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World Scene

- - Wednesday, December 7, 2011

SWITZERLAND

Clinton warns of bioweapon threat from gene technology

GENEVA | New gene-assembly technology that offers great benefits for scientific research also could be used by terrorists to create biological weapons, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Wednesday.

Speaking at an international meeting in Geneva aimed at reviewing the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, Mrs. Clinton told diplomats that the challenge is to maximize the benefits of scientific research and minimize the risks that it could be used for harm.

"The emerging gene-synthesis industry is making genetic material more widely available," she said. "This has many benefits for research, but it could also potentially be used to assemble the components of a deadly organism."

The U.S. government has warned about efforts by terrorist networks like al Qaeda to recruit scientists capable of making biological weapons.

CHINA

U.S.-China talks aim to reduce tension

BEIJING | Chinese and U.S. defense officials met in Beijing on Wednesday to talk about reducing the risk of confrontation after recent friction over arms sales to Taiwan and a stepped-up American military presence in the region.

The 12th round of U.S.-China Defense Consultative Talks is a barometer of relations between China's People's Liberation Army and a U.S. military that is repositioning itself in the Pacific, following the winding down of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the Chinese military has lashed out at the recent U.S. moves, Beijing's decision to proceed with the talks appears to show it is placing a new importance on regular talks between the sides, even as their rivalry sharpens.

RUSSIA

Anti-vote fraud protests rage for third night

MOSCOW | Popular anger against Vladimir Putin's ruling party and alleged election fraud boiled over into a third straight night of protests Wednesday, and police in Russia's two largest cities arrested scores of demonstrators.

The demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg appeared to attract fewer protesters than in previous days, roughly 300 in each city. But Russians' willingness to risk jail time and clashes with police indicate significant tensions that could spread.

MEXICO

Police break up plot to smuggle Gadhafi's son

MEXICO CITY | Mexico said Wednesday it had broken up an international plot to smuggle the son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, al-Saadi Gadhafi, and his family into Mexico under false names and with false Mexican documents.

The plan allegedly involved two Mexicans, a Canadian and a Danish suspect, Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said.

The plot was uncovered in early September as al-Saadi Gadhafi was fleeing Libya after his father's ouster. He never made it to Mexico, and is living in the Western African country of Niger.

UZBEKISTAN

President dismisses talk of post-Soviet pact

TASHKENT | President Islam Karimov on Wednesday strongly criticized a Russian-backed proposal for closer integration among former Soviet nations, saying history cannot be reversed.

"When they talk about the integration process and create different inter-state organizations to this end, we should always be vigilant of the fact that these organizations could become increasingly political," said Mr. Karimov.

The comments were the first by Mr. Karimov since Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan last month agreed to set up a Eurasian economic union.

PARAGUAY

U.S. donation to help Paraguay fight guerrillas

ASUNCION | The U.S. government is giving Paraguay more than $1 million in equipment and training to help it combat a small guerrilla band in the north of the country.

A U.S. Embassy news release Wednesday said the donation includes vehicles, communications gear and improvements to police facilities in the jungle region where the Paraguayan People's Army operates.

The leftist guerrilla group began to operate in 1999 and resurfaced in 2008.

JAPAN

Foreign minister: 'Deep emotion' over Pearl Harbor

TOKYO | Japan's foreign minister said he feels "deep emotion" about the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Kyodo News agency quoted Koichiro Gemba as saying Wednesday that even though the United States and Japan were enemies in World War II, their alliance now is vital for the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.