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In brief: Hezbollah leader defends actions

Mon., Jan. 17, 2011

BEIRUT, Lebanon – The leader of Hezbollah on Sunday defended the decision to bring down Lebanon’s Western-backed government, saying the Shiite militant group did so without resorting to violence and will not be intimidated by world reaction.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah also said his bloc will not support Saad Hariri returning to his post as prime minister in talks today on forming a new government.

“We carried out a constitutional, legal and democratic step to bring down the government. We did not use weapons,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

The crisis is the climax of long-simmering tensions over the U.N. tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The court is expected to indict members of Hezbollah, which could re-ignite hostilities between Lebanon’s rival Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Rafik Hariri was a Sunni.

Saad Hariri had refused Hezbollah’s demands to cease cooperation with the court, prompting eleven ministers allied to Hezbollah to resign from the Cabinet Wednesday.

Le Pen’s daughter succeeds him

TOURS, France – France’s far-right National Front party elected the daughter of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, as its new leader Sunday, who says she wants to broaden the appeal of a party known best for its anti-immigration, anti-Islam platform.

Marine Le Pen, 42, won slightly more than two-thirds of the vote in an election at a National Front convention in the city of Tours – easily beating the other candidate, longtime party No. 2 Bruno Gollnisch.

Cuba says U.S. should do more

HAVANA, Cuba – Cuba said Sunday that the Obama administration’s decision to lift some travel restrictions on students, academics and religious groups and make it easier for Americans to send money were positive steps, but not nearly enough while Washington maintains its 48-year trade embargo on the island.

“Though the measures are positive,” Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday, “they are well below what was hoped for, have a limited reach and do not change (U.S.) policy against Cuba.”

The ministry said most of the changes simply bring U.S. policy back to where it was during the Clinton administration, before President George W. Bush toughened restrictions.

KABUL, Afghanistan – Roadside bombs killed at least 17 Afghan civilians in a 24-hour span, including nine people – a child among them – whose vehicle was torn apart by a powerful blast Sunday as they were on their way to a wedding in northern Afghanistan.

The wedding guests, all members of the same extended family, were killed when their station wagon hit a bomb outside Pul-i-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province, provincial authorities said.

On Saturday in Helmand province, a minivan triggered a roadside bomb, killing six people, and two others were killed by an improvised bomb in Oruzgan province.


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