THAILAND - THAKSIN: Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has returned home to face corruption charges, 17 months after being deposed in a bloodless military coup. Mr. Thaksin, who had been in self-imposed exile, was greeted by thousands of cheering supporters when he arrived at Bangkok's airport today. In an emotional gesture of gratitude, he fell to his knees and put his head to the ground. Police arrested the former prime minister after his arrival on charges related to a real estate purchase. He was taken to Thailand's Supreme Court, which freed him on 268-thousand dollars bail, and barred him from leaving the country without permission.
TURKEY - IRAQ: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says his Turkish counterpart, Vecdi Gonul, did not give him a specific timetable to end Turkey's military offensive in northern Iraq. After meeting with Gates today in Ankara, Gonul told reporters Turkish forces will stay in Iraq as long as necessary to stop Kurdish rebels based there. Defense Secretary Gates -- who has been urging Turkey to end its incursion soon -- is scheduled to meet later today with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Iraqi government says Turkey's military action violates Iraqi sovereignty.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israel has continued air strikes the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip today, killing at least three suspected militants. The Israeli military also said troops raided a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus early today and killed two militants. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon are both calling for a halt to violence on the Gaza strip after a day of Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket attacks. The calls came in response to Israeli airstrikes that hit the Palestinian Interior Ministry, killing a baby and wounding at least 14 others.
PAKISTAN - MISSILE: Witnesses in Pakistan say a missile struck a house in the South Waziristan tribal region, killing 13 people and injuring at least seven others. Residents in the area said a pilotless drone fired the missile early today. A security official also said the missile was fired from a U.S. drone. The Pakistani military has not confirmed the attack, but U.S. military drones have carried out previous strikes in the area on suspected militants. Pakistani officials do not confirm U.S. attacks on their territory because of sensitivities over sovereignty.
CHINA - JAPAN - DUMPLING: Chinese authorities say exported frozen dumplings which made 10 people in Japan sick were deliberately tainted with a pesticide. But Yu Xinmin, an official with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, told reporters in Beijing today that their investigation shows there was little chance the dumplings were tampered with inside China. He says police questioned 55 people at a food processing plant in the northern province of Hebei, where the dumplings were packaged, but the investigation did not turn up anything unusual.
CHINA - TIANANMEN MOTHERS: A group representing the families of victims and survivors of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident has written an open letter to China's leaders. Thursday's letter from the group "Tiananmen Mothers" calls on the Chinese government to open dialogue with survivors and the families of victims of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. The group's founder, Ding Zilin, told VOA that dialogue and peaceful means are the only way to avoid social unrest and resolve the issue once and for all. The group calls for an investigation to be opened into the crackdown, and for the government to make a public apology and provide compensation and for those who broke laws during the incident.
CHINA - DARFUR: China's special envoy to Darfur is urging the international community to do more to step up peace efforts in Sudan's troubled region. Liu Guijin said Wednesday at the end of a visit to Sudan that Western powers should do more to persuade rebel groups to attend peace talks with Sudan's government. He also urged Sudan to show more flexibility on what he called "technical" issues still blocking the full deployment of a joint United Nations - African Union peace force to Darfur. China is facing international pressure to use its economic influence with Sudan to help resolve the situation in Darfur.
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