IRAQ: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Iraq Saturday for
talks with American military commanders and Iraqi officials. The trip
is her first to the country as the top U.S. diplomat.
Clinton's unannounced visit comes as Iraq reels from a recent surge in
violence, including two suicide bombings in the last two days that
killed more than 150 people.
Clinton told reporters Iraq is making progress despite the violence.
She said the suicide bombings are a sign that extremists "fear that
Iraq is going in the right direction."
Clinton is meeting with the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray
Odierno, to discuss the security situation.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: North Korea says it has resumed reprocessing of spent fuel rods to produce arms-grade plutonium. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said Saturday that the move would bolster nuclear deterrence for self-defense and cope with increasing military threats from hostile forces. The announcement came a day after the United Nations imposed sanctions on three North Korean companies for aiding Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs. The U.N. sanctions committee on Friday blacklisted Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, Korea Ryonbong General Corporation and Tanchon Commercial Bank.
PAKISTAN - TALIBAN: Officials in northwest Pakistan say all of the Taliban fighters who infiltrated a district 100 kilometers from the capital have returned to their stronghold in Swat Valley. A local administrator said all the Taliban militants had left Buner district by Saturday, and that government troops were deployed in the area. A Taliban spokesman (Muslim Khan) told VOA Friday that the Swat Taliban fighters decided to abandon Buner because they worried that staying could jeopardize a recent peace deal imposing Islamic law (Sharia) in parts of the region. U.S. officials have sharply criticized the deal as a capitulation to extremists.
AFGHAN VIOLENCE: Officials in Afghanistan say multiple suicide bombers attacked the governor's compound in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar Saturday, killing five policemen. Provincial official Ahmad Wali Karzai, who is the president's brother, says three suicide bombers were involved in the attack. There are reports that at least one of the bombers detonated his explosives outside the compound, while the others may have been inside the compound. Earlier this month, four suicide bombers struck a provincial council office in Kandahar, killing 13 people. Taliban militants claimed responsibility for that attack.
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels say civilians living in the small strip
of land still under rebel control are facing imminent starvation, and
accused the government of blocking food deliveries.
In a statement Saturday, the rebels said the situation could be even
deadlier than the humanitarian crisis in Darfur (in western Sudan),
where a civil war has displaced millions.
The Tamil Tiger rebels say there are 150-thousand civilians trapped in
the tiny war zone along the northeastern coast. That number is about
three times larger than the United Nations estimates.
U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes leaves Saturday for Sri Lanka to
assess the needs of civilians caught up in the fighting.
SWINE FLU: Officials in Mexico City have shut down schools, museums and other
public venues because of a swine flu outbreak that authorities say has
killed 20 people and sickened 1,000 others.
Mexican authorities say another 48 people have died of flu, and the new swine flu strain may be responsible.
Following news of the outbreak, many people in the Mexican capital have taken to wearing face masks while in public.
Tests show that some of the Mexico victims died from the same new
strain of virus that sickened eight people in California and Texas. But
authorities say the U.S. cases have been mild and that all eight people
WORLD MALARIA DAY: Saturday is World Malaria Day, and U.S. President Barack Obama says the
United States wants to help end deaths from the disease by 2015. Mr.
Obama said (in a statement) Friday the U.S. commitment begins with
ending malaria as a major public health threat in Africa. U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice says the United States
will work with religious leaders to provide more mosquito nets,
insecticides, affordable drugs and education to communities across
Malaria kills nearly one million people on the continent each year,
costing countries billions of dollars, but the head of the United
Nations Children's Fund is optimistic.
SOUTH AFRICA - ELECTION: Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress have secured
victory in South Africa's general election, winning support from more
than half of all registered voters.
Officials said early Saturday the ANC had won 11.6 million votes with
nearly all ballots counted. Final results could be announced later
The ANC may have met its goal of holding on to a two-thirds majority in
parliament, enabling the party to change the constitution without
cooperation from other parties. However, ANC leaders have said they
have no intention of doing so.
Such a majority would also allow the ANC to pass legislation and set a budget without a challenge.
Listen to our World News for details.