A third straight day of discussions appears possible Thursday between US and North Korean representatives on the latter's nuclear weapons program. The two sides have been meeting in Berlin for unprecedented talks, the first outside the framework of six-party negotiations that always have been held in China. North Korea has long demanded direct discussions with the US as a condition for progress. American negotiator Christopher Hill downplayed suggestions that the talks in Berlin might lead to a breakthrough, but he described them as "useful" so far. Hill has said he hopes the six-sided negotiations – with South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China also participating – can resume by month's end.
Renewed Sunni-Shiite violence added many more casualties in Iraq to the 105 deaths caused by car-bomb explosions and shootings Tuesday. At least 17 people were killed and 33 others were hurt in Baghdad's Sadr City district when another car bomb blew up at an outdoor market. Earlier, in the oil-industry center, Kirkuk, eight other people died and 43 were wounded in a similar attack. Police saw the car approaching and shot the driver, but he triggered his explosives before dying.
Two border guards were wounded, one of them critically, in Indian-controlled Kashmir early Wednesday in the first apparent violation of the three-year-old cease-fire with rival Pakistan. Indian authorities said they'd "lodge a strong protest" of the incident, in which Pakistani soldiers reportedly fired across the Line of Control to provide cover for Islamist militants trying to infiltrate under cover of darkness. Incidents of violence in the zone had dropped considerably since the two governments began a formal peace process in 2004. It was not immediately clear how Wednesday's shooting would affect that effort.
In a one-sided vote, his fellow legislators stripped Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden of the speakership of Somalia's parliament Wednesday. Analysts quickly suggested that the move could harm efforts at reconciliation with remnants of the Islamist militia that had controlled much of the nation before being driven out by government fighters with the help of Ethiopian air and ground forces. In voting no confidence in Aden, the lawmakers cited his public criticism of the proposed African Union peacekeeping force, which they've endorsed, and his unauthorized attempts to promote peace deals between the government and the Islamist militia. He was not present for the vote. Reports say he is traveling in Europe.
One of the terrorist leaders most wanted by US authorities was confirmed dead after a gun battle with Army forces in the southern Philippines. He was identified as Abu Sulaiman, also known as Jainal Antel Sali, perhaps the most important member of the Islamist rebel movement Abu Sayyaf. The group has close ties to Al Qaeda. The US was offering a $5 million bounty for his capture. He was sought for organizing the 2001 abduction of Christian missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham and a companion, Guillermo Sobero. Army commandos rescued Mrs. Burnham a year later, but her husband died in the effort. Sobero was found beheaded. Sulaiman also was wanted for plotting the 2004 bombing of a passenger ferry that killed 116 people.
Opponents denounced a proposal by newly reinstalled President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua that would give him direct control over the Army and police, warning that it is "authoritarian" and copies the lead of leftist Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. Ortega ran for office as a moderate who didn't intend to pursue the Sandinista policies of the 1980s, when he led Nicaragua's revolutionary government. Congress is expected to take up his proposal Friday.