected government. They also called for Mr. Abbas to step down.

Iraq: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a surprise visit to Baghdad where he called for international support of Iraq's government.
During a news conference today (Sunday) with his with his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki, Mr. Blair reiterated Britain's continuing support for Iraq. British troops are deployed in southern Iraq.
Baghdad is Mr. Blair's third stop in his Middle East tour, which has taken him to Turkey and Egypt.
In another development today, gunmen in Iraq army uniforms staged a mass kidnapping at the Iraqi Red Crescent office in Baghdad. At least 24 people were were taken hostage from the humanitarian agency's office.
Meanwhile, a landmark reconciliation conference involving Iraq's rival ethnic and religious factions enters its second day in Baghdad. Delegates are trying to find ways to stop sectarian violence.

US – North Korea: The top U.S. envoy on North Korea says talks with Pyongyang on its nuclear weapons program are reaching a major decision point.
Christopher Hill was speaking in the Chinese capital, Beijing, in advance of Monday's resumption of six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis, which have been frozen for more than a year.
Hill said today (Sunday) the parties have reached a "fork in the road" between the diplomatic track and the track that involves sanctions, which he says would be very harmful to the North Korean economy.
The U.S. diplomat is to meet his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan today at a dinner in Beijing, but it is not clear if the two will have a formal bilateral meeting.
Hill says Washington's main goal for the talks is to secure the implementation of the September 2005 agreement, in which Pyongyang promised to give up its nuclear weapons program in return for aid and security guarantees.

Philippines – Politician Killed: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has condemned the assassination of a Philippine congressman who was gunned down in Manila Saturday after attending a wedding.
Ms. Arroyo said today (Sunday) she has ordered police to hunt down the killers of Luis Bersamin and bring them to justice for what she called a "deplorable act".
Gunmen shot and killed Bersamin as he left a wedding in the Manila suburb of Quezon City. The attackers also killed a policeman escorting the congressman and wounded a bodyguard in the gun battle outside the church.
Political killings are common in the Philippines, and have raised concerns among international rights groups.

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