President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the conclusion of their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. In the rocky relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan, the mere fact that Obama and Sharif sit down is seen as a sign of progress. Few breakthroughs are expected on the numerous hot-button issues on their agenda Wednesday, including American drone strikes and Pakistan's alleged support of the Taliban. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- The Pakistani government is accusing the U.S. of sabotaging peace talks with domestic Taliban fighters by killing their leader in a drone strike on Friday.
The slain Pakistani Taliban leader, Hakimullah Mehsud (hah-kee-MUH'-lah meh-SOOD'), was known for a deadly attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan and a bloody campaign that killed thousands of Pakistani civilians and security personnel.
The Pakistani army has launched numerous operations in the country's northwest in a failed attempt to subdue the group, which aims to topple Pakistan's democratic system and impose a harsh version of Islamic law.
Pakistan's government, which took office in June, has pushed peace talks with the Taliban as the best way to end the conflict, although many people are skeptical a deal is possible.
The drone strike that killed Mehsud in the North Waziristan tribal area came on Friday, a day before the government was to send a three-member delegation of clerics to the region with a formal invitation to start peace talks.
Pakistan's interior minister called the drone attack "murder" to the peace effort.
PARIS (AP) -- The French Foreign Ministry says two French journalists working for the radio station RFI have been killed in northern Mali hours after being kidnapped by gunmen.
The foreign ministry said the bodies of Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont were found on Saturday.
RFI said earlier on its Web site that the pair had been kidnapped by gunmen in Kidal.
(AP's earlier story is below)
Two journalists working for French radio station RFI were kidnapped Saturday in Mali's northern city of Kidal, the station and a Mali military head said.
RFI confirmed the kidnappings on its website, saying that journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were taken at 1 p.m. by armed men in Kidal and have not been heard from since.
Col. Mamari Camara said he had received a phone call in the afternoon from his men in the field confirming the two reporters had been taken Saturday.
The two were grabbed by several armed men in a 4x4 after they finished an interview with a Tuareg rebel leader, a Kidal city official said on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press.
Northern Mali last year was seized by a faction of al-Qaida which has used kidnappings of foreigners, especially French citizens, to bankroll its operations.
This week, four Frenchmen kidnapped in Niger three years ago and held in Mali were released.
The global intelligence company Stratfor estimates that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, has carried out at least 18 kidnappings since 2003, raising an estimated $89 million in ransom payments.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Hard-liners in Iran have unveiled two new "Death to America" songs at the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, hoping to keep anger high ahead of nuclear talks with Western powers.
They performed the songs Saturday ahead of a planned massive protest Monday to mark the anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover in 1979.
The anniversary this year is drawing greater attention due to hard-line opposition to moderate President Hassan Rouhani's outreach to the West as talks over the country's contested nuclear program continue. Hard-liners also criticized Rouhani's historic telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama in September, a gesture aimed at ending three decades of estrangement between the two countries.
Authorities pulled down dozens of anti-U.S. banners and posters around Tehran last week.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's Oil Minister says Iraq has increased its crude oil exports to compensate for a fall in Iranian exports as a result of sanctions over Tehran's suspected nuclear program, calling the policy "not friendly at all."
Bijan Namdar Zanganeh is quoted by the semiofficial Mehr news agency Saturday as saying that Iraq's oil policies are to Iran's detriment.
Iran's oil exports are believed to have fallen from about 2.5 million to over 1.2 million barrels a day as a result of a Western oil embargo against Iran over Tehran's uranium enrichment program.
The U.S. and its allies fear that Iran may ultimately be able to develop a nuclear weapon, a charge Iran denies.
Iran generally enjoys good relations with Iraq's Shiite-led government.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- A report by an Iranian media website says China has agreed to finance $20 billion in development projects in Iran using oil money not transferred to the Islamic Republic because of international sanctions.
The tasnimnews website published a report Saturday quoting prominent lawmaker Hasan Sobhaninia saying the deal was reached during talks between Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani and Chinese leaders. Larijani visited China this week and Sobhaninia accompanied the speaker.
Iran government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nowbakht said last week that some $22 billion dollars of Iranian oil money is stuck in China because of sanctions.
The U.S. and its allies have imposed oil and banking sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program. Iran frequently uses barter arrangements because of the sanctions.
China is Iran's top crude oil importer.
BEIJING (AP) -- An explosion at a fireworks factory in southern China has killed 11 people and injured 17 others.
The official Xinhua News Agency says the cause of the blast that took place Friday afternoon in the city of Cenxi in the Guangxi autonomous region is unknown.
A man reached at the Guangxi Work Safety Bureau said Saturday that two executives of the factory have been detained.
He only gave his last name as Chen, which is common among China's bureaucrats when speaking to the press.
Workplace safety is a major problem in China where enforcement of laws is lax with factories themselves usually left to decide whether to follow them.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- An official in Yemen says a cease-fire has taken effect between an Islamic Salafi movement and rebels in the country's restive north following three days of fighting that killed more than 100 people.
Yehia Mansour, a member of a presidential committee tasked with negotiating the cease-fire, said Saturday that two army battalions would enforce the agreement in the northern Saada province.
Serour al-Wadie, a spokesman for the Sunni Salafi movement, said at least 100 of its fighters were killed in the clashes that began Wednesday.
Tribesmen close to the northern rebels say dozens of Hawthis also were killed in the fighting. They spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals.
Animosity runs deep between the Salafis and Hawthis, who had fought against the government.
MADRID (AP) -- Britain's government says it is complaining to Spain after a minor boat collision off Gibraltar, the latest incident in a spat over the disputed U.K. territory.
Britain's defense ministry says a Spanish police boat "maneuvered in a dangerous and provocative manner" near Royal Navy ships within Gibraltar's territorial waters and struck one of them Wednesday. The collision was "minor" and "no damage or injuries were sustained," according to a statement Friday.
It's a public holiday in Spain and government offices weren't answering repeated calls seeking comment.
Tension has grown after Gibraltar built an artificial reef that Spain says hurts its fishermen. Spain retaliated by beefing up border security, creating delays.
Spain ceded sovereignty of Gibraltar to Britain in 1713, but has persistently sought to regain the tiny southern territory.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela is quietly seizing control of two oil rigs owned by a unit of Houston-based Superior Energy Services after the company shut them down because the state oil monopoly was months behind on payments.
The seizure started Thursday after a judge in the state of Anzoategui entered a Superior depot and ordered the company to hand over the rigs to an affiliate of state-owned PDVSA. Four members of the local police and national guard are overseeing the equipment's removal.
PDVSA in a court document obtained by The Associated Press calls the expropriation essential to Venezuela's development.
Late President Hugo Chavez liked to grandstand on national television ordering troops to seize everything from supermarkets to foreign-owned oil companies. However his successor Nicolas Maduro has avoided expropriations six months into his rule.
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