In brief: Yemeni factions in talks over power

SANAA, Yemen – Yemen’s acting president agreed on Monday with opposition parties to begin discussions on how to transfer power from the country’s embattled president, an opposition spokesman said.

The official, Abdullah Oubal, said the agreement provided for the opposition and President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ruling party to open a dialogue to find a way to ease Saleh out of office in accordance with proposals put forward by Yemen’s Gulf neighbors.

Monday’s agreement may not end the country’s political impasse or prevent renewed clashes between forces loyal to Saleh and armed tribesmen opposed to his rule. However, it suggests that the acting president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, is exercising his constitutional powers despite the vast influence wielded by Saleh’s inner circle and family.

Saleh left Yemen for Saudi Arabia on June 5 for medical treatment from wounds he suffered in an attack on his compound.

A senior Yemeni official in the Saudi capital said Tuesday that the president’s condition was stable but not improving.

Libyan rebels advance on Tripoli

MISRATA, Libya – Libyan rebels Monday broke out toward Tripoli from the opposition-held port of Misrata 140 miles to the east, cracking a government siege as fighters across the country mounted a resurgence in their 4-month-old revolt against Moammar Gadhafi.

The rebels gained a diplomatic boost as well when the visiting German foreign minister said the nascent opposition government was “the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.” Guido Westerwelle was visiting Benghazi, the capital of the rebel-held east of the country, to open a liaison office and hand over medical supplies.

He stopped short of full diplomatic recognition of the Transitional National Council, as has the United States, awaiting the ouster of Gadhafi from his more than 40-year rule in the oil-rich North African country.

Ash cancels more flights in Australia

SYDNEY – More Australian flights were canceled Tuesday because of ash from a Chilean volcano, this time out of a midsize southern airport, as airlines scrambled to fly out thousands of passengers who had been stranded for two days in Melbourne.

More than 60,000 passengers have been stranded by the disruptions, which came amid a three-day holiday weekend in Australia.

Meanwhile, about two dozen flights into and out of the southern city of Adelaide were canceled today, though Qantas and Jetstar said they would reassess that decision later in the day.

The airlines kept flights to the island state of Tasmania and New Zealand grounded, as they have since Sunday.

Ash has moved across the Pacific from Chile, where it has been spewing from the Cordon Caulle volcano since June 4. Particles in the ash can damage jet engines.

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