BUSH - EUROPE: U.S. President George Bush says diplomacy is the first choice in dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions but all options remain open. Speaking in Germany after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Bush stressed that the international community will work together to resolve the issue and warned of additional sanctions. The German leader said that diplomatic pressure has produced results but stressed that new sanctions will be necessary if Iran fails to suspend its uranium enrichment work. Their comments followed wide-ranging discussions on such issues as global trade and climate change.
TAIWAN - CHINA: A group of negotiators from Taiwan has arrived in Beijing today to hold the first formal talks between the two sides since 1999. Taiwan's top negotiator, Chiang Pin-kung, is leading the 19-member delegation, which includes some senior Taiwanese government officials who are the highest ranking officials to take part in such bilateral talks. During the three-day visit, the two sides are scheduled to sign an agreement to allow more Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan and begin regular Saturday and Sunday charter flights.
SOKOR - US BEEF: Embattled South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is vowing to make a "fresh start" after weeks of massive protests against his government's agreement to resume U.S. beef imports. Mr. Lee made the vow today during a meeting with a group of businessmen, just hours after 80-thousand demonstrators ended a rally in Seoul that began Tuesday. Groups participating in the rallies estimated turnout in the hundreds of thousands. There were no reports of major clashes with the police. The protests have severely damaged Mr. Lee's popularity, after less than four months in office.
JAPAN POLITICS: Japan's upper house of parliament has approved an unprecedented censure motion against Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. The measure passed today by a vote of 131 to 105. It is the first time the Japanese parliament has approved a no-confidence bill against a prime minister in the country's postwar history. The upper house of parliament, which is dominated by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, submitted the motion to force Mr. Fukuda to either resign or call snap parliamentary elections. But the non-binding motion is expected to fail in the more powerful lower house of parliament, which is controlled by the prime minister's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
BURMA - SUU KYI: Burma's military government says it has the legal authority to extend the house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. On May 27th the Nobel Peace laureate's house detention was extended by one year. Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest continuously since May 2003, and for more than 12 of the last 18 years. An editorial published today (Wednesday) in the state-run "New Light of Myanmar" newspaper says Aung San Suu Kyi can be held for six years straight under a law first imposed in 1975. Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy party to landslide elections in 1990, but the results were ignored by the ruling junta.
BANGLADESH - POLITICS: Former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been released from jail so she can travel abroad for medical treatment. Prison officials say Ms. Hasina, who is facing corruption charges, is to leave for the United States on Thursday. On Monday, courts prosecuting the former prime minister gave permission for her to travel abroad for medical treatment and said her corruption trial could continue in her absence. Ms. Hasina suffers from several ailments including hearing problems caused by a bomb attack four years ago.
NEPAL - KING: Nepal's ousted King Gyanendra leaves the Narayanhiti royal palace in Kathmandu today, a day before the deadline established by the constitutional assembly that removed him. A palace spokesman said Tuesday the former king will hand over the country's jewel-encrusted crown and probably hold a news conference before leaving. The spokesman said the former monarch will move to Nagarjun palace, which is on a forested hill north of the Nepalese capital. Authorities say the former king and queen will have 50 police officers and 25 soldiers in their new home for their protection.
SUDAN - PLANE CRASH: Sudanese officials say authorities have recovered the bodies of 28 people who died when a plane veered off a runway at Khartoum's airport and burst into flames. Officials today said at least 121 people survived the Sudan Airways plane crash in the capital late Tuesday. The plane was carrying more than 200 passengers and crew when it landed in inclement weather. At least 50 people are missing. State-run television in Sudan had reported Tuesday that 100 people had died in the accident, amid conflicting reports about the number of fatalities.
OBIT: VO VAN KIET: Former Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet, who transformed his country's economy from its failed Soviet-style system to one based on free market principles, has died at the age of 85. Mr. Kiet's family and the government says he died today (Wednesday) in a Singapore hospital, where he was taken after falling ill last week. His remains are to be flown to Ho Chi Minh City later today. Mr. Kiet introduced market-oriented economic reforms during his six-year tenure as prime minister, which began in 1991. The changes made possible billions of dollars in foreign investment in Vietnam.
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