IRAQ: Police in Iraq say gunmen have shot and killed six Sunni civilians in a raid on a house in Yusufiya, about 20 kilometers south of the Iraqi capital. Authorities said today (Saturday) say the six men, all members of the same family, had received death threats from Sunni insurgents for taking part in a reconciliation meeting with Shi'ites last month. In other developments, the U.S. military says coalition forces today detained nine suspected terrorists in a raid targeting al-Qaida-in-Iraq (near Taji) just north of Baghdad.
IRAN NUCLEAR: The permanent members of the U.N. Security Council will try today (Saturday) to finalize agreement on new sanctions against Iran for refusing to stop enriching uranium. U.S. officials say representatives of the United States, Britain, France, China and France, along with Germany, agreed on "the major elements" in a conference call Thursday. Officials say they expect the key remaining issues to be resolved today. A draft resolution for consideration by the entire 15-member Council is expected next week.
IRAN-SAUDI ARABIA: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
visits Saudi Arabia today (Saturday) for talks with Saudi King Abdullah expected to focus on Iraq and Lebanon. Iran's Ambassador to Riyadh, Mohammad Hosseini, confirmed the summit will take place, but he did not release details of what the two leaders will discuss. It will be Mr. Ahmadinejad's first official visit to the Saudi kingdom. The summit is seen as a result of weeks of diplomatic activity between Iranian and Saudi officials. Those discussions included ways to reduce tensions in Lebanon between the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, backed by Saudi Arabia and the West, and the Hezbollah-led opposition backed by Iran and Syria.
NOKOR-NUCLEAR: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is in China for talks expected to focus on North Korea's nuclear program and other regional issues. Negroponte, who arrived in Beijing today (Saturday), is to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and other top officials during his three-day visit. The stop in China is the second leg of a trip that began Friday in Japan. While in Tokyo, he cautioned that lifting sanctions against North Korea will take time, and will depend on Pyongyang's compliance with promises it made last month to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
INDONESIA-LANDSLIDE: Officials in eastern Indonesia say landslides triggered by days of heavy rain have killed at least 32 people and left several others missing. Rescue officials are searching for people who were buried beneath mud today (Saturday) in villages in East Nusa Tenggara province. Several roads in the area have been cut off because of the landslides.
JAPAN-SEX SLAVES: South Korean lawmakers are demanding
that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologize and withdraw his remarks denying the existence of sex slaves during World War Two. A spokesman for South Korea's main opposition Grand National Party said today (Saturday) that Mr. Abe's statement was an absurd remark that distorts history and "throws cold water" on relations between the two countries. On Thursday, Mr. Abe said there was no evidence that women were coerced into working as so-called "comfort women." His comments contradict historical evidence that Japan forced an estimated 200-thousand women to work as sex slaves during the war.
BURMA-BIRD FLU: Burma has confirmed additional outbreaks of the H5N1 strain of bird flu virus among poultry in the suburbs of Rangoon. The latest outbreaks were discovered in Hlinethaya, a western suburb of Rangoon. Earlier this week Burmese authorities confirmed a new outbreak of the H5N1 virus on poultry farms, also in Rangoon's western suburbs. No human cases have been announced in the country.
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