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Pakistan Officials -- President Musharraf May Quit Army Post in Days


PAKISTAN: Senior Pakistani officials are indicating that President Pervez Musharraf may quit his post of army chief in a few days and begin his term as a civilian president. The officials say President Musharraf will be ready to take the oath of office as a civilian as soon as the Supreme Court dismisses the last challenge against his re-election. The court has already dismissed five of six challenges to General Musharraf's October sixth election victory. The court is set to hear the last petition Thursday.

BANGLADESH - STORM: Relief workers in Bangladesh say they have reached the last remaining pockets of the country devastated by last week's cyclone that killed some 35-hundred people and displaced millions others. The military is flying helicopters and cargo planes to deliver badly needed food, medicine, tents and clean water. Relief officials warned the death toll could climb significantly after all the victims in isolated areas are accounted for. The World Bank offered up to 250-million dollars to help the nation recover from the deadly storm, while the United Nations authorized almost nine million dollars in aid.

ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: The U.S. State Department says Washington has invited some 50 nations and entities to a Mideast peace conference in the U.S. city of Annapolis (near Washington) on November 27th. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack says Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will attend. Invitations have also been sent to members of the Mideast Quartet, the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council and the Group of Eight. Several Arab nations that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel have been invited, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria.

UN - RIGHTS: A United Nations general assembly committee Tuesday endorsed draft resolutions condemning Iran, North Korea and Burma for human rights abuses. The resolution on Iran was approved by a vote of 72-50 with 55 abstentions. It calls on Iran to eliminate discrimination and other human rights violations against religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities. For North Korea, the resolution condemned Pyongyang for human rights violations for the third consecutive year. Submitted by Japan and the European Union, the draft was passed with a margin of 97 to 23 votes, with South Korea and 59 other nations abstaining. South Korea voted in favor of a similar resolution last year.

BURMA: The United Nations special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, is telling Asian leaders that his role in helping resolve Burma's political crisis needs to be beefed up. Speaking with Asian leaders in Singapore today, Gambari said that he needs to test Burma's willingness to live up to its pledge to work with the world body. Gambari has visited Burma twice since the military government's bloody September bloody crackdown on pro-democracy and anti-government protesters that killed at least 15 people.

ASEAN - CLIMATE: Asian leaders are trying to reach a common position on climate change as they meet in Singapore today as part of a summit of regional leaders. The 10-member Association for Southeast Asian Nations met with leaders from Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand today at the annual ASEAN plus six, or East Asia Summit. The summit, which includes some of the world's biggest polluters (India, China, Australia), is expected to try to adopt a set of regional commitments and goals to deal with climate change and energy issues.

CHINA - JAPAN - DEFENSE: A Chinese naval ship has set out on a groundbreaking voyage to Japan, the latest sign of easing tensions between the two Asian rivals and World War Two foes. The missile destroyer "Shenzhen" left China's southern port of Zhanjiang today and is scheduled to arrive in Japan next week for the four day visit. The trip is a first in the history of the naval forces of the People's Liberation Army. China's official Xinhua news agency said the destroyer, which is named after the booming southern city of Shenzhen, will visit Japan from November 28th to December first.

INDIA - CHINA MILITARY: Indian defense ministry officials say India and China will hold their first joint military exercise next month -- a sign of warmer relations between the Asian neighbors that fought a brief border war in 1962. Officials say about 100 soldiers from each country will participate in the exercise in China's Yunnan province, which lies across the border from India's northeastern Arunachal Pradesh state. They say top army officials from both sides are to meet in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata next week to plan for the war games.

FRANCE - STRIKE: French authorities say widespread sabotage in the country's high-speed rail network has aggravated delays in services caused by an 8-day transport strike. Guillaume Pepy, a senior executive at the state railways, said today that arsonists had damaged several installations on the high-speed (TGV) rail network to prevent resumption of its regular services. Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau has condemned the apparently coordinated acts as unacceptable vandalism. The majority of railway personnel returned to work today as the government and unions resume negotiations over pension reforms.

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