- - Wednesday, February 8, 2012

PAKISTAN

Pakistan holds talks after deadly U.S. attack

ISLAMABAD | The Pakistani army met with NATO and Afghan forces Wednesday to improve coordination along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, a sign of thawing relations after American airstrikes accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.

The meeting took place at a border coordination center in Torkham, a city on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the Pakistani army said. The operations chief for the Pakistani army, Maj. Gen. Ashfaq Nadeem, attended.

Pakistan was outraged by the Nov. 26 attack on two of its Afghan border posts and claimed it was deliberate. Islamabad retaliated by closing its border to supplies meant for NATO troops in Afghanistan and by kicking the U.S. out of a base used by American drones.

But tensions seemed to have eased slightly, with Pakistani officials saying in recent days the government should reopen its border to NATO supplies as long as it can negotiate higher fees.

FRANCE

Sarkozy opposes attack on Iran’s nuclear sites

PARIS | French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday said a military strike is not the way to deal with a nuclear threat from Iran.

Speaking at the annual dinner honoring France’s Jewish community, he said Israel is a “miracle” and that “France will not compromise on its security.”

He added, however, “The solution is never military.”

Mr. Sarkozy also called it “unacceptable” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Israel considers Iran a threat and has not ruled out military action against sites in Iran suspected of working to build nuclear arms.

EGYPT

Army deployed nationwide amid calls for protests

CAIRO | Egypt’s army on Wednesday said it will deploy troops across the country, after activists called for “civil disobedience” to mark the anniversary of strongman Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.

Students from several universities and pro-democracy activists have called in a statement posted on the Internet for “a general strike and civil disobedience” on Feb. 11, the anniversary of Mr. Mubarak’s ouster.

The former president was forced to step down last year after 18 days of massive street protests against his three-decade autocratic rule.

ISRAEL

President appeals for peace in message to Iranian people

JERUSALEM | Israeli President Shimon Peres reached out to the Iranian people with a message of peace Wednesday, as the West tightened sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, and a former Israeli spymaster said Israel is not in mortal danger.

Mr. Peres, an elder statesmen who is a Nobel Peace laureate, appealed to Iranians to look beyond the current crisis.

The United States, Israel and the West believe Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons. This week the U.S. cranked up its sanctions on Iran to try to force it to stop its uranium enrichment, but Iran responded with defiance.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 63rd anniversary of the founding of Israel’s parliament, Mr. Peres directed his remarks to the people of Iran.

“We were not born enemies and there is no need to live as enemies. Do not allow the flags of hostility to cast a dark shadow over your historic heritage,” he said.

UKRAINE

President sacks defense chief accused of ruining the military

KIEV | President Viktor Yanukovych fired his defense minister on Wednesday, following accusations by the opposition that he was not only corrupt but had “ruined” the armed forces.

The dismissal of Mikhailo Ejel was announced in a decree published on the website of the president’s office, which did not explain the decision.

Mr. Ejel, who had held his post since March 2010, had faced frequent accusations of embezzlement from the opposition.

Former defense minister Anatoly Gritsenko, who is now an opposition lawmaker, said last month that Mr. Ejel had “practically ruined the army.”

Mr. Yanukovych named Dmytro Salamantin, head of the state-owned company responsible for arms sales, as his new defense minister.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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