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Negotiators from six nations opened the latest round of talks on North Korea's nuclear program Thursday, conceding that verification of all facets the latter has declared "will take months." Amid an overall climate of cautious optimism, however, analysts advised the participants in Beijing not to expect "smooth sailing," predicting that the North would employ new stalling tactics until the next US president has been inaugurated.

Reinforcements from Lebanon's Army took up positions between rival Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods in Tripoli Thursday even though a new cease-fire largely had driven gunmen from both sides off the streets. But casualties from the fighting earlier this week continued to mount as a fifth victim died of his wounds. The violence came as Prime Minister Fuad Siniora struggled to cobble together a unity government in time for a conference on Mediterranean issues that President Michel Suleiman will attend Sunday in Paris.

On Saturday, the militant group responsible for many of the attacks on Nigeria's oil industry will end its two-week-old cease-fire, a spokesman announced. He said the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta's decision was prompted by a pledge by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to "give help to the Nigerians to deal with the lawlessness that exists in this area."


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