- Associated Press - Thursday, August 19, 2010

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. close to deal on new peace talks

The Obama administration said Thursday that it was close to securing an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume direct peace talks. Some U.S. officials said an announcement could be imminent.

The State Department said an agreement was “very, very close” but that details had not been settled. An announcement could be made as early as Friday or Saturday, said administration officials familiar with the matter.


Israeli and Palestinian officials refused to comment. They said they would react after an official announcement is made about the talks, adding that they did not have advance information about the content.

CHINA

Car bomb kills 7 in Uighur region

URUMQI | A bomb attack in China’s restive Xinjiang region killed seven people and wounded 14 on Thursday, and an exile group claimed victims included members of the local police force and its auxiliary unit.

The attack was the deadliest violence reported in Xinjiang since bloody rioting in the regional capital of Urumqi last year that left 200 people dead.

The vast region bordering Central Asia has long been beset by ethnic conflict and separatist violence, leading to a massive and ongoing crackdown by security forces.

The bomb exploded after a man of the region’s native Uighur ethnic group drove a three-wheeled vehicle laden with explosives into a crowd of people in a suburb in Aksu city in southwestern Xinjiang.

THAILAND

‘Merchant of Death’ optimistic on ruling

BANGKOK | The suspected Russian arms dealer known as “the Merchant of Death” is tired of prison life but optimistic that a Thai appeals court will rule in his favor Friday and refuse to extradite him to the United States, his attorney said.

Viktor Bout, a 43-year-old former Soviet air force officer, is reputed to be one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers.

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