Morning Brief, Thursday, July 26

Middle East Pool/Getty Images The biggest Sunni umbrella group in Iraq warns it will withdraw from the government if PM Nuri al-Maliki doesn’t meet the bloc’s political demands. Bechtel, a top U.S. contractor, is meeting fewer than half of its targets in Iraq. Iran may be interested in higher-level talks with the United States, but ...

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600351_070725_iraq_05.jpg

Middle East

Pool/Getty Images

The biggest Sunni umbrella group in Iraq warns it will withdraw from the government if PM Nuri al-Maliki doesn't meet the bloc's political demands.

Middle East

Pool/Getty Images

The biggest Sunni umbrella group in Iraq warns it will withdraw from the government if PM Nuri al-Maliki doesn’t meet the bloc’s political demands.

Bechtel, a top U.S. contractor, is meeting fewer than half of its targets in Iraq.

Iran may be interested in higher-level talks with the United States, but the Bush administration is not enthused.

Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to boost his country’s military and espionage capabilities. He’s also seeking to expand the powers of the Security Council.

British PM Gordon Brown proposed a package of aggressive new anti-terrorism measures

It’s hot in southern Europe. Very hot

Asia

Members of the party of Japan’s struggling PM, Shinzo Abe, are attacking him on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday’s upper-house elections.

Taliban members killed one South Korean hostage; the remaining 22 are probably still alive.

An angry North Korean representative derided his country’s failed military talks with South Korea as “fruitless.”

Elsewhere 

Oil is back up to $77 per barrel. 

Sales of existing homes were down nearly 4 percent in the United States in June. 

Ethiopia agreed to allow food shipments into Ogaden, a rebellious area that the Ethiopian government has sought to squeeze into submission in recent weeks.

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