THAILAND-LAOS: An international human rights group is urging Thailand to stop deporting ethnic Hmong asylum seekers back to Laos because it says they could be persecuted. Human RIghts Watch said today (Tuesday) that Thailand is preparing to deport 152 Hmong, 104 of whom have been recognized as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The rest are in the process of having their status determined. Human Rights Watch says the Thai government should uphold its commitment to protect refugees and asylum seekers from neighboring countries. Thousands of Hmong are living in camps near the Thai-Lao border, complaining of repression and abuse by the Vientiane government. Many of the Hmong sided with the United States during the Vietnam War and fought against communist forces when the conflict spilled into Laos in the 1960s and 1970s.
IRAQ: Iraqi officials say a double car bombing has killed at least 57 people and wounded about 150 in central Baghdad. Officials say the devastating attack involved a suicide bomber in a van and a parked vehicle, which exploded in quick succession in Baghdad's Tayaran Square. Authorities say the suicide bomber drove into the square this (Tuesday) morning and pretended to offer work to poor laborers, mainly Iraqi Shi'ites. He then set off the explosives in his vehicle after attracting a large crowd.
BUSH-IRAQ: President Bush says he will consider recommendations from various sources before announcing any change of policy on Iraq. Mr. Bush will have videoconference discussion today (Tuesday) with senior U.S. military officials in Iraq. The conference is part of a series of meetings to provide the president with advice about Iraq. Mr. Bush met Monday in Washington with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other officials.
SRI LANKA: The United Nations says it is deeply concerned about 35-
thousand civilians in eastern Sri Lanka trapped in fighting between Tamil rebels and government forces. The world body called for a halt to the direct shelling of civilian areas in eastern Batticaloa and urged both sides to respect humanitarian law. Tamil Tiger rebel fighters and government troops have traded blame for the killing of civilians in recent fighting.
NOKOR-NUCLEAR: Japan's foreign minister is calling for North Korea to submit to U.N. nuclear inspections when it resumes international disarmament talks next week. China says progress can be made at next week's North Korean nuclear disarmament talks if the six nations involved adopt a flexible and pragmatic attitude.
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