World Briefs: Kerry presses Mideast peace

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ROME -- Hoping to salvage foundering Mideast peace negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is interrupting a trip to Europe with President Barack Obama to press Israeli and Palestinian leaders to stick with the talks beyond an April deadline.

The meetings come at a critical time in the peace talks and against a looming April 30 deadline for a settlement. But the Palestinians have threatened to walk away before then unless Israel releases a batch of prisoners as it agreed to by March 29.

The State Department announced Tuesday that Mr. Kerry will travel to Amman, Jordan, to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas today. Mr. Kerry also will talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, likely either by telephone or videoconference, in the next few days, said a deputy spokeswoman. Mr. Kerry is currently in Rome to join Mr. Obama at a meeting Thursday with Pope Francis.

5 killed in Taliban attack

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Taliban insurgents opposed to Afghanistan's upcoming presidential vote stormed an election office in Kabul on Tuesday and killed five people, officials said.

The sound of gunfire echoed across Kabul's Darul Aman neighborhood for several hours as insurgents battled Afghan security forces while dozens of election commission workers remained trapped in the building.

It was the latest brazen attack by the Taliban aimed at disrupting the April 5 election to choose a successor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Egypt sets new mass trial

CAIRO -- An Egyptian court convened another mass trial Tuesday with more than 680 defendants, a day after being vehemently denounced by human rights groups and legal organizations for simultaneously condemning 529 others to death.

The proceedings again took place in Minya, in the Nile River Valley about 150 miles south of Cairo. Defense attorneys boycotted Tuesday's session, citing what they called massive violations of due procedure in the mass capital punishment verdict rendered by the same criminal court a day earlier.

Maduro alleges coup plot

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Three Air Force generals were arrested in Venezuela for their alleged involvement in a coup attempt, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday.

Mr. Maduro, hand-picked successor to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, has long accused opposition demonstrators of trying to topple his government. The opposition has denounced disproportionate use of force and attacks on demonstrators by armed pro-government forces.

Flight 370 victims protest

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Frustration over the fate of Flight 370 mounted, with gale-force winds delaying the search in the rough and remote seas off western Australia, and angry relatives shouting "Liars!" in the streets of Beijing about Malaysia's declaration that the plane went down with all aboard.

The weather had improved by this morning when a total of 12 planes and two ships from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were scheduled to resume the hunt in a vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean.

Offer made to protesters

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said he's willing to meet protesters in a bid to assuage anger over a China trade pact that's prompted a weeklong seizure of the legislature and violent clashes with riot police.

The protests underscore concern in Taiwan about his policy of seeking closer economic ties to China.

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