BANGLADESH POL: Installation of a transitional government in Bangladesh has been postponed as clashes between rival political activists have left at least six people dead and 100 others injured. Former Supreme Court chief justice K. M. Hasan was to have been sworn in as caretaker leader today (Saturday), to prepare for January elections. However, a presidential spokesman said he was too ill to appear. No new date was set for the ceremony.
SUDAN - UN ENVOY: The United Nations says its top official in Sudan will hand over daily operations to his deputy following his expulsion by the Sudanese government. U.N. officials say Jan Pronk will be allowed to return to Sudan next month to organize the handover to his deputy. They say Pronk will officially remain in his post until his contract expires at the end of the year. Sudan's government expelled Pronk earlier this week after he wrote on his personal Web site that Sudan's army had lost two major battles to rebels in the Darfur region, and that morale was low as a result.
IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says American troops captured a senior al-Qaida operative during a raid south of the capital, Baghdad. Military officials say the raid today (Saturday) focused on a militant believed to be responsible for bringing foreign fighters into Iraq. They say the American soldiers killed one suspect and arrested 10 others. On the political front, aides to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki say the Iraqi leader has clarified his relationship with the United States. Aides say Mr. Maliki told U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday that he was Washington's friend but "not America's man in Iraq."
NOKOR-NUCLEAR: South Korean media say the government is monitoring suspicious activities at a North Korean nuclear site where Pyongyang carried out its first nuclear test earlier this month. The reports quote South Korean military sources as saying Pyongyang is building a new structure at the Punggye-ri site in North Korea's remote northeast. But, the sources say the purpose of the facility is unclear.
IRAN-NUCLEAR: The United States says six nations will participate in naval exercises in the Persian Gulf, near Iran, designed to stop shipments of nuclear materials. A senior State Department official (Robert Joseph) says the exercises will start Monday and involve vessels from the U.S., France, Italy, Australia, Britain and Bahrain, the host country. The official says the exercises will test the capacity of the countries to intercept illegal traffic.
SAUDI OIL THREATS: Coalition naval forces in the Persian Gulf have been deployed to counter possible terror threats against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The British navy, which is part of an international task force that patrols in the Gulf, issued a statement Friday asking merchant shippers to be on alert for suspicious vessels or activity. Officials say the increased measures are in response to a threat last month from al-Qaida's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
CHINA-FRANCE: French President Jacques Chirac has completed his four-day visit to China with a tour of archaeological sites in the historic city of Xian. Mr. Chirac visited an ancient tomb built more than two-thousand years ago for an emperor of China's Han dynasty (Liu Qi). He expressed a strong admiration for Chinese history and the efforts of archaeologists. Mr. Chirac earlier traveled to the central Chinese city of Wuhan to lay the foundation stone for a new Peugeot-Citroen auto factory. The plant is a joint venture with Chinese firm Dongfeng, and is expected to start producing cars in 2009. In Beijing Thursday, the French president presided over the signing of 13 deals between French and Chinese businesses.
BURMA-TRAFFICKING: Burma's state media report that a Burmese woman has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for selling two young women into prostitution in Malaysia. The state-run newspaper "New Light of Myanmar" reports today (Saturday) that a Tachileik District court sentenced 41-year-old Aye Naw under Burma's anti trafficking in person's law. The report says she lured the young women by saying she had arranged jobs for them at a restaurant in a near-by Thai border town. Instead, she took them to a Malaysian border town where they were sold into prostitution.
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