President Bush is scheduled to be in attendance at the U.S. Capitol today (Wednesday) when the Dalai Lama receives the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest civilian award conferred by the U.S. legislature. Congress formally approved the award for the Tibetan spiritual leader more than a year ago, citing his many enduring and outstanding contributions to peace, human rights and religious understanding.
United Nations envoy to Burma says he is talking with Burmese officials about his return to the military-ruled country, and notes that he would like to visit sooner than expected. Speaking with reporters in Malaysia today (Wednesday), Ibrahim Gambari said he has already confirmed a trip to Burma around mid-November, but said he would like to visit at an earlier date. Gambari is currently on an Asian tour aimed at increasing pressure on Burma's military government after its bloody crackdown of pro-democracy protests last month.
TURKEY-IRAQ: Turkey's parliament is expected to vote today (Wednesday) on a government motion authorizing cross-border military operations against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says passage of the motion will not mean a military operation is imminent. But he says Turkey will act to defend itself at the right time and under the right conditions. Turkey blames Iraq-based rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for attacks that have killed about 30 soldiers and civilians in the past two weeks.
Iraqi police say a roadside bomb blast south of Baghdad has killed seven police officers. Police say the explosion happened early today (Wednesday) near a police patrol on a road east of the city of Diwaniyah. Officials say the policemen were reinforcements sent to a nearby town (Affak), where gunmen had attacked a police station. No casualties were reported in that attack. The region about 180-kilometers south of Baghdad is known for frequent clashes between rival Shi'ite gangs.
US-MIDEAST: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice holds a second round of separate talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today (Wednesday). Ahead of the talks, Rice visited the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where she prayed at the Church of the Nativity, built on what is considered the traditional birthplace of Jesus. She said the three monotheistic religions of the Holy Land -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- "have an opportunity to overcome differences," and make religion "a power of reconciliation rather than a power of divisions."
Audio in Lao.