German conservatives fail to win over Greens

Saturday, September 24, 2005

BERLIN -- Opposition leader Angela Merkel failed Friday to persuade the Green party to join talks on forming a coalition, closing another avenue for Germany to escape its postelection stalemate. The center-right opposition edged Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats in the Sept. 18 parliamentary vote but fell short of a majority for its program of accelerated economic reforms and closer ties with Washington. Merkel and Schroeder held brief initial talks Thursday, but they failed to resolve their competing claims to the chancellorship, sustaining speculation that both may have to step down or that the country might have to vote again. The deadlock means Germany could spend weeks without leadership at a time when it needs to fire up its ailing economy.

Five al-Qaida suspects detained after gunfight

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Police in the breakaway republic of Somaliland raided houses in the capital where al-Qaida militants were believed holed up Friday and captured four suspects after a shootout, officials said. A fifth suspect was arrested 20 miles away. Three police officers and one suspect were wounded in the overnight clashes at the houses in Somaliland's capital of Hargeisa. Police chief Mohamed Ige Ilmi said the suspects were trained in Afghanistan and possessed assault rifles, anti-tank mines and a large cache of ammunition. They are accused of planning to kill senior government officials.

Sinn Fein says IRA near full disarmament

DUBLIN, Ireland -- The outlawed Irish Republican Army is ready to dispose of its stockpiled arms in a long-sought peace move, possibly within the next week, Sinn Fein and Irish government leaders said Friday after their first meeting in eight months. On July 28 the IRA announced it had renounced violence for political purposes and would disarm fully.

-- From wire reports

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