- - Wednesday, August 29, 2012


BEIJING — Officials from Japan and North Korea held their first government-to-government talks in four years Wednesday amid hopes that new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will adopt a less confrontational approach to relations between his isolated, impoverished nation and the outside world.

The meetings are at the Japanese Embassy in China, the North’s closest ally and biggest aid source, which has been subtly pushing for economic reforms and a more cooperative tone.

The talks are described as preliminary discussions to pave the way for full-fledged talks in the future covering a broader agenda.


Country’s highest court upholds Tymoshenko verdict

KIEV — Ukraine’s highest court on Wednesday upheld the guilty verdict against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is in jail after her conviction on abuse of office charges.

Mrs. Tymoshenko was an architect of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution that promoted democracy and was a runner-up in the 2010 presidential election. She was sentenced to seven years in prison in October, when she was found guilty of exceeding her powers while negotiating a gas contract with Russia while she was prime minister.

Her supporters say the trial is a politically motivated attempt by her rival, President Viktor Yanukovich, to keep her out of October elections. The government denies the accusations.


Karzai moves to replace security chiefs

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai dismissed the national intelligence chief Wednesday, and lawmakers said he will submit nominees to replace the defense and interior ministers who were removed earlier this month by parliament.

Mr. Karzai is trying to shore up his shaken security team as his administration struggles to build an army and police force that can fight the Taliban as U.S. and other foreign forces begin to withdraw.

The shakeup also could set up a new showdown with the country’s parliament — which must approve the candidates — because his reported choice for defense minister is one of the men who had been ousted by lawmakers.


Former Mubarak ally charged with corruption

CAIRO — Prosecutors have charged one of deposed leader Hosni Mubarak’s most trusted men with corruption.

The state news agency MENA quoted a judicial official Wednesday as saying that Safwat el-Sherif, Mubarak’s minister of information for nearly two decades, illegally appropriated villas, lands and apartments originally owned by the state.

The official said Mr. Sherif also had received gifts worth millions of Egyptian pounds from chief editors in the state media in return for keeping them in their positions.

The charges are the latest allegation to emerge about Mubarak’s regime, whose reputation for corruption was one of the main drivers behind the uprising that forced him from power last year.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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