US POLITICS: U.S. Senator John McCain is making his first campaign appearances as the official Republican presidential nominee today with stops in Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado.McCain formally accepted the nomination Thursday on the final day of the party's national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. He warned that he and his vice-presidential running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, would shake up the "old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second, Washington crowd" if they are elected.The veteran Arizona lawmaker highlighted his record of working with Democrats, and pledged to continue bipartisanship as president and to end "constant partisan rancor" in Washington.
US - LIBYA: The top U.S. diplomat is due to arrive in Libya today, for the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State in more than 50 years.Condoleeza Rice is expected to meet with Libya's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, and other key officials in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The State Department says Rice's trip signifies what it calls a "new chapter" in U.S.-Libyan relations. Officials said (in a statement on the State Department website) that normalizing diplomatic relations will allow the two countries to strengthen their commercial ties and increase cooperation in science, technology, education, and culture.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: Countries involved in talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program meet today to discuss Pyongyang's announcement that it may restore a disabled nuclear plant.The chief U.S. nuclear negotiator, Christopher Hill, has left the United States for talks in Beijing with representatives from China, South Korean and Japan. (Russia -- the fifth country involved in negotiations with North Korea -- is not expected to attend.)South Korean envoy Kim Sook says it is crucial to "break the deadlock" as soon as possible so North Korea can resume dismantling the plant, and return to the six-party talks.
JAPAN - POLITICS: Veteran Japanese politician Taro Aso has formally launched his bid to become the country's next prime minister.Aso announced today that he will run for president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.The 67-year-old Aso is a former foreign minister who currently serves as LDP secretary-general. He is known for his hawkish, conservative views, but also favors bigger government spending to stimulate Japan's struggling economy. Aso told reporters he faces a huge "mission" to revive the economy and ease the concerns of Japanese voters.
GEORGIA: A U.S. Navy ship has arrived in the Georgian port of Poti, carrying humanitarian assistance to the former Soviet republic.Poti is patrolled by Russian troops who Moscow says are carrying out peacekeeping duties following Russia's conflict with Georgia. The U.S. has called the Russian presence in Poti a violation of a cease-fire agreement between Tbilisi and Moscow.U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is in Ukraine today, the last stop on a regional tour aimed at showing for support for U.S. allies, following Russia's military action in Georgia.In Tbilisi Thursday, Cheney said Russia had been engaged in an "illegitimate, unilateral attempt" to change Georgia's borders by force.
PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistani officials say at least five suspected militants have been killed in an airstrike in a tribal region near the Afghan border.Witnesses said they saw drone (unmanned) aircraft flying above a village in North Waziristan. Officials say today's strike destroyed one house and wounded several other people.The strike comes one day after Pakistan's foreign minister formally complained to the United States about a suspected U.S. attack on another target near the Afghan border.Details about that raid, which took place on Wednesday, are still not clear.
ANGOLA - ELECTION: Angolans have begun casting their votes in a national election, the first since
the end of the country's long-running civil war. Today's parliamentary election is largely a race between the governing
MPLA, which has ruled for more than 30 years, and its former civil war enemy,
the UNITA party. The national vote is the first in 16 years and is
widely expected to extend the ruling party's control. It follows a
campaign marked by opposition allegations of intimidation and bias, but free
from violence. Elections in 1992 were meant to end Angola's long civil
war, but UNITA renewed the conflict after losing at the polls.
TROPICAL STORM HANNA: The U.S. states of North Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency in preparation for Tropical Storm Hanna, which is closing in on the southeastern United States and could strengthen into a hurricane. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Hanna is carrying maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometers an hour. Forecasters say winds and rains associated with the storm could reach the U.S. coast later today.National Guard troops are being deployed as part of emergency preparations in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
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