NOKOR NUCLEAR: North Korea says it is waiting to confirm that its money frozen in a Macau bank has been released before it starts dismantling its nuclear program. In a statement carried by North Korea's official media today, the Foreign Ministry said the country is unchanged in its intention to implement a February nuclear disarmament agreement.
JAPAN - CHINA: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is wrapping up his three-day visit to Japan with a trip to the country's ancient capital, Kyoto. Mr. Wen attended a traditional Japanese tea ceremony today in Kyoto. Earlier today in Tokyo, Mr. Wen said many people believe the aim of his "ice-melting" trip had been achieved. But he said not all problems have been resolved, and more time is needed to address all the issues.
JAPAN CONSTITUTION: Japan's lower house of parliament has passed a controversial bill meant to begin clearing the way to revise the country's pacifist constitution. The measure approved today will help set up an eventual national referendum on how to revise the constitution. The legislation now goes to the upper house, where it is also expected to pass.
US - GUANTANAMO: The Indonesian militant known as Hambali has denied involvement in several well known attacks in his country, and says he has no connection with the al-Qaida terrorist network. The denials are contained in a transcript released Thursday from a closed hearing held this month at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base.
IRAQ: Iraq's parliament has convened in a special session to condemn Thursday's bombing inside the building, but few lawmakers attended. Today's session was broadcast live on Iraqi television. Meanwhile, U.S. and Iraqi officials are investigating how an attacker penetrated the heavy security around Baghdad's green zone and detonated a bomb inside a cafeteria in the parliament building.
PAKISTAN - JUSTICE: Hundreds of Pakistani lawyers and activists have rallied in Islamabad to show support for the country's suspended chief justice as he appeared at the Supreme Court for a hearing into allegations he abused his office. Protesters waved flags and chanted anti-government slogans as Ifitkhar Mohammed Chaudhry arrived at the court for a fourth hearing today.
BANGLADESH: Bangladeshi security forces have detained former law minister Moudud Ahmed as the military-backed caretaker government continues its nationwide crackdown on corruption. Police said Ahmed was arrested at his home in the capital, Dhaka, this morning.
AFGHANISTAN: U.S. -led coalition forces in Afghanistan say American and Afghan troops have rescued five civilian contractors pinned down by Taleban militants, after their helicopter landed in Gazni province south of Kabul. A statement said U.S. special forces and an Afghan police rapid reaction team rescued the contractors late Thursday, after receiving a distress call.
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