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UN To Relocate 600 Staff After Afghan Attack


AFGHANISTAN: The United Nations says it will temporarily relocate at least 600 of its international staff members in Afghanistan because of security concerns. A U.N. spokesman says the organization has decided to move about half of its 1,100 international staff in Afghanistan to more secure locations inside and outside the country. Last week, Taliban gunmen killed five foreign U.N. workers during an assault on an international guest house in Kabul. Also Thursday, NATO forces said one American soldier was killed when militants attacked a NATO patrol in eastern Afghanistan.

IRAQ - OIL: The Iraqi government has decided to award a contract to develop the prized West Qurna oil field to a consortium led by the U.S. oil company Exxon Mobil. The Iraqi oil ministry Thursday announced an agreement to give the companies, which include Royal Dutch Shell, a 20-year contract to develop West Qurna. The field is believed to hold some 8.5 billion barrels of untapped oil. The Exxon-led consortium has proposed boosting the field's output from its current level of about 280,000 barrels of oil a day up to 2.1 million.

CAMBODIA - THAKSIN: Thailand has recalled its ambassador to neighboring Cambodia to protest ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's appointment as an economic advisor to Phnom Penh. The Thai government announced the move Thursday, hours after Cambodia issued a statement that Mr. Thaksin had been approved by royal decree to serve and advise Prime Minister Hun Sen. Bangkok says it will also review its agreements with Cambodia. The former Thai prime minister and telecommunications tycoon was ousted in 2006 in a bloodless coup.

BURMA - US: A top U.S. envoy says Washington is ready to improve ties with Burma, but will not lift sanctions until the military-ruled country makes real progress toward democracy. Speaking with reporters Thursday in Bangkok, U.S. Ambassador for ASEAN Affairs Scott Marciel said a key sign that progress was being made would be talks among Burma's opposition parties, the military government and ethnic minority groups. He urged Burma's leaders to begin a dialogue with the opposition National League for Democracy before next year's elections.

ASIA STORM: Vietnamese officials say nearly 100 people have been killed in flash floods and heavy rains brought on by tropical storm Mirinae. Officials say at least 20 others remain missing. The storm damaged or destroyed more than 14,000 homes and flooded nearly 30,000 hectares of farm land. Tens of thousands have been displaced and many are still taking shelter in government buildings. The central coastal province Phu Yen was the hardest hit with parts of the province suffering its worst flooding in decades. Neighboring provinces Binh Dinh and Gia Lai were also hit with serious floods.

INDONESIA - CORRUPTUION: Two of Indonesia's top law enforcement officials resigned Thursday after being implicated in a suspected plot to undermine the country's anti-corruption agency. Deputy Attorney General Abdul Hakim Ritonga and General Susno Duadji, the head of national police investigations, resigned after being named in wiretaps this week that exposed a plot to undermine the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK. Last week two KPK deputies - Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Riyanto - were arrested on charges of corruption.

KENYA - ICC: The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor says he believes crimes against humanity were committed in last year's post-election violence in Kenya and he is requesting an investigation. In a press conference with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Thursday, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he would present his request to ICC judges in December. Moreno-Ocampo has said he will make Kenya "a world example" on managing violence.

ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: The U.N. General Assembly is continuing discussion on a resolution that would demand Israel and the Palestinians conduct investigations into charges of war crimes from their conflict in the Gaza Strip. Diplomats say the resolution is likely to be approved by the 192-member chamber, which could vote as early as Thursday. The resolution endorses a U.N.-commissioned report, which alleges both Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas committed human rights violations.

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