Roadside bomb kills 2 Iraqi soldiers




BAGHDAD &

A roadside bomb targeting a patrol near the Iranian border killed two Iraqi soldiers today and injured another four, police said, as 2007 neared its end with the country having witnessed a decline in overall violence.




The attack happened shortly after dawn in the frontier town of Mandali, about 30 miles from the Iranian border in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information to the media.




Diyala has become one of Iraq's most dangerous areas. Most of the activities of al-Qaida in Iraq have been pushed out of Anbar province and Baghdad into Diyala and the northern city of Mosul, following a surge of U.S. troops in Baghdad and the work of Sunni tribal groups.




North Korea misses nuclear deadline




SEOUL, South Korea &

North Korea appeared set today to miss a year-end deadline to disable a key nuclear reactor and declare all its nuclear programs, key elements of its disarmament as agreed to in an international accord.




The U.S., Japan and South Korea expressed disappointment. But there was no indication that North Korea would immediately face any sanction &

suggesting countries involved in negotiating the agreement were reluctant to raise tensions after a year of progress in the long-standing dispute.




The communist country promised in October to disable its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, and give a full accounting of its nuclear programs by Dec. 31 in return for energy aid and political concessions.




"" The Associated Press




The North shut down the plutonium-producing facility in July and disablement work is under way in cooperation with U.S. experts.




But diplomats have said the North is likely to miss the year-end deadline for disablement because a key step &

removing fuel rods from the reactor &

could take several months. South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon has said there would also be problems in meeting the deadline for disclosure.




Australia ready to usher in New Year; bombs, fire hurt revelers elsewhere




SYDNEY, Australia &

Revelers in Australia staked out prime spots along Sydney's iconic Harbor Bridge on Monday, ready to be among the first to usher in 2008 with a massive fireworks display. Meanwhile, celebrations in other parts of Asia were marred by casualties.




In Thailand, New Year's revelers were among 27 people wounded when suspected Muslim insurgents set off five bombs early Monday in a tourist town on the Malaysian border. Three people were injured when a fire tore through firecracker stalls in the Philippines.




In Australia's largest city, about a million people were expected on the waterfront or aboard 3,000 boats in Sydney Harbor to enjoy the annual midnight show. City of Sydney creative director Wayne Harrison said some camped overnight along the harbor to secure the best viewing areas.




With a theme "The Time Of Our Lives," the fireworks extravaganza will include 20,000 pyrotechnic effects to be fired from the bridge, Harrison said.




A children's lights show and pyrotechnics spectacular kicked off at 9 p.m. local time, as a prelude to the main event at midnight.