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A tanker carrying 6,200 tons of heavy fuel oil left the port of Ulsan, South Korea, Thursday – the first shipment destined for rival North Korea in exchange for the shutdown of its nuclear facilities. The tanker was expected to arrive and begin unloading Saturday. North Korea has said it will deactivate its Yongbyon reactor once the unloading is complete, and a team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency will begin to monitor the work "early next week," chief inspector Mohamed ElBaradei said.

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan scheduled an address to the nation to explain why the raid on a mosque/school complex was necessary. Funerals for many of the 108 people who died in the confrontation were taking place Thursday, with the captured chief cleric permitted to lead prayers for his slain brother. He told the mourners, "God willing, Pakistan will have an Islamic revolution soon."

Militants in Nigeria's troubled oil delta freed seven hostages they'd seized last week, reports said. Five of the former captives are foreigners who work in that industry; the others are Nigerian managers. Their release coincided with a call by a militant leader for an end to kidnapping. Ransoms often are paid for the release of hostages, and another militant accused government officials who intervene to help facilitate the process of keeping a cut of the money for themselves.

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No special "administrative zone" will be established in southern Thailand, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont pledged after spending a night in one of three provinces where Muslims are conducting a violent campaign for separatism. Surayud said all of Thailand must be under the same law and Muslims and Buddhists must rebuild mutual trust. But as he left the region, gunmen killed a husband and wife en route to market and other militants tried to sabotage a rail line by removing bolts from the tracks.

Operators of almost 100 factories in Mexico were awaiting the OK to resume operations as repair crews patched natural gas pipelines blown up by a leftist rebel movement.The Popular Revolutionary Army claimed responsibility for two attacks late Tuesday night and a third on July 5 as part of a campaign against the "illegitimate government" of President Felipe Calderón. Mexico has more than 8,700 miles of pipelines, and federal troops and police were deployed to guard what security officials called "strategic points."

Much of the $16.4 billion debt incurred by Ecuadorean governments is "illegitimate" and will not be paid, new Economy Minister Ricardo Patino declared. He said he aims to shrink the percentage of President Rafael Correa's budget that goes to debt payments from 37 to 12 by 2010, building up a "bigger cushion" for spending on public health and education. Correa, a leftist, has been a harsh critic of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and recently declared the latter's envoy to Ecuador persona non grata.

Clusters of Catholics brandished only protest signs Thursday as Protestants held their traditional July 12 marches through Belfast and other Northern Ireland cities. In Belfast, the scene was tense but calm, without the rioting of earlier years as the parades passed by or through Catholic neighborhoods, a reflection of the progress toward a power-sharing government and the renunciation of violence by the Irish Republican Army. The parades commemorate a 1690 victory over Catholics by the forces of William of Orange, the Protestant king of England.

A record set just two weeks ago for the largest corporate takeover in Canadian history appeared on the verge of falling as London-based mining giant Rio Tinto offered $38.1 billion for a friendly merger with aluminum producer Alcan Inc. On July 1, BCE Inc., the former Bell Canada, agreed to be acquired by a private consortium for $35 billion.

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