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Funerals for Pakistani Military Officers Killed at Army Headquarters Siege


PAKISTAN VIOLENCE: Funeral services were held Sunday for two senior Pakistani military officers who were killed when militants attacked army headquarters in Rawalpindi (near the capital, Islamabad).
Gunmen in military camouflage attacked the headquarters Saturday, killing six soldiers during a gunbattle at the main gate. Five attackers were also killed. Two others were captured, but several gunmen fled and took hostages in a nearby office building. The military said Sunday commandos stormed the building just before dawn and freed 39 hostages held by the militants since Saturday morning.
Army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said three hostages were killed during the rescue operation, along with four militants and two soldiers. Another wounded militant was captured. No group has claimed responsibility. But Pakistani leaders blame the Taliban for Saturday's attack, and have vowed to start a new offensive against militants in the South Waziristan tribal region.

TURKEY-ARMENIA: Turkey and Armenia have signed an agreement to normalize relations after a century of hostilities - despite a last minute glitch that nearly derailed the landmark agreement. Strong differences between the neighboring countries stem from the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces during and after World War One. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent several hours Saturday working to resolve a last-minute dispute over statements to be made at the signing ceremony in the Swiss city of Zurich. In the end, neither Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian nor his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, spoke after signing the protocols to restore diplomatic ties and to reopen their sealed border. OSCE chairman Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said in a statement Sunday that he commended the effort and political will leaders of the two countries had invested to overcome differences and work towards a more secure and stable region.

US-MIDEAST: Israeli officials say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell for a second time in three days.
Mr. Netanyahu's office says the meeting will take place Sunday in Jerusalem.
Mitchell met Friday with the Israeli prime minister in Jerusalem, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Mr. Netanyahu's office described the talks as "constructive," while Mr. Abbas was quoted as reiterating his demand for a full Israeli settlement freeze.
Mitchell is pushing for more talks between the two sides. He invited them to send representatives to Washington to continue discussions in an effort to revive the Middle East peace process.

IRAN-NUCLEAR: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the world will notwait indefinitely for Iran to meet international obligations regarding its nuclear program. She made the remarks after meeting Sunday with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in London. Miliband said Iran will never have a better opportunity to engage in normal relations with the rest of the world.
The meeting came a day after Iran said it will enrich its own uranium if talks with world powers to provide the nuclear fuel break down.

IRAQ-PROTESTS : More than 1,000 people took to the streets across Iraq Saturday to demand an open voting system in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The protests in the capital, Baghdad, the northern city of Kirkuk and the southern port city of Basra came after a call by Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Iraq's parliament has been considering adopting a closed voting system in the January 16 elections that would list only party blocks and not the individual candidates. Last week, al-Sistani said he supports open voting, raising the possibility he might urge Iraq's majority Shi'ites to boycott the elections if the voting system does not include the names of the candidates.

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