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US Presidential Candidates Debate Economy, Foreign Policy


US POLITICS: The U.S. presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, have sparred over foreign policy and the economy in their first debate before the November election.On foreign policy, McCain hailed the success of the military surge in Iraq. Obama criticized the decision to invade Iraq in the first place, saying the U.S. should have focused on Afghanistan. The senators, speaking in Oxford, Mississippi Friday, agreed Iran would pose a major threat to Israel if Tehran acquired a nuclear weapon. But McCain argued for greater sanctions on Iran, while Obama called for tough direct diplomacy.

WORLD ECONOMY: U.S. lawmakers say they will continue to work over the coming days on a plan to rescue the struggling financial services industry.The Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, says negotiations over the details of the plan are making progress.President George Bush is also optimistic that a deal will be reached.Democrats and Republicans in the Senate mostly agree on the broad principles of a proposal presented by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

SYRIA BLAST: A car bomb has exploded in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing at least 17 people and wounding 14 others. The bomb went off today on the airport road near a crowded intersection, leading to a holy shrine (Sayyeda Zeinab) popular with Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims from Iraq and Iran.Syrian state media say the car was packed with about 200 kilograms of explosives. Witnesses say the blast destroyed nearly 20 vehicles and blew out windows in dozens of nearby buildings.A Syrian police precinct borders the site of the explosion, but it is unclear if that was the target of the attack.

CHINA - SPACE: Chinese astronaut Zhai Zhigang has completed a historic space walk almost 350 kilometers above the Earth.State television showed the crew commander returning to the Shenzhou Seven spacecraft after a walk that lasted about 15 minutes. The country's first-ever spacewalk is seen as a critical step in China's plans to establish a permanent orbital station. Chinese space program officials say Russian experts helped China with the spacewalk, which was broadcast live on television. The spacecraft was launched Thursday night from the Jiuquan spaceport in northwestern China.

UN - IRAN: Top diplomats of six major nations agreed Friday on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to comply with previous demands to stop uranium enrichment.The resolution is a compromise between the six powers ( -- Russia, the U.S., Britain, China, France and Germany -- ) on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. Officials say the resolution does not include new sanctions on Iran, but states that previous resolutions are legally binding and must be carried out. Russia preferred further negotiations with Iran, while France and the United States called for more sanctions. m, or facing further sanctions if it does not.

RUSSIA - MILITARY: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says his country must modernize its armed forces and upgrade its nuclear deterrent. President Medvedev announced plans Friday for Russia to build a space defense system and a new fleet of nuclear submarines by 2020. He said the recent conflict with Georgia shows the need for Russia to have a strong military. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Reuters news agency the Russian military plans would not affect the balance of power between Russia and the United States. She said the United States has an extremely capable and varied nuclear deterrent.

PAKISTAN: Pakistani security forces say at least 25 militants and three soldiers have died in the latest round of fighting in a northwestern tribal region near Afghanistan.Military officials said today the militants were killed in battles that broke out Friday in the Bajaur region. They say at least two of the soldiers killed were officers.Bajaur is a key battleground in Pakistan's effort to drive out militants believed to be responsible for deadly attacks inside Pakistan and on neighboring Afghanistan.The military says it has killed at least one-thousand Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the past month.

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The United Nations General Assembly is holding a special session today during which foreign ministers will address the world body.Ministers from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and North Korea are among the senior officials scheduled to speak at the general debate in New York.Throughout the week, world leaders have called for an international response to global crises, including turmoil in financial markets, skyrocketing food and fuel prices, and climate change.

Listen to our World News for more details.

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