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World News: Israel Captures Arms Ship; More Venezuela Protests; China Inflation Rate Slows

By: ap
By: ap
Protests continue after Venezuelan diplomatic win... Arms ship captured by Israeli navy arrives at port... Iran president criticizes hard-liners over media... Suicide bomber uses Iraq police Humvee in attack... Libyan militia attempting at gunpoint to export oil abroad... 2 dozen children die in drought-hit south Pakistan... China

Israel accuses Iran of orchestrating the shipment of advanced rockets to Gaza militants.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuelans are again filling downtown streets in protest while the government celebrates a diplomatic victory in the Organization of American States.
Late Friday in Washington, the body voted to approve a declaration that rejected violence and called for just outcomes for the 21 people the government says have died in weeks of street protests. The resolution also supported the Venezuelan government's attempts to use political dialogue to end the protests.
The United States, Panama and Canada voted against the resolution. Venezuela broke off relations with Panama this week after that country asked the OAS to discuss the situation in Venezuela. The U.S. and Panama argued the declaration picked sides.
The Venezuelan opposition has refused to open a dialogue with the government until jailed protesters are released.

EILAT, Israel (AP) -- A captured ship that Israel says carried advanced rockets bound for Gaza militants has arrived to port.
The KLOS C sailed into the southern Eilat port Saturday, accompanied by Israeli naval vessels and forces that seized it days earlier in the Red Sea.
Israel says the ship was packed with dozens of Syrian-made M-302 rockets that would have put Israel's biggest cities well within reach of Gaza militants. Israel accuses Iran of orchestrating the delivery.
Officials in Iran and Gaza have denied being involved with the shipment.
The raid comes as Israel is stepping up pressure on world powers as they negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. Israeli leaders say the capture proves Iran is dangerous and shouldn't have the ability to produce a nuclear bomb.

EU foreign policy chief arrives in Iran for talks
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- The European Union's foreign policy chief has arrived in Iran, her first visit to the Islamic Republic as nuclear talks with world powers continue.
The official IRNA news agency said Catherine Ashton arrived in Tehran on Saturday night for talks with Iranian leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani.
Ashton leads the six-nation group -- the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany -- in talks with Iran over Tehran's nuclear program. Iranian media say the visit signals the normalization of Iran's relations with Europe after eight years of tension under Rouhani's predecessor, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iran struck an initial deal with world powers Nov. 24 to curb its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions. Negotiations for a final deal are ongoing.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's moderate-leaning president has strongly criticized hard-line officials for ordering reformist newspapers shut down.
Judicial authorities ordered two pro-reform newspapers -- Aseman and Bahar -- closed in recent months on allegations of questioning Islamic principles.
President Hassan Rouhani told reporters Saturday that it was wrong to close down a newspaper on its first offense just because one writer was seen as inappropriate. His comments were broadcast live on state TV.
Rouhani said his opponents were free to attack him. Hard-line media has denounced the historic nuclear deal his administration reached with world powers in Geneva last year a "poisoned chalice."
Iran's hard-line judiciary has shut down more than 150 pro-reform newspapers and jailed dozens of editors and writers, often on vague charges of insulting authorities, since 2000.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Authorities in Iraq say a suicide bomber has used a stolen police Humvee to pass through a military checkpoint and set off his explosives, wounding 14 people.
The attack happened Saturday in Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar province, where Iraqi security forces have been battling militants who took control of parts of the town in late December.
Police say militants stole the Humvee and painted it with military colors to trick soldiers into letting it by.
Elsewhere on Saturday, police say a roadside bomb targeting a military vehicle in Baqouba, 35 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, killed a captain and wounded four soldiers.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures for the attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to release the information.

