- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NORTHERN IRELAND

Sectarian leaders battle rebel IRA

BELFAST | The Catholic and Protestant leaders of Northern Ireland’s coalition government jointly pledged to crush Irish Republican Army dissidents in an exceptional show of unity Tuesday after the third killing in two days claimed by an IRA splinter group.

The Continuity IRA said in a message to Belfast media that it carried out the fatal shooting of a policeman Monday night in a religiously divided town southwest of Belfast - 48 hours after the killing of two British soldiers claimed by the Real IRA. Police said they arrested two suspects - a 37-year-old and a 17-year-old - on suspicion of involvement in that slaying.

The killings appeared designed to undermine the unity government as its leaders prepared to leave for a high-profile U.S. tour capped by their first meeting with President Obama at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.



The leaders, First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, postponed that trip for the second time and appeared shoulder to shoulder at a press conference alongside Northern Ireland’s police commander, Chief Constable Hugh Orde.

ZIMBABWE

Mugabe mourns Tsvangirai’s wife

HARARE | President Robert Mugabe joined thousands of Zimbabweans mourning the wife of the prime minister Tuesday, wishing his rival-turned-coalition partner strength for the nation-building work ahead.

Mr. Mugabe addressed about 1,000 government and political leaders and diplomats at the Harare Methodist church, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his children.

The body of Susan Tsvangirai, who was killed in a car crash Friday, rested in a closed, flower-draped coffin. Mr. Tsvangirai, who was injured in the crash, told mourners there was “no foul play” in the crash.

NATO

Biden presses allies on Afghan situation

BRUSSELS | Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. urged NATO members Tuesday to jointly confront al Qaeda and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, where he said instability threatens all of the alliance’s members equally.

Mr. Biden told the allies the United States was open to talks with Taliban moderates as part of a new approach, echoing comments made by President Obama over the weekend.

Mr. Biden spent three hours with the ambassadors of the 26 member nations of NATO, seeking their input as part of a strategic review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan that Mr. Obama promised after taking office in January. The review will be completed before an April 3-4 meeting of NATO leaders in France and could be presented at a special conference on Afghanistan, EU officials said.

SRI LANKA

Suicide blast kills at least 14

COLOMBO | A rebel suicide bomber attacked a procession of Muslims celebrating a religious holiday Tuesday in southern Sri Lanka, killing 14 people and critically wounding a government minister.

Officials blamed the Tamil Tigers for the blast, saying the rebels had grown desperate in the face of a relentless government offensive that has brought them to the brink of defeat after more than a quarter century of civil war.

Meanwhile, heavy artillery attacks in the war zone Tuesday killed at least 49 ethnic Tamil civilians and wounded hundreds of others, the top government health official in the war zone said.

DENMARK

Climate scientists fear flooding

COPENHAGEN | Top climate scientists warned Tuesday that sea levels could rise twice as much as previously projected as they presented the latest research on global warming.

A 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted a sea level rise of 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century.

But scientists meeting in Copenhagen dismissed those estimates as too conservative, saying new data suggests that sea level rise could exceed 39 inches.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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