PAKISTAN
Parliament rejects calls for Sharif to quit

Pakistan’s parliament on Thursday rejected calls for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation as unconstitutional amid protests just outside the national assembly in the capital.

The resolution, backed by nearly every opposition party, marked a defeat for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahirul Qadri, who have led week-long protests against Sharif over alleged election fraud.

The U.S. Embassy, appearing to support the assembly, said, “We strongly oppose any efforts to impose extra-constitutional change.” It also urged “peaceful dialogue” to resolve the differences.

After a request from the country’s powerful military, the government convened talks with representatives of Khan and Qadri early Thursday. Khan, however, pulled out of the talks, citing the appointment of a new police chief in Islamabad that he said was a precursor to a crackdown on the protests.

— Associated Press

IRAN
Lift sanctions for help in Iraq, official says

Iran is ready to help tackle Islamic State militants in Iraq but first wants progress in talks with world powers over its nuclear program, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

France, one of the six nations in nuclear talks with Tehran, said Wednesday that it wanted Arab states, Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to coordinate a comprehensive response against the Islamic State.

“If we agree to do something in Iraq, the other side in the negotiations will need to do something in return,” Zarif said Wednesday in remarks carried by the Islamic Republic News Agency. “All the sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear activities should be lifted in return for its help in Iraq.”

Iran has offered to cooperate with the United States on stabilizing Iraq, but Washington has responded cautiously.

— Reuters

Turkey’s Davutoglu nominated to be premier: Turkish president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan named Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as his future prime minister and said a power struggle with a U.S.-based cleric, a Kurdish peace process and a new constitution would be his top priorities. Erdogan has indicated that he plans to maintain tight control of the government and wants to transform Turkey’s largely ceremonial presidency.

Tunisia, Egypt cancel Libya flights: Tunisia and Egypt canceled flights to neighboring Libya citing security concerns. Libyan militias are battling in Tripoli, the capital, and the eastern city of Benghazi, where a renegade general has launched airstrikes on Islamist militia barracks. The fighting has largely destroyed the international airport in Tripoli, which has been closed for two months, and shut down Benghazi’s Benina airport.

India blocks release of film on Indira Gandhi’s killing: The Indian government has blocked the release of a Punjabi-language film on the 1984 assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The film, accused of glorifying the killers, who belonged to the Sikh minority religion, sparked protests and uproar in India. In barring the release, authorities cited fears that the film could trigger religious violence.

Syrian troops reportedly kill dozens of jihadists: Activists and Syria’s state media are reporting that dozens of Islamist extremists have been killed in fighting around a northern military base. The state news agency quoted an unnamed military official as saying that “large numbers of terrorists” were killed near the Tabqa air base in Raqqah province. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 11 Islamist fighters — possibly as many as “tens” — were killed.

Flooding in Nepal kills U.S. tourist, capsizes boat: An American tourist died trying to cross a flooded river in Nepal, and two people were missing from a crowded boat that capsized on another river swollen by monsoon rains in the country. The body of Joseph Edward Wheeler, an 82-year-old Virginia resident, was found hours after he was swept down the Paruwa River, police said. Meanwhile, authorities said all but two of the people on the boat that capsized crossing the Bagmati River were pulled out.

7 stabbed in south China, reports say: At least seven people were stabbed in an apparently random attack in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, state media reported. There was no word on a motive for the attack, although the news Web site Sina quoted witnesses as saying that the man appeared to be drunk.

— From news services