IRAN - MISSILES: Iran has test fired more missiles in the Persian Gulf, despite drawing Western criticism for firing nine missiles on Wednesday.State media today said the new missile tests occurred throughout the night, including the firing of ground-to-sea, surface-to-surface and sea-to-air missiles.Wednesday, the missiles tested by Iran included the long-range Shahab-Three that officials say can travel two-thousand kilometers, putting Israel and other U.S. allies within range.Speaking in Tbilisi, Georgia, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iran that the United States is prepared to defend itself and its allies against any aggression.
IRAN - FRANCE - ENERGY: The chief executive for the French energy company Total says he considers it is
too risky to invest in Iran.Total CEO Christophe de Margerie today said in an interview with "The Financial Times" newspaper that
his company would be taking too much political risk by investing in
Iran.Total had been expected to develop Iran's huge South Pars gas
field.Iran is under three sets of limited U.N. Security Council
sanctions, as well as European Union sanctions, for defying demands to stop
enriching uranium. Last month, a U.S. Senate panel approved legislation
that would tighten sanctions against Iran in connection with its nuclear
THAILAND - POLITICS: Thailand's foreign minister has resigned in the face of opposition anger over
his initial support of Cambodia's bid to have a disputed temple declared a world
landmark.Noppodon Pattama was facing impeachment after signing a joint
statement last month endorsing Cambodia's formal request to the United Nations'
cultural organization (the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization) to designate the 11th century Preah Vihear temple as a World
Heritage Site. Thailand's Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that the
statement should have initially been approved by the legislature.The
temple sits along the Thai-Cambodian border, and each side has long claimed the
site as its own.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: Disarmament talks with North Korea have resumed in Beijing after a nine month pause due to the isolated regime's refusal to provide a complete list of its nuclear facilities. A South Korean official says today's round of talks began with a brief photo session. The United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia agreed to resume the discussions after Pyongyang handed over the list in late June. U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill says stress will be placed on verification both of the declaration list and the dismantling of nuclear facilities.The five nations have promised North Korea crucial aid in return for cooperation. Pyongyang recently said it might halt the dismantling process if aid is not delivered.
SOKOR - POLITICS: South Korea's parliament convened today, ending a six-week
boycott by opposition lawmakers angered over a resumption of U.S. beef
imports.Liberal lawmakers ended the boycott after the ruling Grand
National Party agreed to launch an investigation into the agreement reached in
April to end a ban on U.S. beef.The deal sparked near-daily massive
street demonstrations, forcing President Lee Myung-bak to renegotiate the
agreement. The ban was initially imposed in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease
was discovered in U.S. beef.The conservative GNP won a majority of the
299-seat National Assembly in April parliamentary elections.
SOKOR - SAMSUNG: A special prosecutor is asking a South Korean court to sentence the former head of the Samsung Group to seven years in prison on charges of tax evasion and breach of trust.The prosecutor also asked the court in Seoul today to impose a 350 million dollar fine on Lee Kun-hee.The 66-year-old Lee stepped down as chairman of the country's biggest family-run conglomerate back in April after prosecutors accused him of evading more than 100 million dollars in taxes, and illegally transferring control of the Samsung group to his son. The charges stem from a probe launched earlier this year into allegations by a former Samsung official about a slush fund intended to bribe officials.
MALAYSIA POLITICS: Malaysia's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, says he will step down in mid-2010 and hand over power to his deputy, Najib Razak.Today's announcement in Kuala Lumpur followed a meeting by senior officials of the prime minister's United Malays National Organization. Mr. Abdullah could have remained in office until 2013, but he has faced calls to step down since March, when his National Front coalition suffered big losses in parliamentary elections. The prime minister also came under fire after a recent cut in government subsidies spurred a 41-percent rise in fuel prices. Even former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who chose Mr. Abdullah for his leadership post, has urged him to step down.
RICE - GEORGIA: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has met with Georgian opposition
leaders and urged the former Soviet state to continue its democratic
efforts.In between meetings with President Mikhail Saakashvili, Rice
today told Georgian opposition leaders that democracy takes
time to form.Among those at the meeting was former presidential
candidate Levan Gachechiladze, who was defeated by President Saakashvili in
January.On Wednesday, Rice dined privately with Mr. Saakashvili amid
rising tensions between the former Soviet state and Russia.Ahead of
Rice's arrival, Georgian authorities accused four Russian military planes of
violating the country's airspace.
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