World Briefs

  • 11/10/2008 02:00
  • 11/10/2008 02:00
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - NATO defense ministers Friday authorized their troops in Afghanistan to attack drug barons blamed for pumping up to ...

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - NATO defense ministers Friday authorized their troops in Afghanistan to attack drug barons blamed for pumping up to US$100 million (euro74 million) a year into the coffers of resurgent Taliban fighters. "With regard to counter-narcotics... ISAF can act in concert with the Afghans against facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency," said NATO spokesman James Appathurai, referring to the NATO force.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also urged NATO allies to temporarily increase force levels in Afghanistan next year to protect the 2009 presidential elections. "I suggested that we consider a temporary further increase in troops next year in connection with the elections in Afghanistan to help the Afghans provide security," Gates told reporters.

ADDIS ABABA - The African Union announced Friday it is sending a peace mission to Chad to try to ease long-running tensions between Ndjamena and neighbouring Sudan. "The African Union Commission is dispatching a mission to Chad... led by Burundi's former president Pierre Buyoya," following a decision in June by the bloc's Peace and Security Council (PSC), the AU said in a statement.

"During its visit, the delegation will meet with Chadian authorities and other partaking groups," the statement added.

The AU said the delegation will also travel to Sudan at a date to be arranged shortly.

NAIROBI, KENYA - A spokesman for the group of pirates holding an arms-laden tanker off the coast of Somalia has threatened to blow up the ship in three days if no ransom is paid. The pirates said Thursday they were willing to negotiate their ransom demand of $20 million.

CARACAS, Venezuela - The Venezuelan government ordered on Thursday nearly all McDonald's restaurants in the country closed for 48 hours for what it calls irregularities in the fast-food chain's financial books. The tax agency said it ordered more than 100 McDonald's restaurants temporarily shut on Thursday. Agency head Jose David Cabello announced on state television that "inconsistencies" were found in sales and purchases books, as well as in taxes collected. The restaurants will be allowed to reopen on Saturday.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A Swedish court has sentenced Chilean tenor Ernesto "Tito" Beltran to two years and six months in prison for raping an 18-year-old nanny and molesting a 7-year-old girl. The appeals court in Goteborg on Friday upheld a previous rape conviction, but overturned an acquittal in the molestation case. The 43-year-old singer has also been ordered to pay damages of $15,600 to the girl and $12,300 to the nanny.

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