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US Presidential Hopeful Obama Defends Overseas Trip, Meets With British PM


OBAMA - EUROPE: U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama defended his current international travels today, saying answers to America's problems could lie in working with its allies overseas.Obama made the comments after a two-hour meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in which they discussed strengthening the relationship between the two countries, particularly in areas of common interest, such as global warming and international terrorism.Obama is in Britain on the final stop of an international tour of Europe and the Middle East aimed at boosting his his foreign policy credentials ahead of the November election.

AFGHANISTAN VIOLENCE: The NATO alliance in Afghanistan says its troops killed four civilians and wounded three others today when the soldiers opened fire on a car that failed to stop at a checkpoint in the southern province of Helmand. Officials say warning shots were fired away from the car when it refused to stop, but the troops were then forced to fire at the vehicle, fearing an insurgent attack. NATO said in a statement today it deeply regrets what it called "this unnecessary incident caused by the reckless actions of the vehicle driver."Civilian casualties have been a sore point between Afghanistan's government and international forces that operate there.

PAKISTAN - US: Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilanivowed to fight extremism and terrorism as he embarked today on an official visit to Washington to meet with U. S. President George Bush. Mr. Gilani's visit comes amid rising fears in Pakistan that U.S. forces might take action against militant bases on Pakistani soil that are used to launch attacks in Afghanistan. Militant sanctuaries along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan are expected to figure prominently in the meeting between the two leaders. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Pakistan Friday to step up its efforts to combat Taliban militants. This is Mr. Gilani's first official trip to Washington since taking office in March.

KARADZIC: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has made a last-minute appeal against his extradition to The Hague tribunal to face war crimes charges.His lawyer says he filed the motion by mail late Friday.Serbian authorities arrested Karadzic Monday in Belgrade, where he had lived openly, practicing alternative medicine under the name Dragan Dabic.Officials say they tracked him down by following people thought to be helping him avoid capture.The U.N. war crimes tribunal has charged Karadzic with genocide and crimes against humanity for his efforts to ethnically-cleanse Bosnia-Herzegovina of Muslims and Croats during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s.

GAZA VIOLENCE: Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip have arrested more than 100 men following an explosion that killed five people near a beach outside Gaza City Friday.Officials say the casualties included at least three Hamas militants and a young girl. At least 19 other people were wounded.The armed wing of Hamas accused members of the rival Palestinian faction, Fatah, of carrying out the attack, which occurred near a car being used by Hamas members. Witnesses say most of those arrested today were Fatah members.Fatah issued a statement denying any involvement with the explosion, blaming the incident on Hamas infighting.

RICE - NZ - CHINA: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has warned China not to use legitimate security concerns as an excuse to crack down on dissidents.At a joint news conference with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark in Auckland today, Rice said China should showcase not just the Olympics, but an attitude of openness and tolerance.Neither Rice nor the prime minister expressed any concerns about the safety of U.S. or New Zealand athletes.Global intelligence analysts said Friday that a Uighur separatist group - the Turkestan Islamic Party - has claimed credit for several attacks, including the May fifth Shanghai bus bombing that killed two people.

THAILAND POL: A retired diplomat has been appointed Thailand's new foreign minister after his predecessor was forced to resign over a land dispute with Cambodia.A royal decree issued today said King Bhumibol Adulyadej had endorsed Tej Bunnag as the country's top diplomat.His predecessor, Noppadon Pattama, was forced to resign on July 10th after backing Cambodia's bid to have an 11th century temple listed as a World Heritage site.Teg's first task will be to seek a solution to the dispute over the 900-hear-old Hindu temple during his Monday talks with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong.

CAMBODIA - THAILAND: A border dispute with Thailand has heightened nationalist sentiments in Cambodia, bolstering Prime Minister Hun Sen's popularity ahead of Sunday's elections. Cambodians have begun boycotting Thai goods as tensions rise over a military standoff in a disputed border area. Analysts expect Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party to win an easy victory, extending his 23-year period in office by another five years. Eleven parties are competing for 123 seats in parliament.Domestic and international observers will be monitoring Sunday's elections.

PHILIPPINES PLANE: More than 300 passengers who were on a Qantas flight when it experienced an explosive decompression over the Pacific have arrived safely in Melbourne, Australia.The Australian jetliner was forced to make an emergency landing in the Philippine capital of Manila Friday,after its fuselage mysteriously ruptured.Investigators in Manila have so far discounted an explosion. The U.S.-made plane had a large hole on its underside near the right wing measuring three meters in diameter.Experts say it is too soon to determine what caused the rupture, but a faulty panel could have ripped away from the fuselage.

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