- - Sunday, July 24, 2011

NORTH KOREA

N. Korean official to visit U.S. on stalled nuke talks

BALI, Indonesia — North Korea’s vice foreign minister will visit the United States this week to discuss the next steps needed to resume international negotiations aimed at ridding the communist nation of its nuclear programs, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday.

The announcement was a further sign that diplomats could be close to reviving six-nation talks that broke off in 2008.

The minister, Kim Kye Gwan, will travel to New York at Mrs. Clinton’s invitation, which she made after a meeting Saturday in Bali, Indonesia, with Mr. Kim and Japan’s foreign minister, Takeaki Matsumoto. The meeting came on the sidelines of a regional forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations where officials from 27 nations discussed security.

Mr. Kim will meet with a team of U.S. officials to explore his country’s commitment to return to the international talks and take concrete steps toward disarmament, Mrs. Clinton said in a statement issued as she was leaving Bali.

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan officials say NATO killed 3 civilians

KABUL — Afghan officials said Sunday that NATO forces battling insurgents along an eastern highway accidentally killed three civilians who were caught in the crossfire.

NATO said that local residents presented the bodies of three civilians killed. Spokesman Capt. Justin Brockhoff said it was unclear whose fire had killed them.

The battle broke out after international troops struck a roadside bomb in Wardak province.

The dead included a woman who was a provincial health official. Wardak government spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said Dr. Aqeela Hekmat and two of her family members were killed in their vehicle, and her husband was injured. Dr. Hekmat was the head of gynecology and maternal health for neighboring Ghazni province.

Provincial Police Chief Gen. Abdul Qayum Baqizai also confirmed three deaths and said it was clear that they were killed by NATO fire.

President Hamid Karzai’s office said in a statement that it was investigating the allegations.

In a separate incident, the president’s office reported that an 8-year-old boy kidnapped by insurgents in southern Helmand province was hanged Friday by the militants. The boy’s captors had demanded that his father, a police officer, supply them with a police vehicle and he refused, Mr. Karzai’s office said in a statement.

CHINA

Toddler found alive in train crash rubble

BEIJING — A toddler was rescued about 21 hours after a crash involving two high-speed trains in eastern China killed at least 43 people and injured more than 200 others, state media reported Sunday.

Xinhua News Agency said the unconscious child was found early Sunday evening while rescuers were clearing one of the train cars just as the cleanup efforts were almost completed. It cited an unnamed firefighter.

“When we found him, he could still move his hands,” Xinhua quoted the firefighter as saying.

China Central Television first reported that the toddler was a boy, but later said a 4-year-old girl.

The toddler was taken to the hospital, and no other details were provided.

A bullet train was traveling south from the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou on Saturday evening when it lost power in a lightning strike and stalled, before being hit from behind by the second train in Wenzhou city.

TURKEY

Kurdish rebels kill four Turkish soldiers

DIYARBAKIR — Kurdish separatist rebels ambushed and killed three Turkish soldiers Sunday in southeast Turkey, local security sources said.

The soldiers were ambushed in a country area near the town of Omerli in Mardin province.

Separately, a fourth officer wounded in clashes with rebels on Friday succumbed to his wounds in a military hospital in Ankara, the army announced on its website on Sunday.

He had been wounded during clashes with rebels in Semdinli, near the border with Iraq and Iran, said the army statement Sunday.

Clashes between security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have surged since June 12 elections.

On June 16, 13 soldiers were killed in an ambush with PKK rebels in Diyarbakir province, the worst loss of life for the army since October 2008.

VENEZUELA

Chavez sings, recites poem in first post-chemo show

CARACAS | Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sang and recited a poem in honor of independence hero Simon Bolivar on Sunday, appearing upbeat and energetic after his first week of chemotherapy in Cuba.

Mr. Chavez said in a televised speech that he is optimistic he will survive cancer, but added that risks remain and that he is under strict orders from his doctors to limit his agenda. After returning to Caracas from treatment in Cuba on Saturday night, Mr. Chavez said thorough tests have found no signs that any cancer cells have reappeared.

The Venezuelan president spoke at the childhood home of Bolivar on the anniversary of his birth, praising the legacy of the founding father after whom the president named his socialist-inspired Bolivarian Revolution movement. Mr. Chavez declared: “Long live Simon Bolivar, now and forever!”

Mr. Chavez also recited a poem about Bolivar by leftist Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and sang outside the house with a folk music group while a crowd of supporters cheered.

From wire dispatches and staff reports