Iran Nuclear: Russia says it will continue to work for a negotiated solution to Iran's nuclear standoff with the West.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement (today / Wednesday) said Moscow will continue its search for a political solution, preserve the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency and prevent a breakdown of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Russia, the four other permanent U.N. Security Council members (the United States, France, Britain and China) and Germany are studying Iran's offer of "serious negotiations" on its nuclear program.
Iran formally responded Tuesday to the world powers' offer of economic incentives in exchange for Iran halting uranium enrichment activity.
Iran did not say if it will stop the sensitive nuclear work by August 31st deadline set by the U.N. Security Council.
The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, said Washington is studying Iran's response, but is also ready to move forward with U.N. sanctions if Iran rejects the demand to halt uranium enrichment.
US Marines: The United States is recalling to active duty several thousand Marines to bolster American military units in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A military spokesman says the Marine reservists are men and women who returned to civilian life after previous active-duty service. They will fill critical shortages among military-police units, intelligence and communications specialists.
President Bush issued an order authorizing the involuntary callup.
The Marines Corps has 35 thousand reserve troops with time remaining on eight-year commitments made when they enlisted. Mr. Bush's order limits the number of those who can be recalled to 25-hundred at a time. The reservists are expected to return to active duty for 18 months.
Philippines Militants: The Philippine military says its soldiers have killed an Abu Sayyaf rebel leader during a clash with the militant group in the country's south.
Military spokesmen (today/Wednesday) said Otong Halipa Lingungan was killed Tuesday on Basilan island. The rebel commander was wanted in connection with a series of kidnappings.
Soldiers have been hunting Abu Sayyaf rebels and Indonesian militants on Basilan, Jolo and other southern islands for months.
In a separate incident on the southern island of Mindanao today (Wednesday), a group of suspected rebels from the New People's Army briefly detained villagers. The rebels held school teachers and students hostage for a few hours to prevent them from alerting the police.
Malaysia – ASEAN: Japan's Trade Minister has met with counterparts from Southeast Asian countries to discuss Tokyo's proposal for a 16-nation free-trade zone.
Trade Minister Toshihiro Nikai held meetings with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations today (Wednesday) in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. " hspace=2 src="/lao/images/ap_ASEAN_meeting_table_25jul06_eng_1951.jpg" width=210 align=right vspace=2 border=0>
Malaysia's Trade Minister, Rafidah Aziz, said that ASEAN must play a central role in any arrangement it forms with its key trading partners, including Japan.
Japan's proposal for a pan-Asian free trade area would include Australia, China, South Korea, India, Japan, New Zealand, and the 10-nation ASEAN group.
Koreas – Nuclear: South Korea is urging North Korea not to test nuclear warheads, warning that such action would seriously threaten international stability.
South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon says a nuclear test by North Korea would have much more serious consequences for the reclusive state than the diplomatic protests against Pyongyang's missile launches last month.
Ban said in Seoul today (Wednesday) that any nuclear test by the North would "shake the foundation of international nonproliferation efforts" and further isolate North Korea.
Ban says concerned countries are sharing intelligence and monitoring the situation closely.
Afghanistan: NATO forces in southern Afghanistan say they have killed 11 Taleban militants." hspace=2 src="/lao/images/ap_afghanistan_NATO_suicide_attack_17aug06_eng_1951.jpg" width=210 align=right vspace=2 border=0>
NATO officials say 15 insurgents were planning an ambush in Kandahar province late Tuesday when NATO aircraft bombed their compound. It was unclear what happened to the other four.
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