Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday vowed total war against terrorism as the country's security forces stepped up efforts to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists 45 days ago. "I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability by waging a total war against terrorism," Jonathan said in an address marking 15 years since the return to civilian rule in Africa's most populous country and largest economy. Nigeria returned to democracy on May 29, 1999 after nearly 16 years of military rule but the country has recently been blighted by a five-year Islamist insurgency in north and central Nigeria that has claimed thousands of lives. The mass abduction of teenage girls on April 14 from a secondary school in Chibok in northeastern Borno state has sparked global outrage and drawn unprecedented attention to Boko Haram's extremist uprising.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended Vince Cable Thursday, denying claims that his Liberal Democrat colleague was involved in an attempt to dislodge him as party leader. Clegg rejected the "endless plots and conspiracy theories" surrounding Cable who faces questions over an opinion poll commissioned by his close friend Lord Oakeshott appearing to undermine the Lib Dem leadership. He said Business Secretary Cable was "absolutely not aware of the polls elsewhere" which indicated that the Lib Dems would do better if Clegg resigned.
India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi instructed top ministers Thursday to prepare their agendas for the first 100 days but did not reveal which of the country's many problems would be tackled first. Speculation has been mounting about what the Modi government would grasp first given the scale of India's economic problems, including creaking infrastructure, energy shortages, high inflation and poor public finances. After attending a cabinet meeting chaired by Modi on Thursday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu refused to say what was top of the list amid sky-high expectations.
Thirty people were arrested and 14 others hurt when police clashed with stone-throwing youths in a third night of riots sparked by a squat eviction in Barcelona, officials said Thursday. Rioters then tipped over and burned bins, broke windows and pelted police with missiles. Regional government spokesman Francesc Homs blamed the violence on well-organised radicals on the fringes of the protest.
Saudi Arabia has invited Iran to attend a meeting of Islamic bloc foreign ministers in Jeddah next month, an Iranian official said in comments published Thursday. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian welcomed the "friendly" gesture by Iran's regional rival, with which relations have been strained by the Syrian conflict and the fallout from unrest in Bahrain. An exchange of visits by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif was high on Tehran's agenda, he told the Etemad newspaper. The two-day meeting of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation opens in Jeddah on June 18.
Astana (Kazakhstan) (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a deal creating an economic union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, with Ukraine conspicuously absent after it turned its back on Moscow. "Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are going over to a fundamentally new level of cooperation," Putin said at the signing ceremony in the Kazakh capital of Astana.
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas chose a prime minister to head a unity government on Thursday but announcement of the lineup was held up over the foreign affairs portfolio, officials said. Abbas sent a "letter of designation" to Rami Hamdallah, who is currently serving as premier within the West Bank-based government, an official in Ramallah said. "The government is ready, but there is only one problem, and that is that Fatah and Hamas reject Riyad al-Malki as foreign minister, something Abbas is insisting on," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. Malki is a veteran diplomat who has served as foreign minister since 2007.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Setting the stage for upcoming restrictions on coal-fired power plants, the Obama administration is making a concerted effort to cast its energy policy as an economic success that is creating jobs, securing the nation against international upheavals and shifting energy use to cleaner sources.