US nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill wound up his meetings with North Korea's representatives on resuming disarmament talks with only a promise that the latter would study the ideas they'd discussed. Hill said, "The ball is very much in the North Korean court" and "they must get out of the nuclear business." No date was set for the next round of six-sided talks, but Hill said that was less important than "getting to the talks and making progress." Following two days of meetings with Hill in Beijing, Kim Kye Gwan said "there cannot be a situation where North Korea unilaterally gives up" its nuclear program.
An open-ended sit-in by supporters of Hizbullah was called for Friday in Beirut, with the goal of bringing down Lebanon's anti-Syrian government. In an address to the nation, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said it should be "civilized," but critics warned of the potential for it to turn violent. Hizbullah and its allies seek a greater role in government to reflect their political weight, especially with regard to a UN tribunal that would try suspects in the 2005 assassination of anti-Syrian former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Islamist militiamen ambushed an Ethiopian Army convoy in southern Somalia, killing more than a dozen soldiers, witnesses said Thursday. The claim could not immediately be verified and was denied by Somalia's interim government. But members of Ethiopia's parliament voted overwhelmingly to authorize all "necessary" steps to defend against the Islamists, who have declared holy war against President Meles Zenawi's regime.
UN and humanitarian aid personnel were withdrawn from southern Sudan after three days of fighting between government forces and rebels of the People's Liberation Army that may have killed hundreds of people. Many of the casualties were civilians, eyewitnesses said, although that could not be independently verified. The clash centered on an Army base in the oil-region town of Malakal and was the most serious breach yet of last year's peace deal that brought rebels into the Sudanese government. Malakal was tense and under a dusk-to-dawn curfew Thursday.
The political ally of the Irish Republican Army issued its most detailed terms to date for agreeing to a power-sharing government with Protestants in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said in an interview that his party could hold a special convention by March on reversing its traditional refusal to cooperate with the province's police. But first, he said, Sinn Fein and the Protestant Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) must agree to a new justice ministry with police oversight powers and the British government must drop plans for its intelligence agency, MI5, to gather antiterrorist information in Northern Ireland. Under the latest peace plan for the province, Sinn Fein and the DUP have until mid-March to form a joint government.
An estimated 50,000 people crowded into central Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in a new protest for the resignations of the interim government and the members of the national elections commission. At least two people were hurt as rival activists fought with guns and homemade weapons, ransacked the offices of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and destroyed the car of an ex-junior Cabinet minister. Unless its demands are met by Saturday night, the leftist opposition said, it will resume the transport strike that has cost millions of dollars in lost revenue.
A coup appeared closer than ever in the South Pacific nation of Fiji after military chief Frank Bainimarama rejected concessions offered by the government and gave it until noon Friday to meet his demands. Bainimarama said his talks earlier this week with Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase had been a failure, although the latter said he'd agreed to stop action on legislation that the military opposes and hinted that Bainimarama and other military officers wouldn't be prosecuted for sedition after all. Bainimarama called the offers "lies."