NOKOR TALKS: North Korea's envoy to six-party talks on its nuclear program says he has agreed with his U.S. counterpart on some issues during a bilateral meeting today (Friday) in Beijing. North Korean envoy Kim Kye Kwan did not provide details of their two-hour meeting, but said there are still differences both countries are trying to work out. His comments, during the second day of six-nation nuclear talks, are the first to reporters since China circulated a draft Thursday detailing a proposed list of action steps to begin dismantling North Korea's nuclear program.
PALESTINIAN POL: The European Union says it is cautiously optimistic about a power-sharing deal the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed Thursday. A spokeswoman (Cristina Gallach) for EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said today (Friday) - in her words - "we are going to look at all the details with best will, in a positive but cautious manner." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal signed the deal Thursday in front of King Abdullah in Mecca. .
BANGLADESH POL: Officials in Bangladesh say the country's former state energy minister and a lawmaker have been detained as part of a widespread corruption investigation. Authorities said today (Friday) former Energy Minister Mosharraf Hossain was held after authorities went to his home Thursday night (in Mymensingh). Lawmaker Mufti Shahidul Islam of the Khelafat Majlish party was also taken into custody. Bangladesh authorities have detained at least 22 former ministers and senior politicians this month as part of a major anti-corruption campaign.
BHUTAN KING: Bhutan's new young king has renewed a friendship treaty with India. In his first international act, 26-year-old King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck signed the treaty in New Delhi Thursday. The treaty revises a 57-year-old pact, giving Bhutan more foreign policy independence. India has traditionally dominated Bhutan's economy and foreign policy. The young monarch has been meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian officials during his five-day visit to Bhutan's neighbor. The 26-year-old Oxford-educated King Wangchuck took over the throne in December when his father abdicated.
VIETNAM INTERNET: Vietnam's prime minister went online today (Friday) to answer citizens' questions on a range issues in a new show of openness for the one-party government. Today's (Friday) online chat by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was the first of its kind by a high-ranking official in Vietnam. Mr. Dung said he received more than 20-thousand questions, ranging from development issues to questions about the party leadership.
VIETNAM-AGENT ORANGE: The U.S. ambassador to Vietnam (Michael Marine) has announced that the U.S. is giving Vietnam 400-thousand dollars toward an Agent Orange clean-up. The money will help pay for a one million-dollar study of ways to remove dioxin from contaminated soil at a former U.S. base at Danang.
Agent Orange is a toxic defoliant sprayed by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to strip jungle cover.
CAMBODIA-US SHIP: The first U.S. Navy warship in more than 30 years has docked at a Cambodian port. The USS Gary, a guided-missile frigate, will remain in (the Sihanoukville) port until Tuesday. Joseph Mussomeli, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, said the visit shows a deepening of relations between the U.S. and Cambodia.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Activists, U.S. government representatives, and scholars gathered in Washington Thursday to discuss human trafficking -- not sex-trafficking, the most talked-about aspect of the industry, but the more prevalent one: forced labor. The United States says hundreds of thousands of people around the world are victimized by human traffickers each year. A representative for the group Human Rights Watch opened the one-day conference with a narrated slide show explaining the plight of Asian women who migrate illegally from poor nations such as Indonesia, Burma, and Laos to wealthier nations like Thailand and Malaysia to find work.
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