North signals interest in talks with South
North Korea welcomed the new year Saturday with a call for better ties with rival South Korea, warning that war “will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust.”
However, the North, which has conducted two nuclear tests since 2006, also used its annual New Year’s message to declare that its military is ready for “prompt, merciless and annihilatory action” against its enemies.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said that despite the tough rhetoric, the editorial carried in the official Korean Central News Agency showed the North’s interest in resuming talks with the South.
The annual holiday message is scrutinized by neighboring countries for policy clues. This year, it received special attention after the North’s Nov. 23 artillery shelling of a South Korean island near the countries’ disputed western sea border, the first attack on a civilian area since the Korean War.
That barrage, which followed the North’s torpedoing of a South Korean warship in March, had fueled fears of war in recent weeks.
U.S. drone strikes kill 18 in Pakistan: Three U.S. missile strikes killed 18 people in a militant stronghold near the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, Pakistani intelligence officials said. At least nine people were killed in the first strike, against a moving vehicle in the North Waziristan tribal region. Two hours later, more drone-fired missiles struck people retrieving the bodies, killing five. A third strike Saturday evening again targeted a moving vehicle in North Waziristan, killing four people.
Brazilian president sworn in: Dilma Rousseff was sworn in as Brazil’s first female president, capping a rapid political ascent for the career technocrat and former Marxist rebel who was imprisoned and tortured during the nation’s military dictatorship. Rousseff, 63, takes the helm of Latin America’s largest country, which has risen both financially and politically on the world stage under her popular predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Russian jet explodes on runway, killing 3: A Russian passenger jet carrying 124 people caught fire as it taxied down a snowy runway and then exploded at a Siberian airport, killing three people and injuring 43. Most of the passengers and crew were evacuated after fire broke out in one of the Tu-154 aircraft’s engines.
Ten killed in NewYear’s bar crush
in South Africa: Police said 10 people were killed in a stampede during the early hours of New Year’s Day at a bar in Ipelegeng township, in largely rural North West province.
Russian oil starts flowing to China: Russia, the world’s top crude exporter, said it has begun scheduled oil shipments to China via an East Siberian link as the Kremlin continues to cement ties with its energy-hungry neighbor.
Estonia adopts euro: Estonia switched smoothly to the euro, brushing off worries about an economic crisis in the currency bloc that analysts say could deter bigger Eastern European nations from joining for up to a decade. Romania declares witches legal: Romania has changed its labor laws to officially recognize witchcraft as a profession. The move, which went into effect Saturday, is part of the government’s drive to crack down on widespread tax evasion in a country battling recession.
A soldier plays a drum after the swearing-in ceremony of Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia. Rousseff, 63, is the hand-picked successor of the popular Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.