World Briefs: Europe wants some certainty

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SANTIAGO, Chile -- A 60-nation summit wrapped up in Chile on Sunday with European leaders pleading for "legal certainty" and lower trade barriers between economies that together represent a billion people and about $280 billion in bilateral trade.

Europe is the top direct investor in Latin America and the Caribbean. But the flow of money across the Atlantic has slowed because of a European recession marked by record unemployment, austerity measures and mounting debts.

Adding to Europe's woes, companies from Spain, France and other once-dominant economies have been seized in recent years as Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela seek to regain control over their resources.

The Europeans' frustration was evident at the CELAC-EU summit.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said sustainable development in the two continents, which collectively represent a third of the world's nations and a fourth of the world's gross domestic product, cannot occur if shifting regulations make long-term investments too risky.

"Both sides [Europe and Latin America] need to provide legal certainty to companies investing in our economies," he said.

UK: Threat in Somaliland

LONDON -- British citizens should immediately leave the breakaway Somaliland region of Somalia because of a specific threat to Westerners, British diplomats said Sunday. It was the second such warning issued for an African region in just days.

"We don't believe in that warning," Somaliland Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulahi Omar said. "We are informing the public and foreigners in our country that there's no security scares at all. But in general, terrorism is a worldwide menace."

21 Afghan officers killed

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two police officers, including a district commander, died in a bombing Sunday near Afghanistan's border with Iran, part of a rash of attacks that killed at least 21 officers in 24 hours, Afghan officials said.

It was the latest in a series of bombings targeting the Afghan security forces, which have been assuming increasing responsibility for safeguarding the country ahead of the departure of most foreign troops next year.

Sharon's brain responds

JERUSALEM -- A brain scan performed on Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli prime minister who had a devastating stroke seven years ago and is presumed to be in a vegetative state, revealed significant brain activity in response to external stimuli, raising the chances that he is able to hear and understand, a scientist involved in the test said Sunday.

Scientists showed Mr. Sharon, 84, pictures of his family, had him listen to a recording of the voice of one of his sons and used tactile stimulation to assess the extent of his brain's response.

Deal clears Myanmar debt

YANGON, Myanmar -- The World Bank on Sunday announced a long-awaited deal to allow Myanmar to clear part of its huge decades-old foreign debt, opening the door for new much-needed lending to jump-start its lagging economy.

The bank's Washington headquarters announced in a statement that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation will provide a bridge loan to Myanmar to allow it to cover outstanding debt to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which totals about $900 million.

Myanmar stopped payments on its old loans about 1987, making it ineligible for new development lending.

-- Compiled from news services



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