NOKOR - NUCLEAR: The top U.S. nuclear envoy is in North Korea on a surprise two-day visit, ahead of the expected resumption of six-nation talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill is the highest-level U.S. official to visit North Korea in five years. He is to meet with the country's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Kwan. Before departing Tokyo for Pyongyang, Hill said it was important to make up for lost time on the North Korean nuclear issue. Earlier, he said he expected the six-party nuclear talks to resume in early July.
THAILAND - POLITICS: Thai prosecutors have filed corruption charges against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in the first criminal charges ever filed against him. The charges filed today at the Supreme Court against Mr. Thaksin and his wife, Pojaman, center on a controversial land purchase in 2003. Mr. Thaksin is accused of illegally influencing a deal to allow his wife to buy the land from a government agency at a bargain price. A panel of judges will decide on July 10th whether to accept the case.
BRITAIN -THAILAND - THAKSIN: The management of a British soccer club is recommending that shareholders accept a bid from Thailand's former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, to buy the team. Manchester City's board today approved Mr. Thaksin's offer of about 162 million dollars. Mr. Thaksin says he is determined to improve the club's standing in league play.
SCHOOL BOARD - VANG PAO: According to AP report from Madison, Wis., the school board erased the name of Hmong General Vang Pao from a new elementary school Monday night, two weeks after he was charged with trying to overthrow the communist government in Laos. Board members apologized profusely to the Hmong community, but in the end voted 7-0 to remove the name. Board President Arlene Silveira said the board had to defuse dissension in the community. Vang Pao was among 10 Hmong leaders arrested June 4 and charged in federal court in California with conspiracy to overthrow the communist Laotian government by killing officials and leveling government buildings.
VIETNAM - US: Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet has called for greater American investment in his country. He made the call Wednesday in a speech to the Asia Society in New York. He also spoke at a forum on education and said Vietnam needs to improve its higher education system. Mr. Triet is the first Vietnamese president to visit the United States since the end of the Vietnam War. He meets U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House Friday. The White House has said Mr. Bush will convey his deep concern about recent arrests and detentions of democracy activists in Vietnam.
VIETNAM - BIRD FLU: Authorities in Vietnam have announced another human bird flu death, the country's second reported bird flu fatality this month. If confirmed by the World Health Organization, today's announcement would bring to 44 the number of people who have died from bird flu in Vietnam. Several other people in Vietnam have been diagnosed with the disease this year. Officials say all have been treated and at least one has recovered. The country once had the highest number of bird flu deaths in the world. Indonesia now has more.
CHINA - SLAVES: China's state-run Xinhua news agency says authorities will ban the making of cheap bricks in a province at the center of a forced labor scandal -- but not for another 18 months. Xinhua reports today that from the end of next year, cities in northern China's Shanxi province will no longer be allowed to use solid clay bricks, the inexpensive kind made in kilns. The report did not say why the ban would not begin sooner. Chinese authorities raided thousands of factories in the provinces of Shanxi and Henan in the past month.
IRAQ: Iraqi authorities say a suicide truck bomber has killed at least 15 people and wounded 40 others in a northern Iraqi town. They say the bomber set off his explosives near a group of government buildings in Sulaiman Bek, south of Kirkuk. The blast caused one building to collapse. Meanwhile, thousands of troops are combing areas north and south of Baghdad as U.S. forces intensify operations against al-Qaida in Iraq and allied militants. The U.S. military says it has killed 41 insurgents during operations in Diyala province.
NIGERIA - STRIKE: Much of the oil-producing west African nation of Nigeria is at a standstill today as a nationwide strike enters its second day. Most schools, banks, government offices and non-essential services are shut down, while many international and domestic flights have been canceled because of a shortage of jet fuel. Labor unions walked off the job Wednesday.
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