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August 24th, 2009
World Links: U.S. Plans Talks With North Korea, Conservatives Snub Ahmadinejad

Afghanistan prepares to release partial results from a hotly contested election marred by allegations of massive fraud. Both President Hamid Karzai and his chief rival claim the lead. Officials warn that the final outcome could be affected by investigations into the claimed abuses.

The top U.S. officials in charge of North Korea policy and nuclear talks announce plans to travel to Pyongyang next month for the first bilateral nuclear negotiations between the two countries. The news follows Sunday’s state funeral for former President Kim Dae-jung, a Nobel laureate who was revered for his dedication to human rights and peace on the Korean Peninsula during his tenure from 1998 to 2003. The funeral prompted a meeting between officials from the North and South in which North Korean officials called for “progress in inter-Korean relations.”

Conservative officials in Iran snub President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by appointing the man he fired from the post of intelligence minister as the country’s state prosecutor. Iran also confirms it will cooperate with United Nations inspectors seeking to access its nearly complete nuclear reactor.

The release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, comes under the scrutiny of Arab press commentators who question whether the decision to release the cancer-stricken prisoner was motivated by Western business interests in Libya. Scottish officials are also under scrutiny from their fellow lawmakers, and Americans launch an international campaign to stop consumers buying Scottish products.

Fire-fighters beat back wildfires in the suburbs of Athens, forcing thousands to flee and putting the government on the defensive before a pending election. The main opposition leader referred to the fires as an “unprecedented ecological catastrophe.”

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