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July 16, 2011 at 6:00 PM
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Obama meets with Dalai Lama

BEIJING, July 16 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama spent about 45 minutes Saturday with the Dalai Lama, rejecting a call from China to cancel the meeting.

The meeting, which began just after 11:30 a.m., was private, the White House said. Neither Obama nor the Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of Tibet's Buddhists, made any statement about it.

The Dalai Lama celebrated his 76th birthday in Washington this month with a Buddhist ritual called "Turning of the Wheel of Time." He is scheduled to speak Sunday at the Theosophical Society in America in Wheaton, Ill., the Chicago Tribune reported.

"The president will highlight his enduring support for dialogue between the Dalai Lama's representatives and the Chinese government to resolve differences," a White House statement in advance of the meeting said.

Chinese officials firmly oppose any senior foreign government officials meeting with the Dalai Lama.

"The issue regarding Tibet concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and we firmly oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama in any form," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told China's official Xinhua news agency.

Obama last met with the Dalai Lama in February 2010, the BBC said.


Iraq bombings target Shiite pilgrims

KARBALA, Iraq, July 16 (UPI) -- At least nine people were killed by car bombs near Karbala as Shiite pilgrims gathered there for a religious festival, Iraqi officials said Saturday.

The three bombings Friday and Saturday morning also wounded 70 people, CNN reported.

Shabaniya, the birthday of the last imam, Mohammed Ibn Hassan al-Mahdi, falls on Sunday. Many pilgrims were already on their way to Karbala, about 60 miles south of Baghdad and site of the Imam Hussein Shrine.

The last reported bombing occurred Saturday when a motorcycle converted to a bomb exploded. The bombing killed one and injured at least 27 people.

Two people were killed Friday afternoon by a double car bombing. The deadliest attack was Friday night when a car bomb killed six people just north of the city.

An Interior Ministry official told CNN the bombings appear to be the work of al-Qaida in Iraq, although the group has not claimed responsibility.


Somalia wracked by drought, thousands dead

DADAAB, Kenya, July 16 (UPI) -- The misery and death in Somalia from a devastating drought is "shocking," a spokesman for the humanitarian organization CARE says.

A thousand or more new refugees arrive at the camp at Dadaab, Kenya, from neighboring Somalia every day, but there is nowhere for them to go so many of them die under trees near the camp, The New York Times reported.

"It's shocking," said Alexandra Lopoukhine, a spokeswoman for CARE, which is working at the camp in Dadaab.

The refugees are fleeing one of the worst droughts in Somalia in 60 years, and many have walked for weeks to get to the camp. Many have buried children along the way, or soon will be, the report said.

"I walked all day and all night," whispered Abdio Ali Elmoi, clutching her skeletal-like son, whose eyes were growing dimmer. "Where I come from, there is no food."

Elmoi said she has already lost three children to starvation.

The situation is made worse because Kenya has so far blocked the opening of a second camp at the site, which is capable of holding an additional 40,000 people, the Times said.

Islamist militants controlling southern Somalia kicked Western aid organizations out of the country last year, and it is too dangerous for them to return, the Times reported.

"Personally, I've done what I could," said Gerald Otieno Kajwang, Kenya's immigration minister. "But the numbers coming in are too large that they threaten our security."

The camp has a capacity of about 90,000 but hosts nearly 400,000 refugees and is expected to hold at least 450,000 by year's end, the Times said.

The Kenyan government Friday indicated the new camp would open soon but gave no date.


Karzai assassin had been CIA contact

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 16 (UPI) -- The guard who assassinated Afghan President Hamid Karzai's brother was a trusted CIA contact before he joined forces with the Taliban, The Independent reported.

Sardar Mohammad, who shot Ahmed Wali Karzai Tuesday in Kandahar, also attended regular meetings with U.K. officials, and two of his brothers-in-law worked in a CIA-run paramilitary unit, the newspaper said.

Mohammad's action was initially believed to be motivated by personal circumstances, but security officials soon learned Taliban intelligence operatives had infiltrated Afghan security and reached Karzai's innermost circle.

The insurgents "get these very big victories quite often and I think probably we underestimate the [Taliban's] intelligence components," one Western analyst told the newspaper.

"Our investigation shows that for the last three months he was acting out of character, not normal, erratic," said Mahmoud Karzai, another of Karzai's brothers.

"He wasn't sleeping, he was nervous, he was getting phone calls in the middle of the night, and our information shows he made a trip to Quetta [in Pakistan] and met with some Taliban. His father was a mullah. So all these things combined, plus the Taliban claim of responsibility ... but our preliminary investigation indicates this was the work of the Taliban."

The Washington Post reported Ahmed Wali Karzai met with Mohammad six days a week and had even taken his mother to Mohammad's house.

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