The U.S. military says Iraqi troops have killed 21 insurgents and captured 43 others in response to a series of attacks on military and police checkpoints northeast of Baghdad. A military statement today (Friday) says seven Iraqi soldiers and two civilians also were killed in the fighting in the Baquba region of Diyala province. Eight soldiers and four policemen were wounded. The fighting began late Thursday when more than 100 heavily armed militants attacked a police station, five security checkpoints and an Iraqi army headquarters in the area.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is to report today (Friday) to the United Nations Security Council on Iran's compliance with the Council demand of suspending its nuclear program. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday the Security Council must take stern action if the I.A.E.A. report finds Iran has not suspended its uranium enrichment activity - a process that can produce fuel for generating electricity as well as for nuclear weapons.
Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Kenya, the final stop of his three-nation trip to Africa. Mr. Hu is expected to sign offshore oil and gas exploration agreements in Nairobi today (Friday). Thursday, Mr. Hu wrapped up a two-day visit to Nigeria with an address to Parliament in which he urged a strategic partnership between China and Africa.
The U.S. State Department has called on the Burmese military government to reach out to its pro-democracy opposition, the National League for Democracy, after the junta threatened to dissolve the party. A State Department spokesman said Thursday that it is imperative for the Burmese military government to engage democratic opposition groups in meaningful political dialogue. He said the first positive step would be for the government to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and free the many other political prisoners in detention.
The U.S. State Department says it condemns in the strongest possible terms the Burmese government's actions against ethnic minorities, after reports that the military has displaced 11-thousand minority civilians. A spokesman told VOA Thursday that the campaign is another indication of the repressive nature of the military regime. He said the attacks highlight the threat the regime's actions pose to the region.
A Thai court has canceled by-elections scheduled for Saturday, as the country's top judges discuss the nation's deepening political crisis. Following an appeal from King Bhumipol Adulyadej , senior judges from the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and Administrative Court are considering whether to nullify the April second general elections. There was no indication of when the justices will reach a decision. But the Administrative Court did announce the cancellation of Saturday's elections in 14 constituencies. They were being held to fill seats left empty because of the opposition's boycott of the April 2nd elections.
Nepal's parliament is set to convene for the first time in nearly four years today (Friday), but political party leaders say the confirmation of Prime Minister-designate Girija Prasad Koirala will be postponed. A spokesman for Mr. Koirala's Nepali Congress Party says the leader is in ill health. The 84-year-old Mr. Koirala has been suffering from bronchitis. It is not clear how long the swearing-in ceremony will be postponed. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters surrounded the gate of the parliament building today (Friday), waving flags and chanting slogans to keep up pressure for a new constitution.
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