Iraqi Kurdish oil exports to resume

CAIRO, Egypt - Oil exports from Iraq's northern self-ruled Kurdish region will soon resume as part of the country's national oil-export policy, Iraq's new oil minister said Saturday.

The Kurds have sought greater control over oil in their crude-rich region, while Baghdad argues that the oil is a national resource under the central government's control.

Iraqi Kurds have unilaterally signed more than two dozen oil agreements with Western companies, deals that have been deemed illegal by Baghdad. Exports were halted a few months after they started in June 2009 amid a disagreement over payments.

The oil minister, Abdul-Karim Elaibi, said exports from the Kurdish region would resume "in the coming few days." He did not elaborate on how they would be part of the nation's export strategy.

Earlier this month, Elaibi's predecessor said a dispute over how private companies accounted for equipment costs and other expenses for reimbursement had been settled. - AP

Darfur activist imprisoned, fined

CAIRO, Egypt - A prominent Darfur activist, Mudawi Ibrahim, has been sentenced to a year in prison and fined on embezzlement charges, a rights group said Saturday. He was acquitted of the same charges earlier.

Ibrahim is director of a Sudanese aid group working in Darfur, which has been racked by violence. Over the last decade, more than 300,000 people have been killed in the region in fighting between Sudanese government forces and rebels.

Sudanese authorities ordered Ibrahim's group shut in March 2009, along with a dozen foreign aid groups operating in Darfur, after an international arrest warrant against Sudan President Omar al-Bashir on genocide charges.

Ibrahim won a court case against the embezzlement charges. The London-based African Center for Justice and Peace Studies said Saturday that authorities appealed and won a new verdict without a retrial, and that Ibrahim was whisked from court to prison Wednesday. - AP

India experiences 2d rocket failure

NEW DELHI - A rocket carrying an Indian communication satellite exploded just after liftoff Saturday in the year's second launch failure for India's space agency.

TV images showed the rocket exploding in smoke and fire after it launched from the Sriharikota space center in Andhra Pradesh state. It was carrying a GSAT-5P communication satellite into orbit.

The vehicle developed an error 47 seconds after liftoff and lost command, leading to a higher angle in the flight, said K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization. "That caused a higher stress, breaking up the vehicle," he said.

In April, a similar rocket on a developmental flight plunged into the Bay of Bengal. The ISRO said its rotor seized and a turbine casing ruptured.

India is planning its first manned spaceflight in 2016. - AP