- - Monday, January 14, 2013

CUBA

HAVANA — Cubans formed long lines outside travel agencies and migration offices in Havana on Monday, as a highly anticipated new law took effect ending the island’s much-hated exit visa requirement.

Most Cubans now are eligible to leave with just a current passport and national identity card, just like residents of other countries.

Control over who can travel now largely shifts to other governments that will make their own decisions about granting entry visas. Cubans, like citizens of most other developing countries, will still find it difficult in many cases to get visas from wealthier nations such as the U.S.

LIBYA

Police to create diplomatic security force

TRIPOLI — A special Libyan security force is being created to protect embassies and consulates after a wave of attacks by militants that highlights the serious deterioration in security over the past year, an official said Monday.

A brigadier general will lead the new force that will be made up of former rebels who have been integrated into the nation’s police force, Interior Ministry spokesman Magdi el-Urfi told The Associated Press.

The announcement of a new security force comes four months after a terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

SYRIA

Airstrike kills 13 near Damascus

BEIRUT — A Syrian airstrike tore through a house in a rebellious suburb of Damascus on Monday, killing at least 13 people, including eight children, as the government ramped up its operations against the opposition strongholds ringing the capital, activists said.

Government forces have used warplanes and multiple rocket launchers over the past 24 hours in what activists described as some of the heaviest barrages of the Damascus region since President Bashar Assad’s regime launched an offensive in November to dislodge rebels from the capital’s outskirts.

The air raid struck a home with residents inside Monday in the suburb of Moadamiyeh, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and others said.

UNITED KINGDOM

Cameron seeks change in European Union

LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron says he hopes to negotiate fundamental changes in his country’s membership of the European Union, which can then be put to the country in a referendum.

He is expected to lay out plans for his views on Britain’s relationship with the EU in a speech on Friday.

Ahead of the speech, Mr. Cameron told BBC radio on Monday that he does not favor an immediate in-or-out vote on membership in the EU, saying that is a false choice.

Mr. Cameron says he favors staying in the 27-member EU and that he is confident of achieving changes that would make membership more comfortable for Britain.

IRAQ

Government frees hundreds of inmates

BAGHDAD — Iraq has begun setting free hundreds of inmates, officials said Monday, offering a concession to Sunni protesters demonstrating against the country’s Shiite-led government.

Protesters from Iraq’s Sunni minority have been rallying for more than three weeks against what they see as unfair treatment by the government against their sect.

The release of detainees has been one of their main demands, and some of those freed Monday came from areas where anti-government unrest has surfaced.

ISRAEL

U.N. chief urges Israel to rescind E1 settlement

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is reiterating his call for Israel to rescind its settlement plans in the strategic E1 area of the West Bank.

U.N. deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey says the U.N. chief is following “with concern” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge Sunday to move ahead with construction of a new Jewish settlement in the E1 area.

The new settlement would deepen East Jerusalem’s separation from the West Bank, areas won by Israel in war that the Palestinians want for their state.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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