World Briefs: Putin visits West Bank, tours Christian shrine

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BETHLEHEM — Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin praised his Palestinian counterpart Tuesday for what he said was a “responsible” position in negotiations with Israel, frozen for nearly four years, and said Russia has no problem recognizing a Palestinian state.

Mr. Putin also offered veiled criticism of Israel, saying unilateral actions - an apparent reference to Israeli settlement construction on war-won land - are not constructive.

The Russian president spoke at the end of a visit to the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by his side.

Mr. Putin inaugurated a Russian cultural and language center in Bethlehem and toured the church built over the traditional birth grotto of Jesus.


Number of Haitians displaced by quake is falling

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The number of people living in the precarious settlements that became glaring symbols of the Haitian earthquake’s devastation has dropped to fewer than 400,000 for the first time since the January 2010 disaster, according to an aid group’s report released Tuesday.

The International Organization for Migration said there are now 390,276 people living in the precarious settlements that were erected in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake.

This figure is down from the high of some 1.5 million people who were staying in the camps six months after the quake. It is also a drop of 7 percent from April.

The reduction in the camp population is attributed to a combination of forced removals, rental subsidies and voluntary departures, but it is not clear where the bulk of the people have gone or if their living arrangements are better than the camp conditions.


U.S. couple detained for trying to adopt

ACCRA — An American couple, who used their popular blog to chronicle their journey to adopt four children from Ghana, was detained by Ghanaian authorities and forced to spend a night in detention as they tried to take the children back to the U.S., according to officials.

Sol and Christine Moghadam from Irvine, Calif., were traveling with their two biological children as well as the four adopted siblings, who are originally from the Ghanaian city of Kumasi.

They were stopped Friday at Kotoka International Airport after the government received a phone call from an anonymous tipster who accused them of child trafficking, according to a statement posted on the website of AdoptTogether, an advocacy group that produced a video of the couple’s adoption process.

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