The Envoy

  • Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan said Tuesday that Syria has agreed to a ceasefire plan, but some implementation details remain to be worked out. Annan, who's been tasked with mediating an end to the Syria violence, received U.N. Security Council backing last week for a six-point proposal to ease the crisis.

    "I indicated that I had received a response from the Syrian government and will be making it public today, which is positive, and we hope to work with them to translate it into action," Annan told reporters in Beijing Tuesday after a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Reuters reported.

    "So we will need to see how we move ahead and implement this agreement that they have accepted," Annan said.

    The U.N. Syria envoy was on a two-day trip to China after a similar trip to Moscow to try to get Russia and China to back the measure. Annan's six-point plan calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, access for the distribution of humanitarian assistance, the release of political prisoners and greater freedom of movement. It also asks the Syrian government and opposition to work with Annan on a political reconciliation plan.

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  • Click photo to view more images. (Reuters/Pascal Rossignol)Click photo to view more images. (Reuters/Pascal Rossignol)Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged with complicity in an illegal prostitution ring. (Getty)Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn faced preliminary charges Monday of aggravated pimping, or illegal procurement of prostitutes, in France.

    Strauss-Kahn was summoned for eight hours of questioning Monday by French judges investigating an illegal prostitution ring operating out of the northern French city of Lille. The former IMF chief was notified that he was being placed under formal investigation, but allowed to leave after paying 100,000 Euros in bail, and agreeing not to talk to others being investigated in the case, or travel without consulting a judge, the Associated Press reported.

    French prosecutors in Lille have been investigating an illegal prostitution ring that is alleged to have brought prostitutes from Belgium to luxury hotels in France and to parties in Washington, D.C., and New York attended by VIP clients, France's Radio France International reported in October. Eight people have been charged in the case so far, including a police officer in Lille and three directors with the city's Carlton Hotel, the New York Times reported.

    An attorney for Strauss-Kahn adamantly denied Monday that his client had broken any law. "He firmly declares that he is not guilty of these acts and of never having the least inkling that the women he met could have been prostitutes," Richard Malka, a lawyer for Strauss-Kahn, told reporters.

    Another lawyer for Strauss-Kahn had earlier acknowledged that Strauss-Kahn had participated in the sex parties, but said his client could not have known the women were prostitutes. "I defy you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a nude classy woman," DSK lawyer Henri Leclerk said in a statement in December. "Because as you can imagine, at these kinds of parties you're not always dressed."

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  • Afghan forces killed three NATO soldiers

    Click photo to view more images. (AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari)Click photo to view more images. (AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari)Afghan security forces and police killed three NATO soldiers in two separate incidents Monday. Two of the soldiers killed were British and one was American. The latest "green on blue" attacks came as the top commander of the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan wrapped up a visit to Washington during which he sought to bolster confidence in the mission that has been shattered by a series of recent incidents, including the March 11 shooting rampage by a U.S. soldier that killed 17 Afghan civilians.

    Two British soldiers "were gunned down by an Afghan soldier in front of the main gate of a joint civilian-military base in southern Afghanistan," the Associated Press reported Monday, citing the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan.

    In a separate incident, a NATO service member "was shot by an alleged member of the Afghan Local Police" as the soldier approached a local police checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, ISAF said in a statement, adding that the incident is being investigated. Later reports indicated the third soldier killed was American. Details on his nationality were withheld until his next of kin could be notified, a spokesman for the force, Col. Gary Kolb, told Yahoo News by email Monday.

    Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander of the mission in Afghanistan, speaking in Washington Monday, sought to downplay concern over the "green on blue" attacks (or those by Afghan security personnel), calling the incidents unfortunate but not unexpected. "On any occasion where you're dealing with an insurgency and where you're also growing an indigenous force ... the enemy's going to do all that they can to disrupt ... counterinsurgency operations," he told reporters at the Pentagon Monday.

    But the spike in such attacks in recent weeks has contributed to a plummeting in American public support for the Afghanistan mission. A new poll released Monday by the New York Times/CBS News found that 68% of Americans think the war in Afghanistan is going somewhat badly or very badly, up sharply from the 42% who thought that in November. "The poll found that more than two-thirds of those surveyed — 69 percent — think that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan," the New York Times wrote on the poll's findings.

    The attacks have also raised alarm about the feasibility of a key element of the Obama administration's exit strategy for Afghanistan. Under a transition plan agreed to by President Barack Obama and NATO allies, U.S.-led forces plan to train some 350,000 Afghan army soldiers and police, and transition security responsibility to them in phases, as international forces withdraw from the country by the end of 2014.

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  • Netanyahu assails Iran deal, touts US-Israel ties
    Netanyahu assails Iran deal, touts US-Israel ties

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking to lower tensions, Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. officials cast their dispute over Iran as a family squabble on Monday, even as the Israeli leader claimed President Barack Obama did not — and could not — fully understand his nation's vital security concerns.

  • Former PGA pro retracts Woods ban claims
    Former PGA pro retracts Woods ban claims

    Former US PGA Tour player Dan Olsen on Monday retracted a claim that Tiger Woods has been suspended for a month after Woods' agent and tour officials strongly denied the statement. I want to apologize to Nike, the PGA Tour, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and (tour commissioner) Tim Finchem," Olsen said in a statement released by WFVN radio station based in Lansing, Michigan website. Olsen, a teaching pro who last played a US PGA event at the 2011 PGA Championship, compared Woods to noted US disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of seven Tour de France titles and admitted he took banned performance-enhancing substances.

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