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In brief: Iran says it won’t return U.S. drone

Mon., Dec. 12, 2011

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran will not return a U.S. surveillance drone captured by its armed forces, a senior commander of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard said Sunday.

Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Guard, said in remarks broadcast on state television that the violation of Iran’s airspace by the U.S. drone was a “hostile act” and warned of a “bigger” response. He did not elaborate on what Tehran might do.

“No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country,” Salami said.

Salami called its capture a victory for Iran and a defeat for the U.S. in a complicated intelligence and technological battle.

Taliban spokesman denies talks

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A Pakistani Taliban spokesman denied Sunday an earlier announcement by the militant group’s deputy chief that it was holding peace talks with the government.

The conflicting claims are a clear sign of splits within the movement, which could make it harder for Islamabad to strike a deal to end the violent insurgency gripping the country.

The Pakistani government, meanwhile, said the U.S. vacated an air base that had been used by American drones.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, who has been recognized by both militants and officials as the deputy chief of the Pakistani Taliban, said Saturday that the group was in negotiations with the government. Mohammed, the first named commander to confirm talks, said an agreement to end the country’s brutal four-year insurgency was within striking distance.

Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan denied Mohammed’s claims, saying there would be no negotiations until the government imposed Islamic law, or Shariah, in the country. The group says it wants to install a hard-line Islamist regime.

“Talks by a handful of people with the government cannot be deemed as the Taliban talking,” Ehsan told the Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Fishing boat search turns deadly

SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean coast guard officer was killed and another injured today when they were stabbed by a Chinese captain whose boat was stopped for suspected illegal fishing in South Korean waters, officials said.

Two Chinese boats were stopped in Yellow Sea waters rich in blue crabs, anchovies and croaker, but details of the fight were unclear, coast guard officials said.

The officials, who declined to give their names because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the captain of one of the boats stabbed the South Korean officers.

The officers were taken to a hospital in the port city of Incheon. Nine Chinese fishermen were in custody, the coast guard said.

A South Korean officer stabbed in the side died; the other officer wasn’t severely injured, the officials said.

There was no immediate comment from the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing.


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