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MONDAY, JULY 16, 2007
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N. Korea shuts down nuclear reactor

BANGKOK, Thailand — U.N. inspectors have verified that North Korea has shut down its nuclear reactor, the chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Monday.

“Our inspectors are there. They verified the shutting down of the reactor yesterday,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency,

“The process has been going quite well and we have had good cooperation from North Korea. It’s a good step in the right direction,” ElBaradei said, speaking in Bangkok ahead of an event sponsored by Thailand’s Ministry of Science.

Fatah gunmen OK amnesty deal

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Scores of Fatah militants in the West Bank have signed a pledge renouncing attacks against Israel in return for an Israeli promise to stop pursuing them, a Palestinian security official said Sunday.

The deal would grant amnesty to 178 Fatah gunmen who will join the official Palestinian security forces, and Israel will remove them from its lists of wanted militants, the official said.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge details of the agreement.

An official in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office confirmed the deal would extend to wanted militants who openly renounce terrorism, and was part of a series of measures to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Peres takes office as Israeli president

JERUSALEM — Elder statesman Shimon Peres took office as Israel’s ninth president Sunday, pledging to devote his seven-year term in the ceremonial post to his lifelong dream of Middle East peace.

Taking his oath of office before parliament, Peres, 83, said Israel must make peace with the Palestinians and Arab countries through measures small and large, including cooperatively digging a canal and lakes in the desert between Israel and Jordan.

The swearing-in capped a six-decade political career that has included international acclaim and a Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to create peace in the region.

But Peres also suffered a string of embarrassing electoral defeats at home, where he was perceived by many as an unrealistic dreamer.

Militants fire rockets near Lebanon camp

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Militants holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp in North Lebanon fired more rockets that landed in farm fields outside the camp Sunday as the army bombarded suspected hideouts inside the besieged settlement.

Security officials said at least five Katyusha rockets landed in farm fields in the northern Akkar region, a few miles north of the Nahr el-Bared camp, where al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam militants have been fighting the Lebanese army.

No casualties were immediately reported, said the officials, speaking on customary condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give press statements.

Strong quake jolts northwestern Japan

TOKYO — A strong earthquake jolted northwestern Japan on Monday morning and caused buildings in the capital Tokyo to sway. The Meteorological Agency said small tsunamis as high as 20 inches were believed to have hit coasts in the area.

Three nuclear reactors in the region automatically stopped but no irregularities were reported, public broadcaster NHK said.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 and was centered off the coast of the prefecture (state) of Niigata, the agency said.

The tidal waves were believed to have hit the Niigata coasts.

Dog adopts baby panther in Belgrade

BELGRADE, Serbia — Man’s best friend helped save this tiny cat.

A 15-day-old female panther named Milica has been adopted by a Rhodesian Ridgeback after her mother refused to feed her and tried to kill her in the Belgrade zoo.

Now Milica fights with several newborn puppies over milk from her adopted mother. She also appears to enjoy every bit of attention she gets from her new family.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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