- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2011

POLAND

Premier begins building new government after win

WARSAW | Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk turned his attention to building a new government Monday after initial election results showed that his centrist, pro-European coalition government maintained the majority in parliament.

Mr. Tusk’s victory represents the first time in Poland’s post-communist history that a ruling party has won a second consecutive term - a sign of deepening stability in this ex-communist nation of 38 million.

UNITED NATIONS

Food prices likely to remain volatile, high

ROME | Prices for rice, wheat and other key foods are expected to remain volatile and possibly increase, and poor farmers and consumers particularly in Africa will be hurt most, the U.N. food agencies said Monday.

In an annual report on the state of food insecurity around the world, the U.N.’s three food agencies urged governments to make good on pledges to share information about farm forecasts and food stock levels. They seek to avoid the price swings that resulted in food riots from 2006 to 2008 and an 8 percent increase in the number of undernourished people in Africa.

They also urged greater long-term investment in the agriculture sectors of poor countries so farmers can bolster production to meet increasing demand and cope better when food crises hit.

Failure to do so will result in continued price fluctuations, which makes poor farmers and consumers in food-importing countries at ever greater risk for poverty in the short and long terms, the report said.

MYANMAR

Senior U.S. diplomat sees change afoot in Myanmar

BANGKOK | A senior U.S. diplomat said Monday that Washington will respond with reciprocal measures to moves by Myanmar’s military-backed government to become freer and more democratic.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell said elections that brought a civilian government to power in March were flawed and the United States still has many concerns about issues in Myanmar.

“But it is also undeniably the case that there are dramatic developments under way,” he said.

Mr. Campbell, speaking at a lecture in the Thai capital, cited a “very consequential dialogue” between new President Thein Sein and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as a major positive development.

In public speeches, Thein Sein also has appeared conciliatory about easing limits on freedom of speech and holding talks with ethnic rebels.

The U.S. has long imposed political and economic sanctions on Myanmar over its former military junta’s failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government and its poor human rights record.

IRAN

EU expands sanctions against Iran

LUXEMBOURG | The European Union has expanded sanctions against Iran because of continued human rights abuses.

A meeting of EU foreign ministers added 29 officials linked to the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the list of people facing a visa ban and asset freeze.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday the measures aim to increase pressure on Iran to improve “its appalling human rights record.”

VENEZUELA

Hugo Chavez to return to Cuba for medical tests

CARACAS | Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Monday he will return to Cuba next week to undergo a series of medical tests to evaluate his cancer treatment.

“I’ll be in Cuba next week because they have to conduct very rigorous examinations that are possible thanks to Cuban technology,” said Mr. Chavez, speaking during a brief telephone interview broadcast on state television.

Mr. Chavez said he is undergoing constant treatment, exercising and meeting with doctors as part of his efforts to totally recuperate. He said he even sunbathes under the Caribbean sun.

The president finished four rounds of chemotherapy treatment in Cuba last month and he said he is “under constant observation of my doctors” while attending to day-to-day government tasks.

AFGHANISTAN

U.N.: Detainees tortured in Afghanistan

KABUL | Suspected Taliban fighters have been subjected to beatings, electric shocks and other forms of torture in some Afghan-run detention centers but the abuse was not the result of government policy, the United Nations said Monday.

The 74-page U.N. report found that detainees in 47 facilities in 24 provinces run by the Afghan National Police and the Directorate of Security suffered interrogation techniques that constituted torture under both international and Afghan law.

The NATO-led international military coalition announced last month that it had stopped transferring detainees to 16 of the facilities. NATO was taking action to help fix the problem before resuming the transfers, the report said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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