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In brief: Palestinians firm on statehood bid


Ramallah, West Bank – The Palestinians on Tuesday said they would not give in to American pressure to drop their bid for statehood at the United Nations, taking a tough position ahead of a meeting with a senior U.S. delegation.

Two senior White House envoys, David Hale and Dennis Ross, arrived in the region on Tuesday for talks with Israel and Palestinian officials. The U.S. has been trying to persuade the Palestinians to drop their plan to ask the U.N. this month to approve their independence and instead resume peace talks with Israel.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said there was little the Americans could do to change the Palestinians’ plans.

American worker kidnapped, killed

Kabul, Afghanistan – An American civilian working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was kidnapped from an Afghanistan power plant and strangled, officials and family members said Tuesday, a rare incident despite widespread violence.

Carrie Hughes told the Associated Press that military officers came to her house near Charleston, S.C., on Monday to inform her that her father, James W. Coker, had been killed.

It was not known who killed the American worker or under what circumstances he was abducted. Coker was the only the third Pentagon civilian killed in 10 years of war in Afghanistan.

Saleh ally holds Cabinet meeting

Sanaa, Yemen – Yemen’s prime minister on Tuesday conducted his first Cabinet meeting since returning from Saudi Arabia for treatment for wounds he suffered in the same June attack that seriously injured the country’s embattled president.

Ali Mohammed Mujawar, who returned to Yemen last week, presided over the Cabinet meeting in a symbolic show of defiance by President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government. Saleh is still in Saudi Arabia, rebuffing international pressure to step down.

Yemen’s political infighting has spurred al-Qaida activity in southern Yemen.

Mujawar is a key Saleh ally, and his return to activity underlines the president’s determination to retain power despite months of huge, sometimes violent demonstrations demanding his resignation – and the June 3 bombing of his compound that forced him to leave for Saudi Arabia for treatment.


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