World in brief: Queen celebrates official birthday

Soldiers in scarlet tunics and bearskin hats marched in formation Saturday – a showcase of Britain’s best pomp and pageantry – to celebrate the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

The queen actually turned 81 on April 21. But one of the many perks of wearing the crown is a second, official birthday in June, marked with the annual Trooping the Color parade.

The British monarch wore a bright green coat and hat to inspect the troops gathered in her honor in central London. Dignitaries, including former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, also attended the annual event.

The parade is a full-on display of British pageantry, with more than 1,100 soldiers in full regalia marching down the Mall – the wide, leafy boulevard that runs from Buckingham Palace toward Trafalgar Square.

The queen inspected the troops on Horse Guards Parade, and then the royal family returned to Buckingham Palace, gathering on the building’s famous balcony for a flypast of military aircraft.

Seoul, South Korea

North Korea invites inspectors

North Korea invited U.N. nuclear inspectors on Saturday in the first concrete sign of a breakthrough in a stalemate over its atomic program, as the transfer of frozen North Korean funds at the center of the impasse neared completion.

The North sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, inviting inspectors to discuss shutting down its main nuclear reactor, as “it is confirmed that the process of de-freezing the funds … at Banco Delta Asia in Macau has reached its final phase,” the country’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.

The White House on Saturday welcomed the development. Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said it was a step toward “the eventual denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Guatemala City

Accused woman killed by mob

Guatemalan villagers killed a woman and attacked two others after accusing them of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl who was later found dead, officials said Saturday.

Edgar Gonzalez, an official with the local fire department, said the woman was killed by a mob that hanged her in the main square of the eastern village of Muyurco on Friday. Another woman was doused with gasoline and set on fire. She was hospitalized with severe burns after being rescued by authorities. A third woman was beaten and later taken to a local jail.

The corpse of the 9-year-old girl was found Friday.

Local radio reports said the women were thought by villagers to have acted as go-betweens for adoption agencies looking for babies. But authorities said they did not know why they were targeted in response to the girl’s killing and were investigating any evidence linking them to the crime.


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