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May 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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Syria opposition leader courts China

ALEPPO, Syria, May 6 (UPI) -- China said its officials would meet with a leader of the Syrian opposition during his visit to Beijing this week.

Burhan Ghalioun arrived in China Sunday for talks aimed at ending the bloody revolt in Syria, China's Xinhua news agency said.

Ghalioun will meet with Foreign Ministry officials, who thus far have refused to go along with calls on the Syrian government to ease up its attacks on rebel cities. China joined Russia in vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an end to attacks on peaceful protesters.

CNN said China is a major exporter to Syria and has said officially that the Syrians should settle the dispute themselves.

Meanwhile, violence continued in Syria this weekend in the run-up to Monday's parliamentary elections, which will for the first time will include candidates from parties other than the ruling Baath party. Opposition activist estimated the weekend nationwide death toll at about 25.

An explosion Saturday near Aleppo, Syria's largest city, killed five people, according to opposition activists. Analysts told CNN Aleppo has been a stronghold of government support, which makes the bombing and a recent increase in anti-government protests in the city potentially significant.

Election day in financially hurting Greece

ATHENS, Greece, May 6 (UPI) -- Greek voters went to the polls Sunday to elect a parliament to guide the country through years of recovery from a precarious financial position.

There were 32 parties running for the 300 seats parliamentary seats, although the frontrunners were seen to be the current uneasy coalition partners -- the left-wing Pasok and conservative New Democracy parties, Ekathimerini reported.

The two parties need 38 percent of the vote to be in a position to form a coalition government, the report said.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. for 12 hours, but an official projection wasn't expected to be ready until after 11 p.m., elections officials said.

In five years of national recession, the eurozone country has received two bail-outs worth more than $300 billion from the European Union and International Monetary Fund and has an unemployment rate of almost 20 percent.

In exchange for the international aid, Greece has had to slash government salaries and pensions by 40 percent, leading to frequent demonstrations and anti-government rallies.

Greece has also written off 30 percent of its international debt.

S. Korean karaoke fire kills 9, injures 25

BUSAN, South Korea, May 6 (UPI) -- A very smoky fire in a South Korean karaoke lounge killed nine people and injured 25 others, police said Sunday.

It took about 100 firefighters with 20 fire trucks more than an hour to extinguish the fire, which broke out on the third floor of a six-story building in Busan around 9 p.m. Saturday, the Yonhap news agency said.

Witnesses told police there was a loud bang and a sudden rush of flames, although a cause hadn't been determined by midday Sunday.

The smoke was very dense, which made it difficult for customers to evacuate the facility's 28 rooms, the report said.

The fatalities were seven men and two women, all of whom died of smoke inhalation, firefighters said. Three of the men were migrant workers from Sri Lanka holding a party with Korean co-workers, the report said.

Of the 25 people injured, only one was reported to be in serious condition, officials said.

Homicide suspected at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 6 (UPI) -- Louisville police said it appeared the man found dead at Churchill Downs the morning of the Kentucky Derby was the victim of foul play.

An autopsy will be performed Monday on the unidentified man, whose body was discovered in the stable area of the famed race track early Saturday morning.

A Churchill Downs security executive told WAVE-TV, Louisville, the death did not appear to have anything to do with the derby, which drew thousands of spectators and millions of dollars in wagers.

Police described the victim as an Hispanic male and was discovered in Barn 8 on the back stretch by an employee of trainer Angel Montano, WAVE-TV reported. Montano did not have a horse in this year's derby field.

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