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Top US Diplomat Urges Pakistan to Clamp Down on Militants Along Border


RICE - AUSTRALIA: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is calling on Pakistan to step up efforts to combat Taliban militants who use its border areas to launch attacks against Afghanistan.Speaking to reporters in the western Australian city of Perth today, Rice said the militants cannot be allowed to organize and plan their attacks from the northwest frontier area, despite its difficult terrain.Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith backed Rice, describing the border region as "the current international hotbed of terrorism." Australia has about one-thousand troops deployed in Afghanistan.

THAILAND POL: At least 20people have been injured in Thailand during a clash between supporters of the government and opposition protesters.Several hundred pro-government activists armed with axes and sticks Thursday attacked about 100 members of the opposition People's Alliance for Democracy. Police at the rally in the city of Udon Thani failed to prevent the violence. At least two people were in critical condition late Thursday. No arrests were reported.The People's Alliance for Democracy has been holding street protests against the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej since May.

UN - BURMA: The United Nations Security Council has met with special envoy Ibrahim Gambari ahead of his return visit to Burma in mid-August.The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, spoke with reporters after Thursday's closed door meeting. Khalilzad said council members told Gambari that they expect concrete results from his visit. Khalilzad said Gambari must return with an agreed road map and time-bound negotiations for political transition, leading to elections in 2010, in order for his visit to be considered a success.

CHINA - OLYMPIC TEAM: China is fielding its largest-ever Olympic team at the upcoming Beijing Games, with 639 athletes competing in all 28 sports.The team was unveiled today at a rally in Beijing. The contingent includes Yao Ming, a member of the U.S. National Basketball Association's Houston Rockets, and defending 110 meters hurdling gold medalist Liu Xiang. Of the 639 members of the Chinese team, 165 participated in the Athens Games four years ago, while 40 of them took part in the 2000 Sydney Games.The delegation will also include 460 coaches and other officials, bringing the total size to nearly 11-hundred.

OBAMA - EUROPE: U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama continues his European tour in Paris today where he is due to meet French President Nicholas Sarkozy.Obama's French visit is expected to be low key in contrast to his high profile trip to Germany where officials say 200 thousand people gathered to hear him speak in front of Berlin's Victory Column.There he made his first formal public speech on an international tour that has taken him to the Middle East, Afghanistan and Europe.He said in the speech the walls between rich and poor countries, races and religious groups can not stand.

UN - HUMAN RIGHTS: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has nominated a South African judge known for her work opposing apartheid to be High Commissioner for Human Rights.Mr. Ban said Navanethem Pillay's "outstanding credentials in human rights and justice" make her the right candidate to replace the former High Commissioner, Louise Arbour.During the selection process, the United States expressed concern about Pillay's candidacy, because of her position on issues like abortion and reproductive freedoms. But the U.S. envoy to the U.N. said Thursday he looked forward to working with Pillay.

US - GLOBAL AIDS FUND: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to triple U.S. spending on a program to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis around the world.The House easily approved the measure by a vote of 303 to 115 Thursday. The bill passed the Senate last week. President George Bush, a strong champion of the measure, has said he will sign it when it reaches his desk.The bill provides 48-billion dollars over five years to provide medicine and healthcare.Mr. Bush launched the project with congressional backing in 2003 with an initial budget of 15 billion dollars for the first five years.

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