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World Briefs: S. Korean leader travels to Myanmar’s capital

- - Monday, May 14, 2012

YANGON — Myanmar tightened security for a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Monday, the first by a South Korean leader since an assassination attempt by North Korean commandos nearly 30 years ago.

Mr. Lee flew to the capital, Naypyitaw, to meet with Myanmar President Thein Sein as part of a two-day visit that is expected to strengthen ties between the Asian countries, a statement from Mr. Lee's office said.

The South Korean president is the latest dignitary to visit Myanmar as it transitions from a military dictatorship to a fledgling democracy and opens its massive investment potential to the eager international community.

IRAN

IAEA, Iran begin new nuke talks

VIENNA — A senior U.N. nuclear agency official urged Iran on Monday to allow access to sites, people and documents it seeks in its probe of suspicions that Tehran conducted secret research into nuclear-weapons development.

The appeal came as International Atomic Energy Agency officials renewed talks with Iranian envoys aimed at persuading Tehran to allow IAEA experts to visit a suspect site at the Parchin military complex.

The agency thinks that site was used by Iran to test multipoint explosives of the type used to set off a nuclear charge.

Iran denies such experiments and insists it has no plans to turn its civilian nuclear program to making weapons.

A computer-generated drawing obtained by the Associated Press from a country tracking Iran's nuclear program depicts a containment chamber that would be used for such work.

ARGENTINA

Vice president targeted for graft probe

BUENOS AIRES — The legal battles of Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou grew more complicated on Monday, when a federal prosecutor asked a judge to open an illegal-enrichment probe.

Also named were Mr. Boudou's girlfriend, Agustina Kampfer; longtime friend and business partner Jose Maria Nunez Carmona; and another businessman, Alejandro Vandenbroele, who is said to have served as Mr. Boudou's proxy in a series of business deals.

Prosecutor Jorge Di Lello also asked Judge Ariel Lijo to investigate 10 businesses, including the Old Fund, a holding company reportedly linked to Mr. Boudou.

The Old Fund was able to bring a struggling printing company out of bankruptcy and win a contract to print Argentina's currency with the help of Mr. Boudou and other top government officials.

Judge Lijo now must decide whether to open a formal probe and eventually whether to bring charges that could result in as much as six years in prison and a lifetime ban from public office.

NIGERIA

12 killed, villages razed in northeast Nigeria

LAGOS — Gunmen surrounded villages in northeast Nigeria and set them ablaze, killing at least 12 people and wounding 48 others in violence that could spread as attackers remain hiding in the rural region, the Nigerian Red Cross said Monday.

The attacks targeted four villages early Sunday in a remote area of Adamawa state, which borders Cameroon.

The number of dead could rise as relief workers remain unable to reach the villages affected and about 2,000 people have fled, the Red Cross said in a report obtained by the Associated Press.

Volunteers "could not get safe access to these affected communities as the gunmen are said to be in the bush around the communities, changing plans," the report read. It estimated as many as 100 gunmen attacked the villages.

The dead included at least one police officer, the report read. Those injured suffered gunshot and machete wounds.

CANADA

Canada, Poland partner to develop shale gas

OTTAWA — Visiting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, announced Monday that their two countries would bolster energy cooperation to develop shale gas deposits.

Both nations are thought to hold large deposits of shale gas - a natural gas trapped in flakes of sedimentary rock - and energy companies are eager to tap into them.

Shale gas has become an increasingly important energy source in the United States over the past decade and interest in it is now spreading around the world, despite concerns of environmentalists.

ISRAEL

Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners agreed to halt a weekslong hunger strike on Monday in exchange for promises of better conditions, ending a standoff that left several participants clinging to life and drew thousands of Palestinians to the streets in shows of solidarity.

The Palestinians won key concessions in a deal mediated by Egyptian officials, including more family visits and limits to an Israeli policy that allows the imprisonment of suspects for years without charge.

In return, Israel extracted pledges by terrorist groups to halt violent activities and prevented the potentially explosive scenario of prisoners dying of hunger.

From wire dispatches and staff reports