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China Sends Second Boat to Standoff with Philippines

The nine-day-old naval standoff between China and the Philippines showed few signs of cooling on Thursday, with Beijing sending a powerful military vessel toward the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

According to Chinese media reports Thursday, officials say the country's most advanced fishing patrol vessel, the Yuzheng 310, has been sent to protect Chinese fishermen in the region.

Bashir Seeks to 'Liberate' South Sudan

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has vowed to remove South Sudan's ruling party from power, as tension between the countries continues to escalate.

Addressing a rally in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, Wednesday, Bashir said Sudan's "main goal" is to, in his words, liberate South Sudan's people from the ruling SPLM party.

He spoke after Sudanese and South Sudanese forces battled overnight near the town of Meiram, located in Sudan's Southern Kordofan state.

Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi to Make Historic Overseas Trip

A spokesman for Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she will visit Norway and Britain in June, on her first trip outside Burma in 24 years.

Nyan Win told reporters in Yangon Wednesday that the 66-year-old Nobel laureate will visit the Norwegian capital of Oslo, home to the Nobel prizes, and the British city of Oxford, where she attended university in the 1970s.

Aung San Suu Kyi has long said Norway would be her first destination if and when she could travel. And British Prime Minister David Cameron invited her to Britain during a visit with her in Burma last Friday.

Zimbabwe's Indigenization-themed Festivities Irk MDC

Zimbabwe celebrates 32 years of independence from Great Britain this Wednesday, but already the mood surrounding planned festivities appears tainted by disagreements within the country’s coalition government.

The official theme of this week's festivities -- "Indigenization and Empowerment for Social and Economic Transformation" -- references to the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill, a measure President Robert Mugabe signed into law in 2008, which forces foreign-owned companies in Zimbabwe to grant 51 percent of shares to locals.

Mali Soldiers Arrest Key Government Figures

Officials in Mali say soldiers have arrested at least seven prominent political figures, raising questions about a promise by coup leaders to return power to civilians.

Witnesses and political aides say the arrests happened in the capital Bamako late Monday and early Tuesday.

A source close to those arrested said that former prime minister Soumaila Cisse is among those seized. Cisse was a front-runner in a presidential poll that had been set for April 29 before the junta took power.

Sudan ‘At War’ With Neighbor, Says Ruling Party Official

A prominent member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) says the country is officially in a state of war with South Sudan.

Rabie Abdelati Obeid condemned as unacceptable the “illegal invasion” of its territory after forces from South Sudan seized the key disputed oil town of Heglig. Obeid’s comments came after Sudan’s parliament unanimously voted to declare South Sudan an “enemy.”

He said the people of the Republic of Sudan assign the same status to South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

Gulf Leaders Discuss UAE-Iran Island Dispute

Foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council are holding an emergency meeting in Doha Tuesday to discuss an ongoing territorial dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, which some believe could pose a threat to international security.

The talks follow a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Abu Musa, a Persian Gulf island occupied by Iran, but also claimed by the UAE.

Iranian state media said Ahmadinejad traveled to the disputed territory last week to deal with domestic issues.

Turkey's Role in Iran Nuclear Talks Could Diminish

The latest talks on Iran's controversial nuclear program, held in Istanbul April 14, were viewed as productive by the participants. But analysts say Turkey's role as a facilitator has weakened due to Iran's growing unhappiness with Turkish foreign policy, especially its call for regime change in Syria.

In the past, Turkey defended what it called Iran's peaceful nuclear energy program and even voted against U.N. sanctions on Iran two years ago. But Turkey's relationship with Iran has changed, as it began aligning itself with its Western allies on a series of issues.

Latest Bombings Kill 5 in South Sudan

South Sudan says Sudanese warplanes have bombed several areas near the two countries' volatile border, killing five people. According to reports, a bomb also struck a U.N. peacekeeping base in the south.

South Sudan's military, the SPLA, says Sudanese planes carried out bombing raids Sunday in Unity State in the south.

SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer says five civilians were killed in Mayom county and nine people were injured, including a Kenyan woman who was working as a teacher in the area.

Obama Expects 'Rigorous' Secret Service Probe

U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday he expects a "rigorous" investigation into allegations of Secret Service misconduct in Colombia, warning that he would be "angry" if they were true.

The scandal overshadowed Mr. Obama's diplomatic work at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena this weekend.

Soldiers Seize Power in Guinea-Bissau, Disrupt Election

Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau have seized control of the capital just hours before campaigning was set to begin for a presidential run-off election. Sources say soldiers grabbed the interim president and the frontrunner presidential candidate, though the two men's whereabouts are unknown. Residents say a tense calm has returned to the capital. However deep divisions within the military mean further unrest is still a possibility.

Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau say they seized power late Thursday to prevent Angolan forces from attacking the nation's military.

North Korea Admits Rocket Failed Shortly After Launch

North Korea has acknowledged a multi-stage rocket it launched early Friday failed to reach orbit.

An announcer on North Korean television - interrupting programming four hours after the launch, which was not broadcast - says the Kwangmyongsong-3 earth observation satellite did not succeed in reaching orbit and scientific experts are investigating the cause of the failure.

Officials in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington say North Korea's rocket indeed blasted off from the launch pad but failed to get very far.

South Sudan Reinforces Positions Around Disputed Oil Town

South Sudan says it is consolidating forces around a contested oil-producing town that it seized from Sudan earlier this week. The United Nations and the African Union have called for South Sudan to withdraw from the town of Heglig, but Juba insists it has a claim to the territory. Sudan has threatened to reatliate.

The conflict is the closest the two countries have come to full-scale war since the south seceded from the north last year.

Deputy Defense Minister Majak D'Agoot told VOA that both countries are deploying more forces to the frontline.

Philippines Dispatches 2nd Boat in Naval Standoff with China

The Philippines and China continued looking for a diplomatic solution to a naval standoff on Thursday, even as Manila sent a second vessel to disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Philippines foreign ministry spokesperson Raul Hernandez said a coast guard boat has been sent to the Scarborough Shoal, located about 230 kilometers off the northwestern Philippines.

Sudan Warplanes Bomb South Sudan

South Sudan says Sudanese warplanes dropped several bombs early Thursday in their first attack on a major southern town.

There has been no immediate confirmation of casualties.

South Sudan's Deputy Information Minister, Atem Yaak Atem, said five bombs dropped in the town of Bentiu were apparently aimed at a bridge.

Wednesday, Sudan announced it was pulling out of talks with South Sudan after South Sudan's army claimed control of the oil producing town of Heglig - a disputed border region.