US-MIDEAST: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has begun a trip to the Middle East that includes a three-way meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. The two leaders and Rice are scheduled to confer Monday in Jerusalem. Rice says the meeting will be an informal discussion of what a two-state solution of the Middle East conflict will entail.
IRAQ: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says a new security operation in Baghdad appears to be off to "a good start," and she urged Iraq's government to make good use of any lull in sectarian violence. Rice made her comments today (Saturday) during an unannounced visit to Iraq. Her airplane circled Baghdad for 30 minutes before landing because of military operations in the capital.
US-IRAQ VOTE: The U.S. Senate has scheduled a rare Saturday
vote on a non-binding resolution that expresses disapproval of President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq. The move comes a day after the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the measure that Speaker Nancy Pelosi says sets the stage for a new direction in Iraq. The resolution opposes deployment of more U.S. troops while expressing continued support for U.S. forces already in Iraq.
PAKISTAN-BLAST: Pakistani police say a suicide bomb attack has killed at least 15 people, including a judge and several lawyers, in a courtroom in the southwestern city of Quetta. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack today (Saturday) at the District Courts complex in the capital of Baluchistan province. Officials said at least 25 people were injured.
CHINA-NUCLEAR: China says it will strengthen controls on the export of nuclear goods for both civilian and military use to help prevent nuclear terrorism and proliferation. State media report today (Saturday) the stronger regulations forbid buyers from using or duplicating China's nuclear goods and technologies for activities not approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
INDONESIA AIDS: The World Health Organization says Indonesia
has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in Asia. The U.N. body published a report today (Saturday) saying drug users and sex workers account for most of the spread of the virus that causes AIDS. The report says HIV has become a particular concern in the remote eastern province of Papua, where infection rates are more than 20 times the national average. Health authorities say about two percent of Papua's population is infected with HIV.
GUINEA UNREST: The United States says it is deeply concerned over the crisis in Guinea following weeks of deadly protests and the imposition of martial law. The U.S. Embassy in Conakry urged Guinea's government to end the state of emergency and to restore basic freedoms. Guinean President Lansana Conte has given the military broad powers to end anti-government protests. More than 100 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters since January.
CHINA-NOKOR REFUGEES: Chinese state media say police have rescued four North Koreans after their boat sank in the Mekong River. The Xinhua news agency reported today (Saturday) the boat capsized near the border with Laos and Burma last Monday. A Chinese passenger also was rescued. Two others are missing. Xinhua says the four North Koreans are believed to have crossed illegally into China over the last several years. Police said they were planning to travel to South Korea through Burma and Thailand.
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