Four days of meetings aimed at achieving North Korea's return to the negotiating table over its nuclear weapons program ended in failure in Tokyo. The North's senior delegate said before returning home: "It's not bad that the resumption ... is delayed. During that period, we will make more deterrent force." He said North Korea would agree to the resumption only if the US ends the freeze it has placed on his nation's assets in an Asian bank. The US position is that the funds are unrelated to the nuclear issue and that the freeze will remain in place.Skip to next paragraph
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The convening of Iraq's parliament on Monday appeared doubtful after senior Shiite legislators insisted that the choices for all leadership positions in the new government be agreed upon first. The meeting was called for the purpose of breaking the deadlock over Shiite Prime Minister Ibrahim al- Jaafari's bid for another term. Kurds and Sunnis oppose Jaafari, and Sunnis have threatened to abandon the political process if the matter isn't resolved soon. But analysts say the Shiite tactic puts pressure on both Sunnis and Kurds because their leaders also will be among those assuming government posts.
Military authorities were trying to confirm whether one of seven people killed in an attack on a village in northwestern Pakistan Wednesday night was a wanted Al Qaeda leader. The village in the North Waziristan tribal region, near the border with Afghanistan, was rocketed by helicopter gunships on the basis of intelligence that Egyptian Mohsin Matawalli Atwah was using it as a hideout. The US has posted a $5 million bounty for Atwah for his alleged involvement in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Last month, President Pervez Musharraf warned all foreign militants to leave Pakistan or "be annihilated."
Five civilians from the minority Tamil community were killed in northern Sri Lanka in what may have been a backlash against the recent spate of attacks against military personnel. The Tamil rebel movement said two of its members also were shot in separate incidents and blamed their deaths on government-backed paramilitary units. The incidents are seen as a threat to the looming peace talks in neutral Switzerland. But the rebels said they still plan to attend, although they asked for a delay so they could consult first with their "eastern commanders."
Riot police did not interfere with a march by thousands of democracy activists on the road around Nepal's capital, despite a ban on such demonstrations. The march was described as peaceful, but inside the city dozens of lawyers were hurt when their own protest against King Gyanendra was met by tear gas and a hail of rubber bullets. Thirty lawyers were arrested. Gyanendra returned to Kathmandu from a vacation to deliver his Nepali New Year address to the nation Friday, and his opponents reportedly were hoping he'd take the opportunity to offer an initiative that would end the violence.
Soldiers were trying to mop up pockets of resistance in Chad after antigovernment rebels carried their fight into N'Djamena, the capital. President Idriss Deby declared the situation under control, but sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the city and staffers of the US Embassy and employees of an ExxonMobil subsidiary and their families had evacuated or were planning to. Deby is accused of being a corrupt dictator by the United Force for Change, which vows to overthrow him before the May 3 presidential election. Although his grip on power has been weakened by defections from the Army, he is seeking a new term and says the election will be held on schedule.
A woman died after being hit at close range by a tear gas canister as thousands of people in southern China fought with police in another incident of rural unrest that the central government admits is worrying. The violence erupted Wednesday when police were sent to tear down irrigation gates that had been built in Bomei in Guangdong Province. An unknown number of other villagers were hurt and at least one was arrested, reports said.