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Fighting Continues in Gaza Despite Truce


Palestinians Violence: Gunmen of the rival Islamic militant Hamas and Fatah movements clashed in Gaza City today (Monday), leaving two Hamas fighters dead and at least 10 people wounded.
The violence broke out only hours after Egyptian mediators brokered a deal with the two groups to pull their gunmen off the streets of Gaza.
The truce was called to end a round of factional fighting in the Gaza Strip that killed four people and wounded 12 others (Sunday).
Sunday's fighting began when gunmen killed a local commander of the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and his driver. The group blamed Hamas, which denied involvement.
In another shooting, gunmen killed two men and wounded nine others in Gaza City.
In another development, Palestinian Interior Minister Hani al-Qawasmeh submitted his resignation today.

Cheney – Mideast: Jordan's King Abdullah asked U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to help revive the stalled Middle East peace process during talks today (Monday) that also focused on Iraq and Iran.
In a meeting at the king's vacation compound in Aqaba, the Jordanian leader asked Cheney to help move the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians out of its "stagnation."
Cheney's visit to Jordan was his last stop on a Mideast tour seeking support for efforts to stabilize Iraq.
On Sunday, the vice president met in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in what an advisor to Cheney called wide-ranging talks.
Cheney has also visited Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on his Mideast tour. In addition to Iraq, his talks with regional leaders have been aimed at countering what he calls Iran's move to dominate the region.

Russia – US: The U.S. secretary of state will be in Moscow today (Monday) to meet with top Russian officials for talks about Kosovo, U.S. plans for a missile shield in Europe, and various other issues.
During two days of discussions, Condoleezza Rice will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his foreign minister (Sergei Lavrov), and security officials.
She will try to persuade Russia to back a U.N. envoy's plan for granting supervised independence to the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo. The Kremlin opposes the plan, as well as a U.S. proposal to provide Poland and the Czech Republic with a missile-defense system that Russia sees as a threat (but which the U.S. says is a defense against rogue states like Iran).
Rice told a U.S. Senate hearing last week that Mr. Putin's rollback of democratic reforms is troubling. She called U.S.-Russian relations complicated, but said both countries are cooperating on major issues, such as Iran and North Korea.

Philippines Elections: Philippine officials say at least six people were killed today (Monday) in election-related violence as voters cast ballots for parliamentarians and local-government officials.
The victims died in shootouts and ambushes throughout the country. Some voters were wounded in bomb attacks. Officials say unidentified attackers also burned down at least one voting station and stole election materials from others.
Despite tight security and a ban on weapons, at least 120 people have been killed since campaigning began a few months ago.
About 45 million people were eligible to vote today (Monday) for the full House of Representatives, half of the Senate and about 18-thousand local and regional government positions.

Thaialnd – Politics:

The wife of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has appeared in court to face charges of tax evasion.
After an initial hearing today (Monday), a Bangkok judge gave lawyers until May 25th to submit their evidence and list of witnesses in the case against Pojaman Shinawatra, her brother and a secretary.
All three have pleaded not guilty to tax evasion charges related to the 1997 sale of shares of the family's flagship telecommunications company, Shinawatra Computer and Communication. That company later became Thailand's telecom giant Shin Corp.
The prime minister's family earned nearly two billion dollars tax-free when they sold the company.
Mr. Thaksin was pushed from power in a bloodless military coup last September. His removal followed accusations of widespread corruption and months of street protests against this government.

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