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In brief: South Korea offers talks on unification

From Wire Reports

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea today proposed talks with North Korea to discuss what it calls a range of issues needed to prepare for the unification of the divided countries.

It’s unclear if Pyongyang would accept Seoul’s offer as the country has viewed any of South Korea’s unification plans an attempt to take it over. North Korea wants a unified Korea with Pyongyang in charge.

Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told a televised news conference that South Korea wants talks in January to discuss exchange programs, joint projects and laws needed for a unified Korea. Ryoo said South Korea hopes the proposed talks would also discuss resuming reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

Algeria asks OPEC to cut production

ALGIERS, Algeria – Algeria’s oil minister on Sunday called on OPEC to cut production and raise the price of oil, which has plunged dramatically in the last six months.

The call by Youcef Yousfi to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Algeria is a member, comes as the country is struggling to deal with oil prices that have fallen from $120 barrel to $60 a barrel.

“For us, OPEC has to intervene to correct the imbalance and cut production to bring up prices and defend the income of its member states,” Yousfi said.

While Algeria has some $200 billion in foreign reserves, enough to cover imports for the next several years, it is heavily dependent on its oil revenue, which provides 97 percent of its hard currency income and 60 percent of the budget.

Palestinians call for Security Council vote

JERUSALEM – The Palestinians are pressing for a U.N. Security Council vote this week on a resolution that would call for an end to Israel’s occupation within three years.

A resolution with such a timetable is almost certain to be rejected by the Security Council – either by a failure to get the minimum nine “yes” votes required or by a veto from the United States, Israel’s closest ally, which insists there must be a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said a draft resolution would be submitted to the Security Council today. A vote could be set for Tuesday.

Iran commander killed in Iraq

TEHRAN, Iran – A senior commander in Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard has been killed during a battle against the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq, the Guard said Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Hamid Taqavi was “martyred while performing his advisory mission to confront ISIS terrorists in Samarra,” said a statement posted on the Guard’s website.

Shiite Iran says it has sent military advisers to assist Syria and Iraq in battling Sunni-led rebels and extremist groups, but has denied sending any combat forces to either country. Taqavi is the highest ranking officer known to have been killed outside Iran since the devastating 1980-88 war with Iraq, in which he fought and in which he lost his father and a brother.

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