Iraq's foreign minister says Iran and Syria have agreed to take part in a regional security conference in Baghdad that will include delegations from the United States and other world powers. Hoshyar Zebari told the Associated Press (Wednesday) that Iran's government will take part in the March 10th meeting, but says Tehran has raised "questions" about the arrangements. The Baghdad conference is to include Iraq's neighbors and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China).
IRAN -REBELS: Iranian state media say elite Revolutionary Guard forces
have killed 17 rebels in a battle in the northwest of the country. The state-run news agency IRNA reported today (Thursday) that four Iranian troops also were killed in the fighting in the province of West Azarbaijan, near Iran's borders with Turkey and Iraq. The agency did not specify when the battle took place.
ASIA BIRD FLU: Indonesia says it will resume sharing bird flu virus samples with the World Health Organization after receiving guarantees they will not be used for commercial purposes. Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said today (Thursday) that WHO Director Margaret Chan was providing a guarantee that samples from Indonesia will only be used for diagnostic purposes. Jakarta triggered a storm of controversy last month when it said it would only share its samples of bird flu with those who agree not to use them for commercial gain.
WORLD STOCKS: Major Asian stock markets fell for the third straight session today (Thursday) because of ongoing concern about the global economy. Stocks in China have been especially volatile this week. Today, the Shanghai index closed nearly three-percent lower. Shares in Hong Kong dropped one-and-a-half percent, while Japan's market closed about nine-tenths of a percent lower. Smaller markets in New Zealand and the Philippines rebounded, and major European markets opened slightly higher today
US POLITICS: Republican Senator John McCain has officially declared his candidacy for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. The Arizona senator made the announcement Wednesday during the taping of a late-night talk show (CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman"). McCain said he will make an official announcement in April. He joins former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in seeking the Republican nomination.
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