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World in brief: Hamas, Fatah reach unity agreement

Political rivals Hamas and Fatah reached a final agreement on forming a unity government Wednesday, wrapping up months of tortuous coalition negotiations aimed at ending bloody internal fighting and lifting international sanctions against the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said he would present the new government to parliament this weekend for final approval.

Both sides hope the alliance will bring the Palestinians out of international isolation after a yearlong boycott of the Hamas-led government. Israel and Western countries have reacted coolly to the deal but say they are waiting for final details before deciding whether to lift the embargo.

Haniyeh and Abbas agreed to the power-sharing deal last month in Saudi Arabia but spent the past few weeks ironing out the final details. Haniyeh will remain as prime minister, and Azzam al-Ahmed, head of Fatah’s parliament bloc, will be deputy prime minister.


Vatican condemns writings

The Vatican on Wednesday condemned as “erroneous or dangerous” some of the writings of a well-known champion of liberation theology but took no immediate disciplinary action against the priest involved.

It was the first such move under the nearly two-year papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led the Vatican’s crackdown on theologians judged to be perilously straying from church doctrine.

The Vatican began building its case in 2004 against the writings of the Rev. Jon Sobrino, a Spanish Jesuit, calling the procedure “urgent” because of the wide diffusion of his works in Latin America.

The Vatican declaration, called a Notification, effectively serves as a caution to Catholic faithful who may read Sobrino’s work, although it does not specifically forbid them from doing so.

It was signed by American Cardinal William Levada, head of the congregation, and carried Benedict’s approval.

A spokesman at Jesuit headquarters in Rome said Sobrino did not plan to make a public comment.


Doctors turn off woman’s respirator

A bedridden Spanish woman with muscular dystrophy died Wednesday after doctors fulfilled her wish and turned off her respirator, bringing an end to a case that had triggered a nationwide debate on euthanasia.

Inmaculada Echevarria, 51, had sought to have her life support removed under a 2002 patients rights law that says any sick person in control of his or her mental faculties can refuse treatment.

Euthanasia is illegal in Spain, and people who help someone else die can be punished with at least six months in prison.

Echevarria had progressive muscular dystrophy and had been on a respirator for the past 10 years. She had fallen sick at age 11 and for the last 20 years had been in a hospital bed.