Palestinian, Israeli leaders vow jump start to peace talks

Sealing their pledge with an awkward handshake, Israeli and Palestinian leaders resolved yesterday to immediately restart moribund peace talks. President Bush said he will devote himself to ending the six-decade conflict in the 14 months he has left in office.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, troubled leaders with fragile mandates for peace, told international backers and skeptical Arab neighbors that they are ready for hard bargaining toward an independent Palestinian homeland, a deal that has long eluded Mideast leaders and American presidents.


Musharraf to quit as chief of Pakistan’s army

Pervez Musharraf will retire as chief of Pakistan’s army at midweek, his aides announced Monday as the embattled leader grappled with a political scene roiled by the return of an exiled former prime minister in time for crucial January elections.

Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted by the 1999 coup that put Musharraf in power, quickly registered Monday to run in the election although he didn’t drop his call for a boycott that could undermine the ballot’s legitimacy.

Sharif appealed for support from Pakistanis unhappy with Musharraf’s U.S. alliance, portraying himself as a politician who kept himself at arms length from Washington in contrast to the U.S.-friendly stance of the president and the other key opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto.


Iran’s military claims it has new weapon

Iran’s military said Tuesday it has manufactured a new missile with a range of 1,200 miles capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases across the Mideast, the official news agency IRNA reported.

The defense minister, Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, did not say whether Iran had test fired the Ashoura or had plans to do so, according to the IRNA report. The name means “the tenth day” in Farsi, a sacred reference among Shiite Muslims to the martyrdom of Islam’s third imam.

Iran already had reported improvements in a previous missile that would give it the same range as the Ashoura, and Najjar did not elaborate about whether there are any differences between the two weapons.


Youth riots continue in French suburbs

Youths rampaged for a third night in the tough suburbs north of Paris and violence spread to a southern city late Tuesday as police struggled to contain rioters who have burned cars and buildings and – in an ominous turn – shot at officers.

A senior police union official warned that “urban guerrillas” had joined the unrest, saying the violence was worse than during three weeks of rioting that raged around French cities in 2005, when firearms were rarely used.

Bands of young people set more cars on fire in and around Villiers-le-Bel, the Paris suburb where the latest trouble first erupted, and 22 youths were taken into custody, the regional government said.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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