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Quotable: Sudan threatens to cut off the world's Coca-Cola supply

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In response to Bush's announcement yesterday of tough new economic sanctions against Sudan, the Sudanese ambassador to the United States rented a room at the National Press Club in Washington and threatened to retaliate. His weapon? My favorite carbonated beverage.

I want you to know that the gum arabic which runs all the soft drinks all over the world, including the United States, mainly 80 percent is imported from my country," the ambassador said after raising a bottle of Coca-Cola.

A reporter asked if Sudan was threatening to "stop the export of gum arabic and bring down the Western world."

"I can stop that gum arabic and all of us will have lost this," Khartoum Karl warned anew, beckoning to the Coke bottle. "But I don't want to go that way."

Hats off to Dana Milbank for his column on the bizarre spectacle. Don't miss his video diary of the event.

Passport

Morning Brief, Thursday, May 31

Middle East

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP

The U.N. Security Council voted to establish an international tribunal to prosecute the killers of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. Lebanon is bracing for a harsh reaction from pro-Syrian elements within the country, and Syria is dropping unsubtle hints that it will stir up trouble. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is reportedly exploring back-channel talks with the Syrian regime.

U.S. troops are scouring the Sadr City slums of Baghdad for five British citizens who were taken at gunpoint from the Iraqi Finance Ministry.

Groups professing an al Qaeda-like ideology are proliferating in the chaotic Palestinian areas of Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon.

Europe

Andrei Lugovoi, the chief suspect in the murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, accuses the British secret services of doing the deed.

Hoping to shore up an increasingly rocky relationship, U.S. President George W. Bush will host his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for bilateral talks in July.

Latvia's new president is a doctor

Asia

A NATO helicopter crashed in Afghanistan's Helmand province, killing seven. The Taliban are claiming to have shot it down, but NATO is still investigating the cause.

Tensions are high in Bangkok after Thailand's Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the party of ousted Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra be disbanded for violating election laws.

India's economy grew by 9.4 percent in the 12 months leading up to March 2007. 

Elsewhere

Details are emerging about how a man with a dangerous case of tuberculosis was able to elude travel restrictions. 

A study by three law professors found huge discrepancies in the way U.S. immigration courts handle asylum cases.

The director of the CIA says that the agency has hired 15 percent of its staff within the past two months, while putting emphasis on field operations over analysis. 

Today's Agenda

  • EU foreign policy representative Javier Solana meets with Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. Don't expect any breakthroughs.
  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in Spain to meet Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodrigo Zapatero.
  • Tony Blair begins his trip to South Africa.

Yesterday on Passport