IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says a roadside bomb has killed five U.S. soldiers in southern Baghdad. The military said in a statement today the five were killed Thursday. It says the attack also wounded seven other U.S. soldiers. The military says insurgents opened fire on the soldiers' patrol after setting off the bomb. Another U.S. soldier was killed in a separate roadside bombing in Baghdad Thursday. In other developments today, insurgents bombed an oil pipeline south of Baghdad, spilling crude oil and sparking a large fire.
BRITAIN BOMB: British police say they have defused a car bomb in central London that could have resulted in many fatalities and injuries had it been detonated. Top Scotland Yard official Peter Clarke told reporters that a car parked outside a popular nightclub was filled with gasoline canisters and shrapnel. He said smoke was seen inside the car. Clarke said police disabled the potential means of detonating the car bomb. He said it is too early to speculate on who is responsible or how many suspects are being sought. The new government of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called an emergency meeting of senior security chiefs to discuss the situation.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: United Nations inspectors say they are satisfied with their visit to a North Korean nuclear reactor that the communist nation has pledged to shut down in exchange for aid. The team from the International Atomic Energy Agency returned to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, today after touring the Yongbyon nuclear complex. IAEA Deputy Director Olli Heinonen said the reactor was still operating, but added that his team was able to visit all the places originally intended for inspection. The IAEA's trip to North Korea is the first time U.N. inspectors have visited the country since North Korea expelled the group in 2002.
HONG KONG - HU: Chinese President Hu Jintao began his first trip to Hong Kong today to mark the 10th anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule. Security is tight in Hong Kong as Mr. Hu is expected to face protests from pro-democracy activists. His itinerary includes a panda exhibit, variety show, and Sunday's handover anniversary ceremony. Hong Kong operates under a "one country, two systems" policy, and enjoys greater political and social freedoms than in mainland China. At a welcoming ceremony at the airport, Mr. Hu called the "one country, two systems" policy a success.
SOKOR - US TRADE: South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo says Seoul and Washington have agreed on final changes to their free trade agreement. The pact includes new U.S. labor and environmental standards. The agreement is expected to be signed by President Bush and his South Korean counterpart, Roh Moo-hyun, by Saturday. In another development, tens of thousands of workers walked off the job today and rallied in protest of the free trade agreement. Labor groups say more than 100-thousand workers led by unions at the country's top automaker, Hyundai Motor, and its affiliate, Kia Motors, took part in the walkout.
BURMA - RED CROSS: The International Committee of the Red Cross is denouncing Burma's military government for it is calls widespread and systematic human rights abuses. In a statement released today, ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger accused Burma of forcing thousands of detainees to work as human mine-sweepers in mines, with many suffering from exhaustion and malnutrition. The statement said some are even killed. The statement also said that Burma's armed forces have committed repeated abuses against men, women and children living in communities affected by armed conflict along the Thai-Burma border. It said forces have destroyed food supplies and made it impossible for farmers to work in their fields.
ISRAEL PRESIDENT: Israeli President Moshe Katsav has submitted his letter of resignation a day after accepting a plea bargain that allows rape charges against him to be dropped. Under Thursday's deal, Mr. Katsav agreed to step down and plead guilty to charges of sexual harassment, indecent acts and harassment of a witness. He will pay damages to the complainants but he will not serve any time in prison. Last year, four past and present employees alleged that Katsav had sexually harassed them. One said the president raped her. Mr. Katsav denied the allegations and took a leave of absence to fight the charges.
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