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April 23, 2008

1. President Bush is hosting Middle East leaders this week to discuss regional affairs. King Abdullah II of Jordan is reportedly going to ask that he cancel or defer Israel trip unless concrete progress toward peace is made.

2. While saying the Carter-Hamas talks accomplished nothing, the Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister (from the PFLP) says that an Egypt-brokered ceasefire in Gaza is near.

3. Iran, an importer of natural gas from Turkmenistan, agreed to the country's demand of a higher asking price. While Iran has among the world's largest reserves, it's under-invested and underdeveloped industry makes it an ironic net consumer.

4. Once again, Iran is saying that it is prepared to enter into talks on its nuclear program, a program it has also in the past declared "non-negotiable" before previous fruitless talks. Iran's sought resource is time.

5. Russia says that Azerbaijan is 'obstructing' an equipment shipment bound for Iran's new Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor.

6. SecDef Gates announced today that General David Petraeus will become the CG for CENTCOM overseeing military operations throughout the Middle East theater, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

PETRAEUS TO CENTCOM COMMAND
Petraeus picked to lead Mideast command - International Herald Tribune

AL-QAEDA
Al-Qaeda audiotape blisters Iran over who executed 9/11 - SF Gate

MORE ON CARTER-HAMAS MEETINGS
Reuters Says: 'Hamas shows Carter its pragmatic face' - Reuters
Palestinian FM Says: 'Carter-Hamas meeting achieved nothing' - AFP

PRESIDENT BUSH HOSTING ME LEADERS
Bush Hosts Middle East Leaders to Discuss Peace Effort - VOA
Jordan's King Abdullah II to ask Bush to defer or cancel trip to Israel - Haaretz
Middle East talks in Moscow get scant support - Washington Times

GAZA STRIP
Palestinian FM sees Gaza ceasefire via Egypt 'very close' - AFP

IRAN
Turkmenistan: Iran Admits Defeat in Gas Pricing Dispute - EurasiaNet Business & Economics
Iran agrees to discuss alleged nuclear weapons program - AP
Russia accuses Azerbaijan of 'obstructing' shipment for Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant - IHT

IRAQ
Maliki Tries to Rally Arabs Behind Iraq - New York Times
Bill proposed in Iraq to ban toy guns - Sydney Morning Herald

LEBANON
Lebanese minister: Al-Qaeda UN troop threat a 'bad omen' - Jerusalem Post

PAKISTAN
EU's Solana says no Pakistan talks with Al-Qaeda, Taliban yes - AFP
How Islamicised is the Pakistan army? (Not very.) - Reuters Blog

SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka Clashes Kill 52 Tamil Rebels, 38 Soldiers - Bloomberg

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