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In brief: Biden visits Iraq unannounced

Wed., Nov. 30, 2011, midnight

Baghdad – Vice President Joe Biden arrived on a surprise visit to Iraq late Tuesday in a trip designed to chart a new relationship between the two countries after all American forces have left the country in just over a month.

After nearly nine years of war, the U.S. now must navigate a future without American troops in Iraq. Iraq’s vast oil resources, the massive U.S. Embassy presence here and Iraq’s strategic location in the Middle East – next to Iran – ensure American interest will remain high in Iraq even after the troops are gone.

Baghdad and Washington failed earlier this year to come to an agreement on keeping a small American military presence in Iraq next year, meaning all U.S. forces must be out of the country by Dec. 31.

The issue of what type of military relationship Iraq and the U.S. will have next year and into the future is expected to dominate Biden’s visit. His trip will also lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dec. 12 visit to Washington.

Protests halt mining project

Lima, Peru – A $4.8 billion gold and copper mining project, Peru’s biggest such investment, was declared suspended Tuesday after increasingly violent protests by highlands peasants who fear for their water supply.

At least 20 people, including eight with gunshot wounds, were injured Tuesday in clashes between opponents of the Conga project and police who used firearms, Cajamarca state regional health director Reynaldo Nunez told Canal N television.

“After discussions with the government, it was agreed that to help restore public order, the project would be suspended,” Newmont Mining Corp. spokesman Omar Jabara told the Associated Press via email.

Denver-based Newmont is the majority owner of Conga, which was to begin production in 2015.

Biggest strike in decades set

London – Airline passengers face chaos at immigration halls and school closures may force parents to take children with them to work today as Britain’s biggest strike in decades threatens to wreak havoc.

Labor union leaders have warned that the strike may just be the start of a wave of disruption, with public workers opposing government plans to reform pensions, demands that they work longer before receiving a pension and contribute more money each month.

The unions claim as many as 2 million border agency workers, teachers, garbage collectors, firefighters and other public sector staff will join the 24-hour strike which begins shortly after midnight, plunging air travel and many basic services into disarray.


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