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In brief: Sudan says army freed 14 workers

KHARTOUM, Sudan – Sudanese officials say that 14 Chinese road workers have been freed by Sudan’s military, two days after they were reportedly abducted by militants in a remote region in the country’s south. The Chinese embassy said that a total of 29 had gone missing.

State-run Radio Omdurman today quoted South Kordofan governor Ahmed Mohamed Haroun as saying that Sudanese forces “liberated” the workers, who were in good health.

The report says that the army is searching for the remaining missing workers.

Lawmakers end parliament ban

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s Sunni-backed political alliance ended a parliament boycott Sunday, officials said, but the bloc’s ministers will stay away from Cabinet meetings to protest arrests and prosecution of Sunni officials.

The political crisis erupted last month after Iraq’s Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant against the Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges.

In protest, Iraqiya lawmakers and ministers boycotted parliament and Cabinet sessions, bringing government work to a standstill.

A spokeswoman for the Iraqiya bloc said its lawmakers will return to the parliament when it reconvenes Tuesday.

Sarkozy vows tax increase

PARIS – In a big pre-election gamble, President Nicolas Sarkozy has promised a hike in France’s consumption tax to pay for a new measure aimed to lower the high cost of labor and boost job creation.

Sarkozy has gone on national TV to say his conservative government will announce a 1.6 percent increase in the value-added tax, to 21.2 percent – and raise fees on investment income.

Sarkozy said Sunday the new tax revenues aimed to let the state take over payment of some worker benefits now paid for by employers – as a way to lower high labor costs and make French products more competitive.

Sarkozy stopped short of announcing his widely expected candidacy for the two-round presidential election in April and May.

Most polls show Sarkozy trails Socialist nominee Francois Hollande.


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Trump meets with Macron, praises U.S.-French alliance

new  Praising the strength of America’s oldest alliance, President Donald Trump welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron to the White House Tuesday with a pomp-filled ceremony on the South Lawn. Then they plunged into a day of talks on the future of the Iran nuclear deal and the crisis in Syria.