ISRAEL - LEBANON: Israeli aircraft have carried out new strikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon, pounding the militant group's southern Beirut stronghold. In the south of the country, Lebanese security officials say at least 10 civilians were killed when an Israeli missile hit a vehicle carrying them. Earlier, four civilians were reported killed in Israeli airstrikes targeting bridges, gas stations and fuel storage depots in the south and east. Hezbollah today fired rockets into the northern Israeli town of Tiberias. No casualties were reported. On Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed "open war" against Israel after surviving an Israeli airstrike on his home and office in Beirut.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israel is continuing airstrikes in the Gaza Strip as part of an offensive to end rocket attacks by Palestinian militants and rescue a captured Israeli soldier. Airstrikes today (Saturday) hit the offices of the Hamas-controlled Economy Ministry, setting the building on fire. Another Israeli airstrike destroyed a bridge in central Gaza, and a third targeted a house in Gaza City. At least two people were killed. Israeli forces have destroyed several Palestinian government buildings linked to Hamas since starting an offensive in Gaza on June 28th - three days after a soldier was captured by Palestinian militants. About 80 Palestinians have been killed during the military operation.
MIDEAST REACT: President Bush has blamed Hezbollah for the
escalating violence in the Middle East and called on Syria to exert influence over the Lebanese militant group to lay down its arms. Mr. Bush told reporters in St. Petersburg that the best way to end the violence is for Hezbollah to release two kidnapped Israeli soldiers and stop firing rockets into Israel. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Israel's concerns were justified but that the "use of force should be balanced." He expressed hope G-8 leaders meeting in Russia would find common ground on the issue.
BUSH - RUSSIA:
President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin say their countries continue to maintain good relations, and will work together to combat terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The two leaders met reporters today (Saturday) after holding private talks in St. Petersburg, Russia before the official start of the Group of Eight summit. Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin say they have agreed to work together to combat the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as well as the creation of a peaceful nuclear energy initiative for all nations.
NOKOR - MISSILES: Japan
and the United States are seeking a U.N. Security Council vote today (Saturday) on a new, revised draft resolution to warn North Korea about its missile tests. Discussions on the resolution are to resume later in day, but it is unclear if a vote will take place. Tokyo and Washington have offered a revised text that seeks to balance their demands for punitive sanctions with a milder draft resolution sponsored by China and Russia.
VIETNAM - US MILITARY: The head of U.S. forces
in the Pacific says military ties between the United States and Vietnam are steadily expanding and could include joint search and rescue exercises. Admiral William Fallon said today (Saturday) Vietnamese officials have expressed interest in joint-training in search-and-rescue operations, which could help in natural disasters, such as last May's Typhoon Chanchu. Fallon met with Vietnamese officials Friday. He said he proposed joint educational programs, including language training for Vietnamese military officers.
Fallon said they also discussed using military forces for humanitarian projects. Fallon's visit to Vietnam follows a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last month. Analysts say both countries want to improve military cooperation in part to balance China's military buildup, which U.S. officials say is changing the military balance in the region.
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