World in brief: N. Korea hints of return to talks
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea is in the final stage of restoring its nuclear facilities, a news report said today, as leader Kim Jong Il expressed a conditional willingness to end Pyongyang’s boycott of international nuclear talks.
South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities reached their conclusion after scrutinizing about 10 atomic facilities in North Korea since April when the communist regime vowed to restart its nuclear program in anger over a U.N. rebuke of its long-range rocket launch.
The report came as North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao that his country was prepared to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks depending on progress in its two-way negotiations with the United States.
Chilean officers get prison terms
SANTIAGO, Chile – Four former top army officials were sentenced to prison Monday in the murder of a colonel shortly after he testified about an illegal deal to smuggle weapons to Croatia.
In December 1991, police in Hungary discovered 11 tons of weapons in a shipment labeled “humanitarian aid” that was allegedly approved by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Col. Gerardo Huber – who directed purchases at the army’s weapons manufacturer – turned up dead shortly after testifying in a military investigation. It was ruled a suicide for 13 years before the case was reopened in civilian court.
Two top military intelligence officials – retired Gen. Victor Lizarraga and retired Col. Manuel Provis – got 10 and eight years, respectively, for conspiracy and homicide. Gen. Carlos Krum and Col. Julio Munoz, also both retired, got nearly two years for conspiracy and murder, respectively.
Top cleric to ban veils in schools
CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt’s top Islamic cleric is planning to ban students wearing face veils from entering the schools of al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s premier institute of learning, according to an independent daily Monday.
A security official also told the Associated Press that police have standing verbal orders to bar girls covered from head to toe from entering al-Azhar’s institutions, including middle and high schools, as well as the dormitories of several universities in Cairo.
The official said the ban was for security reasons.
The moves appear to be part of a government campaign cracking down on increasingly overt manifestations of ultraconservative Islam in Egypt.