BUSAN, South Korea - Though their political relationship is strained, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin are trying to speak with one voice about the war on terror and the campaign to stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
The two leaders were meeting today, apparently still at odds over how to address Iran's nuclear programs and with long-running differences over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and U.S. concern that Russia is retreating from democracy.
Far from home, Bush was on the defensive about Democrats' criticism that he had misled the nation about the need to go to war in Iraq. He also was confronted with an announcement that South Korea intends to bring home about a third of its 3,200 troops in Iraq next year.
Despite their disputes, Bush and Putin are on a first-name basis and emphasize their friendship, which was strengthened when Putin stepped forward and supported Bush after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Bush and Putin were meeting in a hotel suite before the opening of the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. The White House said the key topics would be Iran, North Korea, terrorism, trade, Moscow's goal of joining the World Trade Organization by the end of the year and developments in Russia.
Putin has refused to support Bush in the president's wish to go to the U.N. Security Council with suspicions Iran is trying to build a nuclear arsenal. Russia is building an $800-million reactor in Iran that the United States fears could be used to develop nuclear arms.
Man charged with tourist's murder
BELIZE CITY - Police in Belize said Thursday that they have charged a young man with killing a 20-year-old American tourist, Julia Armstrong Minard.
Minard, daughter of the late Lawrence Minard, a former managing editor of Forbes magazine and founding editor of Forbes Global magazine, was found dead Sunday in Indian Creek, a Mayan town in southern Belize.
"From the marks around her neck we think she might have been strangled," said G. Michael Reid, a spokesman for the Belize police. The exact cause of death had not yet been determined, he said. Reid said police filed murder charges against Agripo Ical, 19, a resident of Indian Creek. He said detectives had not determined a motive.
Strong quake rocks Chile, Bolivia
SANTIAGO, Chile - A strong earthquake rocked northern Chile and parts of Bolivia on Thursday, sending residents fleeing out of buildings and temporarily knocking out telephones and electricity. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.
The quake struck at 4:26 p.m. in the Andes mountains along the border between the two countries. The U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., measured the quake at magnitude 6.9 and said the epicenter was located in Potosi, Bolivia.
Sri Lankan prime minister takes lead
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka's prime minister - a hard-liner toward Tamil Tiger rebels - took a slim lead Friday in early results from the island's presidential election, in which grenade attacks and intimidation kept many minority Tamils from the polls.
With about 15 percent of the votes tallied, the election commission said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse had 2.4-million to nearly 2.3-million for his closest rival, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Overall turnout was slightly less than 10-million, or about 75 percent of 13.3-million registered voters, election officials said. In the north and east - territory of the feared Tamil Tiger rebels - grenade attacks, roadblocks and fear kept many Tamils from voting.