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US urged to be flexible at nuclear arms talks

SEOUL -- South Korea's top official on North Korean policy called yesterday for the United States to "exercise flexibility" during talks next week on Pyongyang nuclear weapons program. South Korea's unification minister, Jeong Se Hyun, said in an interview that results are likely only through an agreement that allows North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions while also "saving face." He underscored his nation's ongoing campaign to coax North Korea out of isolation and to forge common ground between Washington and Pyongyang ahead of the nuclear talks, which start Wednesday and are to include the United States, China, Russia and Japan, as well as North and South Korea. (Washington Post)


Officials, poll suggest UN peace plan may fail

NICOSIA -- Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash hinted that his people could reject the UN peace plan that he negotiated with his Greek Cypriot counterpart for a second day yesterday. An opinion poll indicated Greek Cypriots might also say "no." For many Cypriots, the initial optimism over the start of talks, seen as the best chance for reuniting the island in 30 years, is tempered with nervousness over concessions they will have to make to reach a settlement. Yesterday's negotiations focused on technical details such as the island's flag and national anthem, but the sides remained far apart on core issues such as the Turkish Army's presence in the north. (AP)


2 cats die of bird flu; WHO sees no threat

GENEVA -- The World Health Organization sought yesterday to calm fears that the deaths of two cats in Thailand from bird flu could signify an increased danger to humans. Thai scientists have reported traces of the H5N1 virus -- which has killed 22 people in Thailand and Vietnam and triggered the culling of millions of chickens -- in two dead cats that lived in a house near an infected farm. The discovery triggered concern the disease was spreading rapidly among species. (Reuters)


Nuclear scientist sold materials, probe finds

KUALA LUMPUR -- A Malaysian inquiry found that the father of Pakistan's nuclear program sold uranium-enrichment equipment to Iran for $3 million and signed lucrative contracts with Libya, as part of a thriving black market in nuclear arms, according to a police report released yesterday. The report -- based on interviews with one of the operation's purported middlemen, Buhar Syed Abu Tahir -- discloses details about alleged deals between Pakistan, Iran, and Libya. It lays out the extent of the black market, which appears to have included a company owned by the son of Malaysia's prime minister, as well as British and Swiss middlemen. (AP)


Security is heightened over troop deployment

TOKYO -- Japan tightened security at airports, nuclear plants, and government facilities yesterday, dispatching riot police to guard against possible terror attacks as the country dispatches troops on a humanitarian mission to Iraq. A National Police Agency official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that security had been heightened, but refused to say whether the government had new information about a possible terror strike. (AP)


World asked to mark genocide anniversary

KIGALI -- Rwandan officials have asked countries around the world to hold a minute's silence at noon on April 7 to mark the anniversary of the 1994 genocide. The tiny central African country was plunged into a frenzy of ethnic butchery that saw an average of 8,000 people killed each day in the months after a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down over Kigali on April 6, 1994. (Reuters)

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