In the World

Posted: May 09, 2010

Path is cleared for Mideast talks

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Formal Palestinian approval of indirect talks with Israel cleared the way Saturday for President Obama's first sustained on-the-ground attempt to bring peace to the Middle East.

White House envoy George Mitchell will try in four months of shuttle diplomacy to rebuild trust between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and narrow some of their vast differences, in hopes of nudging them toward direct negotiations.

However, expectations are low, and obstacles seem insurmountable. The Israelis and Palestinians remain far apart on what a Palestinian state should look like.

Negotiations are being overshadowed by Israel's refusal to halt settlement construction on war-won land, and by the rule of the Islamic militant Hamas in the Gaza Strip, one of the territories that would one day be part of a Palestinian state. - AP

Russia turns over files on massacre

MOSCOW - Russian President Dmitry A. Medvedev on Saturday turned over scores of volumes from an investigation into the Katyn massacre to Poland's government, a move underlining Moscow's new willingness to repair long-troubled relations with Warsaw.

The World War II massacre of 20,000 Polish officers and other prominent citizens by Soviet secret police has been an issue that soured relations between the countries for decades. After decades of blaming the 1940 massacre on invading Nazi troops, the Soviet Union in 1990 acknowledged responsibility.

Medvedev indicated there was information to come. "Work on the criminal case, including the declassifying of material, will be continued by my order," Medvedev was quoted as saying by the state news agency RIA Novosti. - AP

Protesters target gay pride parade

VILNIUS, Lithuania - Opponents of Lithuania's first gay pride parade threw smoke bombs and tried to break through a barrier Saturday, but were stopped by police firing tear gas. Later, protesters threw rocks and street signs at security forces, and two Lithuanian lawmakers were detained after trying to climb the barrier.

About 400 people took part in the two-hour march - dubbed "For Equality" - in a sealed-off area in downtown Vilnius. Holding large rainbow flags and dancing to music blaring from loudspeakers, they walked along a road near the city's Neris River.

"We are here because we believe . . . in a just society. Labels are for filing, for clothing, not for people. And we are here today to remove labels from people," said Birgitta Ohlsson, Sweden's minister for European Union affairs. - AP

Elsewhere:

A methane explosion tore through Russia's largest underground coal mine Saturday, killing eight workers and injuring 24. A second blast early Sunday forced authorities to suspend rescue efforts when contact with 20 rescuers was lost, ITAR-Tass reported. Of the 312 miners who were below ground at the time of the blast, 66 remained about four hours later.

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