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President Hu Visits Chicago, Iran Nuclear Talks Resume in Istanbul

Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Chicago on the second stop of his state visit to the United States, visiting a prep school and an exhibit on Chinese companies operating in the Midwest. His arrival snarled traffic and was greeted by supporters lining the streets of Michigan Avenue, the heart of Chicago’s commercial downtown area, as well as protesters calling for Tibetan independence.

“[W]e want to establish a new partnership between Chicago and China that will benefit the future generations for years to come,” Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said in remarks at a welcome banquet at the Hilton Chicago, reemphasizing the business-oriented focus that has dominated much of his agenda.

On Thursday, Hu met with Chinese and U.S. business leaders in Washington, where he touted the “common interests” between the two nations. He was also feted at a state dinner at the White House.

Iran, World Powers Gather in Istanbul for More Nuclear Talks

Following up on meetings in Geneva in December, Iran is meeting with representatives from the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany in Turkey to resume dialogue on its nuclear program, though Iranian officials have indicated that they are unlikely to budge on the issue of U.N. resolutions.

The European and U.S. representatives hope to see Iran give up uranium enrichment in exchange for energy assistance, but Iran has consistently denied that the development of its nuclear program poses a threat. They have further indicated that the talks will not focus on the nuclear program, but rather on a longer list of broad issues.

On Thursday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s said the United States and its allies have “tried their best so Iran doesn’t become a nuclear nation, but we achieved this goal because there is no turning back the clock.”

Pakistanis Rally Against U.S. Drone Strikes

Monitored by Taliban fighters, an estimated 2,000 Pakistanis in North Waziristan protested against U.S. drone strikes in the region, which are meant to target Taliban and al-Qaeda elements near the border with Afghanistan. Many say the strikes have also killed civilians.

The demonstrators were made up of students, local shop owners, and residents, who were watched by some 150 armed members of the Taliban.

The Pakistani government has also claimed the attacks are a violation of their sovereignty, but elements of Pakistan’s security apparatus are believed to be cooperating with the United States, which launched more than 100 such strikes in 2010.

South Korean Special Forces Mount Risky Rescue of Pirate Ship

South Korean forces raided a hijacked freighter, rescuing 21 hostages, killing 21 Somali pirates and capturing five others in a bold five-hour operation. The raid was an unusual success against the piracy that has plagued the waters in the Arabian Sea. Such rescues are difficult to mount because they threaten the lives of hostages on board. The ship had been captured a week ago.

“[W]e will not tolerate any behavior that threatens the lives and safety of our people in the future,” South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said in a television address.

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