GREECE/US BLAST: Greek authorities say a domestic militant group is likely responsible for today's (Friday's) rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Athens that damaged the building, but caused no injuries. Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras says police are investigating a claim of responsibility on behalf of the Greek left-wing extremist group, Revolutionary Struggle. He says authorities believe the attack was a symbolic act, and an attempt at reviving terrorist activity in Greece. Authorities say it appears the assailants fired the self-propelled explosive from a construction site directly across the street from the front of the main U.S. Embassy building. The blast shattered some windows of nearby buildings.
US - IRAQ: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will face more
questions about President Bush's plan to send an additional 20-thousand troops to Iraq when he testifies before Congress today (Friday). Gates and General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss the president's new Iraqi policy. Mr. Bush says he is sending the troops to Baghdad and the volatile western Anbar province in an effort to quell violence there. During an appearance Thursday before the House Armed Services Committee, Gates stressed that Iraq will have to deliver more troops to Baghdad, and limit political interference in military operations.
BANGLADESH: Bangladeshi soldiers have arrested an opposition politician, after the president declared a state of emergency and postponed the January 22nd national elections. Police did not say why an Awami League lawmaker (Kamal Ahmed Majumder) was arrested at his home in Dhaka early today (Friday). President Iajuddin Ahmed announced late Thursday that he would retain his largely ceremonial post, but resigned as the government's chief advisor to pave the way for an election in which all political parties can participate. He did not announce a new date.
BIRD FLU: Hospital officials in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, say a 37-year-old woman has died of bird flu, bringing the country's death toll from the disease to 59. The officials say the woman died Thursday after being diagnosed with the H5N1 bird flu strain earlier this week. Also Thursday, health officials in South Korea said a person there contracted bird flu but has no symptoms of the disease. They said the person was infected during an outbreak of the potentially deadly H5N1 strain that hit poultry farms late last year.
THAILAND-HMONGS: Council for National Security chief Gen Sonthi
Boonyaratkalin has ordered the Third Army to set up a temporary holding camp for 6,000 Hmong migrants in Phetchabun. The move is an attempt to better regulate the movements of Hmong migrants who have made their way into Thailand illegally from Laos. They will remain at the new centre pending the government's decision on whether to repatriate them or send them to a third country. Gen Sonthi, in his capacity as director of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), said illegal migrants could pose a threat to national security if not handled carefully. ''Isoc has to act on this issue because it could undermine our bilateral relations with a neighbouring country,'' he said. More than 6,000 ethnic Hmong from Laos have settled in Phetchabun's Ban Huay Nam Khao community.
ASEAN: Senior foreign ministry officials from South Korea, China and Japan met today (Friday) on the Philippine island of Cebu for talks that included North Korea's nuclear program. South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, and Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister, Katsuhito Asano, agreed that progress must be made on convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Today's meeting was the first among all three countries since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office last year.
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