World briefs: Feb. 2 election set in Thailand

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BANGKOK -- Desperate to defuse Thailand's deepening political crisis, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved Parliament's lower house on Monday and called early elections. But protesters seeking to topple her vowed to carry on their fight, saying they cannot win the polls because of corruption.

A decree from King Bhumibol Adulyadej scheduled the elections on Feb. 2 and named Ms. Yingluck as interim prime minister until then. The protesters demanded that she resign as caretaker and rejected the election date, putting the strongly royalist movement at odds with the royal decree.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who faces an arrest warrant on insurrection charges, spoke to more than 150,000 followers at a stage outside Ms. Yingluck's offices, challenging authorities to "Come, get me!"

Hagel warns Pakistan

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Pakistani leaders Monday that if they don't resolve protests stalling some military shipments across the border with Afghanistan, it could be difficult to maintain political support in Washington for an aid program that has sent billions of dollars to Islamabad, defense officials said.

In response, the officials said, Mr. Hagel received assurances from the Pakistanis that they would take "immediate action" to resolve the shipment problem.

Just last week, anti-American protests along one of the primary border crossing routes in Pakistan prompted the U.S. to stop the shipments from Torkham Gate through Karachi last week, due to worries about the safety of the truckers. The protests center on the CIA's drone program that has targeted and killed many terrorists, but has caused civilian casualties.

Greece to restore power

ATHENS -- Electricity will be reconnected to poor families in Greece that can't pay their bills after at least four deaths in the past 10 days caused by people using candles and makeshift heating devices.

A 13-year-old girl in Thessaloniki died from carbon monoxide poisoning Dec. 1 after breathing fumes from a heater her family used because they didn't have electricity. At least three other fire-related deaths have been reported by the Athens News Agency.

Also in the world ...

The U.S. military will fly about 850 African Union troops to the Central African Republic this week to assist French soldiers trying to quell street battles by rival militias in the country's capital, the Pentagon announced Monday. ... Syrian troops seized a key opposition-held town Monday along a major north-south highway critical for transporting the government's chemical weapons stocks to a port where they could be shipped out for destruction by the international community.

-- Compiled from news services


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