Syria talks at impasse
Syrian government anger over a U.S. decision to resume aid to the opposition prompted the U.N. mediator to cut short Tuesday’s peace talks, but he said no one was to blame for the impasse and that the negotiations would continue. A deal to allow humanitarian aid into Homs remained stalled, with the Syrian delegation demanding assurances the U.S. aid will not go to “armed and terrorist groups” in the besieged city. U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said he was relieved the government and opposition will remain in the daily talks through Friday. Tuesday’s talks were the fifth day of negotiations regarding the civil war.
Meeting with Fidel Castro
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Fidel Castro in Havana on Tuesday for a conversation that ranged from climate change to the civil war in Syria, and said he criticized Cuba’s human rights problems. Ban, who is in Cuba for a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, met with the former Cuban leader for 55 minutes, the U.N. chief’s office said.
Mexican officials said Tuesday that they are launching a nationwide effort to fight kidnapping, a crime that has risen to epidemic levels and become what officials are calling a national emergency. Federal authorities said they are establishing a national anti-kidnapping committee that will establish strategies focused on the 10 of 31 Mexican states that see 74 percent of all kidnappings. A little more than a year after President Enrique Pena Nieto took power, homicides have decreased but kidnappings and extortion have risen.
Death toll climbs
The official death toll from a fire that roared through a Quebec seniors’ residence last week climbed to 17 on Tuesday as emergency workers, some on their hands and knees, continued to comb through the ice-covered rubble in L’Isle-Verte. Quebec provincial police also said 15 people were still missing and presumed dead.
Compiled from wire reports.