- - Sunday, October 23, 2011


Incumbent president wins historic landslide victory

BUENOS AIRES — Argentine President Cristina Fernandez was re-elected in a landslide Sunday, winning with the widest victory margin in the country’s democratic history.

Mrs. Fernandez had 53 percent of the votes after 24 percent of polling stations had been tallied nationwide, while her nearest challenger got just 17 percent.

Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo predicted the president’s vote share would rise, saying very few of the ballots in her party’s stronghold of Buenos Aires province, the country’s largest, had been counted.

Thousands of the populist leader’s supporters crowded into the capital’s historic Plaza de Mayo in a jubilant, flag-waving celebration. But her victory was personally bittersweet — the first without her husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, who died of a heart attack last Oct. 27.


Syrian forces kill 2; provincial heads replaced

BEIRUT — Syrian security forces flooded on Sunday into villages where residents have been on strike and fatally shot two people in a central region of the country, activists said, as embattled President Bashar Assad replaced the governors of two provinces that have been centers of the uprising against his regime.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces shot dead two people early in the day in the village of Qalaat al-Madeeq in the central province of Hama.

Meanwhile, the regime dispatched reinforcements to pacify several villages in the south of the country whose residents have been on strike since Thursday, said the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), another activist network.


U.S.-N. Korea talks gear up in Geneva

GENEVA — U.S. diplomats arrived in Geneva on Sunday for talks with North Korean officials about Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, the second direct encounter between the two sides in less than three months.

American officials say the “exploratory” meeting is aimed at keeping North Korea engaged in discussions but remains a step short of formal negotiations.

The U.S. wants North Korea to adhere to a broken 2005 agreement requiring verifiable denuclearization in exchange for better relations with its Asian neighbors, particularly South Korea and Japan.

The talks also could touch upon long-standing issues such as food aid to the chronically impoverished North, reuniting separated families on the Korean Peninsula, and recovering the remains of troops missing in action.


Panetta lauds China on Taiwan arms sale

NUSA DUA — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Sunday praised China for what he said was a restrained response to an arms sale to Taiwan, saying he hoped for improved military cooperation with Beijing.

“I guess I would commend them for the way that they’ve handled the news of that sale to Taiwan,” Mr. Panetta told reporters in Indonesia, on the first stop of an Asian tour.

“I think we’d given the Chinese a heads-up as to what was going to take place, and in the end I think they handled it in a professional and diplomatic way and we appreciate that,” Mr. Panetta said in rare praise for Beijing.

China repeatedly had condemned a $5.85 billion U.S. deal to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets. After the deal in September Beijing warned it would damage military ties with Washington and impact military exchanges.

“My hope is to improve our military to military relationship with the Chinese,” Mr. Panetta said.

In his first trip to the region since taking the helm in July at the Pentagon, Mr. Panetta, the former CIA director, began his tour in Indonesia before heading to Japan on Monday and South Korea on Wednesday.


Afghan ‘beside’ Pakistan if U.S. ever attacks

KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said if the United States and Pakistan ever went to war, his country would back Islamabad, drawing a sharp rebuke Sunday from Afghan lawmakers who claimed the country’s top officials were adopting hypocritical positions.

The scenario is exceedingly unlikely and appears to be less a serious statement of policy than an Afghan overture to Pakistan, just days after Mr. Karzai and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Islamabad must do more to crack down on militants using its territory as a staging ground for attacks on Afghanistan.

“If fighting starts between Pakistan and the U.S., we are beside Pakistan,” Mr. Karzai said is an interview with private Pakistani television station GEO that aired Saturday. “If Pakistan is attacked and the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you.”

He said that Kabul would not allow any nation, including the U.S., to dictate its policies.

Both Washington and Kabul repeatedly have said Pakistan is providing sanctuary to militant groups launching attacks in Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide