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NATO in Talks About Libya Mission, Japan’s Emperor Visits Survivors

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other world leaders discuss Libya at NATO meetings in Berlin. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Berlin for a series of talks with NATO foreign ministers on how to proceed with air strikes and other measures to protect civilians in Libya amid calls from rebels, as well as France and Britain, to step up support of the opposition.

There are divisions within NATO over how far the alliance should go in enforcing its goal of protecting civilians; Turkey and Germany, for example, are opposed and have not contributed fighter jets.

Clinton said NATO nations are “sharing the same goal, which is to see the end of the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.” The United States has scaled back its involvement from the early days of the three-week-old air campaign — the Pentagon said the American military is now responsible for roughly 35 percent of air strikes.

Meanwhile in Misrata, one of the cities where civilians have been most intensely impacted by the fighting, witnesses reported a new round of shelling Thursday, with unconfirmed reports of casualties. The campaign by forces loyal to Gadhafi has left the city short of medical supplies, food and water as rebels struggle to hold on to their only bastion in the western part of the country.

Japan’s Emperor Visits Survivors, Police Search for Victims

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited two shelters in Asahi, near the Pacific coast, meeting with survivors and offering consolation to those left homeless by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Some 140,000 people are still in temporary shelters after homes were destroyed. The evacuation of the area near the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant has fueled frustrations for those already displaced by the natural disaster.

Police in protective suits have begun searching the area near the facility for the estimated 1,000 bodies remaining in the radiation zone. Thus far, 13,500 bodies have been identified, but many more remain missing and are presumed dead.

Workers at the plant continued efforts to rid the reactors of radioactive water to allow for more direct cooling efforts. Tokyo Electric Power Company has said the water levels remain high, despite efforts to rid the plant of radioactive water by dumping it into the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea Identifies American in Custody

North Korea’s state television said an American citizen being held in the country has “admitted his crime” and will be indicted. Though his identity has not been confirmed by U.S. officials, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the man was a Korea-American businessman from California who was arrested in November on religious grounds.

The State Department, which has no diplomatic representation in North Korea, has called for his release, via the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang.

News of the man’s arrest follows several high-profile detentions, including journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were sentenced to hard labor but later released after a visit from former President Bill Clinton in 2009. Last year, former President Jimmy Carter helped secure the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who received a similar sentence after allegedly entering the country illegally from China.

The sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010 and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November exacerbated tensions both on the Korean Peninsula and with the United States, which maintains a military presence in South Korea.

Protesters Gather at BP Shareholders’ Meeting

Demonstrators in London clashed with police and beat drums outside a gathering of BP shareholders Thursday, the first such meeting since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Some protesters said they had flown to London from the Gulf coast to bring attention to the ongoing effects of the spill on the environment and on those whose livelihoods depend on fishing. The fallout from the spill has so far cost the company an estimated $40 billion.

CEO Bob Dudley is expected to address a $16 billion deal in Russia and executive pay issues. The deal in Russia would provide BP with access to portions of the Arctic Circle.

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