- - Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SOUTH KOREA

Kim Jong-il’s son elected to office

SEOUL | The youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was elected to his first leadership roles in the ruling Workers’ Party, state media said early Wednesday, putting him well on the path to succeed his father as leader of the nuclear-armed nation.

The announcement of Kim Jong-un’s election to key party positions during the nation’s biggest political convention in 30 years came a day after news that Kim Jong-il had made him a four-star general. Until Tuesday, Kim Jong-un had never appeared in state media, and the military promotion marked his official public debut.

Kim Jong-il, 68, is widely thought to be preparing the son, who is in his late 20s, to succeed him as leader and to take the Kim reign in North Korea to a third generation. The elder Mr. Kim, who rules the nation of 24 million with an iron fist, reportedly had a stroke two years ago and is said to be suffering from diabetes and kidney trouble.

WEST BANK

U.S. in last-ditch try to save Mideast talks

RAMALLAH | Frustrated by a new impasse, the White House sent Mideast envoy George J. Mitchell to the region Tuesday in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the collapse of peace talks over Israel’s decision to allow new construction in West Bank settlements.

Israel refuses to renew a 10-month-old moratorium on housing starts that expired over the weekend, while the Palestinians say there’s no point in negotiating if settlements keep expanding on lands they want for their state.

DENMARK

Police: Terror plot targeted Danish paper

COPENHAGEN | Three terrorism suspects who were arrested in a reputed al Qaeda plot in Norway were likely planning an attack against a Danish newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, Norwegian and Danish police said Tuesday.

The intelligence branch of Denmark’s police, PET, said the suspects were thought to be planning an attack either against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper directly or against people in Denmark linked to the 12 drawings that sparked outrage in Muslim countries in 2006.

RUSSIA

Kremlin fires Moscow mayor

MOSCOW | Russia’s president fired defiant Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov on Tuesday, ousting the man who gave the crumbling capital a modern face-lift but was maligned for his wife’s hold on construction projects and for staying on vacation while forest fires choked his city.

President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree relieving the 74-year-old mayor of his duties owing to a “loss of confidence” in him, according to the Kremlin. With the long-awaited move, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Mr. Medvedev sent a powerful signal that no regional leader is indispensable.

KENYA

Judge hits extradition of bombing suspects

NAIROBI | A Kenyan High Court judge issued a stinging attack on the government on Tuesday for sending Kenyans to Uganda to face charges in connection with July 11 bomb blasts in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

Judge Mohamed Wasarme said the extraditions flouted the individual rights of Kenyans contained in a new constitution that was promulgated in August and showed impunity in the executive arm of government was still alive and well.

The judge made the comments after a friend of a Kenyan human rights activist facing terrorism and murder charges in connection with attacks sought protection from extradition, even though he has not been arrested.

SUDAN

Sudan sets conditions for independence vote

CAIRO | Sudan’s ruling party on Tuesday laid down a series of conditions for holding a crucial referendum on southern secession, including demarcating the borders and redeploying southern forces, that could further inflame tensions in the divided country.

Cabinet minister Hajj Majid Suwar told the state news agency that in addition to drawing up the potential borders between the two halves of the country, southern military units had to redeploy south of the 1956 border.

Independent experts have warned that both sides are building up their forces in anticipation of an outbreak of hostilities over the referendum.

ITALY

Berlusconi to seek confidence vote

ROME | Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will seek a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies on his government’s priorities for reforms. His main ally boasted Tuesday that the coalition had secured enough loyal lawmakers to win the political gamble.

Should the government lose the vote, Mr. Berlusconi would be obliged to resign, opening the way for possible parliamentary elections far ahead of the 2013 scheduled date, just as his government reels from recent coalition defections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports