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TMCNet:  AP International NewsBrief at 12:54 a.m. EST

[February 04, 2013]

AP International NewsBrief at 12:54 a.m. EST

(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Israel suggests responsibility for Syria airstrikeMUNICH (AP) _ Israel's defense minister strongly signaled Sunday that his country was behind an airstrike in Syria last week, telling a high profile security conference that Israeli threats to take pre-emptive action against its enemies are not empty. "We mean it," Ehud Barak declared. Israel has not officially confirmed its planes attacked a site near Damascus, targeting ground-to-air missiles apparently heading for Lebanon, but its intentions have been beyond dispute. During the 22 months of civil war in Syria, Israeli leaders have repeatedly expressed concern that high-end weapons could fall into the hands of enemy Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militants.



Kerry makes calls abroad in first weekend on jobWASHINGTON (AP) _ New Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Israeli and Palestinian leaders in phone calls this weekend, assuring them the Obama administration will continue to pursue a Mideast peace agreement while recognizing the individual concerns on both sides. Kerry told Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his and President Barack Obama's commitment to support Israel's security and to pursue a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Netanyahu updated Kerry on his work to form a new government. They also discussed Iran and Syria, and pledged to work together closely.

Iraq stock sale sign of investor confidenceBAGHDAD (AP) _ An Iraqi telecom company raised nearly $1.3 billion Sunday on Baghdad's small stock exchange in one of the region's biggest share offers in years _ a sign of investor confidence in the fledgling private sector despite violence that still plagues the country. In a reminder of Iraq's volatility, several suicide attackers on foot and in two explosives-laden cars assaulted a provincial police headquarters in northern Iraq, killing at least 15 people and wounding 90. Rescue workers led away dazed survivors, including veiled women climbing over debris, and pulled several mangled and scorched bodies from the rubble.

Taliban peace talks flounder as troops draw downKABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ The Afghan peace effort is floundering, fraught with mistrust and confusion among key players even though the hard-line Taliban militants show signs of softening and their reclusive, one-eyed leader made a surprise offer to share power in a post-war Afghanistan. The U.S. and its allies hope the peace process, which began nearly two years ago, will gain traction before most international forces withdraw from the country in fewer than 23 months. But although the Taliban appear more ready to talk than ever before, peace talks remain elusive because of infighting among a rising number of interlocutors _ all trying to get some kind of negotiations started.

Fatal gang rape shatters Indian family's dreamsNEW DELHI (AP) _ Her parents called her "bitiya," or little daughter. She was her family's biggest hope. In a country where women are routinely pushed into subservience, this 23-year-old who dreamed of becoming a doctor was going to lift them out of poverty. "Without her we are lost," said her father, rocking on the edge of a bed in the family's tiny basement apartment, hugging himself as if to hold in the grief. The sadness enveloped him as he talked of his daughter, who died after she was gang-raped in a moving bus in New Delhi in December, a case that galvanized public anger in India over sexual attacks and the inability of authorities to stop them.

US military expands its drug war in Latin AmericaThe crew members aboard the USS Underwood could see through their night goggles what was happening on the fleeing go-fast boat: Someone was dumping bales. When the Navy guided-missile frigate later dropped anchor in Panamanian waters on that sunny August morning, Ensign Clarissa Carpio, a 23-year-old from San Francisco, climbed into the inflatable dinghy with four unarmed sailors and two Coast Guard officers like herself, carrying light submachine guns. It was her first deployment, but Carpio was ready for combat.

Crime casts shadow over Philippines image makeoverMANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The Philippines are suffering a rash of urban violence just as President Benigno Aquino III is trying to shore up foreign investments and restore Filipinos' confidence in their government. The brazen evening robbery of a jewelry store in one of the world's largest malls, SM Megamall, shocked residents in Manila, the capital. So did another armed robbery in which thieves exchanged fire with security guards.

Stun gun used on armed man near Buckingham PalaceLONDON (AP) _ Police used a stun gun to arrest a man armed with knives outside Buckingham Palace on Sunday, as throngs of tourists gathered to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony there. Scotland Yard said the man, thought to be in his 50s, was spotted carrying two knives outside the central gate of the London tourist landmark. He did not threaten other people at the scene, but when challenged by police he acted aggressively.

21 killed in clash of Filipino extremists, rebelsMANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants clashed fiercely with a larger rebel group they had long coexisted with, leaving at least 21 combatants dead in the southern Philippines, police said Monday. A commander with the Moro National Liberation Front, which has an autonomy deal with the government, said his group battled Abu Sayyaf gunmen Sunday after the Abu Sayyaf refused to free several foreign hostages it has held in jungle lairs for months, including a Jordanian TV journalist and two European men. The militants did release two Filipino hostages who were found by police Saturday.

Iran positive but noncommittal about talks with USMUNICH (AP) _ Iran's foreign minister on Sunday welcomed the United States' willingness to hold direct talks with Tehran in the standoff over its nuclear program but didn't commit to accepting the offer _ insisting that Washington must show "fair and real" intentions to resolve the issue and complaining about "threatening rhetoric." Ali Akbar Salehi insisted that no Iranian "red line" is getting in the way of direct negotiations with Washington, but also pointed to deep mistrust between the two countries.

(c) 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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