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President Bush, Japanese PM Stress Importance of Attending Olympic Opening Ceremony


G-8 SUMMIT: U.S. President George Bush says skipping the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics would be an affront to the Chinese people, and could make relations with China more difficult.
He says while China must improve its record on human rights, he does not need to use the Olympics as an excuse to voice his concerns. Mr. Bush, who is celebrating his 62nd birthday today (Sunday), spoke to reporters during a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. The Japanese leader announced he too would attend the opening ceremonies, saying the Olympics are an athletic event and should not be linked to politics. Human rights activists and some U.S. lawmakers have urged President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies. Several world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have said they will not attend the Beijing games.

G-8 PROTESTS:
Hundreds of protesters have gathered fora second straight day in Sapporo, Japan, not far from the site of this week's summit of the world's richest nations. Protesters are making a variety of demands, from quicker action on climate change and world hunger to calls for the Group of Eight to be dissolved. Today's (Sunday's) mostly peaceful demonstration followed larger, protests Saturday. Japanese officials say four people were detained Saturday after a brief clash with police. Japan has mobilized more than 20-thousand police officers to maintain peace and security at the summit and around the country.

ZIMBABWE: South African President Thabo Mbeki has met with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to try to help end Zimbabwe's political crisis. Mr. Mbeki also met Saturday with leaders of a breakaway faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Saturday, however the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, declined to participate in the meeting.

IRAQ:
Iraqi police say a car bomb attack has killed six people and wounded 14 others in northern Baghdad. Authorities say the bombing occurred today (Sunday) in the Shi'ite area of Shaab. They say three policemen were among the victims. On Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said security forces in Iraq have saved Baghdad from what he called a terrorist "siege."

ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israel has re-opened border crossings with the Gaza strip afterclosing them last Thursday because of a rocket attack. An army spokesman (Peter Lerner) today (Sunday) said the border crossings, which include Sufa, were opened to allow goods to cross into Israel and to allow people into Israel for medical treatment. The latest closure came after Israel accused Palestinian militants in Gaza of firing a rocket into southern Israel. Gaza's Hamas leaders denied their forces staged the rocket attack, which caused no damage or casualties.

MALAYSIA - ANWAR:
Nearly 10-thousand Malaysians have crowded into a stadium outside the capital of Kuala Lumpur to protest rising fuel prices and to hear from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Many of the protesters dressed in red, the color of the protest movement, wearing T-shirts and bandanas calling for lower fuel prices. Malaysian police had banned the rally and promised to take action against anyone who attended, but have decided instead to let it proceed. The government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi increased fuel prices by 41 percent last month, triggering a public outcry and opposition protests.

MONGOLIA ELECTION: Mongolia has lifted its four-day state of emergency. Streets in the capital of Ulaanbaator were calm, following the expiration of the state of emergency, which ended at midnight local time Saturday. President Nambaryn Enkhbayar called in troops, after allegations of election fraud touched off riots last week. Independent observers say they saw no major irregularities in the balloting, but anger from the election boiled over into the streets, leaving five dead and more than 200 others injured. At one point about 700 people had been detained.

SOKOR OIL: The South Korean government today (Sunday) announced a series of measures designed to cut energy consumption, putting restrictions on transportation for the first time since the country hosted the 1988 summer Olympics. Prime Minister Han Seung-soo says vehicles at more than 800 government offices will remain idle every other day beginning July 15th. Other measures include limiting the use of air-conditioning at government buildings.

Listen to our World News for details in Lao.

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