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Bomb Blasts Kills 5 Foreign Troops in Afghanistan


AFGHANISTAN: The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan says four of its troops were killed and two wounded in a bomb explosion today in the southern part of the country. A coalition statement says a roadside bomb exploded as the troops were conducting operations in Kandahar province. The statement did not specify the soldiers' nationalities. Polish defense officials say a roadside bomb today killed a Polish soldier serving with NATO forces in the southeastern province of Paktika. Four other soldiers were wounded in the attack. Afghan and NATO forces conducted a major operation in Kandahar this week they say cleared out Taliban militants from several villages.

CHINA - TIEBET: The latest leg of the Olympic torch relay was held in Tibet's capital of Lhasa today under tight security. The relay began at the exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama's former summer palace, Norbulingka, and ended at the hilltop Potala Palace - the traditional seat of Tibetan rulers. Hand-picked (Selected) spectators cheered runners as they carried the torch through the sealed-off city, while police and soldiers lined the relay route to prevent any unrest. The torch run has been marred during its international tour by protests over China's policies in Tibet. In the Nepalese capital of Katmandu today, hundreds of Tibetans protested outside a Chinese consular office to condemn the passage of the torch through Tibet.

SOKOR - US BEEF: South Korean officials said today that beef imports from the United States will come only from cattle less than 30 months old, to alleviate concerns of mad cow disease. Officials say an age-verification system will be set up to ensure only U.S. beef from younger cattle is exported. Seoul says the deal was reached earlier this week during talks between Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. The deal was negotiated in an attempt to put an end to daily demonstrations against imported U.S. beef that threatened the government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak On Friday, Mr. Lee began a shake-up of his government in a bid to soothe public outrage over plans to resume U.S. beef imports.


THAILAND - PROTEST: Thai officials say Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej will not resign despite massive street protests calling for his ouster. Thousands of protesters are camping outside Mr. Samak's office in Bangkok, demanding his resignation. But spokesmen for the prime minister told reporters today that Mr. Samak has no intention of stepping down. After initially scuffling with demonstrators Friday, police offered little resistance to the huge crowd, which surged to the gates of Mr. Samak's office to stage a sit-in. Protesters delivered anti-government speeches, waved flags and sang songs. They have vowed to wait outside the prime minister's office until he steps down.

IRAN - NUCLEAR: Iran's envoy to the United Nations nuclear agency says Iran is continuing with its nuclear program despite a multi-nation offer of an incentives package if Tehran stops atomic activity. The IAEA envoy today said the Islamic Republic will continue its nuclear enrichment program, reiterating the country's claim that it is for peaceful purposes. Iran says it is ready to negotiate an incentives packaged offered by six world powers (Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the United States), but has ruled out halting enrichment. On Friday, the Director General of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, warned that a military attack on Iran would encourage the country to rapidly seek a nuclear weapon.

PAKISTAN - BHUTTON: Supporters of assassinated former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto are commemorating what would have been her 55th birthday today at ceremonies in Pakistan. Ms. Bhutto's widower, and head of her Pakistan Peoples Party, Asif Ali Zardari attended a memorial service at her grave in her native town of Garhi Khuda Baksh. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said, in honor of Ms. Bhutto, he wanted all prisoners facing the death penalty to be given life sentences instead. Pakistani authorities also renamed Islamabad airport after Ms. Bhutto. The former prime minister was assassinated in a suicide gun and bomb attack while she was campaigning in December near the capital.

VENEZUELA - US: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has dismissed U.S. allegations that his government helped fundraisers for the Lebanese group Hezbollah. He said Friday the allegations are just a pretext to have him tried in an International court. Washington says a Venezuelan official has been helping the Lebanese group, which the U.S. regards as a terrorist organization. This week, U.S. treasury officials froze the assets of two men based in Venezuela, including one of the country's diplomats, saying they had been assisting Hezbollah, and had been protected by the Venezuelan government. Mr. Chavez says the U.S. is trying to gather support from other countries to act against him and his government, and that this latest action was a test to see if the world will go along with it.

US - MARS: The U.S. Space Agency NASA said Friday scientists working with the Phoenix Mars lander have confirmed the existence of frozen water on the planet. NASA says the lander's robotic arm dug a trench in the Martian arctic June 15th, exposing bits of a bright material that were photographed. The material completely disappeared over the course of a few days, indicating to investigators that the material was frozen water that vaporized after it was exposed to the Martian atmosphere. NASA initially believed the bright material may have been salt, but the mission's lead investigator said salt would not have evaporated as the material did.

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