World briefs (10/7/12)

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March protests drone strikes

CHASHMA, Pakistan -- Hundreds of political activists, led by the opposition politician Imran Khan and accompanied by 32 American peace activists, departed Pakistan's capital Saturday in a convoy headed toward the country's tribal regions to protest U.S. drone strikes.

Mr. Khan's political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, calls the motorcade a "peace march" to demand an end to U.S. drone strikes, which he says kill innocent civilians and breed militancy.

The convoy's destination is Kotkai, a town in the South Waziristan tribal region, which is the hometown of Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and is currently under the control of the Pakistani military. Mr. Mehsud is believed to be hiding in North Waziristan, which has become a militant redoubt.

1 killed in anti-terror raid

PARIS -- French police officers fatally shot a man during an anti-terrorism raid in the northeastern city of Strasbourg on Saturday, one of a series of raids across France stemming from the investigation into a grenade attack last month on a Jewish market near Paris.

Police officers killed the man after he fired at them when they entered an apartment, officials said.

Other raids took place around Paris, Nice and Cannes, and seven people were arrested, according to a statement from the office of President Francois Hollande.

Nuclear standoff

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian officials Saturday dismissed a New York Times report saying Iran had offered a "nine-step plan" for resolving a standoff with the United States and its allies over its disputed nuclear program, calling the report "baseless."

The Times, quoting unnamed senior Obama administration officials, reported Friday that Iran had quietly proposed a plan to European officials in July that called for Western oil and other economic sanctions against their country to be lifted.

In exchange, Tehran would gradually suspend the production of the uranium that would be easiest for it to convert into a nuclear weapon.

On Saturday, Iran's nuclear top negotiator, Saeed Jalili, told state media that Iran had never made such an offer.

North soldier defects

SEOUL, South Korea -- A North Korean army sergeant defected to South Korea on Saturday after killing his platoon and squadron leaders, a South Korean military spokesman said.

South Korean border guards, after hearing gunfire to the north, saw a North Korean soldier crossing the heavily armed land frontier, said a spokesman for the South Korean military's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The soldier threw down his rifle, after which the guards used a loudspeaker to confirm his intention to defect, according to South Korean military officials.

Abortion curb pushed

LONDON -- Britain's new health secretary has said he favors reducing the limit for women to have abortions from 24 weeks of pregnancy to 12, reigniting a divisive political debate and sparking criticism from women's rights activists Saturday.

Jeremy Hunt, who took up the job just a few weeks ago, said that after studying unspecified evidence he believed that 12 weeks was "the right point." In an interview with the Times newspaper published Saturday, he said: "It is just my view about that incredibly difficult question about the moment that we should deem life to start."

-- Compiled from news services

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