- - Monday, April 2, 2012

BUDAPEST — President Pal Schmitt is resigning after losing his doctorate in a plagiarism scandal.

Mr. Schmitt, who was elected to his largely ceremonial office in 2010 for a five-year term, said in a speech Monday at the start of Parliament’s plenary session that he is stepping down because his “personal issue” is dividing Hungary.

His 1992 doctorate was revoked last week after an investigation at Budapest’s Semmelweis University found that most of his thesis about the modern Olympic Games had been copied from the work of two other authors.

Soon after Mr. Schmitt spoke, Hungary’s governing Fidesz party said it planned to have Parliament vote later Monday to accept the resignation and to have the legislators choose his successor as soon as possible.

IRAQ

Qatar asked to hand over fugitive vice president

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s deputy prime minister has called on Qatar to hand over the nation’s fugitive Sunni vice president to face terror charges in Baghdad.

Hussain al-Shahristani made the demand during a Monday news conference in Baghdad.

He said Qatar’s decision to host Tariq al-Hashemi, the top Sunni official in Iraq’s Shiite-led government, was “unacceptable.”

Qatar has criticized what it calls the marginalization of Iraqi Sunnis.

Mr. al-Hashemi’s trip to Qatar is likely to deepen tensions between Iraq’s government and the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf that also are linked to Baghdad’s close ties with Iran and its ambivalent stand on Syria’s year-old conflict.

The visit is Mr. al-Hashemi’s first since he fled to Iraq’s Kurdish region to avoid an arrest warrant issued in December.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

N. Korea rocket, Myanmar to dominate summit

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A rocket launch planned by North Korea and long-broiling disputes over the South China Sea are expected to dominate Southeast Asia’s annual diplomatic summit this week, while elections in long-repressed Myanmar have helped turn a perennial troublemaker into a bright spot.

Cambodia is hosting the two-day summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, starting Tuesday. The stated focus is on turning the 10 disparate nations - and their combined population of 600 million - into a European Union-like community by 2015, but many other issues will be discussed on the sidelines.

The countries’ foreign ministers, meeting ahead of their leaders, expressed alarm over the North Korean rocket launch. U.S. officials say the rocket is actually a test of long-range missile technology and that parts could fall in Southeast Asia. North Korea insists it is planning to place a peaceful observation satellite into orbit sometime between April 12 and 16.

RUSSIA

Anti-corruption candidate wins race for mayor

MOSCOW — An anti-corruption crusader won a landslide victory in a mayoral election in a major Russian city, dealing a painful blow to the powerful pro-Kremlin party and energizing the beleaguered opposition.

Yevgeny Urlashov won 70 percent of Sunday’s vote in Yaroslavl, a city of about 590,000 about 150 miles east of Moscow, easily defeating the acting mayor, who was the candidate of president-elect Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

Mr. Urlashov’s victory reflects growing public irritation with official corruption and social inequality. It also gives new hope to Russia’s opposition, which has struggled to maintain momentum after Mr. Putin won a third presidential term last month.

Opposition leaders have urged their supporters to focus on local elections, and Mr. Urlashov’s victory likely will bolster that strategy.

YEMEN

Army kills 14 militants linked to al Qaeda

SANAA — The military killed 14 al-Qaeda-linked militants this week in government artillery shelling and air raids on their hideouts in the south, officials said Monday.

The shelling Monday near al-Rahha in the southern province of Lahj left eight militants dead. It followed a surprise attack by militants on a Yemeni army base in the area over the weekend.

A local Abyan province official said six militants, including a Somali, were killed in another raid on a hideout in Zinjibar late Sunday.

Al Qaeda-linked militants have taken advantage of a year of internal political turmoil to solidify their positions in south Yemen.

ISRAEL

Army orders settlers out of Hebron house

HEBRON — The Israeli military on Monday ordered dozens of Jewish settlers to evacuate a building they occupied last week in the heart of Hebron, the West Bank’s most volatile Palestinian city.

The order could lead to a violent confrontation between soldiers and one of the most-militant settler communities. Settlers have violently resisted such evacuations in the past, lashing out with attacks elsewhere in the West Bank.

Hebron is the traditional burial site of Abraham, the shared patriarch of both Jews and Muslims.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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