Exiled Syria opposition confirms new army chief
BEIRUT (AP) -- A coalition of Syrian opposition groups has confirmed its choice for a new army chief after the former military leader refused to step down.
The Western-backed coalition's higher military council issued a statement Saturday confirming Brig. Gen. Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir was their new chief, replacing Gen. Salim Idris.
The military council originally made the announcement appointing al-Bashir on Feb. 17.
But two days later Idris rejected his dismissal, badly embarrassing the Western-backed coalition.
Then Idris, along with more than a dozen senior insurgent commanders severed ties with the political opposition-in-exile, further fragmenting the notoriously divided rebel movement.
Idris was ousted by colleagues who blamed him for the waning influence of the coalition-backed Free Syrian Army, as Islamic-orientated brigades grew in power.
Al-Bashir is a rebel commander from southern Syria.

Egypt passes presidential election law
CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's interim president has issued a much anticipated decree that governs upcoming presidential election, clearing the way for the vote that many expect the country's military chief to take part in and win.
Legal adviser Ali Awad said Saturday on state television that interim president Adly Mansour issued the decree. The elections commission will set a date for the vote, expected to be in April.
Mansour decreed that the decisions of the elections commission be protected from legal challenges, a contentious issue on which two of Egypt's top courts had staked opposing positions.
The law is passed after a transition plan laid out in July after the army ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is widely expected to declare his candidacy soon, and, if he runs, is forecast to win.

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- The spokesman for Libya's national oil company says militias in control of ports in the country's east are attempting to export oil independently with a North Korea-flagged tanker.
Mohammed al-Harari said Saturday that the vessel docked at al-Sidra could carry up to 350,000 barrels of oil. An oil company official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said armed gunmen forced workers loyal to the government to dock the ship.
The spokesman for the militia, Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, said that his group would respond to any attempt to stop the shipment. The militia has been demanding autonomy and a share of oil revenues, and has formed a shadow government.
Libya's oil exports have dropped drastically after the militia took control.

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistani officials say authorities are investigating whether malnutrition is responsible for the deaths of nearly two dozen children in the country's drought-hit desert south.
Kamran Zia, the chief spokesman for National Disaster Management Authority, said Saturday as many as 23 children have died in the villages of Tharparkar desert in the southern Sindh province since February.
He said it was unclear whether the children died from a shortage of food or medical problems.
Imdad Ali Keerio, the spokesman for the top elected official in the province, said investigators were also trying to determine who was responsible for delays in sending food and medicine to the area.
Tharparkar is located 1,100 kilometers (650 miles) south of the capital, Islamabad. The region is experiencing lower-than-average rainfall.

BEIJING (AP) -- China's inflation rate eased in February to 2 percent year-on-year amid signs the world's second-largest economy might be cooling.
The consumer price rise reported Sunday by the National Bureau of Statistics was down from January's 2.5 percent.
Lower inflation could ease pressure on Chinese leaders as they try to focus on promised reforms aimed at making the economy more productive and keeping growth strong.

China to tighten rules against pollution
BEIJING (AP) -- China says it will tighten environmental legislation and force polluters to pay compensation following renewed blasts of toxic air.
The speaker of the ceremonial parliament Zhang Dejiang said in a report Sunday that businesses were responsible for the environmental damage they caused and must be held to account. He said legal revisions were being prepared, but offered no specifics.
January saw air pollution density readings of PM 2.5 particles exceeding 500 micrograms per cubic meter, about 20 times as high as considered safe by the World Health Organization.
China has repeatedly emphasized the need to control pollution, but has been reluctant to enforce even those paltry measures already announced, largely out of a fear of social disruption and increasing the burden on an already slowing economy.

Plane catches fire landing in Nepal; no casualties
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- An Indian airliner with 170 people on board has caught fire while landing in Nepal's capital, but there were no casualties reported.
Tribhuwan International Airport in Katmandu says the wheels of the Airbus 320 operated by budget airline Indigo caught fire while landing Saturday and passengers were quickly evacuated through emergency doors. The fire was brought under control.
Aviation officials are investigating the incident.


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