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Rice Arrives in Tbilisi


GEORGIA - DIPLOMACY: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in an effort to seal a cease-fire deal between Georgia and Russia.Rice is scheduled to meet today with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.She met Thursday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and is carrying a draft of the French-brokered cease-fire agreement. Rice says the agreement will ensure that Russian troops leave Georgian territory.In an interview published today in the Russian daily, Kommersant, Mr. Saakashvili says he will not make any concessions to Russia.

GEORGIA: The war-battered Georgian city of Gori remains cut off from the rest of the country, with Russian forces continuing to block access to the city.Russian tanks and military vehicles held positions outside the strategic city today, ahead of an expected flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at bringing the standoff between Russia and Georgia to an end.Georgian authorities have been trying to re-enter the abandoned town but have so far refused to endorse a proposal for South Ossetian police to patrol Gori. Russian officials told reporters today their forces were busy providing humanitarian assistance to the region.

US - POLAND - MISSILES: Top Russian officials say it is now clear that a proposed U.S. missile defense system in eastern Europe is aimed at Russia.The officials say today the speed in which U.S. and Polish negotiators reached an agreement on the proposed system -- during the mounting crisis with Georgia -- proves it is not related to any missile threat from Iran.A top Russian general also said the U.S.-Polish agreement is aggravating already strained relations between Moscow and Washington.U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the Georgian capital Tblisi, says she hopes to sign the missile shield treaty soon.

PAKISTAN: A spokesman for Pakistan's embattled President Pervez Musharraf has denied Western media reports that the president will resign rather than face impeachment.The spokesman (General Rashid Qurreshi) told reporters today (Friday) that the reports were baseless.Published reports have quoted Pakistani officials as saying negotiations were underway to allow for the president to step down. The sources say the negotiations concerned whether Mr. Musharraf would be allowed to stay in Pakistan and if he would be immune from prosecution .

INDIA - PAKISTAN: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has urged Pakistan to clamp down on terrorism, saying it is threatening the peace process between the two countries.In speech today marking India's independence from Britain, Mr. Singh said that terrorism has cast a shadow over efforts to normalize relations with Pakistan.India has blamed Pakistan's intelligence agency for the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul last month that killed 41 people, including two Indian diplomats. Pakistan has denied any involvement.

LAOS - FLOODS: Mekong River has risen above flood levels in many areas. at Luang Prabang, water level is receded today but still above flood stage and is expected to stay there for the next 5 days. At Vientiane, water level is 13.67 meter today which is already above flood stage. At Paksane, water has reached alarm stage today, Thakhek is expected to reach alarm stage tomorrow and then reach to flood stage after tomorrow. Savannakhet may reach alarm stage in 3 days and then rise up to flood stage. Pakse, water level may reach alarm stage in 2 days. In Vientiane, a levee was built along the river's bank after 1966 flooding but overrun in places, causing flooding in parts of the city.

CHINA - OLYMPICS: Chinese security personnel have detained more pro-Tibet activists after the foreign nationals hung a banner in Beijing calling for freedom for Tibet in English and Chinese. Two activists scaled the new headquarters of China's state-run television broadcaster today and hung the banner on top of a billboard for the Beijing Olympics. The New York-based group Students for a Free Tibet tells VOA the two climbers -- an Australian-Canadian and Briton -- were detained along with three American activists at the scene.

OLYMPICS WRAP: Russian-born American gymnast Nastia Liukin has won the gold medal in the women's individual all-around competition at the Beijing Olympics.Liukin, who was born in Moscow but now lives in Texas, finished with 63-point-325 points, just six-10ths of one point ahead of compatriot Shawn Johnson. China's Yang Yilin took the bronze medal.Earlier, American swimmers electrified the Beijing Water Cube, with Michael Phelps winning his sixth gold medal in a world record time. Phelps defended his title in the men's 200-meter individual medley race, finishing in one minute, 54-point-23 seconds.

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