US - LAOS: U.S. police say a prominent ethnic Hmong leader behind bars on charges of plotting to overthrow the Lao government has been hospitalized in the state of California. The Sheriff's Department in the Californian city of Sacramento say General Van Pao was transferred to a hospital Thursday. Officials did not specify the general's problem, but say he has a medical condition that requires more care than prison medical staff can provide. Authorities say the 77-year-old Hmong leader has a history of heart problems. Vang Pao had been jailed since June fourth, when he and nine other men were charged with conspiracy to topple leaders of the Communist-run Lao government.
VIETNAM - US: U.S. President George Bush has urged Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet to improve human rights in his country, but the Vietnamese leader responded that he is determined not to allow differences on human rights to affect what he called "larger interests" between the two countries. The two leaders met Friday at the White House in Washington. Mr. Bush said he told Mr. Triet that a commitment to freedom and human rights is necessary for deeper bilateral ties. The U.S. leader announced the two countries have signed a framework agreement on trade and investment.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: The top U.S. nuclear envoy says he expects North Korea to shut down its main nuclear reactor within three weeks. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said in Tokyo today that North Korea agreed to begin the shutdown after it discusses the monitoring process with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog. U.N. inspectors are to arrive in Pyongyang Tuesday. Hill, who made a rare visit to North Korea this week, says he expects the next round of six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program to be held in July.
THAILAND - VIOLENCE: Thai police say four people have been killed and at least five schools burned to the ground in the latest violence to erupt in the country's restive south. Police say a man was shot dead and burned today near the rubber plantation where he worked in Narathiwat province On Friday, police say three 14-year-old boys were killed when suspected insurgents opened fire on a tea shop in nearby Yala province. In a separate attack, suspected insurgents set fire to five schools in Songkhla province. Authorities suspect the attacks are part of an ongoing fight by Islamist militants who complain about the treatment of Muslims by the Buddhist-dominated government.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused NATO and U.S.-led forces of carelessly killing civilians in recent operations. Mr. Karzai told reporters in Kabul today that more than 52 civilians have been killed in various operations in the last 10 days. On Friday, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called for an investigation into the death of civilians in southern Afghanistan following an allied airstrike. But, he put the blame on the Taleban, saying it uses civilians as human shields. The secretary-general said NATO is assessing its rules of engagement.
EU SUMMIT: Leaders of the European Union say they have reached an agreement on crafting a new EU treaty. The agreement was announced early today in Brussels, Belgium, by European heads of state after an all-night round of negotiations. The new guidelines will provide a benchmark on crafting a new EU treaty, which will replace a draft constitution rejected by Dutch and French voters in 2005. The EU intends to have a treaty completed by the end of the year, with final ratification by all 27 member states by 2009.
VENEZUELA - US - BROADCASTS: Venezuela has criticized a proposal to increase U.S. government broadcasts to the South American nation to counter the influence of President Hugo Chavez. Venezuelan Information Minister Willian Lara accused the United States Friday of "escalating a media campaign" against Venezuela. Lara also defended his government's decision not to renew the broadcast license of an opposition-aligned television station, Radio Caracas Television (RCTV).
US - BURMA: The U.S. Senate has condemned Burma's government for its continued detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners. Senators demanded in a non-binding resolution Friday that Burma's military government immediately release the Nobel laureate. The resolution's sponsor and the leader of the Republican minority, Senator Mitch McConnell, said the passage of the resolution reflects the Senate's grave concern about the deteriorating situation in Burma. He said senators are committed to keeping the pressure on what he described as Burma's "dictatorial regime," and continuing to promote democracy and reconciliation in Burma.
SPACE SHUTTLE: The U.S. space shuttle Atlantis has landed in California, after bad weather kept it from returning to its home base in Florida. Atlantis is returning from a two-week mission to the International Space Station. The voyage was complicated by problems with the station's computers and the shuttle's heat shield. Among the seven astronauts returning to Earth is Indian-American Sunita Williams, whose six months at the station set a new record for the longest stay in space for a woman. U.S. astronaut Clayton Anderson has taken her place aboard the orbital outpost.
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