UN - BURMA: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is awaiting permission from Burma's ruling military government to meet personally with jailed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Ban made the request Friday during talks with Senior General Than Shwe in the remote administrative capital of Naypyitaw. The U.N. chief arrived in Burma hours earlier on a mission to secure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners. Aung San Suu Kyi's trial was set to resume after numerous delays. But the court hearing the case issued another postponement, this time until July 10. The Nobel laureate is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest.
AFGHANISTAN: U.S. Marines pushed further into southern Afghanistan Friday, meeting little resistance as they moved to capture villages and population centers controlled by Taliban militants. The U.S. offensive is being led by 4,000 Marines who poured into southern Helmand province on Thursday. The operation is aimed at driving out militants and securing the area ahead of presidential elections August 20. Marine spokesman Bill Pelletier says U.S. troops have engaged in only sporadic fighting, but he warned that could change. He said the U.S. is focused one keeping the Taliban militants out and winning the people's trust.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani intelligence officials say a suspected U.S. drone (unmanned
aircraft) fired missiles on Taliban and al-Qaida hideouts in the South
Waziristan tribal region Friday, killing at least 10 people.
Local officials say the missiles targeted an area controlled by
Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban leader and al-Qaida ally.
The Pakistani army is currently trying to hunt down Mehsud, who is
blamed for scores of attacks against government and civilian targets.
Authorities also believe Mehsud is a key link for al-Qaida fighters in
Pakistan's troubled northwest region.
IRAQ: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is in Baghdad where he is expected to urge Iraqi leaders to resolve disputes over oil revenues and political power-sharing. Biden arrived in Baghdad Thursday and is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani Friday. The U.S. vice president is expected to stress the importance of achieving political stability in Iraq before U.S. troops leave the country by the end of 2011. Earlier this week, the U.S. withdrew combat troops from urban areas in Iraq. About 130,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq to conduct combat duties outside cities, and to advise Iraqi forces within cities.
HONDURAS: The head of the Organization of American States says he will travel to
Honduras on Friday to seek to have President Manuel Zelaya restored to
Jose Miguel Insulza made the announcement Thursday at a summit of
Caribbean leaders in Guyana. He has said he is going to Honduras not to
negotiate, but to deliver an ultimatum. The OAS wants Mr. Zelaya
restored to power by Saturday, or it will suspend the nation's
membership in the regional group.
Acting President Roberto Micheletti said late Thursday that he would
not object to calling early elections to help resolve the country's
political crisis. A presidential election is currently scheduled in
AU - SUMMIT: African leaders have agreed to enhance the powers of the Africa Union
in a step towards current AU leader, Libyan president Moammar Gadhafi's
vision of a "United States of Africa."
The resolution, adopted in the early morning hours on Friday, hammers
out the details of the transition from an African Union "Commission" to
an "Authority" which nominally has powers to coordinate security and
Libya, which is hosting the AU summit, has been pushing member states on these changes.
Diplomats say some of Africa's wealthier nations, led by Nigeria and
South Africa, have been calling for a more gradual approach.
RUSSIA - US SUMMIT: U.S. President Barack Obama says Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
still has a foot in what he calls the Cold War way of doing business.
Mr. Obama gave an interview to the Associated Press Thursday, just
three days before he heads to Moscow for a summit with Russia's top two
When asked why he wants to meet with Mr. Putin, Mr. Obama said he still has a lot of influence in Russia.
But he said President Dmitri Medvedev understands that the Cold War
approach to U.S.-Russian relations is outdated and that the United
States is not seeking antagonism but rather cooperation.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: South Korean military officials say Thursday's missile launches by
North Korea were meant to provoke Seoul.
A spokesman for South Korea's defense ministry tells the Yonhap news
agency the test-firings were "conducted in regard to the relations"
between Pyongyang and Seoul. North Korea launched four short-range
missiles off its east coast
Thursday. The first two were launched within a 40-minute span early
Thursday morning, landing about 100 kilometers away in the Sea of
Japan. Two more missiles were fired a few hours later from the east
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