BUSH - MIDEAST:
President Bush visited Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial today in the final hours of his trip to Israel and the West Bank, Mr. Bush re-ignited a memorial lamp and placed a wreath on a concrete slab that covered the ashes of victims of the Nazi holocaust. The president also tourned holy sites in the Galilee region before traveling to Kuwait -- the next stop on his tour of the Middle East. Mr. Bush held separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders over the past two days, trying to spur negotiations on the creation of a Palestinian state.
JAPAN - AFGHANISTAN: Japanese lawmakers have approved legislation re-authorizing a Japanese naval mission in support of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. The measure passed today in the lower house of parliament, which is controlled by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's ruling coalition. The vote overrides an earlier vote in the opposition-controlled upper house rejecting the move. Mr. Fukuda and opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa failed to resolve their dispute about the mission earlier this week. Ozawa's party says providing logistical support to U.S.-led forces violates Japan's pacifist constitution.
BURMA - BLAST: Authorities in Burma say a woman was killed when a small bomb exploded today (Friday) in the capital city of Naypyidaw. The explosion occurred shortly before dawn at the city's railway station. Burma's military rulers moved the government in 2005 from the main city of Rangoon to Naypyidaw, located about 400 kilometers north. There have been occasional small bomb blasts in Burma, which has been under military rule since 1962. The military government usually blames such incidents on political opponents and ethnic rebels.
BURMA - SUU KYI: Detained Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has met with a senior official of country's ruling military government in the main city of Rangoon. Aung San Suu Kyi was taken from her home today for the one hour meeting with Burmese official Aung Kyi at a nearby government facility. It was the fourth meeting between the two since September, when the military launched a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, and the first since mid-November. The United Nations says at least 31 people were killed in the crackdown, which triggered international outrage against the military government.
COLOMBIA - HOSTAGES: Two Colombian women held hostage for years by leftist Colombian rebels were freed Thursday following mediation by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The Colombian rebel group (known as) FARC released Consuelo Gonzalez, a former congresswoman, and former vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas. The two women - accompanied by armed rebels - emerged from a Colombian jungle located near the town of Guaviare. They kissed their female captors goodbye on the cheek and shook hands with the male guerrillas.
SRI LANKA: The Sri Lankan government says it will push ahead with an offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels, rejecting a rebel offer of implementing a 2002 ceasefire the government had formally scrapped last week. A Defense Ministry spokesman (Keheliya Rambukwella) said today military operations against the Tigers will continue. He added that the rebels used the ceasefire to regroup and plan more terrorist attacks. In a statement Thursday, the rebels said they were ready to abide by the terms of the truce. But a rebel leader also told Reuters news service that if thrust upon them, they were ready to fight "a full scale war."
PAKISTAN - MUSHARRAF: Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has warned the United States against any unilateral military move into Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border to hunt down al-Qaida or Taliban militants. In an interview with Singapore's "The Strait Times" newspaper published today, Mr. Musharraf said U.S. or coalition forces would "certainly" be considered invaders if they enter Pakistani tribal areas without permission. Mr. Musharraf said Islamabad will regard any such move by foreign forces as a breach of Pakistan's sovereignty and resist it. As he put it --" I challenge anybody coming into our mountains.
EDMUND HILLARY OBIT:
New Zealand's legendary adventurer and philanthropist Edmund Hillary has died at the age of 88. Hillary became known worldwide in 1953 when he and Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay became the first men to scale Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced the news of Hillary's death early today. Ms. Clark called Hillary the "best-known New Zealander ever to have lived" and said his death is a profound loss to the country.
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