Top news: U.S. and South Korean authorities continue to monitor the medium-range missiles that North Korea has moved to its east coast for signs of a possible launch. The five Musudan missiles could theoretically reach U.S. bases in Guam, though it's not known if they have been tested at that distance.
Despite the missile threat, the North appears to be toning down its rhetoric after a month of near daily threats against the South and its allies. The country has begun inviting visitors in anticipation of celebrations on Monday for the birthday of the country's founding father, Kim Il-sung.
After categorically rejecting early talks with the North, the South Korean government is also easing its rhetoric, with unification minister Ryoo Kihl-jae saying in a televised speech on Thursday, "We hope the North Korean authorities come out to the dialogue table."
Earlier that day, President Park Geun-hye had invited a group of foreign investors to the presidential Blue House to reassure them that her country has seen "dramatic economic growth and democratization in the past 60 years despite the provocations and threats from North Korea."
Taiwan has become the first country to warn its citizens to delay travel to South Korea due to the risk of war.
Budget: U.S. President Barack Obama's $526.6 billion 2014 defense budget keeps military spending relatively stable, but assumes that automatic spending cuts mandated by congress will be averted this year.
The administration's foreign aid budget dramatically reduces the government's requirement to purchases food from U.S. farmers to ship overseas.
- 15 militants and one soldier were killed after heavy fighting in Northwest Pakistan.
- A man with family ties to President Hamid Karzai's inner circle was killed in a Special Operations raid in Afghanistan.
- China's former railways minister was charged with corruption.
- Cyprus is selling off much of its gold reserves to finance its bailout.
- French President Francois Hollande created a special prosecutor for tax fraud.
- Russia granted a $500 million loan to Serbia.
- Uruguay's congress voted to legalize gay marriage.
- The Cuban government returned a couple fleeing a custody ruling in the United States.
- Britain has decided not to invite Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to Margaret Thatcher's funeral.
- Qatar agreed to give Egypt a $3 billion aid package.
- U.N. diplomats say talks with the Syrian government about chemical weapons have reached an impasse.
- Israeli police arrested five women for wearing prayer shawls, which are traditionally worn by men, at the Western Wall
- Nigeria's Boko Haram militants rejected a government amnesty proposal.
- Lawmakers have given Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara the authority to rule by decree on economic issues.
- Nelson Mandela's children have launched a court case over the control of two companies.
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