THAILAND - LAO REFUGEES: A prominent international medical charity is urging Thailand not to deport thousands of ethnic Hmong refugees back to Laos, saying they face persecution there. The appeal was made Wednesday by Paris-based group Doctors Without Borders. More than 75-hundred Hmong are currently living in a refugee camp in Thailand's northern Phetchabun province, where the group's workers are providing food and health care. The refugees say they are persecuted in communist Laos because their parents and relatives sided with the United States during the Vietnam War.
NORTH KOREA - CAMBODIA: North Korea's Prime Minister Kim Yong Il has arrived in Cambodia on a rare visit to explore business opportunities and boost trade. During his four-day stopover, the two countries will sign an investment agreement and a deal to increase trade between their ports. Kim is scheduled to hold talks with Cambodia's retired king, Norodom Sihanouk, and Prime Minister Hun Sen. Kim is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit Cambodia in six years. The trip is part of a rare foreign tour that includes stops in Vietnam, Malaysia and Laos. Last month, Cambodia's commerce minister (Cham Prasidh) suggested North Korea was interested in fostering trade ties with Phnom Penh to offset sanctions imposed on the communist state.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: A team of U.S. experts arrived in North Korea's capital today to begin the process of disabling the country's nuclear facilities as part of a disarmament agreement. Before departing for Pyongyang today in Beijing, the head of the U.S. team, Sung Kim (director of the State Department's Office of Korean Affairs), said his group would arrive at North Korea's main Yongbyon nuclear complex in the next couple of days. Kim said his group is one of two rotating teams that will begin the work of taking things apart and severing connections at the complex. Kim said his group will try to begin the work as soon as possible.
PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistani officials say a suicide attack on an Air Force bus has killed at least eight people and wounded about 40 others. Military officials say the attacker riding a motorcycle rammed into the bus this morning near the Sargodha airbase in central Punjab province. In the tribal North West Frontier Province, Pakistani security forces are battling Islamic militants in the Swat Valley region. Fighting erupted Wednesday after militants fired at army helicopters and torched a police station shattering a brief truce. Military officials say as many as 70 militants have been killed in the latest round of fighting.
AFGHAN VIOLENCE: Afghan authorities report fierce fighting between Taliban insurgents and NATO and Afghan troops in western Farah province. Regional officials say several Taliban fighters and two Afghan police were killed in the fighting, which began late Monday, when a large number of insurgents seized control of Gulistan district. The officials said fighting in Gulistan was continuing today as NATO-led forces and Afghan troops launched an assault to regain control of the area. Insurgents have also captured the neighboring Bakwa district, forcing hundreds of residents to flee.
JAPAN - AFGHAN: Japan has ordered ships supporting U.S.-led forces in and around Afghanistan to return home from the Indian Ocean after a political standoff blocked the extension of the mission. The order came today from Japan's Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, just two days after Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda failed to reach a last-minute deal with the country's main opposition party. The mission expires at midnight local time, but Mr. Fukuda has pledged to renew it as soon as possible. Mr. Fukuda is expected to meet with opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa this week to try to reach a compromise on the controversial mission.
TURKEY - KURDS - IRAQ: Turkey's Prime Minister is denying reports that Turkey has closed its airspace to flights to and from northern Iraq as part of economic sanctions against Kurdish rebels and their supporters. Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued the denial today in Ankara, after the NTV news channel had reported that Turkish airspace was closed for flights to and from northern Iraq. Turkey's Cabinet Wednesday approved economic sanctions designed to weaken Kurdish rebels and their supporters. The measures could affect the Kurdish-administered autonomous region of northern Iraq.
UN - SOMALIA: The U.N. refugee agency says intense fighting in Somalia's capital in recent days has forced nearly 90-thousand people to flee the city. In a statement, officials with the U.N High Commissioner for Refugees said the fighting between Ethiopian troops in support of the Somali government and insurgents was some of the worst in Mogadishu in months. The officials report the most intense fighting took place Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The city was quieter Wednesday. The U.N. says the fighting that began earlier this year has driven more than 400-thousand people from Mogadishu.
SUDAN - HUMAN RIGHTS: The international group Human Rights Watch says the Sudanese government has been forcibly relocating civilians in the Darfur region in violation of international law. In a statement released Wednesday, the New York-based group says Sudanese police and troops have forced hundreds of families - mostly women and children - from camps for displaced people in South Darfur during the past week. Human Rights Watch says the civilians were put on trucks and taken to unsafe areas where there was no security or humanitarian aid.
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