World briefs: New fighting feared in Gaza

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JERSUSALEM — Israel’s defense minister rallied troops to prepare for fresh battles in the Gaza Strip as negotiators raced the clock to extend a cease-fire that expires at midnight.

Both Israeli and Hamas leaders displayed pessimism Tuesday over the prospects of turning the 72-hour lull into a more permanent truce after four weeks of violence that left more than 1,900 Palestinians and 64 Israeli soldiers dead.

The two sides, pressed by Egyptian mediators, failed over two days to close the differences in their bargaining positions. Israel insists on demilitarizing Hamas and other Gaza militias that fired more than 3,300 rockets into its territory. Hamas wants to ease border restrictions, free prisoners in Israeli jails and build a seaport on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast.

Sharing power rejected

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ashraf Ghani, one of two candidates competing to become Afghanistan’s president, said Tuesday that the deadline to finish a vote recount is slipping and that a U.S.-brokered agreement for the rivals to form a joint government afterward does not mean the winner will fully share power with the loser.

Speaking to foreign journalists at his fortified compound in the capital, Mr. Ghani appeared to be trying to tamp down a surge of discontent among his supporters and allies, many of whom are reportedly upset that he agreed under U.S. pressure to a full recount of ballots from the troubled presidential runoff in June and the formation of a “unity” government with his rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

Pope heads to S. Korea

VATICAN CITY — On his way to South Korea, Pope Francis will get a rare opportunity to directly address China's leadership as he flies over the country, whose communist government does not allow Catholics to recognize his authority.

The pope, who leaves Rome today, always sends telegrams to the leaders of countries as he passes through their airspace. The routine messages rarely make news, but this time there is keen expectation for what the pope will say to China.

The fact that he is being allowed to cross Chinese airspace at all is seen as a positive, if small, step forward, in the often-fraught relations between the Vatican and China.

Ex-general arrested

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine military Tuesday captured a former army general wanted in connection with the disappearance of two students in 2006.

Former Maj. Jovito Palparan was indicted in December 2011 in connection with the disappearances of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, two students at the University of the Philippines who were active in leftist organizations. They were never found, but witnesses later said they had seen the women in military custody.

Panda triplets born

BEIJING — A zoo in southern China announced Tuesday that one of its charges had given birth to a set of triplets — which the facility billed as the only surviving trio of pandas in the world.

The cubs were born in the early morning hours of July 29 at the Chimelong wildlife park in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, China’s state-run media said.

Anti-poaching step

PRETORIA, South Africa — South Africa’s Cabinet has approved the relocation of rhinos from the country’s Kruger National Park to secret sites both within the nation and across its borders to combat a surge in poaching.

So far this year 638 rhinos have been poached in South Africa, almost two thirds of those in Kruger, a reserve the size of Israel, compared with a record 1,004 in all of last year.


-- Compiled from wire services


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