Tajiks deported amid diplomatic row
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — Russia began deporting Tajik migrants on Tuesday, the first in a wave of expulsions in apparent retaliation for the jailing of a Russian pilot in the Central Asian nation, officials in Tajikistan said.
The spat threatens to imperil the livelihood of thousands of Tajik laborers and stir discontent in a country struggling to protect its border with Afghanistan.
The former Soviet republic’s economy relies heavily on the remittances provided by the many hundreds of thousands of Tajiks working in Russia.
Over the past year, Moscow has been attempting to strong-arm Tajikistan into permitting Russian border troops to resume patrols of the rugged 840-mile frontier with Afghanistan.
Tajik authorities have responded testily to such overtures, which they view as an attempt by the Kremlin to dilute their country’s sovereignty.
Russia, meanwhile, grumbles that Tajik troops are not up to stemming the huge flow of heroin streaming north from Afghanistan.
Ex-president stopped from leaving Philippines
MANILA — The Philippine government blocked former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband from leaving the country on Tuesday and said it will appeal a Supreme Court order that gave permission for them to travel abroad for medical treatment of a bone disorder caused by hypoparathyroidism.
Accompanied by her husband and son, Mrs. Arroyo arrived at the Manila airport in an ambulance and was wheeled into a departure hall wearing a face mask and a neck brace.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the former first couple, being investigated for alleged corruption and electoral cheating, would be treated with dignity but “we will be firm in our decision not to allow them to leave the country.”
Authorities arrest drug cartel leader
MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials said they have arrested a drug dealer who controlled smuggling routes and ran a campaign of murder and intimidation for the Knights Templar drug cartel.
The Defense Department said Juan Gabriel Orozco Favela was in charge of smuggling drugs through the Michoacan state capital of Morelia for the quasi-religious gang, which is known as a major trafficker of methamphetamine.
Officials said Mr. Orozco Favela was responsible for the deaths of 21 people who were tortured and hanged or drowned and dumped around the outskirts of Morelia in June.
The military said Mr. Orozco Favela was arrested Sunday, the day of statewide elections in Michoacan.
India, Pakistan agree to normalize trade ties
NEW DELHI — India and Pakistan agreed Tuesday to normalize two-way trade, signifying a gradual thaw in relations between the two bitter rivals.
At the end of two days of bilateral trade talks, Pakistan agreed to give its neighbor by early next year a small list of items that India cannot trade in with Pakistan.
Both sides hope to do away with the list by the end of 2012, freeing up all trade between the two countries, Indian Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters.
“The move to full normalization of trade relations shall be sequenced,” the two nations said in a joint statement at the end of the talks.
Two weeks ago, Pakistan’s Cabinet approved a decision to give India most-favored-nation status. India gave Pakistan the status in 1996 and since had pressed Islamabad to reciprocate.
Group proceeding with homegrown peace prize
BEIJING — The sponsors of a would-be Chinese alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize said Tuesday that they would defy a government order not to award this year’s prize, which is to be given to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Qiao Damo, head of the China International Peace Research Center, said the group plans to proceed with a Dec. 9 ceremony to award the Confucius Peace Prize.
That’s despite what Mr. Qiao said were orders from the Culture Ministry to cancel the ceremony because permission wasn’t given to publicize the award and the group had illicitly changed its name.
The ministry said in September that it had ordered the prize canceled, but did not immediately respond to further requests for comment Tuesday.
Mr. Qiao’s group hastily launched the prize last year in an apparent attempt to counter the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, which went to jailed Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for co-authoring an appeal for political reform.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports