- - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CHINA

U.S. warned to keep out of South China Sea disputes

BEIJINGChina urged the United States on Wednesday to restrain other countries from provoking Beijing in disputes over contested territories in the South China Sea, warning that Washington risks becoming embroiled in an unwanted conflict.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said it would be best if the United States stayed out of the long-standing disputes, but acknowledged that Washington has an interest in freedom of navigation in sea lanes that are vital to trade.

“If the United States does want to play a role, it may counsel restraint to those countries that have frequently been taking provocative action and ask them to be more responsible in their behavior,” Mr. Cui said at a briefing. “I believe that individual countries are actually playing with fire, and I hope that fire will not be drawn to the United States.”

MEXICO

Cartel leader sought alliance with rivals

MEXICO CITY — A cultlike drug cartel that challenged a rival gang by rolling five severed heads onto a disco dance floor in western Mexico was so divided and cash-strapped of late that it sought to form an alliance with that gang, police officials said Wednesday.

La Familia gang leader Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas was looking for support from the Zetas drug gang to fight splinter cells within his own organization, said Ramon Pequeno, chief of the federal counternarcotics police.

Mr. Mendez Vargas, alias El Chango, or “The Monkey,” was arrested Tuesday in the central state of Aguascalientes, where he was hiding. He was paraded before reporters in Mexico City on Wednesday.

He also is wanted in the U.S. in connection with drug-related crimes, Federal Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas said at a news conference. He didn’t elaborate.

Mr. Mendez Vargas worked for the Gulf cartel in the western state of Michoacan before he and other drug traffickers defected to form La Familia, which began a bloody battle for control of the state in 2006.

NETHERLANDS

Lawmakers to debate ban on ritual slaughter

THE HAGUE — Centrist Dutch lawmakers worked behind the scenes Wednesday to amend legislation that would outlaw centuries-old Jewish and Muslim traditions of slaughtering animals.

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