US - IRAQ: Iraq's vice president says a "quick" withdrawal of U.S. forces from his country would lead to chaos, and is not in the best interests of the Iraqis, the United States or other Western nations. Tariq al-Hashemi spoke to reporters in Japan, hours after the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives approved a military spending bill that requires U.S. forces to be withdrawn from Iraq by August 2008.
US - MIDEAST: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza is on her way to the Middle East today (Friday), hoping to put new life into the Israel-Palestinian peace process. Rice told reporters Friday that she hopes to rally more Arab support for peace talks. She said she hopes the Arab League's 2002 peace plan will be offered again.
IRAN - BRITAIN: Iranian media reports say 15 British sailors and marines seized by Iran in a disputed waterway have been transported to Tehran for questioning. A report by the semi-official Fars news agency said today the British detainees are being asked to explain what Iranian officials call their "aggressive action."
IRAN - NUCLEAR: The U.N. Security Council has scheduled a vote for today on a resolution that will impose new sanctions against Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium. The new sanctions would ban all Iranian arms exports and freeze the assets of 28 more Iranian individuals and institutions.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: The United States says it is sending a top Treasury Department official to China to help resolve a banking dispute that had stalled nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea. Treasury officials say Daniel Glaser will travel to Beijing today to help address a frozen bank payment to North Korea. Pyongyang refused to participate in the latest round of nuclear talks this past week until 25 million dollars in funds, frozen at a bank in Macau, were returned.
AMNESTY – LAOS - HMONG: Thousands of men, women and children from the Hmong ethnic minority are living on the run from the military in Laos' mountainous jungle, according to a new report from Amnesty International. The Lao army continues to mount violent attacks on them, even though the jungle-dwellers' military capacity is all but depleted decades after some Hmong fought in the CIA-funded "Secret Army" in Laos during the Viet Nam war. Laos has denied any abuses against Hmong or the existence of insurgents who have in the past troubled security in the north of the country and have been blamed for ambushes on tourist buses which killed dozens of people in 2003. Lao Foreign Ministry dismissed the report as "not true." "There has been no fightings and no conflict in Laos for a long time," ministry spokesman Yong Chanthalansy told The Associated Press.
BURMA - BOAT ACCIDENT: Burmese state media say at least 16 people have drowned in a boat accident on a river near Rangoon. The reports say a small passenger boat carrying about 70 people capsized Friday as it tried to steer away from a whirlpool on the Toe river Forty-two people were rescued by nearby vessels, but 12 remain missing.
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