IRAQ: Two car bombs exploded among shoppers at a busy market in central Baghdad today (Saturday), killing at least eight people. Iraq's Interior Ministry says 20 or more people were wounded when bombs hidden beneath two cars went off at a square (Hafidh al-Qadhi) in the heart of (Rasheed Street) Baghdad's main commercial district. Meanwhile, the U.S. military in Iraq says Washington is offering a reward of up to 50 thousand dollars for information leading to the recovery of an American soldier abducted nearly three weeks ago. The soldier was kidnapped while visiting his family in Baghdad.
VIETNAM - APEC: Senior officials from the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation group are converging on Hanoi for a weeklong forum on regional and global issues, beginning on Sunday. Global trade liberalization is the main topic for most of the Pacific Rim states that make up APEC. With World Trade Organization negotiations at a standstill in a farm-subsidies dispute, representatives of APEC's 21 economies are expected to sign a so-called Hanoi Action Plan restating their commitment to free and open trade.
CHINA - EU - WTO: European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson says there are still gaps in China's efforts to dismantle trade barriers and protect intellectual property rights. At the end of a weeklong trip to China, Mandelson said today (Saturday) the bloc is satisfied how China is implementing its World Trade Organization accession commitments. But he says Beijing can still do more in opening its markets in the service and banking sectors.
US - RUSSIA - WTO: The United States and Russia say they hope to sign a formal agreement next week that paves the way for Russia to join the World Trade Organization. The two sides announced an agreement in principle Friday that covers tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods, access to Russian financial markets, and Moscow's protection of intellectual property rights. Terms of the agreement were not released. U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said the two countries are still finalizing the details but hope to sign a formal document at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi next week.
BURMA - UN: Burmese officials say a visiting senior U.N. envoy has met with the country's detained pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, who arrived in Burma Thursday, met with the Nobel Laureate today (Saturday). Details of the meeting are not immediately available. Gambari previously met Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon last May, becoming the first foreign diplomatic official allowed to see her in more than two years.
VETERANS DAY: Americans are observing the Veterans' Day holiday today (Saturday). The holiday honors the men and women who have served in the U.S. military. President Bush will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and deliver a speech at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington. Veterans Day was first celebrated in the United States as Armistice Day in 1919, as an honor to those who served in World War One. The armistice which ended the war went into effect on November eleventh, 1918. The holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 when the observance was broadened to include all who have served in the armed forces.
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