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U.S. Issued New Warning about Travelling in Laos


NOKOR - MISSILES: South Korea has confirmed that North Korea fired short-range missiles toward the Sea of Japan. South Korea's Foreign Ministry says today's missile launches were part of an annual military exercise. The ministry points out that South Korea also holds routine firings of short-range missiles four times a year. Last July, North Korea sparked international outrage when it tested missiles, including a long-range rocket. Pyongyang also conducted its first known nuclear test in October.

US - PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT ON LAOS: This Public

Announcement is being issued to update American citizens about continuing security concerns in northern Laos. Sporadic clashes and military movements in no rthern Vientiane Province were reported in March and April. This Public Announcement supersedes the Public Announcement dated February 23, 2007 and expires on August 23, 2007. The U.S. Embassy in Laos continues to receive reports from multiple sources of sporadic fighting between Lao Government forces and unidentified opponents and of increased movements by Lao Government forces in the area of Vang Vieng in northern Vientiane Province beginning around February 7. The Embassy received similar reports in March and April. The U.S. Embassy continues to urge U.S. citizens to exercise caution in and around the area of Vang Vieng and recommends against any ground travel north from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang.

U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from undertaking personal travel by ground transportation north of Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, along Route 13 and contiguous roadways. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Laos, and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, located at http://travel.state.gov. For further information, U.S. citizens may also contact the Department of State toll-free from within the United States and Canada at 1-888-407-4747, or outside the U.S. and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. The U.S. Embassy is located at Thanon Bartholonie (near Tat Dam), in Vientiane; from the U.S., mail may be addressed to U.S. Embassy Vientiane, Box V, APO AP 96546; tel (856-21) 267-000; duty officer emergency cellular telephone (856-20) 550-2016; consular section fax number (856-21) 267-040; internet http://LAOS.USEMBASSY.GOV; e-mail: conslao@state.gov.

IRAQ: Anti-American Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has made his first public appearance since the start of a major U.S.-backed security crackdown in February. The radical cleric attended Friday prayers at a mosque in the southern city of Kufa and delivered an anti-American sermon, telling worshippers that occupation forces should leave Iraq. He also condemned the fighting between his Mahdi Army militia and Iraqi security forces, saying - in his words - it "serves the interest of the occupiers."

LEBANON: Military transport planes have begun arriving in Lebanon, bringing foreign military aid to help the Lebanese army fight Islamic militants inside a Palestinian refugee camp. Lebanese security officials say two planes arrived at the Beirut airport today, and more flights are expected soon. The United States has said it would rush help to Lebanon, after Beirut requested more military aid following the outbreak of fighting at the Nahr al-Bared camp near the port city of Tripoli.

US AMBASSADOR - VIETNAM: The White House says President Bush has nominated a career diplomat to be the next U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. In a statement Thursday, the White House said Mr. Bush named Michael Michalak to fill the post. Michalak is currently a senior official at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum at the U.S. State Department. He previously served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, Japan. His nomination requires approval by the U.S. Senate.

THAILAND POL: Thailand's king has called on his nation's top judges to act responsibly in a high-profile case that threatens to dissolve the country's two main political parties over charges of electoral fraud. Speaking to a group of senior judges in Bangkok, King Bhumibol Adulyadej warned that Thailand's Constitutional Court is likely to be criticized whichever way it rules next week. The country's security is at risk, the monarch noted, and a fair verdict is needed. The court will decide on Wednesday (5/30) whether the former ruling Thai Rak Thai party and the opposition Democrat Party violated election law during the last Thai general elections, in April 2006.

CHINA - JAPAN - GAS: Chinese and Japanese officials have opened talks in Beijing on a long-standing dispute over drilling rights in the East China Sea. Before the start of today's meeting, Tokyo's head negotiator, (Kenichiro Sasae,) said the Japanese side is hoping for new proposals from Beijing, after seven rounds of talks failed to yield substantial results. Chinese Foreign Ministry official (Hu Zhengyue), who leads China's delegation, says China wants to reach a joint development plan acceptable to both sides.

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