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World news briefs — compiled Jan. 14

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ISRAEL

Official criticizes Kerry

An Israeli newspaper quoted the defense minister Tuesday as deriding U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Mideast peace efforts as naive and foolhardy. The quotes appeared ahead of another visit by Kerry, who is expected in the region in the coming weeks to deliver his ideas on a framework for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In the comments published by the Yediot Ahronot daily, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon dismissed Kerry’s security plan as worthless. In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Yaalon’s comments, if accurate, were “offensive and inappropriate,” given everything the U.S. is doing to support Mideast peace efforts.

THAILAND

Protesters are shot

Gunshots rang out in the heart of Bangkok overnight in an apparent attack on anti-government protesters early today that wounded at least two people and ratcheted up tensions in Thailand’s deepening political crisis. The city’s emergency services office said one man was hit in the ankle and a woman was hit in the arm in the shooting, which occurred on a street leading to one of Bangkok’s glitziest shopping districts that has been occupied by camping demonstrators trying to bring down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government since Monday. Most of the city has been unaffected by the protests and Bangkok was calm today, but the attack was the latest in a string of violent incidents this month.

FRANCE

Leader admits troubles

President Francois Hollande conceded Tuesday that he is going through “painful moments” with his companion, who was hospitalized after a magazine reported that he is secretly having an affair with an actress. But Hollande, who has some of the lowest approval ratings of a French leader, sidestepped specifics about his personal life and tried to devote his annual presidential news conference to his plan for reviving France’s struggling economy. Hollande’s partner, journalist Valerie Trierweiler, has been hospitalized since Friday. Trierweiler is the first person not married to the president to hold the post of first lady, which is not a formal function in France.

Compiled from wire reports.


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