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Iran's Supreme Leader Endorses Ahmadinejad's Presidency



IRAN: Iran's supreme leader has formally endorsed the second-term presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, despite a widespread dispute over his re-election.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved Mr. Ahmadinejad's presidency at an official ceremony in Tehran. Opposition leaders boycotted the occasion, saying Mr. Ahmadinejad's re-election is fraudulent. Mr. Ahmadinejad will be sworn in by parliament on August 5. The president has two weeks from that date to unveil his new Cabinet. Iran security forces arrested hundreds of activists, politicians and protesters after the June 12 presidential election. A mass trial for more than 100 of the detainees began Saturday.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan police say a roadside bomb killed 12 people and injured some 30 others in the western city of Herat Monday. Officials say the bomb was hidden in a trash can and detonated by remote control as a police convoy passed on a crowded street.
A Taliban spokesman says the target of the attack was the police chief of the nearby Injil district, who was seriously hurt. Two other police officers were killed, along with a woman and young girl. Taliban militants have increased their attacks across Afghanistan as the country prepares for presidential and local elections on August 20. The new chief of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said Monday (in Brussels) that the alliance needs more international help in Afghanistan to prevent it from - in his words - "becoming again the grand central station of international terrorism."

CLINTON-AFRICA: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Africa Monday on a trip aimed at highlighting the Obama administration's commitment to making Africa a priority in U.S. foreign policy. Clinton's first scheduled stop on her seven-nation trip will be Kenya where she will attend the U.S.-Sub Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum in Nairobi on Wednesday. The forum is designed to help increase trade between the U.S. and African countries. During her visit to Kenya, she will meet with the president of Somalia's transitional government (Sheikh Sharif Amed).
Clinton will also visit South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.

AFRICA-MALAYSIA-PIRATES: Somali pirates have released a Malaysian tug boat and its 11-member Indonesian crew, after holding them since December.
A maritime official says a ransom was paid. The amount was not immediately clear. Authorities say the crew of the Masindra 7 is "safe and sound."
Somalian pirates have demanded and received millions of dollars in ransom from owners of hijacked vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. A NATO mission to prevent piracy in the busy shipping lanes between Asia and Europe has been under way since the first of the year. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. The clan militias and insurgent groups that control the coastline have little incentive for stopping the pirates.
PHILIPPINES-AQUINO: Tens of thousands of Filipinos -- many wearing yellow -- lined the streets of Manila Monday as the coffin of former President Corazon Aquino passed by. The coffin, draped in the Philippine flag and laid over a bed of yellow flowers, was carried in a large truck through a section of Manila's EDSA highway, the site of the "people power" movement she led in 1986 that overthrew the Marcos dictatorship. People sang songs popularized during the 1980s democracy movement, carried signs reading, "Thank you Cory Aquino" and "Goodbye," and showered the coffin with yellow confetti. Daughter Kris Aquino thanked the public for the show of support since her mother's death Saturday.

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