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ROME | North Korea increased its staple foods production for the second year in a row, but its citizens are still suffering from a serious lack of key proteins and fats in their diets, a U.N. report said Monday.

A U.N. team visited all nine agricultural provinces of the communist state in September and October during the main cereal harvest, and estimated that even with the increase — a 10 percent improvement over last year — North Korea will need to import 507,000 metric tons of cereals to meet its basic food needs.

North Korea has struggled for decades to feed its 24 million people.

Its new leader, Kim Jong-un, has made improving the economy a priority and has pledged to improve North Koreans’ standards of living.

In its eagerly anticipated report, the U.N. said it is concerned that North Korea’s soybean production declined 30 percent and that there were limited vegetables available, meaning the chronic lack of proteins, oils, fats, vitamins and micro-nutrients in the typical North Korean diet remains a problem.


Radical cleric wins deportation appeal

LONDON | A radical Islamist cleric described by prosecutors as a key al Qaeda operative in Europe cannot be deported from Britain to Jordan to face terrorism charges, judges ruled Monday in the latest twist in a protracted legal saga.

Britain’s government has been attempting since 2001 to expel radical preacher Abu Qatada, who previously has been convicted in his absence in Jordan of terrorist offenses related to two alleged bomb plots.

Though the country’s Home Office said it intended to appeal the decision, Judge John Mitting granted the cleric bail and said he would be freed from prison Tuesday — despite a claim from a government lawyer that he poses a major security threat.

Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-born Jordanian cleric whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, was convicted in Jordan over terrorist plots in 1999 and 2000, and he will face a retrial if deported there from Britain.

Britain’s government has insisted it has won assurances from Jordan over how Abu Qatada’s case would be handled — including from Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who met with British Prime Minister David Cameron last week.

But judges said there is a real risk that evidence obtained through torture would be used against the cleric.


Inquiry opened into sister of Islamic terrorist

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