IRAQ: The Pentagon says the U.S. troop presence in Iraq will remain greater than it was before last year's surge in forces -- even after the pullout of some 20-thousand troops by mid-year. The operations chief for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lieutenant General Carter Ham, said he is forecasting a troop level of 140-thousand in July. That is eight-thousand soldiers more than when President Bush ordered extra troops to Iraq in 2007 to calm violence and foster political reconciliation.
CAMBODIA-KHMER ROUGE: The head of a notorious Khmer Rouge torture center broke into tears today (Tuesday), as he led a U.N.-backed tribunal around one of Cambodia's "killing fields" from the 1970s. Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, last visited the Choeun Ek execution site outside Phnom Penh about 30 years ago, when he was head of the Khmer Rouge's S-21 prison. The 65-year-old former teacher is one of five Khmer Rouge officials to be tried for crimes against humanity during the ruthless government's rule from 1975 through 1979.
ASIA-BIRD FLU: Vietnamese health officials say a woman in the north of the country has died from bird flu as a new outbreak is reported in southern China. The director of Vietnam's preventive medicine department, Nguyen Huy Nga, said the 23-year-old teacher died Monday after testing positive for H5N1 strain of avian influenza. Her death brings the number of people in Vietnam killed by the virus to 50, out of 105 total human infections.
CUBA POLITICS: Raul Castro is scheduled to hold his first diplomatic meeting as Cuba's president when he holds talks today (Tuesday) with the visiting Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The Vatican official said in a news conference (Monday) in Havana that he expects clarity and sincerity in his talks with the new president. The cardinal arrived in Cuba last Wednesday, the day after Mr. Castro's (older) brother, Fidel Castro, announced he was stepping down as president after 49 years in power.
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