TURKEY - IRAQ:
The Turkish military says it has launched a land offensive across the border into northern Iraq to attack suspected Kurdish rebels. The military said today the operation started Thursday night following air and artillery strikes targeting suspected rebel positions in Iraq. Authorities have not reported any casualties. Turkish television reports say 10-thousand troops were taking part in the operation. U.S. officials have confirmed the raid and said the operation is understood to be of "limited duration," specifically targeting Kurdish rebels.
SERBIA - KOSOVO: The United States has formally protested to Serbia over inadequate security at the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, after it was attacked and partly burned by demonstrators protesting U.S. support for Kosovo's declaration of independence. A White House spokeswoman says the attack Thursday was conducted by "thugs," and the State Department has made the Serbian government aware that the U.S. is displeased that police did not prevent the incident.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says he is ready to work with the new parliament to address key issues affecting the nation. Mr. Musharraf wrote in an opinion article published in "The Washington Post" that he hopes to defeat terrorism, forge a stable government and create a solid foundation for sustained economic growth. Mr. Musharraf has said he hopes for a "harmonious coalition" following the sweeping defeat of his party in Monday's parliamentary elections. Some opposition leaders have called for Mr. Musharraf to resign, which he has refused to do.
INDONESIA - FLOODS: The Indonesian Health Ministry says 11 people have been killed in floods and landslides triggered by several day of heavy rains. A spokesman for the ministry says nine people are dead in Central Java province, while the other two fatalities occurred in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. The disaster has left thousands of other Indonesians displaced. The spokesman says some cities have been inundated with flood waters more than two meters deep.
INDONESIA - BIRD FLU: Indonesia sent a dozen bird flu samples to a World Health Organization laboratory this week, the first time it has done so it more than a year. Health ministry officials say they shipped the samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in (the southeastern U.S. city of) Atlanta, Georgia. Indonesia stopped sending its virus samples to WHO because it wanted assurances that poor and developing nations would be allowed access to affordable vaccines developed from their samples. The government has been in talks with WHO to create a new virus-sharing system.
NZ - CLUSTERBOMB TREATY: Several nations have agreed on the framework of a global treaty to ban cluster bombs, despite opposition from the United States and other major countries. More than 120 nations wrapped up a five-day conference today in New Zealand's capital of Wellington. Representatives of 82 countries pledged to attend a final round of talks in Dublin, Ireland in May. The treaty would ban the use, production and stockpiling of cluster bombs, because of the harm they pose to civilians.
US - SPACE: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the United States is ready to share with China some information about the U.S. shoot-down of a failing spy satellite. Gates made the comment today (Thursday) in Hawaii, less than a day after the U.S. Navy fired a missile at the U.S. satellite. China and Russia expressed concern about the shoot-down, saying it could harm security in space. China demanded that the U.S. provide information about the incident, and said it is on alert for possible harm caused by the U.S. action.
BUSH - AFRICA: President Bush says his just-completed visit to Africa was one of the most exciting trips of his presidency. Speaking Thursday on the flight back to Washington, Mr. Bush praised the "strength" of the leaders of the countries he visited for their commitment to democracy. His five-nation tour took him to Liberia, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania and Benin. During his trip he pledged billions of dollars for health, education, and development projects around the continent, and called on Congress to increase his global AIDS program to 30 billion dollars over the next five years.
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