APEC: The top U.S. nuclear envoy says Pyongyang has invited experts from the U.S., China and Russia to visit North Korea next week to conduct a survey of its nuclear facilities. Speaking on the eve of an Asia-Pacific leaders' summit in Sydney today, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the invitation is "another significant step" toward the goal of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. Earlier, U.S. President George Bush and his South Korean counterpart Roh Moo-hyun met for talks focusing on North Korea, which agreed in February to end its nuclear program in exchange for political concessions and fuel aid.
BUSH - OLYMPICS: President Bush is urging China to use the 2008
summer Olympics in Beijing as an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to greater openness and tolerance. Mr. Bush said the games will be a moment of pride for China and a moment when the eyes of the world will fall on Beijing. On Thursday, Mr. Bush accepted an invitation from China's President Hu Jintao to attend the Olympics with his family. Critics of China's human rights policies have urged countries to boycott the Olympics. A national security adviser to the president (Jim Jeffrey) said Mr. Bush explained to Mr. Hu that he would attend "for the sports and not for any political statements."
KOREAS - SUMMIT: South Korea's defense minister will travel to North Korea to attend an inter-Korean summit next month, the first such visit since the end of the Korean War. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun will head Seoul's delegation for the three-day summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il that begins October second. Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo's inclusion in the summit is raising speculation that the two sides may discuss North Korea's demand that their disputed western sea border be redrawn. North Korea does not recognize the current border, known as the Northern Limit Line, which was drawn unilaterally by the United Nations at the end of the Korean War.
BIN LADEN - VIDEO: A posting on an Islamist Web site says the
al-Qaida terrorist network intends to release a new video recording of Osama bin Laden on or before next week's sixth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States. The announcement posted late Thursday (in the name of al-Qaida's media-production arm, al-Sahab) included a photograph of the fugitive terrorist leader, who has not appeared in a video message since late 2004. The last audio message attributed to him was heard more than a year ago.
PAKISTAN - ARREST: A Pakistani court has issued an arrest order for Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, days before both men are set to return from exile. An anti-terrorism court in the city of Lahore today issued the arrest warrant for Shahbaz Sharif, who is accused of ordering the killing of five people in 1998 during his tenure as chief minister of Punjab province. Last month, a Pakistani court cleared the way for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return home, where he plans to challenge President Pervez Musharraf in upcoming parliamentary elections.
PHILIPPINES - ESTRADA: Officials in the Philippines say an anti-
graft court will issue a verdict next Wednesday in the six-year old plunder trial of ousted Philippine President Joseph Estrada. Mr. Estrada faces life imprisonment if found guilty of stealing up to 80 million dollars from state coffers while in power. Mr. Estrada has denied the charges. The former movie star was president from 1998 until 2001, when he was removed from power by a popular revolt. Since then he has been under house arrest, but remains a popular figure.
ZIMBABWE - CURRENCY: Zimbabwe has sharply devalued its currency, slashing the official exchange rate for most residents by more than 99 percent. The currency change is intended to combat the southern African nation's hyperinflation problem, but currency dealers and economists in Harare say it will have no effect on black-market transactions that ignore the official rate, and is expected to have little impact on the country's severe economic crisis. Until Thursday, the government maintained a nominal exchange rate of 250 Zimbabwe dollars to one U.S. dollar. That has now changed to 30 thousand Zimbabwean dollars (to one U.S. dollar).
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