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India PM Wants "Normalized" Relations with Pakistan


INDIA-PAKISTAN-BRITAIN: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says he wants what he calls "normalized" relations with Pakistan - in spite of rising tensions between the two countries. Mr. Singh made the statement today (Sunday) during an election rally in Indian Kashmir. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Gordan Brown has pledged nine million dollars to Pakistan to help fight causes of terrorism and support democracy. Mr. Brown visited Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad today after meeting with Mr. Singh in New Delhi this morning. An unnamed British government source says British police may ask Indian officials for permission to question the lone surviving gunman from the Mumbai attack that killed 171 people, including at least one British national.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say a bomb hidden in a wooden cart killed three police officers and wounded at least five other policemen in the southern city of Kandahar. Local officials say the attack today (Sunday) targeted a police vehicle. It also wounded at least six civilians. The French news agency reports that the Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack. Today's (Sunday's) explosion is the second in Kandahar province in as many days. On Saturday Canadian officials said three Canadian soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle.

IRAQ: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has predicted U.S. troops will be out of Iraqi cities and populated regions by the end of June -- the deadline set under a new U.S.-Iraq security agreement for their withdrawal from urban areas. Gates, who arrived Saturday in Iraq, said by the end of June, U.S. forces will have turned over all of Iraq's 18 provinces to provincial Iraqi control. He noted Iraqi forces will gradually take on more of the security responsibilities. However, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said earlier Saturday that U.S. forces will remain in Iraqi cities beyond the June deadline. General Ray Odierno said troops will stay on to advise and train Iraqi security forces with a goal of keeping peace in Iraq's cities.

WORLD ECONOMY: China says it is taking more steps aimed at blunting the impact of the global financial crisis. In a statement posted on its Web site Saturday, China's State Council says it plans to increase the country's money supply by 17 percent in 2009, in an effort to spur domestic consumption. The government also hopes to boost bank lending by more than 14 billion dollars over 2008. Last month, China's government unveiled an economic stimulus package including more than 580-billion dollars in spending over the next two years.

CHINA - TAIWAN: Direct daily passenger flights and shipping services between China and Taiwan are set to begin on Monday, formally ending a six decade ban on regular links. The French news agency reports that charter air service will initially be available between four Taiwan and 12 Chinese cities. Ships from China and Taiwan are scheduled Monday to set out for ports on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. Direct travel ended when Taiwan split from China in 1949. Until recently, travelers usually had to pass through a third region like Hong Kong or Macau to get from the mainland to Taiwan. Weekend charter flights between Taiwan and China began in July.

SOMALIA: The president of Somalia says he has dismissed the government of Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein. Abdullahi Yusuf said at a press conference Sunday that he will nominate a new prime minister within days. Mr. Yusuf said he had dismissed the prime minister because his transitional government was unable to perform its duties. Prime Minister Hussein says his dismissal is "illegal." The president and the prime minister have been trying for weeks to form a new cabinet. But Mr. Yusuf has rejected all the candidates for ministry posts suggested by the prime minister.

MISS WORLD: Miss Russia - Ksenia Sukhinova - has won the Miss World competition. Miss India and Miss Trinidad and Tobago were the top runners-up in Saturday's pageant, held in Johannesburg. The 21-year-old Siberian beauty also won the the contest's top model award and was third in the swimsuit competition. Women from 109 countries competed in the 58th Miss World contest. Saturday's show was the grand finale after a month-long schedule of rehearsals, galas and a safari.

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