In brief: Colombia, rebels reach land deal
HAVANA – The Colombian government and the country’s biggest rebel group announced an agreement Sunday on one of their main bones of contention, land reform, after more than a half year of slow-moving peace talks in Cuba’s capital.
Both said the agreement constituted a major breakthrough, although several key details still needed to be worked out in the coming weeks and months. They did not release the text of the accord, but said it dealt with issues like property rights, access to land and rural infrastructure development.
The parties must now reach understandings in five other areas, starting with the political reintegration of fighters for the rebel movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, another highly sensitive issue.
The two sides have stressed that no agreement on a particular issue will be final until a complete peace accord is reached.
U.K. killing suspect arrested in 2010
NAIROBI, Kenya – A suspect in last week’s savage killing of a British soldier on a London street was arrested in Kenya in 2010 while apparently preparing to train and fight with al-Qaida-linked Somali militants, an anti-terrorism police official said Sunday.
Michael Adebolajo, who was carrying a British passport, was then handed over to British authorities in the East African country, another Kenyan official said.
The information surfaced as London’s Metropolitan Police arrested a man Sunday suspected of conspiring to murder 25-year-old British soldier Lee Rigby. Police gave few details about the suspect, only saying he is 22 years old.
The arrest brought to nine the number of suspects who have been taken into custody regarding Rigby’s horrific killing in London. Two have been released without charge, and one was released on bail pending further questioning. No one has been charged in the case.
Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are the main suspects in the killing and remained under armed guard in separate London hospitals.
In 2010, Adebolajo was arrested with five others near Kenya’s border with Somalia, Kenya’s anti-terrorism police unit chief Boniface Mwaniki told the Associated Press. Police believed Adebolajo was going to work with Somali militant group al-Shabab.
Israel president calls for return to talks
SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan – Israel’s president on Sunday urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to overcome differences and resume peace negotiations, saying the sides could not afford “to lose this opportunity.”
President Shimon Peres issued his call ahead of a gathering of Mideast leaders on the sidelines of a conference hosted by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum in Jordan.
Sunday’s conference included a rare face-to-face meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, with the participation of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has devoted much of the past two months to restarting long-stalled peace talks.
“We shouldn’t lose the opportunity because it will be replaced by a great disappointment,” Peres said. “For my experience, I believe it’s possible to overcome it. It doesn’t require too much time.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed.
“Enough is enough. A lot of our young people have started to lose confidence in the two-state solution,” he said to a loud applause from an audience of more than 1,000 business and government leaders from 23 countries worldwide.
Kerry proposes Palestine investment
JERUSALEM – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday proposed a $4 billion private-sector economic initiative for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, saying that it could transform the lives of Palestinians but should not be seen as a substitute for Palestinian statehood.
At a World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan, Kerry – who met last week with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an effort to restart peace talks – said the economic campaign would be the most ambitious attempted since the Oslo peace accords 20 years ago.
Led by Mideast Quartet envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the program was put together by a group of international corporate executives, investors and analysts, Kerry said.
If implemented, Kerry said, the programs would cut Palestinian unemployment from 21 to 8 percent, increase wages by 40 percent and boost the Palestinian economy.