BAGHDAD - Iraq's presidential council on Friday officially approved a law that paves the way for U.S.-backed provincial elections to be ...
BAGHDAD - Iraq's presidential council on Friday officially approved a law that paves the way for U.S.-backed provincial elections to be held by the end of January, officials said.
The move will allow preparations to go ahead for the first provincial elections in four years. But it came only after Iraqi lawmakers agreed to set aside the divisive issues of power-sharing in an oil-rich northern region and the representation of minorities.
Iraq's parliament approved the law unanimously on Sept. 24 following months of deadlock centering on a Kurdish-Arab dispute over the city of Kirkuk, which the Kurds seek to incorporate into their semiautonomous region.
But Christians, Yazidis and other minorities objected to the exclusion of an article that would guarantee them certain seats.
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan - Two suspected U.S. missile strikes Friday on villages close to the border with Afghanistan killed at least 12 people, most of them militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
American forces recently ramped up cross-border operations against Taliban and al-Qaida militants in Pakistan's border zone with Afghanistan — a region considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden.
Two missiles believed to have been fired from U.S. unmanned drones launched from neighboring Afghanistan hit the villages in North Waziristan just before dusk, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
A missile strike in one village killed at least 12 people, while there were no reported casualties in the other, they said.
BRUSSELS - The European Union has invited Belarus's foreign minister to meet his EU counterparts on October 13, the first invite since the bloc slapped sanctions on Minsk in 2006, a spokeswoman said Friday.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana "spoke this morning with (Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei) Martinov and invited him to come to Luxembourg on October 13," Solana's spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said.
The EU had raised the prospect of such a meeting ahead of last weekend's general elections in Belarus along with the possibility of lifting sanctions against hardline President Alexander Lukashenko's regime.
Even if the results of the election -- swept by Lukashenko loyalists -- were deemed "disappointing" by the EU and criticised by Western observers, the bloc highlighted some "positive developments which preceded the vote".
Those included the release of political prisoners.
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