IRAQ: Iraqi officials say they are performing DNA tests on a slain militant to determine if he is the new al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Hamza al-Muhajer (also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri). But a U.S. military spokesman (Colonel Barry Johnson) said "it is highly unlikely" that U.S. forces killed the top al-Qaida insurgent in Wednesday's raid on a safe house in the town of Haditha, west of Baghdad. Earlier, Arab television reports said al-Muhajer had been killed.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has ended her talks with top Israeli and Palestinian officials aimed at reviving the stalled Mideast peace process. Rice did not make any public comments as she left Israel today (Thursday), after meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Her destination has not been disclosed.
AFGHANISTAN: NATO has assumed command of 12-thousand U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan, completing the alliance's hold on security throughout the country. NATO now commands international forces across the country and its capital, Kabul, in the organization's largest ever operation. The ceremony marking the transfer of command was held in Kabul today (Thursday) and attended by U.S. and NATO commanders and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
CHINA BIRD FLU: China says a new bird flu outbreak in the country's northwest has killed about one thousand domestic poultry. The official Xinhua news agency reports that a national laboratory test has confirmed the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus is present in a village in the Ningxia region's capital, Yinchuan. The Ministry of Agriculture told Xinhua Wednesday that nearly 73 thousand domestic birds have been slaughtered to try to prevent the virus from spreading.
THAILAND-UN : Thailand's interim prime minister says the country's candidate for secretary-general of the United Nations has withdrawn from the race. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanon announced today (Thursday) that former deputy prime minister Surakiart Sathirathai, would not continue his pursuit of Kofi Annan's job. Mr. Annan will step down after 10 years as U.N. secretary general at the end of this year.
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