BURMA: A senior U.N.envoy is in Burma to urge the military government to end its violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Ibrahim Gambari arrived today in Rangoon and then headed for the administrative capital Naypyidaw for talks with military leaders. The U.N. secretary-general sent Gambari to Burma on "an urgent mission" to try to broker talks between protesters and the generals who run the country. Witnesses say small groups of anti-government protesters gathered in Rangoon today but were quickly dispersed by security forces. Since Wednesday, Burmese security forces have used gunfire to disperse thousands of protesters.
BURMA - JAPAN JOURNALIST: Japanese officials say Tokyo has lodged a formal protest with Burma over the death of a Japanese journalist during Thursday's pro-democracy protests in Rangoon. Officials sayJapanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura issued the protest when he met his Burmese counterpart, Nyan Win, on Friday at U.N. headquarters in New York. Japanese officials say Nyan Win said he was sorry for the death, and added that Burma's government hopes to exercise restraint. Burmese authorities originally said the Japanese victim was hit by a stray bullet. However, pictures broadcast by the Fuji television network show a soldier pointing his rifle and shooting from close range.
BURMA REACTION: The United Nations Human Rights Council has called an emergency hearing to examine the crisis unfolding in Burma, on the third day of a crackdown against anti-government protesters. In Geneva, the Council announced its decision Friday, after a request from the European Union. The session will be held next Tuesday. A statement by the Portuguese Ambassador (Franciso Xavier Esteves) -- whose country holds the rotating EU presidency -- said European leaders are deeply distressed that Burma has failed to heed the call from the international community for restraint. Earlier, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations expressed "revulsion" at the killings of at least 10 demonstrators in Rangoon over the last two days --- and it called on Burma to halt the violence.
PAKISTAN POL: Witnesses in Pakistan say police have used batons and tear gas to disperse at least 200 lawyers protesting President Pervez Musharraf's candidacy in next week's presidential election. Protesters clashed with police today as they tried to approach the Election Commission building from the Supreme Court. Witnesses said police beat protesters and made several arrests. The Election Commission today approved only six of 43 candidates who applied. Along with General Musharraf are his two main challengers - retired judge Wajihuddin Ahmed and Makhdoom Amin Fahim - the vice chairman of ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: Six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program have entered a third day in Beijing, with the top U.S. envoy saying talks are shifting to focus on energy assistance. Before today's meetings, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters the talks are likely to center on fuel aid. On Friday, President Bush authorized 25 million dollars in energy aid to North Korea. The aid is in response to North Korea's progress on reporting and disabling its nuclear facilities. The talks in Beijing (include China, the United States, Japan, North and South Korea and Russia, and) have largely focused on narrowing the definition of disablement.
AFGHAN BUS BLAST: Afghan police say a suicide bomb bl ast has ripped though a crowded army bus in the capital, Kabul, killing at least 30 people and wounding 21 others. Authorities say the attacker was wearing an army uniform when he set off the explosion that completely destroyed the bus carrying military personnel to work. The Taleban claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed both Afghan National Army personnel and passing civilians. Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the attack - one of the deadliest since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taleban in 2001.
IRAQ: The U.S. military confirmed today that it carried out an air strike in southern Baghdad Friday, saying it targeted men firing mortars into a neighboring area. Iraqi police and witnesses said 10 civilians were killed and several others were wounded during a raid on a building in the mostly Sunni neighborhood. The U.S. military estimated two or three people were killed or wounded, but it could not give a precise figure because the bodies were removed before troops arrived at the scene. Police said an unknown number of people were detained after U.S. helicopters attacked the building during the pre-dawn raid.
UN - CHINA: Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi says Taiwan's campaign to gain United Nations membership as well as its pro-independence stance threaten Asia-Pacific security. Yang told the United Nations General Assembly Friday that an effort by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian to organize a referendum on U.N. membership is a dangerous step. Yang said if left unchecked, the move will gravely endanger peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and the Asia-Pacific region. Last week, the U.N. General Committee of the General Assembly rejected a proposal from Taiwan to put its membership bid on the agenda of the General Assembly's annual meeting.
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