World briefs: Envoy urges talks on Syria

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CAIRO -- Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations envoy to Syria, on Sunday called on the government of President Bashar Assad to meet opposition leaders for talks to end the conflict.

Mr. Brahimi said Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib's invitation for talks with the Syrian regime "opened a door" for solving the Syrian crisis, Mr. Brahimi said during a press conference in Cairo on Sunday. He called on all sides of the conflict in Syria, as well as the international and regional communities, to respond.

Mr. Assad's government signaled last week that it's ready to meet with the Syrian National Coalition led by Mr. Khatib. The opposition leader has requested talks focusing on finding a way for the president to leave power and halt the violence.

Mr. Brahimi said if negotiations can begin on UN premises, that "will be a beginning for getting Syria out of this dark tunnel."

Ecuador leader re-elected

QUITO, Ecuador -- Rafael Correa on Sunday celebrated his second re-election as Ecuador's president after an exit poll showed him leading by a wide margin. Official results have still not been released.

The 48-year-old Mr. Correa was first elected in 2006, and has raised living standards for the lower classes and widened their social safety net with region-leading social spending.

But critics criticize him as a bully who is intolerant of dissent.

Cyprus presidential runoff

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Cyprus heads into a runoff presidential election this weekend after no candidate won an outright majority in Sunday's vote.

In the runoff next Sunday, Nicos Anastasiades, a right-winger who won the first round with just over 45 percent of the vote and who presented himself as the most capable to negotiate a bailout with Cyprus' European partners, will face will face left-winger Stavros Malas, who has advocated being more assertive in negotiations for bailout loans to limit the severity of austerity measures they require.

Pakistan Shiites lash out

QUETTA, Pakistan -- Members of the Pakistani Shiite Hazara community on Sunday threatened to hold widespread protests if the government did not arrest within 48 hours the people responsible for a massive bombing that killed 81 people in a southwestern city.

Saturday's blast at a produce market in Quetta underlined the precarious situation for Shiites living in a majority Sunni country where many extremist groups don't consider them real Muslims. Some 160 people were also wounded in the blast.

Most of the dead and wounded were Hazaras, an ethnic group that migrated from Afghanistan over a century ago. Shiite Muslims, including Hazaras, have often been targeted by Sunni extremists in Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, as well as in the southern city of Karachi and northwestern Pakistan.

Also in the world ...

Thousands of soccer fans enforced a work stoppage Sunday in Egypt's restive city of Port Said to protest what they called government "injustices" regarding the sentencing last month of 21 people to death for involvement in a mass soccer riot in the city's main stadium on Feb. 1, 2012, that left 74 dead. ... About 40 masked attackers raided the facilities of a prospective gold mine in northern Greece overnight Sunday, setting machinery and offices alight, authorities said.

-- Compiled from news services



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