International news in brief: Syrian conflict is a ‘danger to world’

SYRIA International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said after talks with president Bashar al-Assad yesterday the civil war threatened global peace.

Activists say more than 27,000 people have been killed during the 18-month-old uprising against Assad.

“This crisis is deteriorating and represents a danger to

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the Syrian people, to the region, and to the whole world,” he said. It was their first meeting since Brahimi replaced Kofi Annan as UN mediator two weeks ago.

Anti-Putin protest falls short of goals

RUSSIA Tens of thousands of people marched across downtown Moscow in the first major protest in three months against president Vladimir Putin, defying his efforts to muzzle dissent.

Leftists, liberals and nationalists mingled with students, teachers, gay activists and others on the capital’s tree-lined boulevards, chanting “Russia without Putin!” and “We are the government!”

Witnesses said opposition leaders appeared to have achieved their goal of attracting at least 50,000 people, enough to maintain momentum but almost certainly too few to increase alarm in the Kremlin. The protest underlined anger over tough measures to smother the opposition since Putin began another six years in the Kremlin in May.

Angelina visits Iraq to plead for refugees

IRAQ Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has met with leaders in Iraq to discuss the plight of an estimated 50,000 refugees who fled to escape violence in Syria.

A government statement said Jolie yesterday urged foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari to ensure the refugees have enough supplies.

An estimated 21,000 Syrian refugees are living in Iraq’s western Anbar and Dohuk provinces. Another 31,000 Iraqis who years ago fled to Syria to escape sectarian fighting in their homeland have returned. Jolie is a goodwill ambassador for the UN’s refugee agency. She is to visit the Kurdish capital of Irbil in northern Iraq today.

Karzai near to Kabul political entente

AFGHANISTAN Kabul’s parliament voted in a new intelligence chief and two security ministers yesterday, stepping closer to settling a row with president Hamid Karzai over ministerial appointments.

Political turmoil has delayed decisions on crucial legislation. Any fresh dispute could also complicate the planned transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces and a withdrawal of Nato combat troops by 2014.

India in uproar over retail market move

INDIA Angry opposition parties protested yesterday against the government’s decision to open the retail market to foreign retailers.

The surprise announcement on Friday on retail and aviation and the sale of minority stakes in four state-run companies evoked sharp criticism of the ruling Congress party. A day earlier, the government announced a hike in the price of diesel fuel.