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CHINA

Libyan foreign minister visits China

BEIJINGChina said Tuesday that Libya’s foreign minister is visiting Beijing just days after Chinese officials announced they had reached out to rebel forces challenging Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

China appears to be taking small steps to boost its engagement in the Libya conflict after staying on the sidelines for the first few months since the revolt against Col. Gadhafi’s government erupted in mid-February.

Beijing has pointedly avoided joining international calls for Col. Gadhafi to step down, saying that is for the Libyan people to decide.

On Friday, Beijing said the head of Libya’s rebel council met with China’s ambassador to Qatar in the Qatari capital, Doha, in what was the first known contact between the two sides.

POLAND

NATO, Russia team up in anti-terror exercise

WARSAWNATO and Russia teamed up Tuesday to test their ability to fight terrorism, using a military transport plane to simulate a hijacking over Poland and sending in fighter planes to save it, an official said.

It was the first time NATO and Russia, which doesn’t belong to the alliance, had conducted such an anti-terrorism exercise together.

During the drill, the transport plane departed from the southern Polish city of Krakow and was “hijacked” as it flew toward St. Petersburg, Polish Maj. Waldemar Krzyzanowski said.

Russian Su-27 and Polish F-16 fighter planes escorted the transport plane to a safe landing in Malbork, in northern Poland, after being told to assume that terrorists had damaged its navigation system before being overpowered.

Col. Petr Mikulenka, director of the exercise, told reporters in Warsaw it mainly focused on an exchange of information of what’s going on in the air rather than the defense system.

He described it as “the very first such exercise between Russia and NATO” and said the first day went as planned.

HAITI

Mudslides, rainstorms kill at least 11

PORT-AU-PRINCE — A storm set off mudslides and flooding that killed at least 11 people in impoverished Haiti, officials said Tuesday.

Rains engulfed the capital for several hours Monday night, turning hilly streets into rivers and sweeping debris down denuded hillsides of Haiti’s capital.

Motorists abandoned their cars. Women could be heard screaming for help as water pounded the supposedly temporary settlements that arose in Port-au-Prince after last year’s powerful earthquake.

PHILIPPINES

Court freezes assets of massacre suspects

MANILA — A Philippine court Tuesday froze $23 million in bank accounts and assets linked to suspects in the 2009 politically motivated massacre of at least 57 people.

The Court of Appeals order targets the assets of the Ampatuans, one of the Philippines’ wealthiest and most influential families whose most senior members are on trial for multiple murder.

Since the killings, the Ampatuans have come under scrutiny for corruption and using their power as elected representatives to amass wealth illegally.

The principal suspect, former town mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., is accused of leading about 150 gunmen with his father’s approval in stopping an election caravan and mowing down the family and supporters of a political rival.

Most of the victims were women and included at least 31 journalists and their staff, the single worst killing of media workers in the world.

A total of 196 people have been charged with multiple murder, 90 of whom are in custody, and 58 have been arraigned. More than 50 others are still at large.

CUBA

China agrees to invest in Cuban oil refinery

HAVANA — Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping toured a joint oil exploration project in Cuba near the end of a three-day visit during which the two countries signed economic accords that include the expansion of a refinery, Cuban state media said Tuesday.

Mr. Xi, who is widely expected to be China’s next president, called the Camarioca Norte 100 exploratory well and other projects a sign of excellent relations and close economic cooperation.

Chinese equipment is operating at the well, Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma said Tuesday.

Ministry of Basic Industry chief Tomas Benitez said Empresa de Perforacion y Extraccion de Petroleo del Centro, Cuba’s leading hydrocarbons concern, is working with Chinese help on several oil exploration and exploitation projects in the country.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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