US POLITICS: The U.S. presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John
McCain, have sparred over foreign policy and the economy in their first debate
before the November election.On foreign policy, McCain hailed the
success of the military surge in Iraq. Obama criticized the decision to invade
Iraq in the first place, saying the U.S. should have focused on Afghanistan.
The senators, speaking in Oxford, Mississippi Friday, agreed Iran would
pose a major threat to Israel if Tehran acquired a nuclear weapon. But McCain
argued for greater sanctions on Iran, while Obama called for tough direct
WORLD ECONOMY: U.S. lawmakers say they will continue to work over the coming days on a plan to
rescue the struggling financial services industry.The Democratic Speaker
of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, says negotiations over the
details of the plan are making progress.President George Bush is also
optimistic that a deal will be reached.Democrats and Republicans in the
Senate mostly agree on the broad principles of a proposal presented by Treasury
Secretary Henry Paulson.
SYRIA BLAST: A car bomb has exploded in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing at least 17
people and wounding 14 others. The bomb went off today on the airport road near a crowded intersection, leading to a holy shrine
(Sayyeda Zeinab) popular with Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims from Iraq and
Iran.Syrian state media say the car was packed with about 200 kilograms
of explosives. Witnesses say the blast destroyed nearly 20 vehicles and
blew out windows in dozens of nearby buildings.A Syrian police precinct
borders the site of the explosion, but it is unclear if that was the target of
CHINA - SPACE: Chinese astronaut Zhai Zhigang has completed a historic space walk almost 350
kilometers above the Earth.State television showed the crew commander
returning to the Shenzhou Seven spacecraft after a walk that lasted about 15
minutes. The country's first-ever spacewalk is seen as a critical step in
China's plans to establish a permanent orbital station. Chinese space
program officials say Russian experts helped China with the spacewalk, which was
broadcast live on television. The spacecraft was launched Thursday night
from the Jiuquan spaceport in northwestern China.
UN - IRAN: Top diplomats of six major nations agreed Friday on a draft U.N. Security
Council resolution that calls on Iran to comply with previous demands to stop
uranium enrichment.The resolution is a compromise between the six powers
( -- Russia, the U.S., Britain, China, France and Germany -- ) on the
issue of Iran's nuclear program. Officials say the resolution does not
include new sanctions on Iran, but states that previous resolutions are legally
binding and must be carried out. Russia preferred further negotiations
with Iran, while France and the United States called for more sanctions. m, or facing
further sanctions if it does not.
RUSSIA - MILITARY: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says his country must modernize its armed
forces and upgrade its nuclear deterrent. President Medvedev announced
plans Friday for Russia to build a space defense system and a new fleet of
nuclear submarines by 2020. He said the recent conflict with Georgia
shows the need for Russia to have a strong military. U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice told Reuters news agency the Russian military plans would
not affect the balance of power between Russia and the United States. She said
the United States has an extremely capable and varied nuclear deterrent.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani security forces say at least 25 militants and three soldiers have died
in the latest round of fighting in a northwestern tribal region near
Afghanistan.Military officials said today the
militants were killed in battles that broke out Friday in the Bajaur region. They say at least two of the
soldiers killed were officers.Bajaur is a key battleground in Pakistan's
effort to drive out militants believed to be responsible for deadly attacks
inside Pakistan and on neighboring Afghanistan.The military says it has
killed at least one-thousand Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the past month.
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The United Nations General Assembly is holding a special session today during which foreign ministers will address the world
body.Ministers from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and North Korea
are among the senior officials scheduled to speak at the general debate in New
York.Throughout the week, world leaders have called for an international
response to global crises, including turmoil in financial markets, skyrocketing
food and fuel prices, and climate change.
Listen to our World News for more details.