World

More delay appeared likely in Iraq for critical legislation on sharing revenues from the oil industry. The measure, seen by the US as critical in helping to end violence between Shiites and Sunnis, was OK'd Tuesday by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet. But Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq complained that they hadn't read the bill, and members of parliament said it would take at least a week for it to clear the Energy Committee.

In a goodwill statement on the heels of his visit to the US, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he was sure relations with the US would progress in "mutually satisfactory" fashion. But other senior Kremlin officials warned that Russia already was taking "asymmetrical and effective" measures "to ensure security" if the US ends up rejecting Putin's offer of Russian radar in Azerbaijan as a substitute for the missile-defense system it proposes to build in eastern Europe. Putin's offer came in talks with President Bush earlier this week in Maine.

Long lines of Palestinian civil servants waited at automated teller machines in the Gaza Strip (above) and West Bank Wednesday to collect full pay for the first time in more than a year. But only those on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority who don't report to Hamas were included in the disbursment, which was made possible when Israel, the US, and other countries ended their economic embargo after President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the militant organization from his government for seizing control of Gaza. About 31,000 of the Palestinian Authority's 165,000 employees are Hamas loyalists.

Leaders of the 53 African Union member states ended their summit late Tuesday night in Ghana without agreeing on how to establish a single government for the continent.But the group planned to reassemble in January in Ethiopia to hear reports on the mattter from four study committees. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi proposed that a so-called United States of Africa be set up immediately, with a single foreign policy and set of armed forces. Others wanted gradual integration through regional blocs.

Five more foreign nationals working in Nigeria's oil industry were kidnapped at gunpoint Wednesday, dealing a heavy blow to new President Umaru YarAdua's efforts at bringing peace to the delta region. The seizure came as militants of the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta were announcing an end to their one-month truce with YarAdua's government. But a spokesman said they were not involved in the incident.

Basque separatists intended to cause heavy casualties with a truck-bomb explosion timed for the State of the Nation address or ensuing debate in parliament, Spain's Interior Ministry said Wednesday. The plan was foiled when French police intercepted the vehicle carrying more than 300 pounds of explosives not far from the border. In his State of the Nation speech, Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero ruled out further talks with ETA, the Basque separatist group, which said early last month it was ending its truce with his government.

Elections to return democracy to Fiji "will be impossible" before 2020, Army chief and self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Banimarama warned, if criticism of his rule doesn't stop. Banimarama, who seized power Dec. 5, called new sanctions imposed by neighboring New Zealand "hypocrisy of the highest order." Last month, under pressure from the European Union, he moved up the timetable for elections from 2010 to March of 2009.

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