- - Sunday, June 12, 2011

GERMANY

Germany seeks source of E. coli contamination

BERLIN — German authorities say they haven’t been able to resolve how sprouts at a farm became contaminated with an aggressive strain of E. coli that has been blamed for 33 deaths.

Officials determined Friday that sprouts grown at the farm in Lower Saxony state, in northern Germany, were the culprit in the outbreak - which has sickened more than 3,000 people.

The state’s agriculture ministry said Sunday that it wasn’t clear whether workers brought in the bug or whether the bacteria got onto the farm on seeds or by some other means.

The ministry said tests on about 1,100 samples, nearly 300 of them from the farm, are continuing in an effort to answer that question, but that no positive results have been produced.

AFGHANISTAN

Pakistan agrees to pursue Taliban fighters, insurgents

KABUL — Pakistan has agreed to target the hide-outs of Taliban fighters and other insurgents who attack neighboring Afghanistan and refuse to take part in faltering peace talks, Afghan officials said Sunday.

Many of the Taliban’s key leaders are thought to be hiding in Pakistan, and the threat of military strikes could be used to pressure fighters to negotiate.

Still, how forcefully Pakistan will go after the Taliban remains in question, and the agreement from the Pakistani government was not immediately confirmed.

Taliban fighters and other groups have long used Pakistan’s tribal areas to launch attacks on NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan, a point of contention between the two nations.

“The message is that people who want to take part in the peace process should have the way cleared for them,” said Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, secretary of a peace council set up by Afghanistan’s president. “To those that think war is the only means to reach their goals, there should not be a hide-out for them to continue their war.”

Mr. Stanekzai and other Afghan officials spoke to journalists Sunday after Afghan President Hamid Karzai returned from a visit to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.

CIA Director Leon E. Panetta also spoke separately with senior Pakistani officials about intelligence sharing and efforts to reconcile with the Taliban.

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