February 14, 2014
SOUTH KOREA
Koreas to go ahead with reunions

North and South Korea said Friday that they will go ahead with planned reunions for families separated since the Korean War, an agreement that comes in spite of Pyongyang’s protests over “hostile” South Korea-U.S. military drills.

After a high-level meeting at a truce village along the demilitarized border, the North and South issued a rare joint statement in which they committed to the reunions and pledged to “refrain from slandering each other.”

Although the agreement had little additional substance, it marks a step toward civility after a particularly testy year of nuclear threats. It also suggests a softening of the North’s stance. Two days earlier, North Korea had demanded that South Korea delay the drills, which are scheduled to begin Feb. 24, coinciding with the Feb. 20-25 reunions.

South Korean government officials described the reunions, which haven’t been held since October 2010, as an urgent humanitarian program, pairing up long-lost relatives who haven’t seen one another in six decades. Most of those involved in the reunions are in their 70s and 80s.

— Chico Harlan

UGANDA
President Museveni to sign anti-gay bill

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni plans to sign a bill into law that prescribes life imprisonment for “aggravated” homosexual acts, officials said Friday.

Museveni announced his decision to governing party lawmakers, said spokesman Ofwono Opondo. In Twitter posts Friday, Opondo said the legislators, who are holding a retreat chaired by Museveni, “welcomed the development as a measure to protect Ugandans from social deviants.”

Evelyn Anite, a spokeswoman for the governing party, said Museveni will sign the bill after he reads a report that he has received from Ugandan “medical experts” saying “homosexuality is not genetic but a social behavior.”

— Associated Press

SWITZERLAND
Progress seen in bid to stop Congo drilling

An environmental organization said Friday that it was making progress in its bid to block a proposal to drill for oil in a national park in Africa where 200 gorillas live.

Switzerland-based WWF said the British government was backing some of the concerns raised by the organization over the human rights and environmental record of London-based SOCO International in Congo’s Virunga National Park.

The park, a World Heritage site, is listed by UNESCO as being “in danger.” The park is also home to the endangered mountain gorillas.

According to WWF, SOCO has “breached the most respected global corporate social responsibility standards in its pursuit of oil” and has intimidated and unlawfully detained activists and withheld information about the environmental and social risks of its activities.

SOCO, which denies the allegations, said it is looking for a facilitated mediation between itself and WWF that brings agreement.

— Associated Press

Bahrain police targeted in blasts: Explosions targeted police in Bahrain on Friday as ­clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters on the third anniversary of the Persian Gulf nation’s uprising left dozens wounded, authorities and activists said. Efforts to restart on-and-off reconciliation talks between the Shiite-dominated opposition and the Sunni monarchy and its allies have so far failed to bring an end to simmering unrest in the country. Protesters and government forces have reported injuries.

At least 15 reported trapped in Colombia mine collapse: Officials say at least 15 people are trapped in a gold mine collapse in southwestern Colombia. Colombian Red Cross official Marinson Buitrago said about 30 people were hurt in the Friday morning collapse in Narino state, which he said was caused by rains.

— Associated Press

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