TURKEY - IRAQ: Turkey says five of its troops and 24 Kurdish rebels have been killed since a Turkish ground offensive into northern Iraq began late Thursday. Ankara says the operation started following air and and artillery strikes against suspected positions of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in Iraq. Military officials say they also believe another 20 militants were killed by artillery fire and helicopter gunships. Iraq's Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador Friday to protest the military incursion into northern Iraq.
IRAN - NUCLEAR: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says there is a very strong case for moving forward with a new round of sanctions against Iran for that country's nuclear program. Rice said Friday Iran continues to enrich uranium and has not answered questions about its past nuclear activities. She said a new report by the United Nations nuclear agency shows that Iran's efforts to reassure the world community about its nuclear technology have been inadequate.
US - NOKOR - NUCLEAR: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaves Washington today on a mission to South Korea, China and Japan. Rice will head a U.S. delegation attending Monday's inauguration of South Korean president-elect Lee Myung-bak. But North Korea's nuclear disarmament is expected dominate discussions during her trip. Rice Friday ruled out making a visit to Pyongyang during her trip, saying that it would not be useful for her to meet with North Korean officials at this time. She said she looks forward to talking with her counterparts in South Korea, Japan and China about how to move the nuclear disarmament process forward.
IRAQ: A series of rockets or mortars has struck Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government headquarters. At least 10 blasts were heard inside the 10-square-kilometer complex today, as authorities warned people to take cover. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The Green Zone has been a frequent target of rocket and mortar attacks. The U.S. military has blamed the attacks on Iranian-backed Shi'ite militants who have broken away from radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
PAKISTAN: Talks between Pakistan's two main opposition parties are continuing as they seek to forge a coalition government. Private discussions began Friday between leaders of the Pakistan People's Party, once headed by the late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N. Officials from the parties say Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the vice president of PPP, has emerged as the top choice for the prime minister's post. The Bhutto and Sharif parties decided to join forces after finishing first and second, respectively, in Monday's parliamentary elections.
SRI LANKA - BLAST: Sri Lankan authorities say 18 people have been wounded in the bombing of a passenger bus near the capital, Colombo. The blast occurred today in the town of Mount Lavinia, just south of the capital. Authorities say a passenger spotted a suspicious package and altered the passengers and crew before the bomb detonated. At least one child was among the wounded. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but authorities suspect Tamil Tiger rebels were behind the attack. The rebels have been fighting for an independent homeland in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka for more than two decades.
UN - BURMA: The U.N. envoy to Burma says countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have a significant role to play in helping the military-ruled nation on the path to democracy and national reconciliation. The United Nations released a statement saying special envoy Ibrahim Gambari told reporters in Jakarta that ASEAN members made their position clear last September at the United Nations and the following month at their summit in Singapore. He stressed that he will continue engaging those countries, since Burma is an ASEAN member.
GUAM - BOMBER: U.S. Air Force officials say a B-2 stealth bomber has crashed in Guam today shortly after take-off. The Air Force says this is the first time one of the billion dollar stealth bombers has crashed and an inquiry will be held to determine why the aircraft malfunctioned. Officials say both pilots ejected safely and are in good condition at Anderson Air Force Base. The crash brings the total number of stealth bombers down to 20. All of them are based at Whiteman Air Force Base in (the state of) Missouri.
US - AUSTRALIA: The United States and Australia reaffirmed their alliance today in the first high-level meeting between the two countries since the installation of the new Kevin Rudd government in December. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte met in Canberra with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith and Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon. Smith told a news conference after the annual talks -- called the AUSMIN consultations -- that discussions had been very positive and very productive.
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