World briefs: Army chief urges talks

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KARACHI, Pakistan -- Army chief Raheel Sharif called Wednesday for "meaningful" talks to resolve a weeklong political deadlock in a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's brother, according to a senior army officer.

Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab, met with the army chief Wednesday in Rawalpindi, the garrison city next to the capital of Islamabad, said the officer, who asked not to be identified because he's not authorized to speak with the media. The prime minister's family and the army chief aren't related.

Separately, the government sent a team led by Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique to negotiate with religious cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri to end the standoff, state-run Radio Pakistan reported on its website.

Reporter told to leave

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan has given a New York Times reporter 24 hours to leave the country, accusing him of not cooperating with an investigation into his reporting, the Attorney General's office said Wednesday.

Matthew Rosenberg, 40, was summoned for questioning on Tuesday after the newspaper ran a story about officials discussing plans to form an interim government and "seize power" if a deadlock over the presidential election failed to break soon.

Another post for ruler?

BANGKOK -- Thailand's military ruler, Prayuth Chan-Ocha, has already given himself absolute power as head of the junta that controls the country. Now he's looking to add legitimacy by taking on the role of prime minister.

It will be tough to convince critics that his probable appointment to the premiership today by his hand-picked legislature is anything more than the consolidation of power by a junta that has used the threat of detention and military trial to crack down on all dissent since ousting the elected government on May 22, in the country's 12th coup in 82 years.

Landslides kill 36

TOKYO -- Japan dispatched hundreds of troops to the western city of Hiroshima after torrential rain triggered landslides that national broadcaster NHK said killed 36 people and left seven missing.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cut short his vacation and returned to his official residence in Tokyo to coordinate the government's response to what he called "unprecedented" rain.

Detainee deaths reported

HONG KONG -- Five Tibetans have died in police custody in southwestern China after a protest last week during which residents were shot and wounded, according to the exiled Tibetan government and other groups abroad.

The accounts described a flaring of tensions in a mountainous area of Sichuan province that has long been in turmoil over the Chinese government's rule. The reports of deaths and bloodshed have not been confirmed by Chinese state news media, and public security and government officials in the region declined to comment when called Wednesday.

Congress overhaul weighed

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's ruling party on Wednesday proposed holding a referendum next year to reduce the size of Congress, which could strengthen its own hand and streamline legislative decision-making.

The idea is to slash the number of lower house legislators elected by proportional representation to 100 from 200, said Cesar Camacho, the head of President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

-- Compiled from news service


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