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Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas says he asked U.S. to 'impose' peace solution

Sunday, April 25, 2010; A15

MIDDLE EAST

Abbas says he asked U.S. to 'impose' solution

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Saturday for a resumption of peace negotiations with Israel and said he had asked the United States more than once to unilaterally "impose" a solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I call upon the American administration, especially President Obama, to resume peaceful negotiations and to stop the settlements and to launch serious negotiations for establishing the Palestinian state," Abbas told leaders of his Fatah party in a speech.

"We asked them more than one time to impose the solution," Abbas said of U.S. officials, voicing frustration over the absence of progress toward a peace settlement.

Abbas spoke a day after meeting with Obama's Middle East envoy, George J. Mitchell, in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority's power in the West Bank. Mitchell is on his first trip to the region since a spat over Israeli construction in East Jerusalem marred a visit here last month by Vice President Biden. Mitchell also met Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Israel wants a U.S.-led mediation in the conflict but would reject any effort by the United States or anyone else to dictate the terms of a final deal.

In recent days, Israeli news media have reported that Netanyahu was open to a Palestinian state with provisional borders, an idea Abbas dismissed in his speech Saturday.

-- Janine Zacharia and Sufian Taha

PAKISTAN

Insurgent attacks, military raids kill 29

A suicide car bomber targeted a prison van and gunmen torched six NATO oil tankers in separate strikes Saturday that killed four Pakistani police officers and wounded 10, authorities said.

The army, meanwhile, kept up pressure on the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal belt, killing 20 suspected fighters in Orakzai, while apparent U.S. missiles killed five alleged insurgents in the Machi Khel area of nearby North Waziristan, officials said.

The van attack occurred in Lower Dir district, near the northwest's Swat Valley. The oil tankers were hit in Chakwal district, in a rare but possibly unprecedented such assault in the eastern province of Punjab.

-- Associated Press

EUROPE

Russia, Austria sign gas pipeline deal

Russia and Austria signed a deal Saturday that will expand Moscow's position of strength in supplying Europe with natural gas by allowing it to extend a planned pipeline farther into the European Union.

Before the signing ceremony, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin praised his country's South Stream project in comments dismissive of the competing E.U.-endorsed Nabucco pipeline.

Both South Stream and Nabucco bypass Ukraine -- and are, thereby, safe from the kind of price wars between Moscow and Kiev that have left Europe short of gas during recent winters.

Both projects remain years from realization, but South Stream appears to have the edge.

-- Associated Press

China replaces party boss in restive region: China replaced the unpopular Communist Party leader for the restive, far western region of Xinjiang, months after riots there between the minority Uighurs and the majority Han Chinese killed nearly 200 people. Wang Lequan, 65, had served as party boss in Xinjiang since 1995.

Protesters turn out in support of Spanish judge: Tens of thousands of people marched through Madrid and other Spanish cities in a boisterous show of support for Judge Baltasar Garzón, indicted on charges of abusing his authority by investigating atrocities committed during Spain's civil war and the early years of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship.

Yemeni cleric battles move to outlaw child brides: Yemen's most influential Islamic cleric vowed to gather a million signatures to protest a draft law banning child brides. Sheik Adbul-Majid al-Zindani said the measure "threatens our culture and society and spreads immorality."

Ex-Nazi cult leader dies in Chile: Former Nazi Paul Schaefer, who founded a secretive German cult in Southern Chile in the 1960s and was later convicted of sexually abusing children, died of heart failure at age 89 in a prison hospital in Santiago.

-- From news services

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