ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he will take part in a presidential run-off against the incumbent, Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai made the announcement in Pretoria, South Africa today but also laid out several conditions. He called for the cessation of all violence, the presence of South African Development Community peacekeepers and access for international observers and media. The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change said he will return home soon and that the runoff should take place no later than May 24th.
Burma has gone ahead with a constitutional referendum as more than a million people wait for assistance after a cyclone disaster a week ago that left at least 62-thousand people dead or missing. The devastating storm prompted Burma's military government to postpone the vote until May 24th in the worst-affected districts, but polls opened today elsewhere, as scheduled. Burma's military leaders say the new constitution is part of a so-called "road map to democracy" that will lead to general elections in 2010.
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's separatist Tamil Tigers have sunk a naval ship docked in the eastern part of the country, hours before today's elections in the island's Eastern Province. The rebels said a unit of their Sea Tiger underwater commandoes destroyed the ship, known as the M.V. Invincible, shortly before dawn. The Invincible was anchored in Trincomalee harbor waiting to transport explosives to troops battling rebels in the north. Police and troops have been deployed to Eastern Province for today's local elections - the first in the province in two decades.
LEBANON: Authorities in Lebanon say at least two people are dead after gunmen opened fire on a funeral procession today in the violence-wracked capital of Beirut. The attack occurred as mourners were carrying the body of a 24-year-old man killed in this week's clashes between Hezbollah and supporters of Lebanon's U.S.-backed government. The latest incident shattered the relative calm in Beirut after three days of deadly sectarian fighting. Hezbollah and its Shi'ite allies seized control of many western Beirut neighborhoods from pro-government Sunnis. At least 20 people have been killed in Lebanon since fighting broke out Wednesday.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: A U.S. envoy crossed the inter-Korean border into South Korea today with thousands of documents detailing Pyongyang's nuclear program. A spokesman for the U.S. State Department (Sean McCormack) says the documents received by the U.S. director of Korean affairs, Sung Kim, contain information about North Korea's plutonium enrichment program. Kim returned to the South with around 18 thousand documents. A five-member negotiating team led by Kim arrived in Pyongyang Thursday for talks aimed at convincing North Korea to fully declare its nuclear activities.
IRAQ: An aide to radical Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says the movement has reached a ceasefire with the government to end fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City. The aide announced the truce today in Najaf. Sheik Salah al-Obeidi says the agreement will take effect on Sunday. Fighting in Sadr City has intensified since late March, when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on Shi'ite militias loyal to the anti-American cleric. Hundreds of people have been killed. In the latest violence, Iraqi medics in Sadr City say 13 people, including women and children, have been killed and 77 others wounded in clashes between U.S. forces and Shi'ite militias since Friday.
TURKEY - KURDS: Turkish military officials say soldiers have
killed 19 Kurdish rebels during fighting in southeastern Turkey. A military statement issued today in Ankara says the militants were killed in an airstrike on a rebel stronghold in Hakkari province, which borders Iraq and Iran. The airstrikes were in retaliation to a Kurdish raid late Friday on a military outpost in Hakkari that left two Turkish soldiers dead. The military says four other soldiers were killed when troops pursued the rebels. The military also says it dealt a "serious blow" to Kurdish rebels during an operation into northern Iraq last week.
MALAYSIA - PHILIPPINES: Malaysian peacekeepers began a phased withdrawal from the Philippines' restive southern island of Mindanao today. At least 28 of the 41 peace monitors flew out of the country, with the rest set to leave at the end of August. In a statement late Wednesday, visiting Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said his country is unable to continue unlimited deployment of the international monitoring team. But, he assured the Philippines that Kuala Lumpur remains committed to helping the peace process.
CLOSER: BUSH WEDDING:
Jenna Bush -- the 26-year-old twin daughter of President and Mrs. Bush -- is getting married today in a "small and private" affair at her family's ranch in Crawford, Texas. The bride-to-be and her future husband, Henry Hager (son of the head of the Republican Party in Virginia), will be married outdoors at twilight in front of a limestone altar built for the event. About 200 guests are expected to attend. In his weekly radio address, President Bush said his daughter's wedding day is a "joyous occasion for our family."
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