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Obama: U.S. can't force Mideast peace deal

washington

obama admits U.S. can't force A mideast peace

President Barack Obama gave a surprisingly downbeat assessment Tuesday of the chances for a U.S.-brokered peace settlement in the Middle East, saying the United States can't help if Israel and the Palestinians decide they cannot negotiate. The two sides "may say to themselves, 'We are not prepared to resolve these issues no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear,' " Obama said. He reiterated that peace is a vital goal, but one that may be beyond reach "even if we are applying all of our political capital." Meanwhile, Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian militants on the Gaza border, killing at least two, despite efforts by Gaza's Hamas rulers to maintain a truce. And Israel issued an "urgent" warning to its citizens to leave Egypt's Sinai Peninsula immediately, citing "concrete evidence of an expected terrorist attempt to kidnap Israelis in Sinai."

china

6.9-magnitude earthquake kills 67

A series of earthquakes struck the western Qinghai province, toppling houses, killing at least 67 and burying many others in a mountainous rural area. The U.S. Geological Survey Web site reported a magnitude 6.9 temblor struck an area in southern Qinghai, near Tibet, and was followed by three more in the same area.

pakistan

68 civilians dead in weekend airstrike

An airstrike by the country's military killed at least 68 civilians in northwestern Pakistan over the weekend. The military says the bombing, which took place Saturday in the remote Tirah Valley area near the border with Afghanistan, was aimed at bunkers and hideouts that militants had made there. The military has been conducting operations in nearby areas, including the Orakzai tribal region, and many civilians had fled into the valley to take shelter.

somalia

Security is now a Treasury issue

President Barack Obama gave Treasury officials broader power to deal with a deteriorating security situation. His action would allow the Treasury Department to sanction or freeze the assets of individuals involved in piracy off Somalia's coast or militants who have done anything to threaten the shaky nation's stability. Meanwhile, at least 14 radio stations in the capital of Mogadishu stopped broadcasting music, heeding an ultimatum by an Islamist insurgent group to stop playing songs or face "serious consequences."

philippines

12 die in attacks by Muslim militants

Muslim militants disguised as policemen and soldiers detonated bombs and opened fire in a series of coordinated attacks, triggering clashes that killed at least 12 people. About 25 Abu Sayyaf militants were involved in the attacks in Isabela on the island province of Basilan, one of the most daring operations by the al-Qaida-linked group in recent months, the regional military commander, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, said.

Elsewhere

Georgia: Naval Air Station Pensacola spokesman Harry White said all four crew members aboard a Navy plane that crashed in the north Georgia woods Monday are believed dead.

Iceland: American Airlines Flight 49 traveling from Paris to Dallas-Fort Worth with 145 on board landed safely at Keflavik Airport after five crew members became ill.

Times wires

Obama: U.S. can't force Mideast peace deal 04/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 12:59am]

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