Negotiators for the US, China, and North Korea appeared no closer to setting a date for resumption of the six-way talks on the latter's nuclear weapons program. At a meeting in Beijing Tuesday, the North's representative said the timing "depends on the United States" and that differences should be narrowed first because "there are too many outstanding issues." There had been hopes that the negotiations – which also will include Japan, South Korea, and Russia – would resume next month. But South Korea's representative told reporters that setting a date is less important than putting the right preparations in place for progress.
Jubilant supporters of President Joseph Kabila hailed a decision by Congo's Supreme Court that confirms him as the winner of the first free election there in 41 years. The justices also rejected challenger Jean-Pierre Bemba's legal challenge of the results of their Oct. 29 runoff, which gave Kabila a 16-point margin of victory. Bemba alleged that the election was marred by fraud, although international monitors found it largely fair. The BBC reported that tension was high in the capital, Kinshasa, despite Kabila's order that military personnel loyal to Bemba leave the city.
Amid heavy security precautions, Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Turkey Tuesday and – in a last-minute change in plans – was greeted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Despite heated protests last weekend against the impending visit, only a few dozen demonstrators were seen in Ankara, the capital, as the pope's plane touched down. The trip is emotionally charged because of a speech he made in September that Muslims said insulted their faith. Erdogan, whose political party is Islamic-based, had said previously that he'd be at the NATO summit in Latvia and would not be available to welcome the pontiff. Later, at a joint appearance with the visitor, Turkey's leading cleric said growing "Islamophobia" hurts all Muslims.
By a 266-to-16 vote, members of the lower house of Parliament in Canada recognized the French-speaking province of Quebec as a "nation." The vote Monday night, on a motion by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is seen as largely symbolic since the designation requires no amendment to the Constitution or change in law. But it is also controversial. One member of Harper's cabinet quit before the vote could be taken, warning that passage could contribute to further ethnic division of the country. Quebeckers have twice voted down independence, most recently in 1995. But activists there have continued to press for a break from Canada.
Martial law will end in more than half the provinces in Thailand as soon as King Bhumibol Adulyadej formally gives his consent, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday. But it will remain in place in other provinces – mostly along the borders – that are still considered unstable, a spokesman said. Emergency powers also will continue in force in three southern provinces torn by a Muslim separatist campaign. The move was agreed to by the military-backed government, on the recommendation of the coup leaders who ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Sept. 19 while he was abroad. Analysts have said they see the continuation of martial law as a means of keeping Thaksin from returning.
Expectations were low that an emergency meeting between the prime minister of Fiji and the nation's military chief would end their long-running standoff and avert a possible coup. Government head Laisenia Qarase flew to New Zealand for the session, which is to be brokered Wednesday by host Foreign Minister Winston Peters. But Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who already was in New Zealand on a private visit and has threatened to oust Qarase, said he wouldn't enter into negotiations and that the latter's only option is "a yes or no to our demands." Among them: legislation that would grant amnesty to participants in a coup six years ago. Fiji has had three coups since 1987.