- - Thursday, February 16, 2012

NORTH KOREA

Late leader gets military birthday tribute

PYONGYANG | Army trucks loaded with artillery rolled by the memorial palace for North Korea’s late leaders as Kim Jong-un presided over a military birthday commemoration for his father Thursday.

Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack in December, and North Koreans marked what would have been his 70th birthday by remembering him and showing support for his young son and successor.

Across Pyongyang, they bowed before Kim Jong-il’s portrait and laid single blossoms in his honor on the holiday now called Day of the Shining Star.

The Kim Jong-un ode “Footsteps” reverberated across the capital city all day, emphasizing the son’s inheritance of the family legacy bequeathed to him by his father and grandfather, North Korean founder Kim Il-sung.

The Kims have ruled North Korea since its inception in 1948 following the division of the Korean peninsula into the communist-backed north and the U.S.-allied south.

PAKISTAN

Afghan, Iranian leaders attend peace summit

ISLAMABAD | Pakistan on Thursday welcomed the leaders of Afghanistan and Iran for a regional summit at a key juncture in peace efforts with the Taliban and amid rising tensions between Tehran and Israel.

Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew into Islamabad in the afternoon for a formal summit meeting scheduled on Friday, to be followed by a joint news conference, Pakistani officials said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived earlier in the day for a series of talks with the government and the military on his second visit in nine months.

His office said separate talks with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would focus on expanding relations, economic ties and “enhanced cooperation” on ending 10 years of war in Afghanistan.

Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and senior government ministers also were present, officials said.

Mr. Karzai termed Pakistan’s support as “critical to the success” of an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process and the reconciliation.

Story Continues →