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World Briefs

- - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

RUSSIA

Police clash with anti-Putin demonstrators

MOSCOW — Police clashed Tuesday on a central Moscow square with about 100 demonstrators trying to hold a second day of protests against alleged vote fraud in Russia's parliamentary elections.

Pro-government United Russia supporters also rallied late Tuesday at Revolution Square near the Kremlin. State television footage showed a crowd appearing to number in the thousands.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party saw a significant drop in support in Sunday's election, but it still will have a majority in parliament. Opponents say even that watered-down victory was due to massive vote fraud.

SYRIA

Clinton meets with Syrian opposition

GENEVA — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held a rare meeting on Tuesday with Syrian opposition figures.

Mrs. Clinton told a group of seven Syrian pro-reform activists that she wanted to hear their plans to set up a democratic government if they succeed in prying President Bashar Assad from power.

Her invitation was a step short of endorsement but a clear sign the U.S. wants to work closely with those who might assume leadership roles.

"Obviously, a democratic transition is more than removing the Assad regime. It means setting Syria on the path of the rule of law," she told the activists, who are exiles in Europe.

Tuesday's meeting marked the second time Mrs. Clinton has held an in-person session with opposition members.

AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan opens bids on gold, copper deposits

KABUL — Afghanistan opened bids Tuesday on billions of dollars' worth of copper and gold deposits in four areas of the country that together are roughly half the size of the Grand Canyon.

Despite ongoing violence, Afghanistan has high hopes that its budding mining industry will generate billions in revenue to help rebuild the nation after 30 years of war.

CHINA

U.S., China to discuss Myanmar after Clinton trip

The United States and China next week will discuss developments in Myanmar after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's landmark visit to the longtime ally of Beijing.

Derek Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy on Myanmar, will visit Beijing Dec. 12 and 13 after holding meetings this week in Japan and South Korea, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

ISRAEL

Hamas lawmaker expelled from Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — Israel on Tuesday expelled a senior Hamas lawmaker from Jerusalem to the West Bank city of Ramallah on the grounds of illegal residency.

Ahmed Atun was arrested Sept. 26 after spending more than a year living inside the East Jerusalem headquarters of the Red Cross in order to avoid being expelled to the West Bank.

After spending more than two months in jail, Mr. Atun was back in court on Tuesday with magistrates ordering him to leave the city, said his lawyer, Fadi Qawasmeh.

PAKISTAN

Pakistani minister thanks Taliban for not bombing

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's interior minister thanked the country's Taliban militant movement on Tuesday for not staging attacks during this year's Shiite ritual of Ashoura, a remark likely to draw criticism as the country grapples with how to subdue the extremists.

The Pakistani Taliban and other Sunni extremist groups have frequently bombed Shiite processions during Ashoura.

The government has declared war on the group, but in recent weeks there have been unconfirmed reports of peace talks with at least some factions within the Taliban.

TRINIDAD

No charges in assassination plot

PORT-OF-SPAIN — Sixteen men detained in an alleged plot to kill the prime minister and other officials in Trinidad and Tobago have been released after officials were unable to find sufficient evidence against them.

Prosecutors had held the group under special legal powers granted under the emergency decree, but they did not find enough evidence to bring charges.

The men left the jail just before the midnight Monday expiration of the decree. Several denounced the government for holding them for what they said was a fabricated plot.

LIBYA

Tripoli to be disarmed by end of the year

TRIPOLI — The Libyan government on Tuesday vowed to disarm Tripoli by the end of December, the capital's city council chief said after talks with Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib.

"The government has promised us to disarm Tripoli by Dec. 31," said Abdul Razzak Buhajar, whose city has been inundated by former rebel fighters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports