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Abbas Calls for Peace Ahead of Vote to Approve New Palestinian Government


PALESTINIAN POL: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for a negotiated peace with Israel to end the cycle of violence. In a speech today ahead of a parliamentary vote on a new unity government, Mr. Abbas said Palestinians "reject violence in all its forms." But in a speech directly following Mr. Abbas' comments, Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said the Palestinian unity government affirms the right to resist Israel.

NORKOR NUCLEAR: A senior U.S. Treasury Department official says it is up to Macau authorities, not the U.S., to release North Korean funds currently frozen in a Macau-based bank. Daniel Glaser, (the department's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes) says he discussed the issue with Macau authorities today.

UN / IRAQ: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi have introduced a new reconstruction plan for Iraq based on long-term economic growth. Mr. Ban and Mahdi unveiled the five-year plan called the "International Compact with Iraq" Friday at a U.N. conference of delegates from nearly 100 potential donor nations and institutions.

IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces have captured 18 suspected terrorists in two separate raids. A military statement says 12 suspects were arrested early today in a raid southeast of Balad. Coalition forces also seized roadside bombs, a variety of firearms, rocket propelled grenade launchers and grenades. The military says six other suspects were captured in Fallujah today in a raid targeting a cell of foreign fighter facilitators.

US / ANTI-WAR MARCH: Tens of thousands of demonstrators are in Washington for protests marking the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. Demonstrators plan to gather near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial today and march to the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. military.

RUSSIA / PLANE CRASH: Russian officials say five people were killed and 51 injured today in the crash landing of a Russian airliner. A spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry said the Tu-134 jet made a hard landing in the city of Samara in southeastern Russia when its landing gear failed to deploy. The spokesman said the plane's fuselage hit the runway.

PAKISTAN / JUSTICE: Pakistani officials say authorities have lifted restrictions on the country's former top judge, who has been confined to his home since being dismissed by President Pervez Musharraf last week. Officials said a panel of judges ordered the house detention be lifted and that Iftikhar Chaudhry was now free to leave his home and accept visitors.

BURMA / DRUGS: Burma's state-run newspaper says police have arrested 328 suspected drug dealers in an effort to crack down on rampant drug trafficking. "The New Light of Myanmar" reports Friday that the 270 men and 58 women were arrested in raids last month. Police also seized 73 kilograms of opium, 15 kilograms of heroin and various other illicit drugs in more than 100 raids.

VIETNAM / NORWAY: Vietnamese police briefly detained three Norwegians for visiting a dissident monk. The three Norwegians were surrounded by police on Thursday when they arrived in the Thanh Minh Zen monastery in Ho Chi Minh City. The three were there to meet with the leader of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Thich Quang Do. One of the detained works for the Norway-based human rights group, Rafto Foundation.

CAMBODIA / KHMER ROUGE: The chief defense lawyer for the Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal in Cambodia says a dispute over fees foreign lawyers must pay to take part should not derail the long-stalled trials. Rupert Skilbeck said today he will try to work with the Cambodian Bar Association to reach an agreement on the proposed fees.

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