World briefs: Coup ends hunt for warlord

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JOHANNESBURG -- Uganda's military has suspended its hunt for the notorious warlord Joseph Kony after rebels toppled the president of the Central African Republic, where Mr. Kony is believed to be hiding with his Lord's Resistance Army.

A Ugandan military spokesman said Wednesday that the ouster of President Francois Bozize by the Seleka rebel alliance had forced a halt to the Kony hunt.

Mr. Kony, indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, is believed to be hiding in the eastern Central African Republic with several hundred of his fighters. He is notorious as a particularly brutal militia leader who staged a rebellion in northern Uganda in the 1990s.

About 100 U.S. special forces troops are involved in the search for Mr. Kony, supporting about 3,000 African troops, mainly Ugandans. The U.S. forces also suspended their search, Reuters reported.

Kerry to return to Mideast

WASHINGTON -- Evoking the U.S. shuttle diplomacy of decades past, Secretary of State John Kerry is making his third trip to the Middle East in a span of just two weeks in a fresh bid to restart long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Though expectations are low for any breakthrough on Mr. Kerry's trip, which begins Saturday, his meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders represent some of the Obama administration's most sustained efforts at engagement in a part of the world that has frustrated American administrations for the past six decades.

Mr. Kerry is going at a precarious time. Overnight and into Wednesday, Israel and Gaza militants engaged in the heaviest fighting since a cease-fire was declared in November. The militants fired several rockets into southern Israel, and Israel responded with its first airstrike in Gaza since the fighting subsided. No injuries were reported on either side.

Syrian rebels move south

BEIRUT -- Syrian rebels captured a military base in the south on Wednesday and set their sights on seizing control of a strategically important region along the border with Jordan that would give them a critical gateway to attempt an attack on the capital, Damascus.

With foreign aid and training of rebels in Jordan ramping up, the opposition fighters have regained momentum in their fight to topple President Bashar Assad.

But while the fall of southern Syria would facilitate the rebel push for Damascus, it might also create dangerous complications, potentially drawing Syria's neighbors into the 2-year-old civil war. Besides abutting Jordan, the region includes territory that borders Syria's side of the Golan Heights, along a sensitive frontier with Israel.

Prospect dim for arms treaty

WASHINGTON -- Senate opponents of a treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar global arms trade said Wednesday they have the votes to block ratification of the pact, which is also opposed by the outlaw regimes of North Korea, Syria and Iran.

One day after the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the treaty, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said it was "deeply flawed" and became the 35th senator to endorse a resolution of opposition. The Constitution requires two-thirds of the Senate -- 67 votes -- to ratify a treaty.

The United States joined 153 nations in backing the treaty that proponents argue will keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists and human rights abusers.

Also in the world ...

Spain's Princess Cristina has been named a suspect in a corruption case involving her husband, a court in Palma de Mallorca said Wednesday. ... At least 52 people drowned in their homes and cars, were electrocuted or died in other accidents as flooding from days of torrential rains swamped Argentina's low-lying capital and province of Buenos Aires.

-- Compiled from news services



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