Tougher data rules sought by Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Sunday for tougher European and global rules on data protection amid fallout from recent revelations about U.S. surveillance programs.

Merkel pledged that Germany will take a “very strict position” in ongoing talks on data rules for the European Union. Germany will push for those rules to oblige companies such as Google and Facebook to tell European countries whom they share data with, she told ARD television.

The German leader also suggested that a protocol on data protection could be added to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a U.N. accord that dates to 1966.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich met in Washington on Friday with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Vice President Biden. He declared himself satisfied with the meetings and stressed the need to prevent attacks, saying afterward that a U.S. surveillance program called PRISM searches in a “very targeted” way for terrorism-
related information.

— Associated Press

South Africa
Mbeki: Mandela may soon leave hospital

Nelson Mandela may soon be discharged from the hospital to recuperate at home, said a former president of South Africa.

Thabo Mbeki made the prediction Saturday at a memorial lecture for former African National Congress President Zaccheus Mahabane, reported the South African radio news service Eyewitness News.

Mandela has been hospitalized for more than five weeks for a recurring lung infection, sparking an outpouring of support in South Africa and across the world. Friends who have visited him say he is on life support in the form of mechanical ventilation.

The most recent official update on his health said Mandela was in critical but stable condition. But his wife, Graca Machel, and President Jacob Zuma have said recently that he is responding to treatment.

Mbeki was Mandela’s key deputy and succeeded him as South Africa’s president in 1999.

— Associated Press

19 suspected militants killed in airstrikes

At least 19 suspected militants, including two foreigners, were killed overnight in Pakistan’s lawless tribal region in a Pakistani military operation and a separate U.S. drone strike, security officials said Sunday.

Pakistan has experienced a spate of militant attacks since Nawaz Sharif took office as prime minister last month, putting pressure on his team to act more aggressively to curb the insurgency.

Missile strikes by unmanned U.S. aircraft have inflicted the most damage against militants in the mountainous areas straddling the Afghan border. In the third such attack since Sharif came to power, two suspected militants riding a motorcycle were struck by missiles in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan late Saturday, one official said.

In a separate operation by Pakistan’s air force, jets pounded militant hideouts in the early hours of Sunday, killing at least 17 insurgents, security officials said.

At least seven hideouts were destroyed and 13 people wounded, two security officials in the area said.

— Reuters

African troops march in France’s Bastille Day parade: Troops from 13 African countries that took part in the French-led war against al-Qaeda-linked extremists in Mali marched with the French military during the Bastille Day parade in Paris on Sunday as France honored their role in the conflict. President François Hollande oversaw the annual display of military might with Dioncounda Traoré, Mali’s interim president, and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon at his side.

Italian senator likens black minister to orangutan: Premier Enrico Letta has criticized a top Italian senator who likened the country’s first black cabinet minister to an orangutan, the latest episode of high-profile racial tension in a nation grappling with immigration. In a statement Sunday, Letta denounced Roberto Calderoli’s words as “unacceptable” and “beyond every limit.” Calderoli, the Senate’s vice president and a leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, made the remarks about Immigration Minister Cecile Kyenge during a party rally in northern Italy, the populist movement’s power base.

Indicted Sudanese leader arrives in Nigeria: Sudan’s indicted leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir arrived Sunday in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to a red-carpet welcome and a full guard of honor despite demands from human rights activists that Nigeria arrest him to face trial on genocide charges. Nigerian Minister of Police Affairs Kenneth Olubolade was at the airport to meet the private presidential jet Sunday, along with troops in ceremonial green-and-white uniforms and a military brass band.

— From news services