World Briefs: Venue for nuclear talks remains unclear

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IRAN

Venue for nuclear talks remains unclear

VIENNA — Iran and six world powers have agreed to meet on April 13 for new talks about Tehran’s nuclear program, but the failure of previous meetings and disputes over what should be discussed are keeping them from choosing a venue, diplomats told the Associated Press on Monday.

Three diplomats from Western nations accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency said the starting date is set and they expect the dispute over the venue to be resolved in time.

The bickering over the location after days of talks appeared to reflect the deep differences between the two sides that have doomed previous meetings during which Iran has refused to even discuss international demands that it curb nuclear activities that could be used as part of a weapons program.

The main stumbling block remains uranium enrichment.

Iran says the expansion of its enrichment program is meant only to provide nuclear fuel, but the United States and other nations say Iran’s nuclear record is suspicious.

Tehran started enriching in secret and last year began enriching to higher levels that bring it closer to the point where it could turn its program into producing fissile warhead material at an underground bunker that could be impervious to attack from the air.

TUNISIA

Islam not to be basis of new constitution

TUNIS — A top official in the ruling Islamist Ennahda Party said Monday that Islamic law will not be enshrined in the country’s new constitution, preserving the North African nation’s civil state.

Tunisia has witnessed competing protests by thousands of secularists and Islamists recently over the role of Islamic law in the new constitution.

Ziad Doulatli of the Ennahda Party said the first article of the constitution would be as it was under the country’s secular dictators.

Islamists had wanted a line added saying that Shariah, Islamic law, would be the basis of the country’s legislation.

Many Muslim countries, including Egypt, stipulate a central role for Shariah.

Leftists and liberals in Tunisia had feared that the ruling Ennahda would attempt to Islamize the country.

SRI LANKA

Government will not adopt full war panel proposals

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka will not adopt all proposals from its civil war commission because the panel went beyond its mandate, a government minister said Monday after a U.N. rights council called for the report’s implementation.

The commission’s report dismissed allegations that government troops deliberately targeted civilians as the long civil war was ending in 2009, but it also proposed that complaints of isolated, civilian killings by government troops be investigated. It also said the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels committed serious human rights violations.

When the government presented the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report in Parliament in December, it promised the proposals would be implemented.

Irrigation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said, “The government will have to carefully consider the content of the report and take a decision as to which part of the report has to be implemented.”

In certain areas, the report “has gone beyond the mandate” of the commission, he said at a news conference with six government ministers. Mr. Silva refused to provide more details.

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan soldier kills 2 British troops

KABUL — An Afghan soldier shot and killed two British troops Monday at a NATO coalition base in southern Afghanistan before international forces gunned him down, officials said.

The violence was the latest in a string of attacks in which Afghan security forces have turned their guns on their foreign colleagues. Such attacks have become increasingly common over the past year, particularly since the burning of defaced Korans at a U.S. base in February.

Fifteen NATO service members, including eight Americans, have been killed by Afghan security officials or militants disguised in their uniforms so far this year.

Monday’s shooting occurred around 11 a.m. in front of the main gate of a joint civilian-military base in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand province, the governor’s office said.

NORWAY

Islamist cleric gets 5 years in prison

OSLO — An Iraqi-born Islamist cleric was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for making death threats against Norwegian officials and three Kurdish men.

The Oslo district court convicted Najmaddin Faraj Ahmad, also known as Mullah Krekar, of making online death threats against the three other Kurdish immigrants he claimed had insulted Islam. The 55-year-old cleric, who came to Norway as a refugee in 1991, was also convicted of threatening Norwegian government officials in an attempt to force a reversal of a 2005 order to deport him to Iraq.

Krekar is the founder of Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish group listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and other nations. He immediately appealed the ruling.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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