World briefs: Morsi hails Egypt's charter

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CAIRO -- Egypt's Islamist president proclaimed the country's newly adopted constitution as the dawning of a "new republic" in a television address Wednesday, calling on the opposition to join a dialogue with him after a month of violent turmoil and focus on repairing a damaged economy.

Mohammed Morsi sought to present the Islamist-drafted charter as the turning of a historic page for Egypt, but his speech did little to ease the suspicions of those who fear he and his Muslim Brotherhood are entrenching their power.

Under the new constitution, the Islamist-dominated Shura Council, the traditionally toothless upper house, was granted temporary legislative powers and began its work on Wednesday. It will legislate until elections for a new lower house are held within two months.

Mandela out of hospital

JOHANNESBURG -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela was released Wednesday from the hospital after being treated since Dec. 8 for a lung infection and having gallstones removed, a government spokesman said.

The 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon will continue to receive medical care at home.

Terrorists strike U.S. base

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide car bomber targeting a U.S.-operated base in eastern Afghanistan killed at least three Afghans and injured six others Wednesday, officials said.

Afghan officials said the attack happened shortly after 7 a.m. near the entrance to Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khowst, a province near the border with Pakistan that is a hotbed of insurgent activity.

The Taliban took responsibility for Wednesday's attack.

New Japan PM takes office

TOKYO -- Shinzo Abe took office as Japan's seventh prime minister in six years Wednesday and vowed to overcome the deep-rooted economic and diplomatic crises facing his country.

Mr. Abe was elected as Japan's leader hours earlier Wednesday, bringing back to power the conservative, pro-business Liberal Democratic Party that governed for most of the post-World War II era. It replaces the liberal-leaning government of the Democratic Party of Japan that lasted three years.

French hostages in Mali

PARIS -- An al-Qaida-affiliated group is accusing France of endangering the lives of a half-dozen French hostages by helping to organize a military intervention in Mali instead of negotiating for the hostages' release.

The accusation, in an online video, came from Abdel Hamid Abu Zeid, a battle-hardened Algerian who leads the most active of three squads of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the terrorist group's affiliate in the Sahel region of northern Africa. Experts said the video was recorded Tuesday and put online by a Mauritanian Internet site, Sahara Medias, that is a frequent conduit for AQIM communications..

Ex-leader's kin sue cleric

TEHRAN, Iran -- Four children of an influential ex-Iranian president are suing a radical lawmaker for describing his family as a corrupt "octopus," heating up a struggle between hard-liners and moderates simmering since a contested 2009 election.

The latest salvo has rekindled the bitterness between backers of the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and moderates headed by the former leader, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, just six months ahead of the next presidential election.

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