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European Markets Enjoying Surge in Trading


WORLD ECONOMY: European markets followed on the heels of today's rebound in Tokyo, as investors were encouraged by Thursday's gains on Wall Street. The key indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt each gained about four percent at the start of their trading sessions, and were in positive territory by mid-morning. In Asia, Japan's key Nikkei index closed more than two-and-a-half percent higher, rebounding after suffering its worst loss in two decades on Thursday. Share prices also closed higher in Shanghai, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped nearly four-and-one-half percent.

US - IRAQ: The Pentagon says U.S. and Iraqi officials have reached a draft accord on the legal framework for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq, after the United Nations mandate on foreign forces expires on December 31st. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell stressed Thursday this is not a final document, and that the draft is still subject to the normal political process in both countries. One of the sticking points is the immunity of U.S. troops accused of crimes while serving in Iraq. Iraq has insisted on Iraqi jurisdiction, while the U.S. side has been reluctant to agree.

US POLITICS: U.S. presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama return to the campaign trial today, as they visit a handful of states crucial in the battle to win the November election. McCain, the Republican nominee, will hold campaign rallies in Florida while Democratic candidate Obama will hold rallies in Virginia and Missouri. The two men appeared together Thursday night in New York City at an annual charity dinner named in honor of Al Smith, a former governor of New York state who waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1928.

THAILAND POLITICS: Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat says he will not resign, despite calls to step down by the country's military chief and a new round of protests. Mr. Somchai told reporters today his government still had a responsibility to carry out its duties. The prime minister's comments came a day after after Army chief General Anupong Paochinda told a television interviewer if he were the prime minister, he would have resigned in the aftermath of last week's deadly clash between anti-government protesters and police.

CAMBODIA - THAILAND: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says the recent border clash between his country and neighboring Thailand will not escalate into a wider conflict. The prime minister told reporters in Phnom Penh today the two rivals have agreed to resolve the dispute directly, rejecting the need for an outside mediator to negotiate a settlement. A deadly gunfight between Cambodian and Thai soldiers erupted Wednesday along a disputed border area. Two Cambodian soldiers were killed in the shootout, and soliders from each side were wounded. Cambodian cliamed to have captured some Thai troops.

VIETNAM - JOURNALISTS: The United States and international media advocacy groups have condemned a Vietnamese court's conviction of two Vietnamese journalists who helped expose a major government corruption scandal. A spokesperson from the U.S. embassy in Hanoi told reporters Thursday that the guilty verdicts are disappointing and contradict the rights available to journalists under Vietnamese law. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders called the trial a terrible step backward for investigative journalism in Vietnam. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called the sentences shameful.

US - CHINA - FOOD SAFETY: The United States says the Food and Drug Administration plans to open its first overseas offices later this year in China. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt announced the plan on Thursday as part of a new initiative to post staff in overseas offices year-round. Leavitt said increasing the presence of U.S. inspectors overseas will help protect American consumers and benefit host countries. FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach said a new approach to product safety is needed because of the globalization of food supply and drug manufacturing.

US - NOKOR - FOOD: Humanitarian groups say the United States will dispatch a fourth food aid shipment to North Korea later this week so that it will arrive before winter. Mercy Corps, World Vision and three other groups released a statement Thursday saying that the shipment will contain more than 25-thousand metric tons of corn and soy. The groups says they will oversee distribution of the aid to North Korean orphanages, hospitals, nurseries and schools They said the delivery will be the fourth shipment from the United States to North Korea, which is facing its worst food shortages in nearly a decade.

Listen to our World News for details.

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