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9:30 p.m. A relatively quiet foreign policy day, as domestic politics --- notably Republican Judd Gregg's withdrawal from his nomination as Commerce Secretary because of "irreconcilable policy differences" with President Obama --- occupy Washington.
One emerging story is a lawsuit by three human rights organisations --- Amnesty International USA, New York University's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, and the Center for Constitutional Rights --- claiming that the Pentagon sought loopholes in the Geneva Conventions to hide "ghost deatinees" and that the Bush Administration delayed the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees to avoid negative publicity. We'll have more on this tomorrow.
4:30 p.m. We're off the clock for awhile on emergency business (dinner and a movie). Back with an Evening Update.
2:20 p.m. Eight Iraqi pilgrims have been killed and 18 wounded by a bomb less than 1/2 mile from the Imam Hussein Mosque in Karbala.
1:40 p.m. A couple of items of note from US envoy Richard Holbrooke's trip to Pakistan. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who met Holbrooke earlier today (see 6:45 a.m.), has issued a co-operative statement: ""There's a change in [US] approach towards Pakistan. They do give importance to the people of Pakistan and their emotions and that's the feeling that I got from today's meeting."
It is now being reported, as we projected in a separate entry, that Holbrooke and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will head a joint committee "improving intelligence sharing and strengthen security".
12 noon. Further violence in Iraq today. A car bomb in Mosul has killed four policemen and wounded five. Two senior Sunni politicians have been killed by gunmen in Mosul, and a former army officer has been killed in Khaldiya.
10:15 a.m.Of course, today's statement by Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, admitting that "some part of the conspiracy" behind December's attacks in Mumbai was planned in Pakistan, has nothing to do whatsoever with the visit of US envoy Richard Holbrooke.
Morning Updates (6:45 a.m. GMT; 1:45 a.m. Washington): Quiet start this morning, after yesterday was dominated by news of bombings and violences in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will name Stephen Bosworth, the Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, as US envoy to North Korea. The move, accompanying yesterday's confirmation that a US delegation will attend the six-party talks in Moscow on North Korea next week, signals the Obama Administration's diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang. It is a far cry from the George W. Bush Administration, which shut down talks with North Korea soon after taking office in 2001.
In Pakistan, US envoy Richard Holbrooke has met former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. No details on the conversation, but it is a signal of a change in American strategy, reaching out to politicians that had not been favoured by the Bush Administration. Sharif was sent into exile by General Pervez Musharraf and only returned to Pakistan with the strong backing of Saudi Arabia. He had been seen by Washington as too sympathetic to "conservative" elements in Pakistan, both religious and political, to be an alternative to President Zardari.