IRAQ: Iraqi security officials say at least 28 people were killed and scores wounded in a series of attacks across the country today (Thursday). In the deadliest incident, a car bomb blast killed at least 10 people and wounded 25 others at a market (al-Aziziya) southeast of Baghdad Separately, the U.S. military says at least 13 insurgents were killed in an air strike on two suspected foreign fighter safe houses near Fallujah, west of Baghdad Meanwhile, a spokesman for Iraq's Health Ministry said U.S. and Iraqi forces detained the deputy health minister (Hakim Zamili) during a raid in the Iraqi capital.(today/Thursday). There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military.
NOKOR TALKS: North Korea says it is ready to discuss initial steps of its nuclear disarmament, as six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program got underway in Beijing (today/Thursday). North Korea's envoy to the talks, Kim Kye-Kwan, said he was prepared to discuss first-stage measures but that any moves by North Korea will be based on whether the U.S. will give up what he referred to as its "hostile policy" towards Pyongyang. Earlier, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he hopes North Korea will recommit to a deal reached in September 2005, when it agreed to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for diplomatic and economic incentives.
CHINA AFRICA: Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Mozambique on the second to last stop of his eight-nation African tour. Mr. Hu arrived in the capital, Maputo, today (Thursday) for a two-day visit set to include talks with his counterpart, Armando Guebuza. The leaders are expected to discuss Beijing's expanding role in Mozambique's mining industry and the construction of dams. China has already invested in construction and agriculture projects in the former Portuguese colony.
PALESTINIAN POL: Leaders of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas are in a second day of talks in Saudi Arabia on efforts to end a deadly power struggle and form a unity government. The two sides began reconciliation talks in the Muslim holy city of Mecca Wednesday, with a pledge not to leave without an agreement. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah invited the two sides for the meeting after several ceasefire agreements between the rival factions collapsed. More than 90 Palestinians have been killed in factional fighting since December.
AFGHAN NATO : NATO defense ministers meet in the Spanish city of Seville today (Thursday) to review preparations for a new offensive against Taleban militants in Afghanistan. Alliance officials say NATO's top military commander, U.S. General Bantz Craddock, is expected to present them with a plan to bolster alliance forces in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border.
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