U.S., Japan and S. Korea to meet over conflict
The United States, Japan and South Korea will hold high-level talks next week to plot a joint strategy on dealing with North Korea after its artillery bombardment of the South, the State Department said Wednesday. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will meet the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea in Washington on Monday, spokesman P.J. Crowley said.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip
Gaza leader calls for vote on Israel
The leader of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said Wednesday for the first time that any resolution of the Palestinian dispute with Israel should be put to a referendum of all Palestinians around the world, and that if one were held, Hamas would accept the results no matter what they were. "We will accept the outcome of any referendum even if it contradicts our policies," he said.
Brotherhood pulls out of election
Egypt's top two opposition movements on Wednesday pulled out of parliamentary elections after they were all but shut out in a first round of voting, in a surprise response to widespread allegations of fraud. The move by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood — the country's strongest opposition force — and the smaller, secular liberal Wafd party is a blow to this top U.S. ally's efforts to portray itself as a democracy. The result will likely be a 518-seat Parliament almost entirely made up of the ruling National Democratic Party.
Debate begins on economy
Cuba on Wednesday began a public debate over landmark plans to lift the island's struggling economy by liberalizing some private enterprise, streamlining its vast state bureaucracy by laying off a half-million workers and repaying billions of dollars in debt. The sweeping changes, which also would end the country's unusual dual-currency system and create new ways to buy and sell private property, were announced earlier this year ahead of an all-important Communist Party Congress scheduled for April — the first since 1997.
Special operations missions down
Elite counterterrorism units in Iraq are running half as many operations this year as they have annually since 2008, in part because of a drop in violence, senior U.S. military officials said Wednesday. Joint U.S.-Iraqi special operations missions have been one of President Barack Obama's top priorities for the some 50,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq. The teams hunt down insurgents and help train Iraqi commandos and SWAT units.
Chavez shelters homeless in palace
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave shelter Wednesday at the presidential palace to 26 families left homeless by recent heavy rains in the country. The families had previously been staying at a military facility and were transferred to the Miraflores Palace. Chavez offered to let them stay for up to one year.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico
Hunger striker to get evaluation
A Guantanamo prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for more than five years is being granted his request to be seen by independent medical experts.