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Pakistan Arrests Taliban Spokesman in Swat


PAKISTAN - TALIBAN: Pakistan's military says it has arrested five top Taliban leaders, including its chief spokesman in the Swat Valley. Military spokesman Athar Abbas said Friday two of the detained militants, spokesman Muslim Khan and Taliban commander Mahmood Khan, each had bounties of about $120,000 on their heads. Abbas called the arrests "a successful operation." He did not give any details, but a leading English newspaper in Pakistan (The News) says the men had been involved in peace negotiations with the government.

US - SEPTEMBER 11: Friday marks the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, and across the country people are commemorating the day with memorial services, volunteerism, and flags flown at half-staff. U.S. President Barack Obama has declared it an annual day of "service and remembrance". But critics say making the anniversary a day of service may distract people from remembering the victims of the attacks. Mr. Obama is scheduled to preside over a service at the Pentagon Memorial, while his vice-president, Joe Biden, will speak at an event in New York, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell will officiate at a memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

TAIWAN - CORRUPTION: A court in Taiwan has sentenced former President Chen Shui-bian to life in prison on corruption charges. A spokesman for the Taipei District Court, Huang Chun-ming says Mr. Chen's wheelchair bound wife, Wu Shu-chen, was also sentenced to life in prison. Huang says the court gave Mr. Chen the maximum sentence because he had severely damaged Taiwan. The 58-year-old former leader was convicted of a total of six charges and he and his wife have been fined more than $15 million.

IRAQ - US: U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill says that despite the recent upsurge in violence, Washington is on track to withdraw all its combat troops from the country by August 2010. In a testimony to U.S. Congress Thursday, Hill said the attacks are an effort to undermine the Iraqi people as U.S. forces gradually withdraw from the country under (U.S.) President Barack Obama's timetable. Under a separate agreement that was reached between the Iraqi government and the previous Bush administration, all U.S. forces -- including support troops -- are to be out by the end of 2011.

CHINA - XINJIANG: Chinese authorities say nine new suspects have been arrested in western Xinjiang as needle attacks apparently spread outside the capital of the remote region. The official China Daily newspaper says six were held this week in Hotan, two in Altay and one in Kashgar. Since last week, more than 500 people in the capital of Urumqi have reported attacks, though only about 100 showed evidence of being pricked. Earlier this month, the bizarre stabbings led to mass demonstrations by thousands of Han Chinese against what protesters said was a government that was incapable of guaranteeing their safety.

US - CHINA - TERRORISM: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States and China will open a dialogue on counter-terrorism issues this year. Speaking at a dinner Thursday in Washington to welcome the visiting head of China's Congress, Wu Bangguo, Clinton said the two sides need to cooperate on a wide range of topics. She said they include nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran, climate change, pandemic diseases and poverty reduction. She also said the two countries will open counterterrorism talks in the coming months but stopped short of providing any details on what particular issues would be discussed.

AFGHAN ELECTION: A top U.S. official says people should not "jump to conclusions" before Afghanistan's electoral complaints commission has time to investigate all reports of fraud. U.S. Envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke told BBC that holding elections under war-time conditions is "a very brave thing" and Afghans and the international community should give the commission time to do its work. Thursday, the commission ordered the exclusion of ballots from 51 polling sites in Kandahar, 27 in Ghazni and five in Paktika.

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