March 2, 2009 in Nation/World

World in brief: Group threatens to kill hostage


A suspected separatist group that has been holding an American U.N. worker in Pakistan for a month said Sunday it would kill him in four days if the government does not release more than 1,000 prisoners.

The threat on the life of John Solecki was made in a letter sent Sunday to local news agency Online International News Network that was also read by an Associated Press reporter. The group said Feb. 13 that it would kill Solecki within three days unless similar demands were met, but apparently did not follow through.

U.N. spokeswoman Maki Shinohara said the world body was aware of Sunday’s threat through news reports and “took it seriously.”

In the letter, the group demanded the release of 1,109 activists from Baluchistan nationalist groups it claimed had been arrested by the government.

SEOUL, South Korea

Urgent talks held at Korean DMZ

High-level military officials from North Korea and the U.S.-led U.N. Command held urgent talks at the border today amid heightened tensions in the region and concerns that the North intends to test-fire a long-range missile.

The talks at the village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea – the first meetings between general-level military officials since 2002 – were hastily arranged after the North proposed them last week, U.N. command spokesman Kim Yong-kyu said.

“These talks can be useful in building trust and preventing misunderstanding as well as introducing transparency regarding the intentions of both sides,” the U.N. command said in a statement. Kim said his office would disclose details about the meeting after it was over.

Relations between the two Koreas are at their lowest point in a decade, with North Korea bristling over South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s hard-line policy toward Pyongyang.

The tensions have intensified in recent weeks amid reports that North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile believed capable of reaching U.S. territory.


Attorney general to indict Olmert

Israel’s attorney general notified Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday that he plans to indict him on suspicion of illicitly taking cash-stuffed envelopes from a Jewish-American businessman – a sensational case that turned public opinion so sharply against the Israeli leader that he was forced to resign.

Olmert would become the first Israeli prime minister ever indicted.

Before a decision on an indictment is made, Olmert will have one last chance to try to persuade Attorney General Meni Mazuz not to charge him, Mazuz said in a news release.

From wire reports

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