World Briefs: Warhol, Picasso lead auction

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SHANGHAI -- Works by Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso led Christie's Asian and Western 20th century and contemporary art sale that raised $20 million in Shanghai on Saturday.

As Chinese collectors begin to venture beyond traditional Chinese paintings and antiques to collect Western works, auction houses have offered mainly prominent artists such as Picasso, Warhol, Damien Hirst and Marc Chagall along with Chinese modern and contemporary masters like Zao Wou-ki and Zeng Fanzhi.

The most expensive work of the 61-lot sale was bought by an Asian telephone bidder who paid 12 million yuan, including buyers premium, for the Warhol acrylic and silkscreen inks on canvas titled "Self- Portrait With Skeleton Arm and Madonna," after Edvard Munch.

Muslims freed from capital

BANGUI, Central African Republic -- Heavily armed peacekeepers escorted some of the last remaining Muslims out of Central African Republic's volatile capital on Sunday, trucking more than 1,300 people who for months had been trapped by violent Christian militants.

Within minutes of the convoy's departure, an angry swarm of neighbors descended upon the mosque. Tools in hand, they swiftly dismantled and stole the loudspeaker once used for the call to prayer and soon stripped the house of worship.

Armed Congolese peacekeepers stood watch but did not fire into the air or attempt to stop the looting. Soon teams of thieves were stripping the metal roofs of nearby abandoned Muslim businesses in the PK12 neighborhood.

Syria misses arms deadline

GENEVA -- Syria missed its second deadline for the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal on Sunday, but it may be only days away from completing the job, according to those overseeing the process.

The Syrian government had agreed to destroy about 1,200 tons of chemical agents after missing a February deadline, but by Sunday it had shipped out or destroyed 92.5 percent of the arsenal, said Sigrid Kaag, the coordinator of the joint mission by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Syria had made "significant progress" but needed to ensure that the remaining 7.5-8 percent of the arsenal was destroyed by the end of the month, Ms. Kaag said.

PM overhauls economy

BELGRADE, Serbia -- Serbia's new prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, on Sunday promised a total overhaul of the economy in the Balkan country that went through a decade of war and international isolation in the 1990s, but is now seeking European Union membership.

Serbia's new government was voted into office Sunday with 198 for and 23 against.

Mr. Vucic said the economic changes will include cuts in the public sector, budget revision and privatization of state-run companies, coupled with boosting the private sector. He predicted possible protests but pledged to stick to reform.

The EU opened accession talks with Serbia this year, after Belgrade agreed to normalize ties with Kosovo.

Also in the world ...

South Africans on Sunday celebrated 20 years of democracy with praise for those who guided their country, although some noted that economic inequality have undermined the nation's promise since the first all-race elections ended white rule in 1994. ... Saudi Arabia reported eight more deaths from Middle East respiratory syndrome as the number of cases in the outbreak climbed to 339.


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