- - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

JAPAN

BEIJING — Officials from Japan and North Korea held their first government-to-government talks in four years Wednesday amid hopes that new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will adopt a less confrontational approach to relations between his isolated, impoverished nation and the outside world.

The meetings are at the Japanese Embassy in China, the North’s closest ally and biggest aid source, which has been subtly pushing for economic reforms and a more cooperative tone.

The talks are described as preliminary discussions to pave the way for full-fledged talks in the future covering a broader agenda.

UKRAINE

Country’s highest court upholds Tymoshenko verdict

KIEV — Ukraine’s highest court on Wednesday upheld the guilty verdict against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is in jail after her conviction on abuse of office charges.

Mrs. Tymoshenko was an architect of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution that promoted democracy and was a runner-up in the 2010 presidential election. She was sentenced to seven years in prison in October, when she was found guilty of exceeding her powers while negotiating a gas contract with Russia while she was prime minister.

Her supporters say the trial is a politically motivated attempt by her rival, President Viktor Yanukovich, to keep her out of October elections. The government denies the accusations.

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai moves to replace security chiefs

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai dismissed the national intelligence chief Wednesday, and lawmakers said he will submit nominees to replace the defense and interior ministers who were removed earlier this month by parliament.

Mr. Karzai is trying to shore up his shaken security team as his administration struggles to build an army and police force that can fight the Taliban as U.S. and other foreign forces begin to withdraw.

The shakeup also could set up a new showdown with the country’s parliament — which must approve the candidates — because his reported choice for defense minister is one of the men who had been ousted by lawmakers.

EGYPT

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