World briefs (4/21/13)

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Flotilla raid still sore point

ISTANBUL -- As Israeli and Turkish officials prepared for talks Monday to restore relations, which have been frozen since Israel's deadly raid on a Turkish-led flotilla to Gaza, relatives of the nine people killed said Saturday that they would reject the compensation promised by Israel until it fully removes restrictions on the movement of goods and people in Gaza.

The relatives also said they would not drop their lawsuits against Israelis involved in the 2010 raid.

The families' position could create problems for the Turkish government, which had demanded an apology from Israel, compensation to the families and lifting the Gaza blockade as conditions for restoring relations.

Iraq holds elections

BAGHDAD -- Iraq held its first election since the withdrawal of U.S. troops under security so tight Saturday that the only way for many voters to reach polling places was to walk.

The election, for local councils, was carried out largely free of violence, even as apathy prevailed among many Iraqis who questioned what benefits they have received from a young democracy still marred by political dysfunction, corruption and violence.

Lufthansa cancellations

BERLIN -- Lufthansa has canceled most flights scheduled on Monday, when the German airline's ground staff plans to conduct a one-day strike in a pay dispute.

The airline said Saturday that only about 20 of more than 1,650 scheduled short-haul flights will operate Monday. It said that many long-haul flights also will be hit -- only six of 50 planned flights will operate at its main Frankfurt hub, and only three of 17 in Munich. Duesseldorf airport's three scheduled long-haul services will go ahead as scheduled.

Somber economic outlook

WASHINGTON -- World finance leaders issued a somber assessment on Saturday of the global economy, saying the recovery remains uneven with growth and jobs in short supply.

The steering committee for the 188-nation International Monetary Fund issued a final communique that called for decisive action to bolster growth. However, the major economies remained at odds over the best mix of policies to pursue.

Italy's president re-elected

ROME -- In a bid to quiet growing political chaos, Italian lawmakers on Saturday elected President Giorgio Napolitano for a second term, turning to the 87-year-old statesman as the last best hope to break a profound deadlock in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

The move raised the possibility that Mr. Napolitano could preside over the creation of a broad-based coalition after inconclusive national elections in February split Parliament into three intractable factions and failed to yield a government even as Italy's economy continues to stumble.

Tunisia gains loan deal

TUNIS, Tunisia -- The International Monetary Fund has reached a provisional agreement on a $1.75 billion loan package for Tunisia that it says will strengthen the North African country's economic stability and promote growth.

The IMF said in a statement Friday the agreement will also support Tunisian authorities' program promoting private investment, job creation and social policies aimed at reducing economic and regional disparities.

The deal must be approved by the IMF's executive board, which is expected to discuss the issue in May.

-- Compiled from news services

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