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World Scene

- - Wednesday, January 12, 2011

HAITI

Prayer and mourning a year after quake

PORT-AU-PRINCE | The normally traffic-clogged streets of the Haitian capital turned quiet Wednesday as businesses closed and people walked in solemn processions to prayer services marking the anniversary of the worst natural disaster in the nation's history.

Many people wore white, a color associated with mourning in Haiti, and sang hymns as they navigated collapsed buildings and rubble from the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that left much of Port-au-Prince in ruins and, by the government's imprecise estimate, killed more than 230,000 people.

President Rene Preval and former President Bill Clinton attended a ceremony to lay the cornerstone for a new National Tax Office, where many workers were killed in one of the blows to the public sector that paralyzed the government after the earthquake.

THE NETHERLANDS

Police disrupt human smuggling ring

AMSTERDAM | A smuggling network channeling about 200 migrants a month, mainly from Afghanistan, into Europe has been disrupted in an Italian-led investigation, European police agency Europol said on Wednesday.

A two-year cross-border investigation resulted in 26 arrests on Jan. 11, mainly in Italy but also in France and Germany. Groups in Greece, Norway, Sweden, Britain, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan were also involved, Europol said in a statement.

The ring is thought to have smuggled about 200 migrants a month from August 2008 to date. One-fifth are thought to be to be minors, after children were found during house searches conducted in the criminal probe, Europol said.

IRAN

Official: No talks on 'nuclear dossier'

TEHRAN | Iran will not talk about its "nuclear dossier" at the Istanbul talks with world powers, atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said in comments published Wednesday, reiterating Tehran's long-standing policy.

"We will absolutely not recognize the negotiation if the other side wants to negotiate on the issue of the nuclear dossier" of Iran, Mr. Salehi, who also is acting foreign minister, said in an interview with state-run Iran newspaper.

His remarks come ahead of a Jan. 21-22 meeting in Istanbul between Iran and the six world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — aimed at resolving a dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

VATICAN CITY

Benedict to beatify John Paul II

Former Pope John Paul II will move a step closer to sainthood this week, when his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, approves the case for his beatification, Vatican sources said on Wednesday.

In "a few days," the Vatican's Prefect for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, is expected to present Benedict with the evidence that John Paul performed a miracle and should be beatified, one source said.

At that point, Benedict is expected to approve the recommendation and set a date for the ceremony less than six years after the death of the Polish pontiff.

CUBA

Cuba, U.S. meet on immigration

HAVANA | Senior U.S. and Cuban diplomats met in Havana on Wednesday to discuss immigration issues in an encounter that was expected to turn to more contentious matters, such as the detention of a U.S. man whom Cuba accuses of spying.

Heading the talks for the U.S. is Roberta Jacobsen, deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. It was not clear who was representing the Cuban delegation.

Talks got under way Wednesday morning, said Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Interests Section, which Washington maintains instead of an embassy.

The gathering will focus on a 17-year-old agreement under which the U.S. issues 20,000 visas to Cubans a year. But diplomats on both sides use the twice-yearly meetings to detail a long-standing list of complaints.

From wire dispatches and staff reports