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Southern African Leaders Meeting to Discuss Zimbabwe Crisis


ZIMBABWE: Southern African leaders are holding an emergency meeting in Swaziland's capital Mbabane today to discuss the violent political crisis in Zimbabwe. A statement issued by the Tanzanian government says the South African Development Community meeting includes members of the bloc's politics, defense and security grouping (Tanzania, Angola and Swaziland). A spokesman for South African President Thabo Mbeki said the president was not invited to the meeting and will not attend, contradicting information in the Tanzanian statement. Mr. Mbeki has served as a mediator between Zimbabwe's feuding political factions.

IRAQ: The U.S. military says a roadside bomb killed three U.S. soldiers and their interpreter in Ninewah province late Tuesday. The attack took place hours after 10 people were killed in another bomb blast inside a local council building in Baghdad's Sadr City district. Four Americans were killed in that incident -- a U.S. State Department employee, a U.S. Defense Department official and two soldiers. The blast also killed an Italian translator and five Iraqi civilians. Elsewhere, a suicide car bomb killed two people, including a child in Mosul. At least 70 people were wounded. In other news, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani meets with U.S. President George Bush in Washington today to discuss the United States' future role in Iraq.

CHINA- TIBET: China reopened Tibet to foreign tourists today, three months after a harsh crackdown on anti-government protests that sparked an international firestorm. Statements on Tibetan government websites say they are resuming foreign tourism following last Saturday's run of the Beijing Olympic torch through the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The statements declared the torch run a success, and said it was a victory over "separatists" and proved that social stability in the territory had been restored. China halted all tourism in Tibet after the March 14th anti-government protests and subsequent crackdown. Beijing allowed domestic tour groups back into the region in late April.

NOKOR - NUCLEAR: The U.S. State Department's top Korean expert will travel to North Korea for this week's planned destruction of the cooling tower at the regime's main Yongbyon nuclear complex. A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in South Korea says Sung Kim will cross the inter-Korean border on Thursday. The isolated regime has invited media organizations from the other countries in the disarmament talks -- the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea -- to provide live television coverage of the tower's destruction. Pyongyang is expected to hand over its long-awaited nuclear declaration on Thursday to Chinese negotiators -- six months after it had agreed to do so, in exchange for diplomatic benefits and energy aid.

SOKOR - US BEEF: South Korea's ruling party says the government will resume imports of U.S. beef starting Thursday. The Grand National Party announced today that new rules excluding beef from cattle older than 30 months will go into effect Thursday. On Tuesday, South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak said his government will not tolerate any further violent protests against the resumption of imports of U.S. beef. Mr. Lee told his cabinet that while the government must listen to voices critical of its policies, illegal or violent demonstrations should be dealt with sternly. South Korean officials announced Saturday that beef imports from the United States will come only from cattle less than 30 months old, to alleviate concerns of mad cow disease.

PHILIPPINES - FERRY: Divers from the U.S. Navy are joining their Philippine counterparts today in the search for more victims inside a passenger ferry that capsized during the onslaught of Typhoon Fengshen. More than 800 passengers and crew were on board the "Princess of the Stars" when it sank off the central island of Sibuyan. Philippine coast guard and naval officials say divers have found the bodies of 15 people floating in one section of the ship, many without life jackets. About 50 more bodies have been discovered floating several kilometers away from the wreckage. U.S. President George Bush pledged American help with the rescue effort during a meeting Tuesday with Philippine President Gloria Arroyo at the White House.

US - VIETNAM: U.S. President George Bush has praised Vietnam's progress on religious and political freedoms. Mr. Bush met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the White House Tuesday. Mr. Bush told reporters that Vietnam's progress on human rights is "noteworthy." Human rights organizations and Vietnamese-American groups had called on President Bush to make human rights a priority in Tuesday's talks. Both leaders described their talks as productive and friendly. Mr. Bush said the United States and Vietnam share a respectful relationship that is growing closer. Mr. Nguyen said they discussed setting up high-level talks on a number of issues including security, the economy, trade, climate change, energy, education, and science.

AFGHANISTAN: The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan says it has killed 22 militants after they attacked two towns in the east of the country. The coalition says it carried out airstrikes on Taliban insurgents after they attacked government offices in Sarobi and Gomal in Paktika province today. Earlier today, NATO-led forces in southern Afghanistan said an explosion killed one soldier in Nahri Sarraj district of Helmand province. In another incident in Helmand, Britain's Defense Ministry says a British soldier was killed by a suspected roadside bomb in the province. Another British soldier was killed in the same part of the country, but few details were given.

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