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RUSSIA

N. Korean holds meeting in Moscow

MOSCOW | North Korea’s foreign minister held rare talks in Russia on Monday amid a flurry of diplomatic attempts to ease tensions after Pyongyang’s deadly attack on a South Korean island last month.

Pak Ui-chun is on a visit to Russia until Wednesday and was in talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on a number of issues, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The meeting comes after the North’s Nov. 23 shelling of a South Korean island that left four dead, the first shelling of civilian areas in South Korea since the Korean War.

South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy also is expected to visit Russia for talks with his counterpart, Alexei Borodavkin, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said. Wi Sung-lac will discuss the shelling and the North’s disclosure last month of a uranium-enrichment plant.

IRAN

Ahmadinejad fires foreign minister

TEHRAN | Iran’s president abruptly fired his foreign minister Monday and named the nuclear chief as acting top diplomat, the latest sign of a rift at the top levels of the Islamic theocracy as the country faces intense pressure from the West over its nuclear program.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave no explanation for the change in a brief statement on his website.

But the fired diplomat, Manouchehr Mottaki, is seen as close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And the president may be aiming to install a figure more personally loyal to himself as Tehran resumes critical talks with world powers over the nuclear program that has brought four rounds of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

The nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, is one of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s 12 vice presidents.

NETHERLANDS

Suspected serial molester arrested

AMSTERDAM | Amsterdam police called for the public to provide information on a suspected child-pornography ring Monday after a teacher was arrested on charges of molesting dozens of young children.

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