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March 11, 2013 at 5:03 PM
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Carney: U.S. concerned by N. Korea words

WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- North Korea's "bellicose rhetoric" is causing concern at the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

"Well, we are certainly concerned by North Korea's bellicose rhetoric," Carney said during his media briefing. "And the threats that they have been making follow a pattern designed to raise tension and intimidate others."

North Korea "will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia," Carney said.

North Korea has taken a more strident position on the U.N. Security Council adoption of a new round of sanctions in response to the reclusive country's third nuclear test last month. North Korea also said it nullified the 1953 cease-fire to the Korean War and threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against South Korea and the United States.

The pitched rhetoric began in advance of joint U.S.-South Korea military drills Monday.

In Seoul, new South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said tensions between North and South Korea are creating a "very grave" security situation.

U.S. expels two Venezuelan diplomats

WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- The United States has expelled two Venezuelan diplomats in response to the expulsion of two U.S. officials, a U.S. official said Monday.

Orlando Jose Montanez Olivares and Victor Camacaro Mata were ordered to leave the country during the weekend, CNN reported. The expulsions were issued after Venezuelan officials last week expelled two U.S. Embassy officials and accused them of plotting against the government.

The U.S. State Department has denied the Venezuelan accusations.

A State Department official said the expulsion of the Venezuelan diplomats was a commensurate response to Venezuela's action, The Washington Post reported.

Pakistani schools close to protest arson

LAHORE, Pakistan, March 11 (UPI) -- Christian schools in Lahore, Pakistan, closed Monday to protest the arson burnings of more than 100 homes following blasphemy allegations.

More than 3,000 angry Muslims rampaged Saturday through Joseph Colony, a Christian area of Lahore following allegations a Christian made derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad three days earlier. About 150 people were arrested on riot and arson charges, the Indo-Asian News Service reported Monday.

There were no deaths reported but the incident triggered protest around the country from Christians, a small minority in overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan, seeking better protection, the news service said.

"Missionary schools of Lahore will remain closed on Monday on account of the massacre in Joseph Colony," said Bishop Sebastian Shaw, chairman of the Catholic Board.

The schools are regarded as among the best in Pakistan, and attract the children in wealthy Muslim families, the news service noted.

Qatada deportation hearing begins

LONDON, March 11 (UPI) -- Lawyers for Britain's Home Secretary began another attempt Monday to expel radical cleric Abu Qatada, who has fought deportation to Jordan for a decade.

Theresa May's lawyers are attempting to overturn a ban on deporting Qatada, once referred to by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, after an immigration judge concluded in November Qatada would not receive a fair trial on terrorist charges if returned to Jordan, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph said.

In the latest legal battle, the Home Office is appealing a decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission that he cannot be returned to Jordan because there was a "real risk" evidence obtained under torture could be used against him, a violation of his human rights.

The one-day hearing, before three judges, comes after Qatada was rearrested in London Friday for allegedly breaching bail conditions governing access to mobile phones, The Guardian reported Monday.

Navy jet crash apparently kills three

HARRINGTON, Wash., March 11 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy jet based at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station crashed in Harrington, Wash., Monday, officials said. Three people were believed to be dead.

Lincoln County deputies combed the crash site but found no survivors.

KOMO-TV, Seattle, reported three people were aboard the EA-6B Prowler.

A Whidbey spokesman confirmed the plane was from the base but had no further information.

"There's a pretty deep depression, a hole in the ground, and a lot of debris scattered around," Stan Dammel, who lives in the area and took his own plane over the crash site, told KOMO.

The EA-6B is an electronic warfare jet, an aircraft often used to provide support on combat missions.

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