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CHINA

Chinese leader urges N. Korea to better U.S. ties

BEIJING — China urged ally North Korea to improve its strained ties with longtime foes the United States and South Korea, state media reported Monday, as U.S. and North Korean diplomats began talks about restarting negotiations on the North’s nuclear programs.

On a visit to North Korea, Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang told North Korean Premier Choe Yong Rim on Sunday that improving ties with the U.S. and South Korea would promote stability in the region, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Mr. Li also met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Monday, according to a one-sentence report by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Mr. Li’s message seemed intended to further diplomacy on North Korea’s nuclear program that is already under way and to enhance China’s role in it.

His three-day trip to North Korea will be followed immediately by a two-day visit to South Korea, underscoring Beijing’s good ties with both Koreas and its desire to revive the stalled six-nation disarmament negotiations.

U.S. and North Korean diplomats are meeting in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday to talk about restarting the negotiations, which include South Korea, Japan, Russia and China.

VATICAN CITY

Vatican urges global economic reform

The Vatican on Monday called for radical reform of the world’s financial systems, including the creation of a global political authority to manage the economy.

A proposal by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace calls for a new world economic order based on ethics and the “achievement of a universal common good.”

It follows Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 economic encyclical that denounced a profit-at-all-cost mentality as responsible for the global financial meltdown.

The proposal acknowledges, however, that a “long road still needs to be traveled before arriving at the creation of a public authority with universal jurisdiction” and suggests the reform process begin with the United Nations as a point of reference.

Vatican pronouncements on the economy are meant to guide world leaders as well as the global church. U.S. Roman Catholic bishops, for example, have released a voter guide for the 2012 election that highlights social concerns such as ending poverty.

KENYA

France to help supply Kenyans fighting in Somalia

NAIROBI — France’s embassy on Monday denied that French naval vessels had carried out any attacks in Somalia, but a military spokesman said France would soon help supply Kenyan troops fighting al Qaeda-linked militants.

Col. Thierry Burkhard said French transport planes will fly supplies from Nairobi to an airport in northern Kenya, but he insisted that the operation would be “limited in scope.”

A Kenyan military spokesman on Sunday said France’s navy bombed a town in Somalia near a stronghold of al-Shabab. But the French Embassy on Monday denied that claim, saying no French warships are in the vicinity.

Col. Burkhard said there was “no French operation in Somalia.”

The Kenyan military sent troops into neighboring Somalia about 10 days ago to pursue the militants after a string of kidnappings on Kenyan soil that were blamed on Somali gunmen.

Al-Shabab has threatened to launch suicide bombings inside Kenya in retaliation, and the U.S. Embassy warned late Saturday than an imminent terrorist attack is possible.

A grenade attack that wounded a dozen people at a downscale Nairobi pub early Monday heightened those fears.

MYANMAR

U.S. envoy to Myanmar begins second visit

YANGON — The special U.S. envoy to Myanmar began his second visit in less than two months Monday amid hope that the country’s new government is serious about political reform.

Derek Mitchell will be in Myanmar for two days and will meet with democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi, senior officials including Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, and representatives of civil society, said Darragh Paradiso, the State Department spokeswoman for East Asia and Pacific affairs.

Mr. Mitchell said last week after Myanmar released about 200 political prisoners that Washington sees encouraging signs of openness in the country, which was under direct military rule for decades until this year.

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