MIDEAST CONFERENCE: President Bush opens an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference today aimed at resurrecting the Mideast peace process after a seven-year freeze in peace talks. On the eve of the meeting, Mr. Bush said their common goal is to have Israel and Palestine existing side-by-side as democratic states in peace and security. But Mr. Bush said achieving this will require difficult compromises. He made the brief remarks Monday at a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (at the State Department).
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: Representatives from five nations involved in talks on North Korea's nuclear program have arrived in Pyongyang to observe the disablement of the country's main nuclear complex. Before departing for North Korea today, senior U.S. diplomat Sung Kim told reporters in Beijing that representatives feel they are making progress. Kim was accompanied by officials from China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. The multinational team is expected to stay in North Korea for three days. North Korea has promised to disable its nuclear facilities and declare all of its nuclear programs by the end of this year.
KOREAS - DEFENSE: Defense ministers from North and South Korea are holding a rare round of talks in the North Korean capital. After arriving in Pyongyang today, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo said he hoped the visit would help reduce tensions and bring peace to the Korean peninsula. He will hold three days of talks with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Il Chol. The two will discuss economic cooperation and confidence-building measures, including the establishment of a joint fishing zone in the West Sea.
JAPAN - VIETNAM: Vietnam's president is in Japan on a trip that marks the first visit by a Vietnamese head of state since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1973. President Nguyen Minh Triet was in Tokyo Monday on a five-day visit to strengthen bilateral ties that will end Thursday. Mr. Triet met with Emperor Akihito who noted the two countries' common difficulty in overcoming a war-torn past. Crown Prince Naruhito, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and other Japanese officials were also present at a ceremony hosted at the Imperial Palace.
IRAQ: Iraqi police say a suicide bomber has killed six people at police headquarters in the central city of Baquba. At least seven other people were wounded when the bomber detonated his explosives at an entrance to the building. Earlier today, Iraqi officials said U.S. troops in Baghdad opened fire on a minibus, killing four people, including three women. Witnesses say U.S. troops opened fire today when the vehicle advanced toward a roadblock in Baghdad's Shaab neighborhood. In a separate incident, the U.S. military said troops opened fire on a car speeding toward a checkpoint in Baiji, killing two men and a child.
IRAN MISSILE: Iran's defense minister says the country has built a new ballistic missile with a range of two-thousand kilometers. Iran's Fars News Agency quoted Mostafa Mohammad Najjar as saying the new long-range missile is called the Ashura. Few other details were immediately available. The Ashura's stated range would be long enough to put U.S. military installations in the Middle East and Israel within striking distance. Iran has another long-range missile, the Shahab-Three, which Iranian officials say also has a range of two-thousand kilometers.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has visited troops for farewell ceremonies before he is expected to step down as army chief and take the oath of office as a civilian president. General Musharraf visited armed forces headquarters today, where he met with senior commanders of Pakistan's army, navy and air force. Senior officials said Monday General Musharraf will resign as army chief Wednesday, then take the oath of office as president Thursday. In other political developments, former Pakistani prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have registered to run in parliamentary elections set for January eighth.
FRANCE RIOT: French police say more than 70 officers were injured during the second night of youth riots in Paris suburbs after the death of two teenage boys in a crash involving a police car. Police say today five officers were seriously hurt, and that one officer was shot in the shoulder by a high-caliber gun. About 100 young people assaulted police at a local police station, burned cars and vandalized shops and gas stations overnight. Police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets at rioting youths, have made several arrests. Authorities have tightened security in Villiers-le-Bel and nearby suburbs.
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