BUSH-MIDEAST: President Bush has praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as a "strong leader" and said the success of his government is critical to Iraq's future. Speaking after talks with Mr. Maliki in Amman, Jordan (today/Thursday), Mr. Bush said U.S. forces will remain in Iraq "until the job is complete" and as long as the government wants them there. Mr. Bush said he agreed with Mr. Maliki that any partition of the country will not end sectarian violence -- as some have suggested -- but will only increase it.
IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition troops have found 28 bodies in a mass grave near the restive city of Baquba, north of Baghdad. A military statement (today / Thursday) said the bodies found Wednesday were first taken to a nearby town (Nahrwan) for possible identification by family members and then transported to Baghdad. The statement did not give other details. Baquba is the capital of Diyala province, which is dominated by Sunni Arab insurgents, including al-Qaida terrorists.
ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice says the United States hopes for the expansion of of a recent ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, and will accelerate efforts to find a solution to the conflict. Rice was speaking at a joint news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a meeting in the West Bank town of Jericho today (Thursday).
BIRD FLU: South Korea has announced plans to cull more than half a million poultry to try and prevent the spread of bird flu. Some 150-thousand poultry had already been marked for culling, but the Agriculture Ministry said today (Thursday) that authorities are expanding the slaughter to make sure the outbreaks are contained. South Korea recently confirmed outbreaks of the H5N1 strain of bird flu at two poultry farms close to the southwestern city of Iksan.
THAILAND-AIDS: Thailand has issued its first compulsory license to make a cheaper version of an AIDS drug sold by the major international pharmaceutical company, Merck. Thailand's Department of Disease Control said officials decided to break Merck's patent because the price of its drug Efavirenz is too high for the government to afford.
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