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July 9, 2012 at 8:33 AM   |   Comments

Annan in Damascus to meet with Assad

DAMASCUS, Syria, July 9 (UPI) -- U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan was in Syria Monday to meet with President Bashar Assad, the first meeting between the two since Annan's peace plan collapsed.

News of the talks came as Syria's state-run media reported the country's military participated in live-fire training exercises that simulate defense from an invasion and new allegations of violence were made by both the regime and opposition, CNN reported.

Ahmad Fawzi, Annan's spokesman, did not release details of the talks that follow an admission by the former U.N. secretary-general that a six-point peace plan he brokered in March had collapsed.

Monday's talks came after an emergency meeting Annan called in late June of foreign ministers who agreed a transitional governmental body was needed to help end the 16-month Syrian crisis. Under the proposal, approved June 30 by the U.N. Security Council and the Arab League, Assad's government and the opposition would appoint representatives to negotiate the transitional government's composition.

Assad has never indicated he would step aside, repeatedly blaming the uprising on home-grown or foreign terrorists bent on destabilizing Syria.


Flood victims mourned in Russia

KRYMSK, Russia, July 9 (UPI) -- An early warning system failed and mistakes were made by authorities during flooding that killed more than 170 people in Russia, a government minister said.

The country observed a day of mourning Monday for victims of the floods in the southern Krasnodar region.

Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said the warning system failed to operate, RIA Novosti said.

"Mistakes were made by local authorities and certain departments," Puchkov said during a meeting about the floods. "Not all the population was warned in time."

A criminal investigation was under way.

States of emergency were declared in Krymsk, Novorossiysk and Gelendzhik, where more than 24,000 people were affected by the disaster and more than 640 houses were destroyed, ITAR-Tass reported.

A massive storm struck the region Friday, inundating the area for two days.

As cleanup operations pressed ahead, Russia's opposition lashed out at President Vladimir Putin's government's response to the disaster, RIA Novosti reported.


Death toll rises in India flooding, slides

DISPUR, India, July 9 (UPI) -- The death toll from flooding and landslides in India's Assam province has risen to at least 140, with 17 people reported missing, authorities said.

Floodwaters from the Brahmaputra River inundated more than 2 million acres of land.

The waters have begun to recede but still flow well above the danger level in most districts in the province, the Press Trust of India reported Monday.

The death toll from floods had risen to 124, officials said.

It is the worst flooding in the remote region since 2004, the news agency reported.

About 2.4 million people were driven from their homes in 4,540 flood-stricken villages and an estimated 500,000 others took refuge in 630 relief camps.


S. Korea: U.S. troops overstepped bounds

SONGTAN, South Korea, July 9 (UPI) -- South Korean officials said Monday they want a meeting with U.S. military officials after U.S. troops handcuffed at least two South Koreans in a dispute over parking.

U.S. Forces Korea have not confirmed that such a meeting will take place, but top U.S. military officials have apologized for the Thursday incident, Stars and Stripes reported.

Grainy video taken by passersby show at least five airmen from the 7th Air Force handcuffed at least two, possibly three, South Koreans for blocking the Osan Air Base's main gate in the city of Songtan. The patrol said the car was considered a force protection threat.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade official, whose name was not reported, said the troops overstepped their bounds and should have allowed South Korean police to handle the situation. The official said the proposed meeting would include discussing U.S. security forces rights and authority in light of the incident.

The U.S. military said the South Koreans assaulted the patrol, forcing them to act in self-defense, Stars and Stripes reported. The five airmen have been suspended from off-base patrol.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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