MIDEAST - PEACE: Foreign ministers from Egypt and Jordan are in Israel to formally present a re-launched Arab peace plan that offers full recognition of Israel in return for its withdrawal from land captured during the 1967 war. Egypt's Ahmed Abul Gheit and Jordan's Abdel Ilah al-Khatib arrived in Israel today as representatives of the Arab League -- the first time the 22-member group has sent a delegation to Israel. Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Gheit said he hoped to convey to the Arab League "a positive response" from Israel. Israel, which rejected the plan when it was first launched in 2002, has since said that, if amended, it could provide a basis for talks.
IRAQ: Iran's state-run IRNA news agency says Tehran is ready to consider higher level talks with the United States regarding security in Iraq. The report quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying that the possibility of talks between Iran and the U.S. about Iraq "at the level of deputy foreign ministers can be studied." Mottaki's remark came a day after U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq held a second round of talks on Iraq's security. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said there were some "heated exchanges" Tuesday when he told his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, that Iranian support for Shi'ite militias in Iraq has risen since they held a first round of talks on the issue in May.
LIBYA - BULGARIA: French President Nicolas Sarkozy heads to Tripoli today -- a day after Libya freed five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who spent eight years in prison on charges of infecting Libyan children with HIV. Mr. Sarkozy plans to meet Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi before going to Senegal and Gabon. Mr. Sarkozy announced he would make the trip after French efforts helped secure the release of the six, who had initially been sentenced to death in Libya. Bulgarian President Georgia Parvanon pardoned the six shortly after they arrived in Bulgaria Tuesday.
AFGHANISTAN: Taleban militants are threatening to kill some of the 23 South Korean they are holding in Afghanistan. The militants say negotiations have stalled, and that if Afghan officials do not start meeting their demands, they will begin killing hostages today. Tribal elders in Ghazni province have been working to free the hostages. Their efforts have been complicated by the militants' changing demands - from the release of Taleban prisoners to money and a withdrawal of South Korean troops. The Taleban has allowed three deadlines to pass as negotiations continue.
KOREAS - TALKS: A South Korean military official says North and South Korea are struggling to find common ground on their disputed western sea border during a second day of high-level military talks today. South Korean Colonel Moon Seong-mook told reporters that there is difficulty in narrowing differences on the issue. The opening talks on Tuesday in the border village of Panmunjom finished earlier than expected, with no apparent progress reported on border security issues and economic cooperation projects. This is the second round of military talks this year. During discussions in May, officials agreed in principle to create a joint-fishing area in disputed waters along their western sea border in the Yellow Sea.
VIETNAM - POL: Vietnam's National Assembly has overwhelmingly re-elected Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who has won praise for Vietnam's strong economic growth. Dung won nearly 97-percent of the votes cast today by 493 newly-elected legislators. The 57-year old was first chosen as prime minister last year by the country's party congress. On Tuesday, the National Assembly also re-elected the country's President Nguyen Minh Triet. He won nearly 99-percent of the votes cast. The 64-year was the former party chief of Ho Chi Minh City before being appointed president last June.
INDIA - PRESIDENT: India has sworn in its first female president. Pratibha Patil, of the ruling Congress Party, took the oath of office today in New Delhi. The 72-year old lawyer defeated India's vice president, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (of the Bharatiya Janata Party), in a vote by federal and state legislators last week. Her election followed a bitter campaign during which the opposition raised questions about scandals involving her family members. Ms. Patil, the former governor of northwestern Rajasthan state, succeeds Abul Kalam, who chose not to run for another term.
LAOS - RARE DEER: A rare species of deer called the large- antlered muntjac [PRON: MUNT-JAK]has been photographed in the wild for the first time in Laos. The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said Tuesday the deer was previously only known by its distinctive antlers that hunters kept and from brief sightings by biologists. The society says "camera traps" in Laos' Nakai Nam Theun National Protected Area captured more than 10 photographs of the deer in the wild. The wildlife preserve is located in the Annamite Mountains along the Laos-Vietnam border. The Wildlife Conservation Society says the deer stands about 65 to 80 centimeters tall and weighs approximately 50 kilograms. It is called a "large-antlered" muntjac because its antlers are much bigger than other muntjac found in Indochina.
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