WORLD IN BRIEF

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JAPAN MULLS RESUMING TALKS WITH N. KOREA
TOKYO: Japan is considering direct talks with North Korea, the government said on Wednesday, adding momentum to the cause after a top level aide to the prime minister made a surprise trip to Pyongyang. Bilateral talks are on the table as Tokyo seeks to salve the running sore of abductions of its nationals by North Korean spies in the 1970s and 1980s, an issue that inflames public opinion at home.

BRITAIN’S GAY MARRIAGE BILL PASSES MAJOR HURDLE
LONDON: A bill to legalize gay marriage in Britain passed a crucial hurdle in parliament on Tuesday, despite efforts by lawmakers from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party to wreck the plans. Members of the House of Commons voted by 366 to 161 in favor of the same sex marriage bill, a majority of 205, and it will now go to the unelected House of Lords for consideration.

PAKISTAN’S IMRAN KHAN LEAVES HOSPITAL AFTER FALL
LAHORE: Pakistani politician Imran Khan left hospital on Wednesday, two weeks after breaking bones in his back in a fall at a rally for the country’s general election, where his party scored a major breakthrough. The 60-year-old was ordered to remain immobile in bed after he fractured vertebrae and a rib in a dramatic tumble from a hoist lifting him to a stage just days before the May 11 general election.

JAPAN HOSPITAL TESTS POWERFUL BREAST CANCER THERAPY
TOKYO: A Japanese cancer specialist said on Wednesday that she has started the world’s first clinical trial of a powerful, nonsurgical, short-term radiation therapy for breast cancer. The National Institute of Radiological Sciences has begun the trial using “heavy ion radiotherapy” which emits a pinpoint beam that can be accurately directed at malignant cells, said Kumiko Karasawa, radiation oncologist and breast cancer specialist.

COLOMBIA REBELS RELEASE WOMAN HOSTAGE    
BOGOTA: Leftist guerrillas on Tuesday released a woman who had been held hostage since August, the International Committee of the Red Cross said, saying she had been reunited with her family. The unidentified woman, who is 29, was captured by guerrillas of the National Liberation Army.

UNICEF DECRIES ‘DESPERATE’ SITUATION IN SYRIAN QUSAYR
GENEVA: The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) warned on Tuesday that up to 20,000 civilians, many of them women and children, could be trapped by harsh fighting in the Syrian town of Qusayr. Unicef spokeswoman Marixie Mercado believes that between 12,000 and 20,000 civilians remain trapped in the town that used to count some 30,000 inhabitants.

N. KOREA NAMES HAWKISH GENERAL NEW MILITARY CHIEF
SEOUL: North Korea has appointed as its new military chief a hawkish general, widely believed to have directed the 2010 shelling of a South Korean border island, state media confirmed on Wednesday. The Korean Central News Agency referred to Kim Kyok-sik as chief of the Korean People’s Army general staff, a notch higher in the military hierarchy than his previous post of defense minister.
AFP

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