Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has invited the opposition Labor Party to begin talks to form a coalition government. Mr. Sharon phoned opposition leader Shimon Peres today (Friday) after his Likud Party approved the move on Thursday. The Labor Party's integration into a coalition government could clear the way for Mr. Sharon's plan to evacuate all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank by next year. It would also prevent snap elections two years ahead of schedule.
Iraq's most powerful electoral block, Shi'ite Muslims, have unveiled a list of 228 candidates for the country's planned January 30th elections, as the group seeks to consolidate power after decades of minority Sunni rule.
A Hong Kong-based rights group says human rights abuses are growing in several parts of Asia. The Asian Human Rights Commission, in a statement marking International Human Rights Day today (Friday), accused several Asian countries of facing what it called a "breakdown of the rule of law." The group said that, as a result, many people are living in fear. The group documented rights violations in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The city of Paris has formally awarded Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi honorary citizenship of the French capital. A senior Burmese exile leader, Sein Win, accepted the award today (Friday) on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for more than a year.
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