- - Thursday, June 28, 2012

BAGHDAD — Bombings and shootings around Iraq killed 22 people and wounded more than 50 on Thursday, authorities said, as a spike in violence made June Iraq’s bloodiest month in almost a half a year.

The attacks in Shiite neighborhoods and on security forces underscore how deadly Iraq remains, even though violence has dropped dramatically since a few years ago when the country appeared about to descend into civil war.

Thursday’s deadliest strike came around 9:30 a.m. in the Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Washash in western Baghdad, where eyewitnesses said a taxi exploded outside a local market. Eight people died and 26 were injured, police and hospital officials said.

UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan quits Russian security pact

MOSCOW — Uzbekistan has suspended its participation in a Russia-dominated security pact of ex-Soviet nations, officials said Thursday, a move that reflects tensions inside the grouping.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization’s spokesman, Vladimir Zainetdinov, said Thursday that it received a note from Uzbekistan declaring the suspension of its involvement in the seven-nation alliance.

Mr. Zainetdinov wouldn’t comment on possible motives behind the move, and Uzbek officials couldn’t be reached for comment. The grouping includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Russia has touted the organization as an ex-Soviet response to NATO, but the pact has remained amorphous and weakened by differences among its members. The pact members created a joint rapid reaction force that held sporadic maneuvers, but its numbers were small and its mission unclear. Uzbekistan has refrained from contributing its troops to the force in an apparent reluctance to give Russia too much clout.

IRAN

Tehran and London agree to representation

TEHRAN — Iran has agreed with Britain to have other countries’ embassies represent the two nations in each other’s capitals, Iranian state media reported on Thursday.

British officials were unable to confirm the report.

Both countries shut down their diplomatic missions last year over Britain’s prominent participation in efforts by the West to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.

Iranian hard-liners stormed the British Embassy in Tehran in November, and Iranian lawmakers voted to downgrade relations to the level of charge d’affaires from ambassador level.

BRITAIN

Assange told to report for sex-crime extradition

LONDON — British police served Julian Assange on Thursday with a demand that he report to a police station as the first step in his extradition to Sweden to face rape and sex-crime accusations.

The letter was delivered to Ecuador’s London embassy, where the WikiLeaks founder has been holed up for nine days and has been seeking asylum.

The Metropolitan Police said it had “served a surrender notice upon a 40-year-old man that requires him to attend a police station at a date and time of our choosing.”

Mr. Assange told the BBC he did not plan to comply, saying “asylum law both internationally and domestically takes precedence over extradition law.”

Report: Ex-minister sold secrets to Czechs

LONDON — A former British government minister sold information to communist spies for a decade during the Cold War in clandestine meetings in cocktail lounges and swank restaurants, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The BBC said it had seen files that show Raymond Mawby, a former Conservative Party lawmaker who briefly served as a junior minister in the mid-1960s, provided intelligence to spies working for Czechoslovakia - then a communist state - for a decade from circa 1961 to 1971.

According to the files, Mawby offered information on his colleagues and even provided a sketch of the layout of the prime minister’s office at No. 10 Downing Street. Mawby did not have access to prized intelligence or secret papers. He left the House of Commons in 1983 and died in 1990.

ARGENTINA

Regional trade bloc may expel Paraguay

MENDOZA — Brazil’s foreign minister says he and other Mercosur pact ministers are recommending that Paraguay be suspended from the regional trade bloc over last week’s ouster of former President Fernando Lugo.

But Antonio Patriota told a small group of journalists on Thursday outside the closed-door meetings that regional foreign ministers meeting at the Mercosur summit here plan to recommend against economic sanctions in retaliation for the ouster. Mercosur’s final decision is expected to be announced Friday.

The bloc, which also includes Argentina and Uruguay, barred Mr. Lugo’s replacement, Federico Franco, from attending the meetings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports