France and Germany reported small increases in economic growth in the second quarter of 2009, leading to optimism that the recession may be almost over. However, GDP in the EU as a whole declined by 0.3% in the same period.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma's opposition party, was sentenced to a further 18 months in detention for breaking the conditions of her house arrest. It was widely assumed that the sentence was intended to keep Suu Kyi out of the public eye during next year's elections in Burma.

Violence increased in Afghanistan ahead of the presidential elections on 20 August. Violence increased in Iraq following the withdrawal of US forces from major cities; more than one hundred have been killed and many more wounded in bombings.

The first congress for 20 years of the Palestinian Fatah party elected several new faces to its central policy committee; President Mahmoud Abbas was re-elected by a show of hands.


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