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Israel Agrees to Cease-fire Deal With Hamas


ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israel has agreed to a cease-fired deal with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, to end fighting in and around the Gaza Strip. An Israeli defense official said today after returning from talks with Egyptian mediators in Cairo that an understanding had been reached. Hamas and Egyptian officials announced the deal a day earlier, and said it will go into effect Thursday at six in the morning local time (0300 UTC). In accordance with the truce, Hamas and other Palestinian militants agree to cease rocket attacks on Israel. In turn, Israel will suspend military raids and air strikes on the Gaza Strip. Israel also is to allow more supplies to enter the territory starting three days into the cease-fire. If the truce holds, Israel will further ease restrictions.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say some 20 Taliban militants have been killed in the south of the country, where NATO and Afghan forces began a joint offensive against the insurgents. The Afghan defense ministry said two Afghan army officers were also killed during the operation in the Arghandab district, north of Kandahar city. The joint military offensive, which involved helicopter gunships and heavy arms, was launched earlier today The defense ministry said Tuesday that hundreds of Taliban fighters had infiltrated a number of villages near Kandahar, but the U.S. Defense Department later said that was an overstatement. Thousands of people in the area have recently left their homes. NATO planes have been dropping leaflets urging people to stay indoors in case of fighting.

IRAQ: The U.S. military says a renegade Shi'ite group ordered Tuesday's deadly car bomb attack on a Shi'ite neighborhood in Baghdad to incite sectarian violence against Sunnis. Military spokesman Steven Stover today said the attack, which killed 63 people and wounded 75 others, was the work of a so-called Shi'ite "special group" led by Haydar Mehdi Khadum al-Fawadi. Stover said Fawadi ordered the attack to stop Sunni resettlement of the Hurriyah neighborhood. Tuesday's bombing was the deadliest in the Iraqi capital in more than three months when U.S. and Iraqi forces began observing a truce with Shi'ite militants. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the bombing in the strongest terms, calling it a heinous terrorist attack.

NOKOR - NUCLEAR: South Korea is urging Japan to provide aid to North Korea to maintain progress in the six-nation negotiations aimed at ending the isolated regime's nuclear weapons program. South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Sook, made the plea today in Seoul, shortly before leaving for Tokyo for meetings with his Japanese and American counterparts. Kim says six-nation talks will soon resume, and encouraged Japan to reward North Korea for its gradual steps toward ending its nuclear capabilities. Under a deal reached last year, Pyongyang agreed to dismantle its nuclear program, and provide a full accounting of its nuclear activities, in exchange for energy assistance. Talks have stalled over North Korea's release of a declaration of its nuclear activities. Kim says that declaration is close to being ready.

US - VIETNAM: The White House says Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will meet with U.S. President George Bush next Tuesday at the White House. A White House spokesman Tuesday said the two leaders will discuss food security, regional economic integration and the United Nations Security Council. President Bush visited Vietnam in 2006, shortly before the two countries normalized trade relations. The architect of economic reforms that opened Vietnam's economy to a dramatic expansion of trade and foreign investment -- former Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet -- died earlier this month.

BURMA: A U.S. newspaper says the number of deaths caused by delays in international aid reaching survivors of a devastating cyclone that struck Burma's southern Irrawaddy Delta may be smaller than first expected. Today's "New York Times" says doctors and aid workers who have participated in the relief efforts have seen no signs of mass starvation or widespread outbreaks of disease. The international aid workers credit Burma's monks and private citizens for helping the people of Irrawaddy Delta, organizing convoys of drinking water, clothing, food and construction materials. The foreign aid workers also tell the "Times" the survivors managed to live on coconuts, rotten rice and fish for weeks without relief supplies.

MALAYSIA - POLITICS: A small party in Malaysia's ruling coalition will seek a no-confidence vote against embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Yong Teck Lee, the president of the Sabah Progressive Party, says people have lost confidence in Mr. Abdullah's ability to govern. Yong says the party will decide by Friday whether its two lawmakers will withdraw from the ruling National Front coalition. Mr. Abdullah has been facing intense calls to resign since March, when the coalition suffered its worst electoral defeat in decades. The National Front lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament, as well as control of five states. The prime minister has also been hit with widespread public anger over the recent hike in gasoline prices.

US - BUSH - OIL: U.S. President George Bush is expected to urge congressional lawmakers today to reverse a two-decade old ban on offshore oil drilling. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters Tuesday that Mr. Bush will call on Congress to approve legislation that will lead to safe, environmentally friendly offshore drilling. Perino says Mr. Bush believes lawmakers can not waste any time because of surging gas prices. The president is also expected to repeat his call to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a move strongly opposed by Democrats. Mr. Bush will make his call just a day after Arizona Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, called for lifting the ban on offshore drilling, during a speech in the president's home state of Texas.

Listen to our World News for details.

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