IRAQ: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made an unannounced visit today to the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Rice is expected to urge local politicians to achieve reconciliation in Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed city in Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region. She plans to meet later with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad. Her visit coincides with a reduction in violence in Iraq and calls by U.S. officials for Iraqi leaders to capitalize on the lull by working toward political reconciliation. The Kurdish Regional Government is considering a proposal to delay a referendum on Kirkuk's future.
TURKEY - KURDS - IRAQ: Iraqi and Kurdish officials say 300 Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq today. They say the soldiers moved three kilometers into Iraqi territory. No clashes were reported. Turkey has threatened to attack rebels with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq. About 100-thousand Turkish troops are massed on the Iraqi border. Turkey's government accuses the rebels of using bases in northern Iraq to carry out attacks in southeastern Turkey. On Monday, Iraq's parliament condemned Turkish air strikes on a Kurdish region in northern Iraq (Qandil mountains) as a major violation of Iraq's sovereignty.
AFGHAN VIOLENCE: Afghan officials say Taliban militants have killed at least 15 local guards working for a private U.S. security firm in Afghanistan. Officials say the Afghan guards were escorting a supply convoy in the western province of Farah today, when they were ambushed by Taliban militants. At least five guards also were wounded. The convoy was on its way to a military outpost in neighboring Helmand province, a region that has seen heavy fighting this year. Separately in Farah province, officials say two Taliban militants were killed Monday during clashes with police in the Khaki Safed district.
PAKISTAN - SUSPECT: Pakistani authorities have arrested two police officers in connection with Saturday's escape of a British terror suspect. Police detained the officers on charges they were negligent while escorting Rashid Rauf. Rauf escaped when officers allowed him to visit a mosque for prayers on his way back to jail in the city of Rawalpindi from a court appearance. Police are questioning the officers to determine whether they actually helped Rauf escape. Pakistani authorities have also detained Rauf's two uncles and raided his home in Bahwalpur in Punjab province.
SAF POLITICS: Members of South Africa's ruling party began voting today for a new leader after a two-day delay reflecting deep party divisions. The election pits South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is also the leader of the African National Congress, against the party's deputy head Jacob Zuma. The nomination process was slowed down by a bitter rivalry between supporters of the two men that had delegates contesting even how the votes would be counted. In chaotic scenes Monday, Mbeki and Zuma supporters chanted slogans at each other. One senior ANC member, Jeff Radebe, told reporters the tension at the conference was so thick, "you could cut it with a knife."
SRI LANKA - FLOODS: Heavy flooding in eastern Sri Lanka has displaced more than 30-thousand people. Officials say the majority of those driven from their homes live in the eastern district of Ampara. The flooding, caused by monsoon rains, also damaged rice fields and made roads impassable. Sri Lankan emergency relief officials say roughly 15-hundred families have found shelter in schools in the Batticaloa district. Flooding in January of this year killed 13 people and displaced tens of thousands. Tea farmers in the region depend on the monsoon rains to grow healthy crops. But the rains also cause frequent flooding, and landslides are common.
JAPAN - US - MISSILE: Japan has successfully tested a U.S.-built system off the coast of Hawaii that is designed to track and destroy missiles. Japanese and U.S. military officials said late Monday that the navy destroyer Kongo successfully shot down a medium-range missile in space over the Pacific Ocean. The target missile was fired from a U.S. missile range on the island of Kauai. Experts said the missile resembled those in the arsenal of North Korea. Japan -- the first U.S. ally to fire an interceptor -- paid some 50 million dollars for the test.
US - BURMA: The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously Monday to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in Congress, on Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Republican Representative Don Manzullo, who co-sponsored the bill, said the award sends a strong message to Burma's ruling generals that "enough is enough." He said it is time for the country's military leaders to open the door for "true reconciliation." Democrat Representative Joseph Crowley, who also sponsored the bill, said the award showed that Aung San Suu Kyi had won the hearts of not only the Burmese people but the hearts and minds of the U.S. Congress.
CUBA - CASTRO: Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who has not been seen in public in more than 16 months because of ill health, says that he will not obstruct the rise of a new generation of leaders. In a letter read on Cuban state television Monday, Mr. Castro said his elemental duty is not to hold onto positions, or stand in the way of younger people. It was the first suggestion from the 81-year-old Castro that he might step down permanently from the presidency. He handed over power to his brother, Raul, in July 2006 to undergo surgery, but said the move was temporary. He has yet to reclaim presidential powers.
Listen to our World News for details.