US - POPE: Pope Benedict visits the White House today for formal talks with President Bush. Tuesday cheering crowds sang birthday wishes to the pope, who turns 81 today, as he arrived at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington. He was welcomed by Mr. Bush, his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, and their daughter Jenna. No visiting foreign leader has ever been welcomed at the airport by President Bush. The pontiff told reporters during his flight to Washington that he will raise the issue of immigration in his talks with Mr. Bush.
DRC - PLANE CRASH: Rescue workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are searching the wreckage of a passenger plane that crashed into a market district Tuesday in the east of the country, killing at least 33 people. Workers searched for the second day today for bodies in the burning rubble of the DC-9 that crashed shortly after take-off from Goma. United Nations peacekeepers are assisting recovery efforts. Airline officials say most of those killed Tuesday were on the ground, while the majority of the 79 people on board the plane survived.
INDIA - ACCIDENT: Indian authorities say at least 44 people, most of them school children, were killed when a bus plunged into a canal in the western state of Gujarat early today. Officials say four children were rescued from the crash site -- the Narmada canal in the town of Bodeli. Investigators say the driver, who died in the accident, appeared to have lost control of the vehicle before crashing through a concrete guard rail into the deep water. Two other adults also died in the crash. Authorities say they are investigating the cause of the accident.
ZIMBABWE: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he will bring up the issue of Zimbabwe's post-election crisis at a U.N. Security Council meeting today that will include members of the African Union. Mr. Ban said the presence of African and Western leaders at the meeting presents a natural opportunity to address the issue. The U.N. chief also called on Zimbabwe to release the results of its March 29th presidential elections. South African President Thabo Mbeki will attend the meeting.
IRAN - NUCLEAR: World powers are meeting in China to discuss efforts to encourage Iran to cease its uranium enrichment program and to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. In Shanghai today, delegates from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany and the European Union are expected to consider increasing incentives for Iran. The United States, France, Britain, Germany and the EU are concerned Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, and have been pushing for stronger sanctions against the country.
UN - NOKOR - FOOD: The United Nations' food agency says North Korea is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis because of acute food shortages. Tony Bradbury, the World Food Program's director for Asia, says the isolated nation's food situation is "clearly bad and getting worse." The WFP says an estimated six-point-five million North Koreans, out of a population of 23 million, are short of food. The agency feeds just over one million North Koreans, after Pyongyang ordered it to drastically cut back on its operations in 2006. Agricultural experts say North Korea is facing crop shortages due to heavy floods last year.
JAPAN - RUSSIA: Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will visit Russia next week as the two countries work to resolve a long-standing territorial dispute over four small islands off northern Japan. A Japanese government spokesman (Nobutaka Machimura) told reporters today that Mr. Fukuda will meet Russia's outgoing President Vladimir Putin and his successor Dmitry Medvedev during the visit. The spokesman said that the two will discuss environmental and security issues and try to make progress on resolving the decades old territorial dispute.
BUSH - CLIMATE CHANGE: President Bush is expected to announce a national goal for reducing greenhouse gases during a speech today at the White House. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino says the president will identify "realistic intermediate goals" but would not lay out any specific strategy. Perino says Mr. Bush will emphasize the importance of offering incentives to promote technology as an effective way to deal with the issue. The president is speaking one day before representatives of the world's largest carbon polluters meet in Paris for the third in a series of talks organized by Mr. Bush last year.
OLYMPIC TORCH: Thousands of police are deployed in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad to guard against violence during today's Olympic torch ceremony. Officials say security concerns have caused a change in plans for the ceremony, which celebrates the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The torch was originally to be carried down the streets of Islamabad, but the run will now take place at Jinnah Stadium. President Pervez Musharraf is due to attend the ceremony. Pakistan and China are close political, military and commercial allies. The flame began its worldwide six-continent trek in ancient Olympia in Greece on March 24th.
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