World Briefs: Serbia rightists make strides

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BELGRADE, Serbia -- The ruling center-right party that has vowed to overhaul Serbia's struggling economy and push for membership in the European Union won a landslide victory in a parliamentary vote Sunday, according to unofficial results.

The Belgrade-based independent CeSID polling group said the Serbian Progressive Party won about 160 seats in the country's 250-seat parliament. Its coalition partner in the current Serbian government, the Socialist Party of Serbia, came in second, with about 50 seats.

The Progressives are expected to choose their leader Aleksandar Vucic -- a former hard-line, pro-Russian nationalist who has become a pro-EU advocate -- as prime minister.

The vote came as Serbia is officially seeking entry into the EU, amid deep economic problems and simmering social discontent because of plunging living standards.

Japanese family reunited

TOKYO -- The parents of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea in 1977 were allowed to see their North Korean-born granddaughter for the first time last week at a secret meeting in Mongolia, Japan's Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

The meeting in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, between the parents of Megumi Yokota, who disappeared in Japan on her way home from school when she was 13, and her daughter, Kim Eun-gyong, now 26, according to Japanese news media, appeared to be a goodwill gesture by North Korea toward Japan.

Afghan hopeful withdraws

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan's former defense minister Abdul Rahim Wardak became the second presidential hopeful to withdraw from the race Sunday, leaving a field of nine candidates three weeks before the vote to replace Hamid Karzai.

Mr. Karzai is constitutionally banned from seeking a third term in office, and the vote will mark the first democratic transfer of power since the Taliban were ousted by the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. The balloting also will be a key test of the ability of government forces to provide their own security as the international community prepares to end its combat mission by the end of the year.

Deadly Nigeria stampede

ABUJA, Nigeria -- At least 16 people were killed in stampedes for government jobs in Nigeria when hundreds of thousands were invited to apply for fewer than 5,000 positions, officials and activists said Sunday.

Nigerians are desperate for work, with official statistics putting the number of unemployed at nearly 41 million of the 170 million population. Unemployment among young people aged under 24 is even higher -- 38 percent according to official statistics and nearer 80 percent, according to the World Bank.

Dubai rolls over $20B

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Dubai, the emirate that had debt maturing this year equivalent to a third of its economy, refinanced $20 billion at a quarter of the original cost, freeing cash to service liabilities and fund expansion plans.

Dubai and its state-owned companies borrowed more than $110 billion developing the real-estate industry and transforming the sheikhdom into a tourism and financial-services hub. The emirate, which announced plans to spend $8 billion gearing up to host the World Expo in 2020, faced $30 billion of maturities in 2014, according to International Monetary Fund estimates before Sunday's deal.


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