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NATO force extended amid terrorist concerns

UNITED NATIONS | The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to authorize the 130,000-strong NATO-led force in Afghanistan for another year, expressing serious concern over ongoing terrorist and criminal activities in the country and the increase in civilian casualties.

The resolution adopted by the U.N.’s most powerful body calls for increased training of the Afghan army and police to accelerate progress toward their self-sufficiency and meet the target of gradually transferring security responsibility from the coalition force to the Afghan government by the end of 2014.

Declaring that the situation in Afghanistan “still constitutes a threat to international peace and security,” the council extended the International Security Assistance Force mandate until Oct. 13, 2012.


Berlusconi fights for political survival

ROME | Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is bracing for a confidence vote in Italy’s parliament this week that will determine his political future amid a rebellion by some allies and growing discontent with his leadership at a time of financial crisis.

Small anti-Berlusconi demonstrations erupted Wednesday in Rome, Naples and other cities in a sign the anger is spreading beyond Italy’s bickering politicians to ordinary citizens.

Mr. Berlusconi is set to address parliament on Thursday and will likely defend his government’s record and relaunch its legislative agenda.

The vote of confidence is expected to be held the following day, said Fabrizio Cicchitto, a parliamentary whip for the governing party.

If he loses, Mr. Berlusconi would be forced to resign.


Attempted murder of Chechen is probed

ANKARA | A Turkish court on Wednesday began questioning a man and three alleged accomplices suspected of attempting to kill a former Chechen separatist leader in Istanbul, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

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