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Deadline missed to declare nuke programs

By Times Wires
Published January 1, 2008


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North Korea

North Korea failed to meet a year-end deadline to declare all its nuclear programs under an aid-for-disarmament deal, prompting reactions of disappointment Monday from South Korea, the United States and Japan. The three countries, along with China and Russia, have been pushing North Korea to abandon its nuclear programs in a series of negotiations that began in 2003 and finally gained momentum in 2007. Washington and Seoul have said they believe the overall disarmament process, though falling behind schedule, is still on track. The reasons for the delay in declaring the programs appear related to the country's suspected uranium enrichment program and differences with Washington over how much plutonium it has produced. North Korean state media made no mention of the missed deadline, but the North renewed its call for Washington to scrap what it calls "hostile" policies toward the communist regime.

Sudan

Joint force moves into Darfur region

A joint African-United Nations force took over peacekeeping duties in Sudan's Darfur region on Monday, a long-awaited change that is intended to be the strongest effort yet to solve the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The 41/2-year conflict has killed more than 200,000 people and driven 2.5-million from their homes. The force - at 9,000 soldiers and police officers - is only a little larger than the beleaguered and ineffectual African Union peacekeeping mission it replaces. Even in the best-case scenario, it will take months to build up to its planned strength of 26,000.

Currency

New year, new money

European Union newcomers Cyprus and Malta adopt the euro today, bringing to fifteen the number of countries using the currency with increasing clout over the slumping U.S. dollar. The Mediterranean islands, both former British colonies, scrapped the Cyprus pound and Maltese lira at midnight.

Venezuela is launching a new currency with the new year, lopping off three zeros from denominations in a bid to simplify finances and boost confidence in a money that has been losing value due to high inflation. President Hugo Chavez's government says the new currency - dubbed the "strong bolivar" - will make daily transactions easier and cure some accounting headaches.

Gaza Strip

At least 4 killed in Palestinian clashes

Deadly clashes erupted Monday between rival factions for the first time in more than a month, despite a conciliatory speech toward Hamas by Fatah's leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. At least four Palestinians were killed, and medics said at least 60 were injured. The sudden spike in Palestinian tensions came just a week before a planned visit to the Mideast by President Bush, who will try to prod Israel and the Palestinians closer to peace.

Elsewhere

Slovenia: The tiny nation becomes the first of 12 newcomers to take over the rotating presidency of the European Union today. Slovenia gained independence from the ruins of the former Yugoslavia 16 years ago.

Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez said Monday that he will grant amnesty to people convicted of a failed 2002 coup that briefly drove him from power.

Times wires

[Last modified December 31, 2007, 22:47:16]


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