Sudan’s president backs negotiations

The president of Sudan said during a visit to former enemy territory Monday that 20 years of war with South Sudan taught the people of his country that negotiations are the only way forward for the region.

Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said he feared that after South Sudan was allowed to hold a vote to break away from Sudan in 2011, the outbreak of violence in the world’s newest country could mean “that our huge sacrifice did not bear fruit.”

“We have come to see what we can do to stop this war, knowing all too well that armed conflict would never resolve a problem and also knowing that any problem no matter how complicated can be solved at the negotiation table,” Bashir said in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

Talks in Ethiopia between representatives of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar have gotten off to a slow start. Officials said late Monday that the two sides have agreed on rules for the talks and that they will resume Tuesday.

South Sudan has seen three weeks of violence that Kiir says began as a coup attempt Dec. 15, though Machar’s side denies the allegation. The fighting began as a political dispute but has since taken on ethnic dimensions, with tribes attacking each other.

The warfare has forced an estimated 200,000 people to flee their homes in search of safety. The United Nations has said more than 1,000 people have died, a number that is believed to be a low estimate. Forces loyal to Machar have been in control of two key state capitals.

— Associated Press

Winds, rain batter southwestern coast

Waves up to 27 feet high slammed into Britain’s southwestern coast on Monday, as lashing winds and heavy rain battered parts of the country and coastal residents braced for another round of flooding.

The monster waves were recorded at Land’s End, the southwestern tip of Britain. In Aberystwyth in Wales, seafront homes, businesses and student residence halls were evacuated as high tides hit the Welsh coast.

The Met Office, Britain’s weather forecasting body, warned of wind gusts up to 70 mph and exceptionally large waves along the coasts of Wales, southwest England and Northern Ireland. It said the storm is loosely connected to the weather system that caused the U.S storm that dumped large amounts of snow in the Northeast and delayed thousands of flights.

At least seven people have died in a wave of stormy weather that has battered Britain since December.

— Associated Press

Merkel breaks pelvis in skiing accident: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has broken her pelvis in a cross-country skiing accident, forcing her to call off some foreign visits and official appointments just when she needs to deal with a fractious new coalition government. Merkel, 59, is using crutches after her accident in Switzerland over the Christmas holidays and will have to take it easy for the next three weeks, her spokesman said Monday.

Local officials can ban French comic’s shows, minister says: France’s interior minister said Monday that local officials have the right to ban shows on a national tour of a comic whose performances are considered anti-Semitic. The unusual move by Interior Minister Manuel Valls targets Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, who has performed for decades but is now especially known for popularizing a hand gesture that’s been used by sports stars such as soccer player Nicolas Anelka. Valls has criticized the “quenelle” gesture as an “inverted Nazi salute.” Valls said racial and anti-Semitic remarks in Dieudonné’s show are legal infractions and “no longer belong to the artistic and creative dimension.”

Pontiff offers a message to estranged Catholics: Pope Francis offered another gesture to Catholics who are estranged from the church, saying Monday that he respects them but that God is waiting for them. Francis made the comments after he celebrated Epiphany, a major Catholic feast day that recalls the visit to the infant Jesus by the three kings.

— From news services