ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

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IRAQ - ELECTION: Iraq's elections chief says final parliamentary vote results will be announced Friday despite calls for a delay and a recount. The tight race between the coalition of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and that of his main rival has raised tensions in the Iraqi capital and could mean weeks or months of negotiations to form a new government. Independent High Electoral Commission chief Faraj al-Haidari told reporters Thursday that Mr. Maliki's State of Law Coalition and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya coalition will likely be separated by only one or two seats in parliament.

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PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistan's army says five soldiers and at least 21 militants have been killed in a battle in the northwestern tribal region of Orakzai. The army said militants attacked a post in the region early Friday, prompting security forces to retaliate. The violence followed a series of air strikes that killed at least 50 people, most of them suspected militants, in Orakzai Thursday. Local officials said the attacks targeted sites including an Islamic seminary (madrassa) and a school used by the Taliban. Many militants are believed to have fled to Orakzai to escape a military offensive farther south.

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MIDEAST PEACE: The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel's position on construction in East Jerusalem is unchanged after a visit to Washington for talks on the peace process. Mr. Netanyahu's office made the statement on Friday, before a planned cabinet meeting to discuss the U.S.-proposed gestures intended to revive negotiations with the Palestinians. Senior leaders of Mr. Netanyahu's ruling coalition are rallying behind the prime minister and his insistence that Israel continue building settlements. U.S. officials want Israel to freeze a plan to build 1,600 new settler homes in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as a future capital. Mr. Netanyahu reiterated in Washington that Israel views all of Jerusalem as its capital, not a settlement.

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KOREAS - TENSIONS: North Korea is warning South Korea and the United States that it will launch nuclear strikes if the two nations try to topple the regime. A statement issued Friday by the North Korean military warns that "those who seek to bring down the system" will will be defeated to its "invincible army." The statement was issued in response to a recently published report in South Korea's Dong-a Ilbo that said military and civilian experts from the U.S., South Korea and China will meet in China next month to discuss the possible collapse of North Korea's communist regime.

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THAILAND - PROTESTS: Leaders of Thailand's anti-government protesters say they will stage another massive rally in Bangkok on Saturday as they continue to push their demands for new elections. The so-called "Red Shirts" rode the streets of the Thai capital Friday on motorcycles and pickup trucks to persuade residents to join the rally. The anti-government forces were joined by members of the opposition Puea Thai Party. The "Red Shirts," who come mainly from Thailand's poor, northern areas, have been demonstrating in Bangkok since March 13th with the aim of forcing Mr. Abhisit to dissolve Parliament and hold elections.

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TOYOTA - US COURTS: Attorneys representing U.S. owners of recalled Toyota vehicles appeared in court Thursday to discuss consolidating more than 200 lawsuits against the car company. At least 24 lawyers spoke at the hearing in San Diego, California (in the western United States), that dealt with the recall of some eight million vehicles, most of which are suspected to have accelerator pedals that can get stuck in place. At issue were 97 personal injury and death lawsuits and 138 class-action suits over the decline in resale value of the affected car models.

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VENEZUELA - MEDIA: The owner of a pro-opposition television channel in Venezuela says he has been arrested regarding comments he made about President Hugo Chavez's government at a recent international media forum. The move Thursday against Guillermo Zuloaga, the president of Globovision network, follows the arrest of an opposition politician earlier this week. Zuloaga told the channel that authorities detained him at an airport in western Venezuela. He was about to fly to the Caribbean island of Bonaire with his family when he was taken into custody.

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US - BIN LADEN: Osama bin Laden is threatening to kill any American captured by al-Qaida if the United States executes the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Arabic television network al Jazeera aired an audiotape on Thursday, in which bin Laden explicitly mentions Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is set to be tried in a U.S. federal court or military tribunal. Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators could face the death penalty for charges that include murder and terrorism in connection with the 2001 attacks on the U.S.

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