ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice travels to the Middle East today for a round of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as part of an effort to advance the peace process. The top U.S. diplomat will hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other officials on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday, Rice and other diplomats from the so-called Quartet of international peace brokers met in London to urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to honor their commitments to the peace process.
ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe's opposition party plans to meet today to discuss whether to take part in a presidential runoff vote. The Movement for Democratic Change is rejecting official results from the March 29th election that shows party leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeating President Robert Mugabe, but falling short of the majority needed to avoid a second vote. Speaking to reporters in South Africa Friday, MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti accused the commission of robbing tens of thousands of votes from Mr. Tsvangirai.
CHINA - DALAI LAMA: Tibet's government-in-exile says talks between envoys of the Dalai Lama and Chinese officials will begin Sunday in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Spokesmen for Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said in India that the delegates will arrive in Hong Kong today and travel to neighboring Shenzhen for meetings on Sunday. A statement Friday said the Dalai Lama's envoys were expected to hold informal talks with Chinese officials today at an undisclosed location.
CHINA - OLYMPICS: The Olympic torch relay has ended in the Chinese territory of Macau without any disruptions. Huge crowds waved flags and cheered as the flame was carried through the streets. The relays in Macau today and in Hong Kong Friday were held without any of the chaotic demonstrations that marred most of the torch's international journey. The torch will now travel around mainland China, visiting Tibet from June 19th through the 21st, on its way to the opening of the Beijing Olympics on August eighth. Friday's relay marked the return of the torch to Chinese soil.
CHINA VIRUS: Chinese authorities issued an alert to officials nationwide today to control an outbreak of a virus that has killed more than 20 children and shows signs of spreading. The alert came after authorities said an 18-month-old boy who died Friday in southern China probably succumbed to the intestinal virus that has killed 22 children in the eastern province of Anhui. The World Health Organization said Friday that Chinese authorities had taken steps to halt the spread of the the virus, known as enterovirus 71, or EV71, in Anhui.
AFGHANISTAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he is considering the idea of putting U.S. forces in command of NATO troops in southern Afghanistan. Gates said Friday that the United States needs to reexamine its military arrangements in Afghanistan, including whether it makes sense to have two combat commands in one country. He says Washington will consult with its NATO allies before any decision to take command of southern Afghanistan. Taliban violence in the south has increased sharply since NATO forces took command there in 2006 from the U.S. military.
IRAN - NUCLEAR: Russia says six world powers concerned about Iran's nuclear program want Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment while negotiations are under way. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today that it is necessary to explain to Iran what benefits Tehran would receive if it agreed to talks. Lavrov was speaking in Moscow after meeting in London Friday with his counterparts from the United States, Britain, France, Germany and China. He said the six nations did not discuss imposing new sanctions on Iran. Lavrov says the group agreed to improve a package of incentives first offered to Iran in 2006. He did not give details.
US POLITICS: Residents in the U.S. territory of Guam are going to the polls today to vote in the island's Democratic presidential nominating caucus. Voter turnout is expected to reach more than four-thousand people, more than double the total from 2004, as voters decide whether to grant Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton their four delegates. Guam is a tiny, remote island in the western Pacific located more than 20 hours flying time from Washington. Neither Obama nor Clinton have visited the island, but have each made personal appeals through radio and television ads and radio interviews.
BURMA: The U.N. Security Council is urging Burma's military government to ensure next week's constitutional referendum is credible by including "all political actors." The Security Council Friday called for Burma to uphold its promise of a "free and fair" referendum. All 15 council members, including Burmese ally China, agreed on the non-binding statement. The statement urges the Burmese government to free all political prisoners, but it does not specifically refer to detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
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