North sig­nals in­ter­est in talks with South

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD -

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.

SIL­VIA IZQUIERDO/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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