IRAQ: Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called on Iraq's parliament to reject a security agreement with the United States, as tens of thousands of his supporters rallied in Baghdad against the deal. The demonstrators chanted anti-U.S. slogans and waved Iraqi flags as they marched from the capital's Sadr City district to the central Mustansiriyah Square today. A Sadr aide read aloud a statement from the influential cleric, who urged Iraqi lawmakers not to vote for the proposed security deal. He said the agreement will not end the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, and will not give sovereignty to the Iraqi people.
WORLD ECONOMY: U.S. President George Bush is to meet today with
his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission
President Jose Manuel Barroso for talks on the crumbling world economy.
The European leaders say they will press for an overhaul of the global
financial system during the talks outside Washington (at the Camp David
presidential retreat). They are also expected to discuss a proposed
emergency economic summit with leaders of the Group of Eight (including
the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, and
Russia) and other nations.
US POLITICS: A new poll shows U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama
leading his Republican rival, John McCain by four percentage points as
the candidates battle for voters in traditionally Republican states.
The public opinion poll (by Reuters, C-Span and Zogby) released today shows Senator Obama leading 48 to 44 percent among likely
voters less than three weeks before the election.
Both candidates campaign today in U.S. states that are key to winning
the White House and historically support Republican presidential
CHINA - MEDIA: Foreign journalists and media monitoring groups have cautiously
welcomed China's extension of relaxed rules for foreign journalists.
The Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents' Club of China welcomed the
new recognition of foreign reporters' rights to travel where they wish
without prior permission and to interview anyone who is willing.
Club president Jonathan Watts urged the Chinese government to ensure that local officials and police respect the new rules.
CHINA - TAINTED MILK: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says his government is partly responsible
for the tainted milk scandal that has killed four infants and sickened
53 thousand throughout the country.
In an interview in the U.S. publication "Science Magazine," Mr. Wen
said the government was responsible for monitoring the industry at the
core of the crisis.
He told the magazine the production of raw milk, collection, transport,
processing, formulation and manufactured goods all need to have clear
standards and testing requirements.
CAMBODIA - THAILAND: Cambodian and Thai military commanders met on their disputed border
today to discuss ways to avoid clashes, after deadly
gunfights this week.
Surrounded by dozens of soldiers in full combat gear, Cambodian Major
General Srey Deok and Thai Colonel Chayan Huaysoongnern discussed how
to prevent future flare-ups of violence. After their meeting, the two
ate lunch together.
A deadly gunfight between Cambodian and Thai soldiers erupted Wednesday
along the disputed area near a centuries-old temple. Two Cambodian
soldiers were killed in the shootout, and soldiers from each side were
NOKOR NUCLEAR: The United States says North Korea has again begun steps to disable its
nuclear reactor. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told
reporters Fridaythat North Korea has put all the seals back on the
Yongbyon reactor and restored all surveillance equipment at the
He said Pyongyang also has removed additional fuel rods from the
reactor, disabling it further than it was before the dispute with
Washington. But he said the situation with the fuel reprocessing and
facilities at Yongbyon has not yet returned to the status before the
PAKISTAN - CHINA: Pakistan's foreign minister says China has agreed to help Islamabad build two additional nuclear power plants to help combat an energy crisis in the south Asian nation. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad today that the deal is part of a nuclear cooperation agreement recently signed between the two countries. He said Pakistan will benefit from an extra 680 megawatts of electricity following the completion of the new power plants. Qureshi said Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to the terms of the deal during a four-day visit to Beijing this week.
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