World briefs 11/2/03

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Iraq's neighbors discuss war's impact on region

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Iraq's neighbors opened a conference Saturday on the impact of the U.S.-led war that ousted Saddam Hussein, but Baghdad's interim government -- insulted by a last-minute invitation -- snubbed the talks and vowed to reject any decisions made there.

Iraqi officials had planned to use the forum to demand an end to cross-border infiltration by foreign fighters.

Attending the meeting were foreign ministers of Syria, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, plus politically influential Egypt, the largest Arab country. They started out by discussing current Middle East issues, particularly ways to restore security and stability in Iraq and the region, Syria's official news agency, SANA, said.

Malaysia's new leader appeals for support

PENANG, Malaysia -- In his first speech as Malaysia's new prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi vowed Saturday to continue his predecessor's policies and urged cheering supporters to back him as he takes over after Mahathir Mohamad's 22-year reign.

The nationally televised speech to more 5,000 people in his native state of Penang consisted mainly of thanking the audience, many of them members of his own party.

Abdullah promised to work for greater racial unity in Malaysia, and asked supporters to push hard to give the ruling coalition a big win in national elections due by the end of 2004.

Killings highlight power of Brazilian drug gangs

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- The heavily armed police patrolling the narrow alleys of the Morro de Dende shantytown stand out like an occupying army in their own city.

Some 500 police have been occupying the favela, as the shantytowns are known, since Wednesday to try to keep the peace and hunt down gang members responsible for the deaths of at least 12 people the day before.

The killings and subsequent police operation serve to highlight the growing power of drug gangs who control the city's favelas as if they were a state within a state.

On Tuesday night, a power struggle left 12 people dead in a bloody shoot out.

Rio de Janeiro has one of the world's highest murder rates with around 50 homicides per 100,000 residents; in the favela the murder rate is triple that.

N. Korea: U.S. military made 200 spy flights

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea accused the U.S. military on Saturday of conducting at least 200 spy flights against the communist state in October.

North Korea said such maneuvers by the U.S. military questioned Washington's public stance that it seeks a peaceful solution to a standoff over the North's suspected development of nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang's official news agency KCNA said U-2, RC-135 and other reconnaissance planes of the U.S. military flew "day and night" near the border between the two Koreas to "spy on strategic targets."

"This fact clearly indicates what they really seek in talking about 'peaceful solution' to the nuclear issue and 'written assurances of nonaggression,"' KCNA said.

-- From wire reports

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