World Briefs: Italy's premier forced to quit

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ROME -- Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, whose weak coalition government has come under increasing criticism, announced Thursday that he would resign, after his own Democratic Party staged a dramatic insurrection and set the stage to replace him with the party's new leader, Matteo Renzi.

The Democratic Party is the largest member of Italy's coalition government, and the party's decision to dump Mr. Letta could be put to a confidence vote in Parliament. Mr. Letta will meet with his Cabinet this morning and then present his resignation letter to Italy's president, making way for Mr. Renzi, 39, to become Italy's youngest prime minister.

Mr. Renzi, the mayor of Florence who recently won a nationwide primary to become leader of the Democratic Party, has a reputation for boldness and has long been considered Italy's most promising young politician.

Egypt army chief backed

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday wished Egypt's military chief victory in the nation's presidential vote, even though Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has yet to announce his bid -- a strong endorsement signaling Moscow's desire to expand its military and other ties with a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.

Mr. Putin appeared to be capitalizing on a growing move by Persian Gulf nations -- particularly Saudi Arabia -- to move the Middle East off its traditional reliance on the United States.

Ancient mummy unearthed

CAIRO -- An archaeological team in Egypt has unearthed a rare find: an ornately carved, 3,600-year-old sarcophagus with a well-preserved mummy inside, the country's minister of antiquities said Thursday.

The discovery came as welcome news for antiquities authorities, who have been struggling to protect and preserve Egypt's cultural treasures amid three years of nonstop political turmoil.

Harvard's Romania deal

BOSTON -- Harvard University is selling forest land in Romania amid revelations that an agent it hired to help make the investment was arrested for taking bribes.

Kevin Galvin, a spokesman for Harvard, said the university is in the middle of a transaction that began before Romanian authorities arrested Dragos Lipan Secu in January.

Human genetic atlas

LONDON -- Scientists have mapped the genetic legacy of events of the past 4,000 years that have shaped populations, such as Genghis Khan's expansion of the Mongol Empire, creating an atlas that extends our understanding of human health and history.

The atlas uses genetic data on 95 different populations to confirm known historical interactions between peoples and shows the impact of European colonialism, the Arab slave trade, the Mongol Empire, and trade near the Silk Road. The study, led by scientists at University College London and Oxford University, was published Thursday in the journal Science.

Also in the world ...

The Obama administration plans to spend $85 million over the next two years to help at least 10 countries improve their ability to respond to disease outbreaks, officials say. ... The Obama administration won't engage with North Korea until it moves to give up its nuclear ambitions, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday in Seoul, South Korea, in urging China to use its influence on its biggest trading partner.



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