PALESTINIAN UNREST: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to swear in a new prime minister and emergency cabinet today, replacing the Hamas-led government he fired after the group's bloody takeover of the Gaza Strip. Mr. Abbas of the Fatah faction, who is in the West Bank, appointed former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad as the new prime minister Friday -- after dismissing Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. But Mr. Haniyeh has ignored his dismissal and said his government will continue to exercise its duties.
IRAQ: The American commander in Iraq says his forces have started new offensives against al-Qaida insurgents in and around Baghdad during the last 24 hours. General David Petraeus told reporters in Baghdad today, after meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the operations target areas that have been al-Qaida safe havens and bases for carrying out car bomb attacks. Gates told the reporters that pursuing national reconciliation was a difficult process. Gates is in Iraq to assess a troop build-up designed to slow ongoing violence, while Iraqi officials try to settle differences among factions in the country.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say a suicide bomber has struck near a NATO convoy in the capital, Kabul, killing four civilians. Officials say five other people, including one foreigner, were wounded when the bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a line of vehicles in western Kabul today. Kabul police authorities say U.S. troops responding to the attack opened fire, mistakenly killing one civilian and wounding another. Witnesses say civilians in the area responded angrily. U.S. officials say they are investigating the incident.
OKOR NUCLEAR: North Korea says a financial dispute that has held up a nuclear disarmament agreement has been resolved. North Korean state media report today Pyongyang is inviting U.N. nuclear inspectors into the country to discuss the shutdown of its main nuclear reactor, as called for in the disarmament agreement. Earlier today, the top U.S. nuclear envoy said North Korean funds, which have been holding up the disarmament deal, are now in Russia, but technical problems were delaying the final transfer to the North's account.
JAPAN - NOKOR: Authorities in Japan say four North Koreans who drifted on a boat to Japan have been sent to South Korea. The family of four - a couple and their two adult sons - left Tokyo's Narita airport today for Seoul. The family landed at a port in Japan's northern Aomori prefecture on June second after a six-day voyage. They told authorities they left North Korea with hopes of reaching the South, but changed their plans and headed to Japan because of concerns over heavy maritime security by both Koreas.
THAILAND - POLITICS: Thailand's military-installed prime minister, Surayud Chulanont, says he is ready to talk with his deposed predecessor, Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr. Surayud made the offer today in his weekly address to the nation. He said the government would like to discuss Mr. Thaksin's assets, and his family's activities while he was in office. Mr. Surayud's offer came after a pro-Thaksin rally in Bangkok Friday evening. About 10 thousand Thaksin supporters cheered as a speech by the former prime minister, recorded in his exile home in London, played on large video screens.
BURMA - FORCED LABOR: The International Labor Organization says Burma has ignored all of its recommendations to combat forced labor in the country. The group said in a statement Friday that forced labor continues to be widespread throughout Burma, and is often ordered by the army. It said those found guilty of the practice are often punished through administrative measures rather than with the required criminal penalties. Burma agreed earlier this year to allow its citizens to complain to the world body about forced labor.
CHINA - SLAVERY: China has opened a national investigation into a slave labor scandal in central China, where as many as one-thousand people are believed to have been forced into a brutal human trafficking ring. China's official Xinhua news agency says a team of investigations will be sent to brick kilns and coal mines in Shanxi and Henan provinces, where more than 500 people, many of them children, have been freed in recent days. Officials say they believe hundreds more could be trapped at the work sites.
US - CHINA TRADE: The United States says it is tightening export controls on high-tech goods to China that Beijing could use for the military. The new regulation announced Friday also makes it easier for approved Chinese customers to import more high-tech goods. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez says the new rule strikes the right balance for Washington's complex relations with China.
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