Palestinian Pol: The United States says it may be willing to work with some officials in the new Palestinian unity government, but will maintain a ban on aid to the Palestinian Authority and have no contact with the prime minister or other members of Hamas.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem said today (Sunday) the United States will continue its policy of not having contact with members of foreign terrorist groups. The United States lists Hamas as a terrorist group.
Israel says it will not work with the new Palestinian unity government because it does not reject violence or recognize Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said today (Sunday) he will maintain contact with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah movement. He also said he hopes the international community will continue a boycott of the Palestinian Authority.
The new Palestinian unity government was to hold its first Cabinet meeting today (Sunday) in Gaza City.
Some of the new ministers will be forced to take part in the session by video link because of an Israeli ban on travel in the West Bank.
Iraq: The U.S. military says about 350 people have been taken to the hospital after being exposed to toxic chlorine gas in a series of suicide bombings in Iraq.
Officials say two suicide bombers simultaneously detonated explosives and released the poisonous gas Friday in Fallujah. As many as eight people died in those attacks. A third, smaller blast involving chlorine happened near Ramadi.
Last month, a top U.S. military commander in Iraq warned that insurgents have begun using bombs with chlorine gas as part of a campaign to create instability in Iraq.
Chlorine burns skin and can cause death when inhaled.
Meanwhile, violence continued with at least three people, including a policeman, killed today (Sunday) in separate attacks in Baghdad. The U.S. military says five U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday in two separate bomb attacks in and around Baghdad.
Iraq – Howard: An Australian Air Force plane carrying Australian Prime Minister John Howard has made an emergency landing in southern Iraq.
Australian news reports said today (Sunday) the plane returned to Tallil Airbase late Saturday shortly after take-off when the cockpit and cabin began to fill with smoke. No injuries are reported. Mr. Howard took off for Baghdad in another plane a short time later.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
The prime minister was traveling to the capital after making a surprise visit (Saturday) to Australian troops deployed in southern Iraq.
In Baghdad, the Australian leader told the Iraqi government his country's troops would remain in Iraq until the job is done.
NoKor – Nuclear: The U.S. envoy to talks on North Korea's nuclear program says a dispute over North Korean funds frozen in a Macau bank should not undermine a six-nation plan to end the program.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said today (Sunday) that he has talked to North Korean envoys about the issue and that it should not be a problem.
Hill is in Beijing with representatives of North and South Korea, China, Japan and Russia for more talks on the nuclear disarmament deal reached last month. The negotiators held working group sessions today and Saturday ahead of the next formal round of six-party talks that begins Monday.
North Korea says it will not fulfill its pledge close its main nuclear facility by April 13th and readmit U.N. inspectors until its money is released from Macau's Banco Delta Asia.
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