World Briefs: Thai military acts as mediator

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BANGKOK -- A day after imposing martial law, the Thai military on Wednesday put leaders of the country's polarized political camps in the same room in an effort to end six months of political deadlock.

The military summoned the meeting participants in a television announcement. It was first time that all sides of the political conflict had attended talks together. The army invited the country's caretaker government, the two main political parties and protest leaders from both pro- and anti-government movements.

The meeting, which lasted 2 1/2 hours, was "positive" said a military spokesman, Col. Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak.

A second meeting was planned for this afternoon.

Mayor vows to stop base

WASHINGTON -- Susumu Inamine, the mayor of Nago on Okinawa island, acknowledges he's failed so far to persuade the Japanese and U.S. governments to drop plans to move an American military base to ecologically sensitive land in his city.

But he's not giving up.

Mr. Inamine Tuesday questioned the effectiveness of the U.S. military force on Okinawa and vowed to use his mayoral authority to block permits for the new base.

The American military presence on Okinawa remains among the most contentious issues in relations between the U.S. and Japan.

Mubarak, sons convicted

CAIRO -- A Cairo court on Wednesday convicted ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of embezzlement, sentencing him to three years in prison.

The graft case against the 86-year-old Mubarak, who is kept in custody at a military hospital, is one of two against the former president who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2011 after nearly three decades in power. He is being retried over the killings of hundreds of protesters during the uprising.

Mr. Mubarak's two sons, one-time heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa, were also convicted Wednesday of graft and sentenced to four years in prison each in the same case.

Ukraine tensions ease

KIEV, Ukraine -- Tensions subsided in Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin said he wanted to ease the way for a May 25 presidential election by pulling back Russian troops.

Reports of separatist violence and other crimes have fallen by as much as half following a call last week by Ukraine's richest man for an end to the strife gripping the country, Larysa Volkova, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry, said Wednesday.

Russia threatens Moldova

MOSCOW -- Russia may raise trade barriers against Moldova if the former Soviet republic follows Ukraine in seeking an association agreement with the European Union, said two Russian government officials with knowledge of the plans.

Moldova plans to sign a free-trade pact with the 28-member bloc next month, which may hurt the competitiveness of Russian products in the country. Russia may increase import duties to protect its market from European goods flowing through Moldova,.

Police join strikes in Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Brazilian police joined Sao Paulo bus drivers in work stoppages Wednesday, leaving commuters stranded in South America's largest city and crimes unreported before the World Cup starts on June 12.

Wednesday's protests follow a walkout last week by military police in the northeastern city of Recife, which will host World Cup games.

-- Compiled from news services



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