- - Thursday, December 1, 2011

FRANCE

Sarkozy, Merkel pressing for changes to save euro

PARIS | The leaders of France and Germany next week plan to push for fundamental changes to the European treaty governing the embattled euro currency shared by 17 nations, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday.

Mr. Sarkozy said in a speech that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Monday in Paris to unveil proposals to try to lift Europe out of its debt crisis and “guarantee” its future.

“France will push with Germany for a new European treaty refounding and rethinking the organization of Europe,” Mr. Sarkozy said.

“The Maastricht Treaty has revealed itself to be imperfect,” he added, referring to the pact that led to the creation of the euro currency in 1999.

Changes in the treaty would have to be approved by all 27 member nations of the European Union, 10 of which do not use the euro currency.

SYRIA

U.N. says conflict is now a civil war

BEIRUT | Syria has entered a state of civil war with more than 4,000 people dead and an increasing number of soldiers defecting from the army to fight President Bashar Assad’s regime, the U.N.’s top human rights official said Thursday.

Civil war has been the worst-case scenario in Syria since the revolt erupted eight months ago. The assessment that the bloodshed in Syria has crossed into civil war came from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

TUNISIA

Protesters fear influence of Islamist political party

TUNIS | Thousands of people rallied in central Tunis on Thursday to express fears of extremism under an Islamist party that swept to power in October polls.

About 2,000 to 3,000 students, teachers, miners and other protesters gathered outside Bardo Palace, where Tunisian lawmakers met to draft a new constitution.

The protest was partly a response to ongoing demonstrations at a university outside the capital, where Islamists disrupted classes by demanding the school end mixed-sex classes and require female students to wear the full-face veil, or niqab.

Islamist parties have been winning elections since the toppling of dictators in the Arab Spring uprisings, including in Tunisia where Ennahda won the biggest bloc of votes Oct. 23 to dominate the 217-member assembly.

Longtime Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his staunchly secular regime were ousted in a popular uprising in January.

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai pardons imprisoned rape victim

KABUL | President Hamid Karzai pardoned an Afghan woman serving a 12-year prison sentence for having sex out of wedlock after she was raped by a relative, his office said Thursday.

His office also said the woman and her attacker agreed to marry. That would reverse an earlier decision by the woman, who had refused a judge’s offer of freedom if she agreed to wed the rapist.

Thursday’s statement said Mr. Karzai decided to forgive the rest of the woman’s sentence after hearing from judicial officials. It is not clear how much time the woman has served.

More than 5,000 people had signed a petition urging Mr. Karzai to release her.

NIGERIA

Thousands flee clash between herders and farmers

LAGOS | At least 5,000 people have fled villages in central Nigeria at the heart of clashes between nomadic Muslim cattle herders and Christian farmers, officials said Thursday. At least five people have died in the fighting.

Authorities acknowledged there could be many more deaths in the violence hitting rural Benue and Nasarawa states in Nigeria’s fertile central belt, a dividing line in the country between religious and ethnic groups.

The fighting began this week as Muslim Fulani cattle herders found some of their livestock dead, said Conrad Wergba, Benue state’s information commissioner. The cattle herders retaliated by attacking villages of the Christian Tiv ethnic group in both Benue and Nasarawa states, he said.

EGYPT

Archaeologists find statue of King Tut’s grandfather

CAIRO | Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed a large statue of king Amenhotep III who ruled nearly 3,400 years ago and who was the grandfather of the famed boy pharaoh Tutankhamun, authorities said Thursday.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities said the latest find was made at the king’s funerary temple in the southern city of Luxor.

The 44-foot-tall statute is made of colored quartzite. It is composed of several large pieces that once put together will depict the king as standing.

Amenhotep III ruled from 1390 to 1352 B.C.

The latest find comes after several other relics of the king were unearthed last year in his mortuary temple on the west bank of the Nile River.