World briefs: Sino-U.S. talks slated for today

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and China's new president, Xi Jinping, will meet today at a sprawling California retreat for two days of talks aimed as much at fostering a rapport between leaders of the two global superpowers as at reaching agreement on a variety of crucial issues.

The meeting at an estate in the posh resort community of Rancho Mirage will cover economic and security issues, including North Korean aggression and cybersecurity -- amid reports that Chinese hackers have gained access to U.S. weapons programs. It's also being viewed as a starting block for developing a cooperative relationship in areas where the world's two largest economies can find common ground.

Torture compensation

LONDON -- In a remarkable admission that imperial forces tortured Kenyans fighting against British rule in the 1950s, Foreign Secretary William Hague on Thursday announced that the government would pay about $30 million in compensation to more than 5,000 victims of abuse in its former East African colony.

While Mr. Hague said the government regretted the abuses, some analysts said his words -- the first such admission -- fell short of a full apology to the Kenyans who confronted British colonial forces during the Mau Mau uprising, which British forces suppressed several years before independence in 1963. About 12,000 Africans died in the revolt.

Mr. Hague's words seemed to rewrite a narrative of essentially benevolent colonial rule relayed to generations of Britons back home, raising the possibility that citizens of other outposts of an empire that once spanned much of the globe could seek compensation.

Fracking ban targeted

PARIS -- France's ban on hydraulic fracturing should be eased to estimate the size of its shale oil and gas reserves, according to a parliamentary report Thursday.

Dozens of exploration wells could be drilled in regions where seismic data have indicated promising reserves, the report by a French parliamentary commission showed.

Phone-hacking case

LONDON -- Andy Coulson, formerly a close aide to Prime Minister David Cameron and senior editor in Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper outpost, pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges relating to the phone-hacking scandal that spread turmoil among journalists, politicians and police officers.

Mr. Coulson's appearance at Southwark Crown Court in London came a day after Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Mr. Murdoch's newspaper operations in Britain, appeared in the same court and denied five charges relating to the scandal.

The two former editors were among several ex-employees of Mr. Murdoch's News International, a subsidiary of the giant News Corp., based in New York, who have been formally arraigned over the past two days pending trials expected to start later in the year. All have denied wrongdoing.

Also in the world ...

Indian police said they arrested three men Thursday in connection with the alleged gang rape of an American tourist this week in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. ... Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi announced unequivocally Thursday her desire to be president of Myanmar two years before the 2015 election, making her declaration to a packed meeting of the World Economic Forum in Naypyidaw, Myanmar's capital.

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