Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavan returned to the capital, Vientiane, Saturday, following a six-day tour of neighboring Vietnam and Cambodia. Lao state media say it was Mr. Bouasone's first trip abroad since becoming prime minister in June. The Lao leader visited Vietnam from August 28th to 31st, and met his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung. Lao media say Mr. Dung agreed to help Laos in building hydro-electric power plants and developing rubber processing factories.
South Africa-Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in South Africa,
becoming the first Kremlin leader to visit sub-Saharan Africa. Mr. Putin landed in Cape Town today (Tuesday) for talks with his South African counterpart, Thabo Mbeki. The presidents will discuss political and economic relations. They also are expected to sign cooperation agreements on health care and medical science, space exploration, water resources and forestry.
Afghanistan: NATO says its forces have killed more than 200 Taleban fighters and cornered several hundred more in an offensive against the hard-line Islamist group in southern Afghanistan. A NATO's Operation Medusa was launched Saturday to wipe out Taleban strongholds in Kandahar province. It has sparked intense fighting in the region near the border with Pakistan. Five Canadian soldiers have been killed during the operation, including one hit by so-called "friendly fire" from a U.S. warplane
Indonesia-Bomber-Verdict: An Indonesian court has sentenced a man to eight years in prison in connection with suicide bomb attacks on Bali island in 2005. The court in Bali's capital, Denpasar, found Abdul Aziz guilty of harboring the alleged mastermind of the attacks, Noordin Top, who is still at large. Suicide bombers blew themselves up in three Bali restaurants on October first last year, killing 20 people and wounding about 150 others.
Israel-Lebanon: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he expects Israel to lift its air, land and sea blockade of Lebanon by Thursday. Speaking to reporters in the Egyptian city of Alexandria today (Tuesday), Mr. Annan said he expects the blockade issue to be resolved within the next 48 hours. Israel has said the blockade will remain in effect until international troops are in place in Lebanon, and steps are taken to stop the supply of arms to Hezbollah guerrillas
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