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Obama Calls for New Beginning in US-Muslim Ties


OBAMA - MIDEAST: U.S. President Barack Obama is calling for a new beginning in relations between the United States and the world's one billion Muslims, saying the cycle of "suspicion and discord" must end. In a speech at Cairo University Thursday, Mr. Obama said violent extremists have exploited tensions between Muslims and the West. He said the United States and the Muslim world must work together to confront extremism in all its forms. Mr. Obama noted his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and to leave Iraq for Iraqis.

CHINA - TIANANMEN: Chinese police aggressively deterred dissent on Thursday's 20th anniversary of the crackdown on democracy activists in Tiananmen Square, as China faced renewed calls to account for the bloodshed. Chinese police barred reporters from even entering the square Thursday and uniformed and plain-clothed security agents were out in force to prevent any commemoration of the anniversary. The United States has called on China to openly examine the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing and account for all people killed, missing or detained in the military operation.

NOKOR - US JOURNALISTS: Two American journalists are facing trial in North Korea on charges of illegally entering the country and hostile acts. Their families back home pleaded for leniency, but the trial could send them to a labor camp for 10 years. North Korea's Korean Central News Agency said Thursday that the trial would start at 3 p.m. local time. The journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, of U.S. media outlet Current TV, were arrested while working on a story near the border between North Korea and China. Their trial is being held at one of the North's top courts.

BURMA - US EMBASSY: Witnesses in the main Burmese city of Rangoon say authorities have arrested a small group who staged a brief protest in front of the U.S. Embassy Thursday. Two women and at least three small children stood in front of the embassy and held up a banner calling for the release of the husband of one of the women. The man has been arrested by the military junta. A spokesman for the embassy says there was no political motivation behind the demonstration. He says the group left after 15 minutes without incident.

IRAQ: Iraq's interior ministry says nine people have been killed and at least 31 others wounded in a bombing at a cafe in Iraq's capital. Ministry officials say the blast occurred late Wednesday in a mostly Shi'ite district of southwestern Baghdad. Despite recent violence, the Iraqi government says casualties dropped to an all-time low last month, after a bloody month of April. The report issued Sunday said 165 Iraqis, including 134 civilians, were killed in May from insurgency-related violence. Authorities reported 355 deaths in April.

PAKISTAN: Pakistani officials say students and teachers kidnapped by Taliban earlier this week have been freed. The officials said 46 students and two teachers were released after negotiations by tribal elders. A Taliban official told the French newswire (AFP), the hostages were let go, "in the interest of peace in the region." The development comes after earlier false reports of their rescue. Also Thursday, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke visited refugees who have fled the conflict between Pakistan and Taliban guerillas.

WORLD ECONOMY: The United Nations labor agency warns the world is caught up in a global job crisis that could last for years. International Labor Organization Director-General Juan Somavia said Wednesday the world needs to create 300 million new jobs by 2015 to keep unemployment rates from rising. But he warned "things are going in the opposite direction." Somavia says unless governments and businesses can increase job creation, the job crisis could last up to eight years.

BRAZIL - FRANCE PLANE: Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim says a jet fuel slick on the Atlantic Ocean means it is highly unlikely an explosion destroyed Air France Flight 447. The jet disappeared Monday off the Brazilian coast shortly after leaving Rio de Janeiro for Paris. All 228 passengers and crew are presumed dead. Jobim said Wednesday oil stains mean the plane probably did not burn. Officials say they see no signs of terrorism, but chief French investigator Paul-Louis Arslanian says the exact cause of the disaster may never be known.

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