IRAQ: Iraqi officials say at least 17 people have been killed in a series of car bomb explosions in Baghdad as violence in the city continues to surge. Police say more than 40 people were wounded in five car bombings across the capital today (Thursday). Three explosions occurred within minutes of each other in the Dora district, while others car bombings took place in central and eastern Baghdad. On Wednesday, at least 25 people were killed and more than 70 wounded in separate attacks in Baghdad's mainly Shi'ite Sadr City district and the northern city of Kirkuk. More than 100 people were killed in attacks around the capital Tuesday.
US-MIDEAST: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin today (Thursday) to discuss Iraq and Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. On Wednesday, Rice said the international Quartet on the Middle East will meet in Washington in about two weeks to try to advance the peace process. Germany currently holds the rotating European Union presidency and has been pushing to get the quartet more involved in Middle East peace efforts.
PHILIPPINES-TERRORISM: The Philippine military says troops have killed 10 members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in a gunbattle on the southern Philippine island of Jolo. The military says three soldiers also died in the fighting, which happened today (Thursday) near the town of Patikul. Philippine troops captured two militants. On Wednesday, the Philippine military announced it had killed a senior Abu Sayyaf leader, Abu Sulaiman during a gunfight at a jungle hide-out on Jolo island Tuesday.
NORTH KOREA-NUCLEAR: U.S. and North Korean officials are set to hold a third day of talks in Berlin today (Thursday) on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. A U.S. embassy official in Berlin confirmed that Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill would meet again with North Korean negotiator Kim Kye Gwan. The two have been meeting since Tuesday to discuss ways of resuming six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons. Hill has described the talks as "useful".
EU-CHINA-ARMS: The European Union's head of foreign relations says the bloc will maintain its arms embargo on China until the country improves its human rights record. Benita Ferrero-Waldner was speaking today (Thursday) in Beijing, where she met Chinese leaders for talks on expanding EU-China relations. The EU External Relations Commissioner reasserted several conditions for lifting the arms embargo.
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