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Charges and countercharges flew back and forth today over the stalemate in the Syrian peace talks.
Secretary of State John Kerry accused the Syrian government of stonewalling after negotiations broke off Saturday.
Kerry spoke in Indonesia.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:
They have refused to open up one moment of discussion legitimately about a transition government. And it is very clear that Bashar al-Assad is continuing to try to win this in the battlefield, rather than to come to the negotiating table in good faith.
The secretary also accused Russia of enabling Assad by giving him weapons and other aid.
But, in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the real blame lies with the U.S. and others backing the Syrian rebels on the battlefield.
SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter):
In other words, they are choosing to leave the path of peace talks and once again favoring a military option, hoping that they will get the strong support from outside, as it was in the case in Libya.
There’s no word on when a third round of the Syrian peace negotiations might take place.
The Pakistani government called off its talks with the Taliban today, after militants executed 23 paramilitary troops. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban announced the soldiers’ deaths last night. They said the troops were kidnapped in 2010. It was unclear if the faction acted with the approval of the Taliban Central Command.
A suicide bomber was behind Sunday’s attack, deadly attack, on tourists in Egypt. The Interior Ministry said today the bomber pushed his way onto a bus. At least four people were killed, the Egyptian bus driver, and three South Korean tourists. The bus bombing was the first to target foreign tourists in the Sinai in nearly a decade. No one has yet claimed responsibility.
A U.N. committee warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un today that he could face prosecution for crimes against his own people. After a yearlong investigation, the three-man panel found evidence of executions, torture, abduction, and mass starvation.
The chair of the investigation, Michael Kirby, says the committee wrote to Kim, putting him on notice.
MICHAEL KIRBY, Chair, UN Inquiry on North Korea:
We indicated that he should be aware of this. He should be aware of the international crime of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity, even if not himself involved in the actual perpetration of those crimes. And we informed him that he himself may be responsible in any subsequent prosecution that occurs.
North Korea refused to cooperate with the investigation and said it categorically rejects the findings.
The number of troops dismissed from the Army for drugs, alcohol and other misconduct has soared in recent years. The Associated Press reported today that 11,000 enlisted soldiers were forced out last year, nearly double the figure from 2007. There were 387 officers expelled last year, triple the figure from 2010. The Army chief of staff, General Ray Odierno, says the service may have overlooked character issues in the push to fill the ranks during 10 years of war.
Air pollution in China has gotten so bad that state media actually criticized the government today. Over the weekend, fireworks celebrations in Beijing helped push air quality well into hazardous territory. Today, the English-language China Daily said the failure to take emergency steps was indefensible. It said the inaction flies in the face of earlier promises.
At the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, a week of warm weather gave way to heavy fog, forcing organizers to shuffle the schedule. The men’s biathlon race and snowboard-cross were postponed until tomorrow as fog made visibility extremely low. A top official with the International Ski Federation said delay was the only option.
PETER KROGOLL, International Ski Federation Inspector:
Yes, it’s a pity, and the fog didn’t move the whole day. It was always staying the same. And, yes, now in the afternoon, now really late, it cleared up, but this is too late for any competitions. For tomorrow, the weather forecast is, the fog will leave, but, unfortunately, rain will come in.
As for the competition, you might want to tune out for a moment if you don’t want to know results just yet.
It was a golden moment for Meryl Davis and Charlie White, as the U.S. won the ice dancing competition for the first time. And Americans Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton took bronze in two-man bobsled, the first U.S. medal in that sport since 1952.