IRAQ - CONFERENCE: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called on all countries to write off Iraq's foreign debts, in his opening speech to an international conference aimed at stabilizing the country. The conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh brings together all of Iraq's neighbors, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, as well as the Group of Eight leading industrial nations.
IRAQ: A top Iraqi official says U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq -- an umbrella group of Sunni insurgents linked to al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists. Deputy Interior Minister Hussein Kamal said authorities have custody of the body of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a battle north of the capital. The official did not say when the battle took place. A U.S. military spokesman said the military is to hold a news conference later today to announce what he called "a success in a recent operation against al-Qaida-linked terrorists."
AFGHANISTAN VIOLENCE: Police in Afghanistan say attackers have fatally shot an Afghan senator who briefly served as prime minister in the early 1990's. Authorities say Abdul Saboor Farid was killed late Wednesday outside his home in the country's capital, Kabul. Mr. Farid was Afghanistan's prime minister for one month in 1992 during the chaos of a civil war that followed the defeat of the Soviet army.
NIGERIA - KIDNAPPINGS: At least 17 foreign workers have been kidnapped today in three separate incidents in Nigeria's violence-prone southern oil-producing region. Three South Koreans and eight Filipinos were taken after a gunfight between guards and kidnappers at a power plant construction site near Port Harcourt. The site is operated by a South Korean company. At least five foreign oil workers were kidnapped from an oil vessel anchored 90 kilometers from Port Harcourt. The ship is owned by an Italian oil firm (ENI).
UN - CLIMATE CHANGE: Scientists and climate change experts from around the world are scrambling to finish a United Nations report on ways to manage the effects of global warming. Delegates at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Bangkok, Thailand, are expected to present their report Friday, but debate between rich and poor countries has complicated the drafting process. Insiders say delegates disagree on how much money they should spend to slow greenhouse gas emissions.
BURMA - PRIMINISTER: Witnesses in Burma say the country's ailing prime minister has returned home after spending two months in Singapore for medical treatment. They say General Soe Win arrived in Rangoon today aboard a commercial flight. Burmese authorities previously confirmed the prime minister was receiving medical attention in Singapore, but did not said why. Political observers suspect he has leukemia.
FRANCE - POLITICS: French presidential candidates Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal faced off for more than two hours in an often hostile televised debate Wednesday night. It was their only scheduled debate before Sunday's runoff vote, which will decide who will be the next president. Domestic policy and the economy were the focus of their debate. The conservative Sarkozy called the 35-hour work week, which began under the previous Socialist government, a huge mistake.
US - REPUBLICANS: Ten candidates competing for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination will appear on stage tonight for the first time in a nationally televised debate. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, Arizona Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are the leading Republican candidates heading into the debate, which is being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library near Los Angeles.
BRITAIN - US - ROYAL VISIT: Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives in the United States today to mark the 400th anniversary of England's first American settlement. The queen last visited Jamestown, Virginia, 50 years ago to celebrate the 350th anniversary. She also is scheduled to address (a joint session of) the Virginia state legislature, attend a governor's reception and a concert, and visit the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia's restored 18th-century capital.
JAPAN - POLITICS: Thousands of activists in Tokyo have marked the 60th anniversary of Japan's post-war constitution with protests against proposed changes to its pacifist stance. Politicians and scholars today said they are opposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's proposal to remove a constitutional clause that prohibits Japan from keeping a military or engaging in war. They say Mr. Abe wants to turn Japan into a country that fights wars on behalf of the United States.
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