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Iraqi leaders seek a way forward

BAGHDAD - Leaders from nearly all of Iraq's top political blocs called Saturday for a solution to a crisis pitting the Shiite-led government against Sunnis and Kurds, saying the dispute threatens the country's national interests.

The statement came after three days of meetings that brought together senior Sunni, Kurdish, and even Shiite politicians disgruntled with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki - who was not represented at the talks in Irbil, the capital of Iraq's northern Kurdish region.

While no one at the mini-summit demanded that Maliki step down, the fact that the discussions included key figures from across Iraq's political spectrum underscored the growing impatience with the Shiite prime minister.

Maliki's critics accuse him of consolidating power and sidelining both Sunnis and Kurds, touching off a political impasse that has brought government work to a near standstill and threatens to break up Iraq. - AP

Malaysians rally for fair elections

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Police unleashed tear gas and chemical-laced water Saturday at thousands of demonstrators who staged one of Malaysia's largest street rallies in years, demanding fair rules for national elections expected soon.

Malaysian police said in a statement that 222 people were arrested. Lawyers said most were expected to be released soon after having their details recorded, but it was not clear if they would be charged later. Officials said three demonstrators and 20 police were injured.

At least 25,000 demonstrators swamped Malaysia's largest city, hoping to pressure Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition - which has held power for nearly 55 years - to overhaul electoral policies before polls that could be held as early as June. Authorities insist the elections will be free and fair.

- AP

Hearing delayed for Tymoshenko

KIEV, Ukraine - A court on Saturday postponed a hearing in the second criminal case against the jailed former prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, whose treatment has raised concerns in Europe.

She was due in court in the eastern city of Kharkiv, but the judge agreed to postpone the hearing due to the poor state of her health. The next hearing was set for May 21. Tymoshenko is on a hunger strike to protest alleged abuse in a Kharkiv prison.

She is serving a seven-year prison sentence on charges of abusing her powers as prime minister in negotiating an energy deal with Russia. The West has strongly condemned the case as politically motivated and threatened to freeze cooperation with Ukraine. In the second case, she is charged with evading taxes while heading an energy company in the 1990s.

- AP


Danish police on Saturday said three men arrested the day before in connection with a terror probe would be held for four weeks pending an investigation. The men appeared in a Copenhagen court on suspicion of illegally dealing in firearms.