World Briefs: Putin, Obama hold talks on Syria

Putin, Obama hold talks on Syria

MOSCOW • Russian President Vladimir Putin and his United States counterpart Barack Obama held frank talks on Syria amid US concern over Turkish shelling of Kurdish militia targets in northern Syria days before a ceasefire deal is due to take hold.

Mr Putin took the call from Mr Obama and both sides "gave a positive evaluation" of the results of talks in Munich last week, according to a Kremlin statement, which called the exchange "frank and business-like".

The leaders "agreed to activate cooperation via diplomatic agencies and other structures, with the goal of implementing the declaration reached in Munich" on Friday, the statement said.


13-year-old activist's home torched

HILLA (Iraq) • A 13-year-old Iraqi girl's home was torched after she criticised the governor of a central Iraq province in a televised interview, her father and police said last Saturday.

Rawan Salem Hussein challenged Governor Sadiq Madlool al-Sultani to an on-air debate on his contributions to "the cultural situation in Babil", and said she would prove that he had "set Babil province back 50 years".

Rawan was part of an Iraqi delegation to an international cultural festival in France and is an activist for children's and orphans' rights.


Haiti elects interim president

PORT-AU-PRINCE • Haitian lawmakers have elected Mr Jocelerme Privert as the troubled country's interim president to fill a power vacuum following the departure of Mr Michel Martelly, after a vote to choose his successor was postponed over fears of violence.

Mr Privert, 62, a senator and president of the National Assembly, was chosen in the second round of balloting after a lengthy session that stretched overnight from last Saturday to yesterday. The lawmakers rejected two other candidates, Mr Dejan Belizaire and Mr Edgar Leblanc Fils, both former presidents of Haiti's Senate.


150,000 penguins die in Antarctica

SYDNEY • Some 150,000 penguins died after a massive iceberg grounded near their colony in Antarctica, forcing them to make a lengthy trek to find food, scientists said in a newly published study.

The B09B iceberg, measuring some 100 sq km, grounded in Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica in December 2010, the researchers from Australia and New Zealand wrote in the Antarctic Science journal.

They said that the Adelie penguin population at the bay's Cape Denison was measured to be about 160,000 in February 2011 but, by December 2013, had plunged to an estimated 10,000.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'World Briefs: Putin, Obama hold talks on Syria '. Print Edition | Subscribe