ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

Election Monitors Hail Afghan Effort


AFGHANISTAN: International monitors are praising Afghanistan for this week's elections, but say it is too soon to determine whether the process was free and fair. Observers with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) said Saturday the presidential and provincial elections were held "in accordance with democratic principles" even though there were serious flaws. The European Union Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan called the election process "largely positive" while saying the election could not be considered entirely free because of the threat of violence.

KOREAS - RELATIONS: South Koreas official news agency said Saturday that a North Korean delegation in Seoul has asked for a meeting with President Lee Myung-bak. Quoting an unidentified government official, the Yonhap news agency reported that the North Koreans said they were carrying a message from the North's leader, Chairman Kim Jong Il. Yonhap said their request was conveyed to South Korea's Unification Minister Hyun In-taek on Saturday. News of the request came after a meeting in Seoul between Hyun and North Korean spy chief Kim Yang Gon, who also handles inter-Korea matters.

US - CHINA: The new U.S. Ambassador to China introduced himself to the media Saturday, less that 24 hours after arriving in Beijing. Ambassador Jon Huntsman appeared before reporters at his Beijing residence along with his wife, Mary Kay, and three of their seven children. His 23-year-old daughter Mary Anne serenaded reporters with a Rachmaninoff etude on the grand piano in the ambassador's formal living room. Huntsman acknowledged that in the past, the U.S.-China relationship has been plagued by differences over issues such as human rights.

LOCKERBIE: Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi embraced convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Bassett al-Megrahi, as he arrived in Libya after being released from his life sentence. Mr. Gadhafi praised Scottish authorities for having what he called the "courage" to allow Megrahi, who is terminally ill, to return home. Video aired on Libyan television shows Colonel Gadhafi hugging Megrahi during a meeting Friday night. Megrahi then takes the Libyan leader's hand and kisses it, before the two men sit and talk with members of Megrahi's family and other well-wishers.

IRAN - ARGENTINA - TERROR: The United States and Israel are voicing concern about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nomination of a suspected international terrorist as Iran's new defense minister. U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly says confirmation of Ahmed Vahidi as a cabinet minister would be "disturbing." Jewish leaders in Argentina also say they are troubled by the nomination of Vahidi, who is wanted by the international police agency Interpol for ties to a deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

PAKISTAN: More bodies have been discovered following a suspected U.S. missile attack on a militant hideout in northwestern Pakistan. Security officials and tribal elders said Saturday at least 21 people died when missiles destroyed a home in a village (Dande Darpa Khel) near Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan. The officials said women and at least five children were among the dead. Some of the casualties were said to be Afghans. The area is a stronghold of senior Afghan Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani. Some Pakistani officials say the missile strike was targeting his son, Siraj.

US - CIA - INTERROGATION: U.S. officials say a CIA report says intelligence officials threatened terrorist suspects with guns -- and in at least one case, with a power drill -- to try to get them to talk. Monday, a long-secret report by the CIA's internal investigator will be released, making public the details of the CIA's controversial interrogation techniques during former President George W. Bush's administration. Sources who have seen the report say CIA interrogators brandished a gun at one prisoner. They also held a power drill near his body, turning it on and off.

US HEALTH CARE: U.S. President Barack Obama spoke out in defense of his health care reform plan Saturday, but opposition Republicans accused him of misrepresenting the facts. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Mr. Obama sought to lay to rest fears his reforms would include health insurance for illegal aliens, mandatory public funding for abortions, and so-called "death panels." He said they are "phony claims meant to divide" Americans. (News Updates)

US SPACE SHUTTLE: The countdown for the next U.S. shuttle mission to the International Space Station began Friday night, 43 hours before liftoff. Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday at 1:36 a.m. local time (0536 UTC). Officials from the American space agency say preparations are under way and, so far, they have not seen anything that would delay liftoff. (News Updates)

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