In brief: Saudis seek end to Iraq stalemate

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Saturday invited the leaders of Iraq’s political blocs for talks in Riyadh aimed at breaking the deadlock over the formation of a new government.

A Sunni-backed political coalition narrowly edged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated bloc in Iraq’s March elections. But no single bloc won enough seats to control parliament or pick new leaders, touching off a seven-month scramble for allies that has all but ground Iraq’s government to a standstill.

In a statement, King Abdullah said Iraq is at “a crossroads” and appealed to the country’s political rivals to unite and “put down the fire of ugly sectarianism.”

Malaria feared in villagers’ deaths

Caracas, Venezuela – Venezuelan health workers say an epidemic that may be malaria has killed dozens of people, decimating three villages of the Yanomami Indians, whose struggle for survival in a remote part of the Amazon rain forest has attracted worldwide support.

Two indigenous health workers who visited the area told the Associated Press on Friday that village chiefs told them that about 50 people have died recently, many of them children.

“There are still many, many sick people,” Andres Blanco said by telephone from Puerto Ayacucho in southern Venezuela. Blanco, a Yanomami health worker in a government program for the indigenous communities, alerted regional officials this month after trekking for days to visit three remote villages.


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