World briefs: World food supply 'vulnerable'

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LONDON -- The global food system will remain "vulnerable" in the coming years as a growing population boosts demand for crops and climate change makes weather disruption more frequent, according to the World Bank.

The world will need to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed a global population expected to grow to more than 9 billion from 7 billion now, the United Nations' Rome-based Food & Agriculture Organization estimates.

"Although we are having some good crops, we continue to expand our consumption, so our ability to replenish stocks is challenged," Marc Sadler, an official with World Bank, said in an interview Thursday in London. "Demand continues to grow and a lot of that has been driven by emerging, new middle-income consumers who change their dietary patterns."

Global demand will continue growing as increasingly wealthy consumers in developing economies eat more meat.

Austerity plans faulted

ZAGREB, Croatia -- Europe's sovereign-debt crisis has shown that blindly following austerity prescriptions leads to failure, said Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic of Croatia, the former Yugoslav republic that joins the European Union on July 1.

Croatia will become the EU's 28th member next week as the world's largest trading bloc expands for the first time since Bulgaria and Romania entered in 2007.

The ex-communist nation is seeking to end what threatens to be a five-year run without economic growth as it joins a club radically altered by the global financial crisis compared with when it started accession talks in 2005.

2 civilians beheaded

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Militants fighting alongside Syrian rebel forces have beheaded two civilians with knives in front of onlookers including children, a pro-opposition group said.

The Syrian civilians were accused of collaborating with President Bashar Assad's government, the Coventry, a Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on its Facebook page. The rebels, who spoke in classical Arabic with an accent, may have been Chechen, the Observatory said.

The beheading was caught on video and posted on YouTube. The civilians were captured in Khan al-Assal, a town west of Aleppo, according to one of the rebels who spoke on the film.

North Korea pressured

BEIJING -- The leaders of China and South Korea called for North Korea to resume negotiations on its nuclear disarmament after a meeting Thursday in which they discussed ways to draw their isolated and erratic neighbor back into dialogue with the outside world.

The summit in Beijing marked the beginning of a four-day visit by South Korea's new president, Park Geun-hye, to confer with China's President Xi Jinping. It also comes at a time when China, Pyongyang's biggest ally and longtime benefactor, has signaled unusual displeasure with the North after it recently carried out a missile launch and nuclear test and issued a barrage of provocative rhetoric despite Beijing's protests.

"We shared an understanding that North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons cannot be tolerated under any circumstances," Ms. Park said at a joint news conference with China's President Xi Jinping.

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