IRAQ - ELECTION: Iraq's former prime minister Ayad Allawi is expected to start coalition-building talks, after full preliminary results showed his secular alliance won the most seats in parliamentary balloting earlier this month. Mr. Allawi says his Iraqiya alliance is open to talks with all groups, and that "we will together bury political sectarianism." As the top vote-getter, Mr. Allawi will be given 30 days to try to form the next Iraqi government. If he fails to do so, President Jalal Talabani will choose the leader of another political bloc for the task. Iraq's incumbent Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, says he will not accept Friday's tally, which has his Shi'ite State of Law coalition winning 89 seats.<!-- IMAGE -->
SOKOR SHIP: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has ordered officials to quickly and thoroughly investigate the sinking of a navy ship near the disputed border with North Korea in the Yellow Sea. Mr. Lee said every possibility should be considered at an emergency meeting early Saturday. Authorities have stepped up searches for 46 sailors still missing. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said rescuers had picked up 58 sailors of the 104 on board when the explosion tore a hole in the vessel's rear hull. Security officials said there is no indication that North Korea was involved, and the sinking (of the 1200-ton "Cheonan") could have been caused by an internal explosion.<!-- IMAGE -->
US - RUSSIA TREATY: NATO's chief is cheering the new agreement on arms control between the United States and Russia.
Speaking at a security forum in Brussels on Saturday, Anders Fogh
Rasmussen said the new treaty could be a spark for additional
cooperation between Russia and NATO countries.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. and Russia have agreed
to the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.
The landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty reduces by about one-third
the number of long-range nuclear weapons the world's two largest
nuclear powers will deploy.
The U.S. Senate and the Russian Parliament must ratify the treaty.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Two Israeli soldiers and four Palestinian gunmen have been killed in
clashes on the border of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, in some of the
worst violence since an Israeli offensive more than a year ago.
A gun battle erupted Friday after Israeli troops spotted Palestinian gunmen planting a bomb on the Gaza border.
Israeli General Yoav Galant told reporters that Israeli soldiers
crossed the border to neutralize the bomb and were ambushed. A fierce
exchange of fire followed. Two Israeli soldiers were wounded in the
The violence is among the worst in Gaza since Israel's offensive against Gaza at the end of 2008.
SOUTH AFRICAN SONG: A South African court has declared unconstitutional an anti-apartheid song whose refrain calls on people to "kill the Boers."
The ruling African National Congress said it was "disappointed" by Friday's court decision and vowed to appeal.
In a statement, the ANC said the song is part of South Africa's "history and heritage."
The song refers to white Afrikaner farmers, who are a minority in South
Africa, but whose leaders ran the brutal apartheid regime.
It was recently sung in public by the ruling party's controversial youth leader, Julius Malema.
BURMA POL: Burma's military chief warned Saturday against divisive and slanderous election campaigning.
In his annual Armed Forced Day address, Senior General Than Shwe said "improper or inappropriate campaigning has to be avoided."
The military government's leader addressed thousands of soldiers at a
parade ground in the remote administrative capital, Naypyidaw.
Although he did not announced a date for the elections, the ruling
general said this year's polls "represent only the beginning of the
process of fostering democracy."
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won
elections in 1990, but the military refused to give up power.
THAILAND PROTESTS: Tens of thousands of red-shirted anti-government protesters rallied in
Thailand's capital city Saturday, with threats to expel thousands of
troops guarding Bangkok's old city.
Demonstrators demanding a new election traveled to several locations in
Bangkok's historic center and threatened to tear down barbed-wire
barricades, prompting some troops to pack up and leave to avoid clashes.
The so-called "Red Shirts" rode the streets of the Thai capital Friday
on motorcycles and pickup trucks to persuade residents to join the
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