World briefs: S. Korea leader regrets disaster

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SEOUL, South Korea -- Under mounting public pressure, President Park Geun-hye apologized Tuesday for failing to prevent a ferry disaster that left 302 people, the vast majority of them high school students, dead or missing, and promised broad overhauls to make her country a safer place.

"My heart aches thinking how I can best apologize and ease the grief and pain," she said during a Cabinet meeting, admitting to her government's fumbling in the early stages of rescue operations.

It was a humbling moment for Ms. Park, the daughter of military strongman Park Chung-hee. Since she took office in February 2013, Ms. Park has built a reputation for steely leadership in the face of military threats from North Korea. But the political opposition has often accused her of being an imperious leader blind to criticism.

Although the prime minister, Chung Hong-won, resigned Sunday, apologizing for the disaster, few analysts have yet suggested that it has threatened Ms. Park's ability to govern. On Tuesday, Ms. Park said she would create a central government agency to ensure better coordination in rescue efforts in major disasters.

EU demand lifts Gazprom

MOSCOW -- Gazprom, Russia's largest company, reported Tuesday a solid showing for its yearly earnings, which were up 10 percent in 2013 with most of the increase attributable to growing demand in the European Union.

The results predated the worst of the crisis in Ukraine and Western sanctions, though the company acknowledged both problems loom as risks this year.

An expansion of sanctions would harm Gazprom, the company's annual report said. Also, a pricing dispute with Kiev could interrupt supplies to Gazprom's Western European customers.

Egypt aid blocked

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of a key Senate panel Tuesday blocked $650 million in military aid for Egypt in a sign of Washington's ambivalence over support for the authoritarian military government in Cairo.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate subcommittee responsible for foreign aid, said in a speech on the Senate floor that he could not approve the release of the aid after an Egyptian court Monday sentenced to death 683 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement of Egypt's ousted Islamist president, in a widely criticized mass trial.

Knox reasoning released

MILAN -- The Italian appeals court that reinstated the conviction against Amanda Knox in her British roommate's 2007 murder said in a lengthy reasoning made public Tuesday that Knox herself delivered the fatal blow out of a desire to "overpower and humiliate" the victim.

The release of the court's reasoning opens the verdict to an appeal back to the supreme Court of Cassation. If it confirms the convictions, a long extradition fight for Knox is expected.

Also in the world ...

A surreptitiously taped video clip that surfaced Tuesday shows the mayor of Mexico's busiest cargo port seemingly receiving instructions from the chief of the Knights Templar crime group, underscoring how deeply the organization has co-opted politicians in troubled Michoacan state. ... The countries searching for the missing Malaysian jet are assessing a claim by a resource survey company that it found possible plane wreckage in the northern Bay of Bengal, Malaysia's defense minister said Tuesday.

-- Compiled from news services



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