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South Korean President Softens Stance on North Korea


SOKOR - LEE - NOKOR: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is calling for reconciliation talks to resume between his nation and North Korea.Mr. Lee made the offer during today's formal opening session of the National Assembly. The president says he is willing to hold "serious consultations" on how to implement a series of previous inter-Korean agreements, including two reached in 2000 and 2007 by his liberal predecessors.Mr. Lee also says Seoul is ready to cooperate in alleviating North Korea's chronic food shortages, as well as resolving a host of other issues, including South Korean prisoners of war.

KOREAS - TOURIST KILLED: A female South Korean tourist has been shot and killed by a North Korean soldier at a popular North Korean mountain resort.Officials with South Korea's Unification Ministry say the 53-year-old woman was killed when she walked into a restricted beach area guarded by the North Korean military today. The woman's body was handed over and taken to a hospital in the eastern South Korean city of Sokcho. The ministry says it is suspending tours to the Mount Kumgang resort until an investigation is completed.The resort is run by an affiliate of South Korea's Hyundai Group. It first opened to tourists in 1998.

VIETNAM - MONK BURIED: Thousands of Buddhist followers have gathered to say their final farewells to Thich Huyen Quang, the patriarch of an outlawed Vietnamese Buddhist movement.Quang was buried today at his Nguyen Thieu monastery in Binh Dinh province. He died last week at the monastery at the age of 87 after suffering from heart, lung and kidney ailments.Quang was patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. He spent several years under house arrest, prison or internal exile for refusing to submit to Vietnam's communist rulersThe church was outlawed in the early 1980s.

CHINA - MURDER: Police in China say they have arrested a young man who is suspected of killing a Canadian model in Shanghai earlier this week.China's official Xinhua news agency says the suspect, Chen Jun, was arrested today in eastern Anhui province, five days after Diana O'Brien was found stabbed to death. Chen had the model's laptop and other items in his possession. Xinhua says Chen has confessed to the murder. Chen says he followed O'Brien to her apartment last Sunday night planning to rob her. Xinhua says O'Brien resisted and then Chen killed her. O'Brien arrived in Shanghai less than two weeks before she was murdered.

SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's military says Tamil Tiger rebels have opened fire on a bus in the country's south, killing at least four people, including a child and two women.The military says the incident occurred today in the town of Buttala, 240 kilometers outside Colombo. Military officials say three passengers died at the scene, while another died at the hospital. Twenty-six others were injured. Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting for an independent homeland for ethnic Tamils in the country's north and east since 1983. More than 70-thousand people have died in the violence.

PAKISTAN - UN - BHUTTO: Pakistan says it has reached a "broad understanding" with the United Nations on aspects of a proposed U.N. investigation into the killing of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations on Thursday to discuss Pakistan's request for an independent commission to investigate Ms. Bhutto's assassination. Mr. Ban's office said the secretary-general responded positively to the request, but that further consultations with Pakistan and other U.N. officials will be needed.

IRAN - NUCLEAR: Iran says its top nuclear negotiator will meet with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana later this month in Geneva for talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear program.Iran's official news agency quoted a spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council as saying the talks between Saeed Jalili and Solana will take place on July 19th. They are scheduled to discuss a package of incentives Solana introduced in June.Six world powers (Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the United States) have offered Iran a variety of incentives to halt sensative nuclear work.

ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe is warning that any international sanctions against the ruling government could lead to civil war.The warning was issued Thursday in a letter by Zimbabwe's mission at the United Nations. The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote soon on a draft resolution that includes financial and travel restrictions against President Robert Mugabe and 13 other officials believed responsible violence in the period before last month's presidential run-off vote.Meanwhile, representatives for Zimbabwe's ruling party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party met Thursday in Pretoria, South Africa.

ISRAEL - POLITICS: Israeli police are questioning the country's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, for a third time today about allegations he unlawfully accepted cash from a U.S. businessman before becoming premier.Mr. Olmert says the payments were legal campaign contributions and denies wrongdoing. He has promised to resign if indicted.Israel's defense minister and leader of the Labor party, Ehud Barak, has demanded the ruling Kadima party pick a new leader because of the corruption investigation against Mr. Olmert.On Thursday, Kadima approved a motion to hold an election by late September.

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