IRAQ: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has met with the president of Iraq's northern Kurdish autonomous region -- on the second day of her visit to Iraq. After talks with Masood Barzani in the city Irbil, Rice told reporters they discussed Iraq's national reconciliation process and, what she called, the vision of a unified democratic Iraq. Barzani expressed his commitment to "the framework of a democratic Iraq and the federal system."
SUDAN - DARFUR: The United States has called Sudan's latest remarks on Darfur a direct challenge to the authority of the U.N. Security Council. Sudan sent a letter to many nations earlier this week saying any offer to participate in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur will be considered a "hostile act" and a "prelude to an invasion." The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, said Thursday the letter requires a strong response by the Security Council. A draft statement sponsored by the United States condemned what it called the Sudanese mission's attempt to intimidate potential troop contributing nations.
IRAN-NUCLEAR: World powers convene in London today (Friday) to discuss future steps over Iran's nuclear program. Foreign ministers of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members (the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China) plus Germany are to discuss strategy, now that the European Union's efforts to persuade Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activity have apparently reached a dead-end.
JAPAN-AFGHANISTAN: Japan's Cabinet has approved a one-year extension of the country's naval mission to support U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan. The measure will next be voted on by parliament. Japan's maritime self-defense forces were sent to the Indian Ocean in 2001 to provide fuel for coalition warships. The current mission was set to expire November first.
NOKOR-NUCLEAR: South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon says, if he becomes the next U.N. secretary-general, he will consider visiting North Korea to help resolve the standoff over its nuclear program. Ban is expected to be confirmed as the next U.N. chief next week. In an interview published by the "Financial Times" today (Friday), Ban said current Secretary-General Kofi Annan has made many contributions, but has not been able to visit North Korea during the past 10 years.
RUSSIA-GEORGIA: Russia has deported at least 143 Georgian citizens - the latest move in a mounting crisis between the two countries over allegations of spying by Moscow. Russian authorities say the deportees were flown today (Friday) from a military base outside Moscow to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. There was no official explanation for the move.
Meanwhile, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili says his pro-Western party has won an overwhelming victory in Thursday's local elections.
DV PROGRAM: The U.S. State Department Web site for the 2008 Diversity Visa Program (DV-2008) is now open. The application submission period for DV-2008 is from 12:00PM EDT (GMT -5) on October 4, 2006 to 12:00PM EST (GMT -5) on December 3, 2006. The application form will only be available for submission during this period and this period only. Applications will not be accepted through the U.S. Postal Service.
The Congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Laos and Thailand are among those countries.
Entries for the DB-2008 Diversity Visa Lottery must be submitted electronically only. Applicants may access the electronic Diversity Visa entry form at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. Paper entries will not be accepted. Applicants are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. No entries will be accepted after noon EST on December 3, 2006.
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