President Bush and other leaders at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina hold a second day of talks today (Saturday) on a range of regional economic issues, following an opening session marred by violent street protests.
Debate during the final day of the summit in Mar del Plata is expected to focus on whether to revive talks on a hemispheric-wide free trade bloc. The Free Trade Area of the Americas has been at the center of U.S. policy in the region. But several large Latin American economies -- including Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela -- have opposed it.
U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq have launched a new offensive against insurgents near the border with Syria. Military officials say about one thousand Iraqi soldiers and some 25-hundred U.S. troops are taking part in "Operation Steel Curtain," in Husaybah, some 320 kilometers west of Baghdad. They say the goal is to restore security along the Iraq-Syrian border and destroy the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist network operating in the area.
China has mobilized its huge army to guard against bird flu in its ranks after the country reported its fourth outbreak of the disease. The People's Liberation Army Daily newspaper said today (Saturday) the two-point-three-million-strong army should make urgent plans to detect the virus and stop its spread.
Thailand says it will begin manufacturing its own version of an anti-viral drug used to treat bird flu. A Thai official announced today (Friday) that the country will create a generic alternative to the bird flu drug, Tamiflu, with permission from the Swiss pharmaceutical company that originally created and patented it. The official said raw materials necessary for the drug will be purchased from an Indian pharmaceutical company.
Japanese officials say two days of high-level talks with North Korea did not lead to any breakthroughs. The head of the Japanese delegation to the talks in Beijing, foreign ministry official Akitaka Saiki, says that despite some harsh exchanges, the discussions were still of value. North Korean foreign ministry official Song Il Ho told reporters he agreed that despite differences, the talks ending Friday were useful.
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