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India says Pakistan is dodging blame in attack

NEW DELHI: Pakistan is shifting blame and responsibility for last month's deadly attacks in Mumbai, India's foreign minister charged yesterday, adding that Delhi would take action against the perpetrators if Islamabad failed to. India also gave Pakistan a letter written by Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the only gunman captured after the rampage. Kasab wrote that he and the nine other gunmen involved in the Nov. 26 attack all came from Pakistan, India's Foreign Ministry said. He also requested a meeting with Pakistani envoys, the ministry said. Islamabad has not acknowledged that Kasab is Pakistani and has said it is waiting for proof of his citizenship before it will take further action. Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that if Pakistan doesn't deal with those responsible, India was prepared to "take all measures necessary as we deem fit to deal with the situation." He did not elaborate about the measures.

Franken has tiny edge in Minn. Senate race

MINNEAPOLIS: Democrat Al Franken is poised to hold on to a 48-vote lead over Republican Sen. Norm Coleman as Minnesota's Canvassing Board awards a final pile of votes in the state's unsettled U.S. Senate race. Today the board is to award votes from about 5,000 challenges that had been withdrawn by both campaigns. Based on a draft report released yesterday by the secretary of state's office, once those votes are awarded, Franken will have 48 more votes than Coleman. The two campaigns and the secretary of state's office still have to agree how to handle an estimated 1,600 improperly rejected absentee ballots. And the state Supreme Court will hear arguments today on a Coleman claim that some ballots were counted twice.

Belgium looks to build a coalition government

BRUSSELS, Belgium : Belgium turned to a veteran politician yesterday to broker a new government after a scandal over the botched bailout of the Fortis bank forced the ruling coalition to resign. King Albert II accepted the government's resignation after three days of negotiations with Belgium's political leaders failed to keep the coalition intact. In a bid to avoid early elections, he asked former Premier Wilfried Martens to act as a go-between to broker a new coalition. Martens, an eight-time prime minister who led coalition governments during the 1980s, is not expected to lead the new coalition. Instead, the elder statesman will try to seek common ground among the six major parties and quickly form a new coalition to deal with the global financial crisis.

Mexico vows to keep fighting drug gangs

CHILPANCINGO, Mexico : The decapitated bodies of the soldiers lined a major boulevard, accompanied by a sign: "For every one of mine that you kill, I will kill 10." A bag containing their heads, the mouths of some still bound with tape, was found nearby. The discovery in Chilpancingo, an hour north of the resort of Acapulco in southern Mexico, marked the most gruesome attack yet against the Mexican army in its half-century battle against drug gangs. The government honored the dead yesterday in a high-profile ceremony aimed at reassuring the nation that it won't surrender to drug gangs, despite escalating violence that has killed 5,300 people this year and the knowledge that more than a dozen top law enforcement officials have been accused of accepting money to protect cartels. President Felipe Calderon said the attack shows that his government's crackdown is putting pressure on the cartels, and he promised "firm action" in response.

Astronauts install probe on space station

MOSCOW: American and Russian astronauts installed a probe aimed at tracking down problems with a Russian module during a six-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station today. American Michael Fincke, the station commander, and Russia's Yury Lonchakov also planned an array of maintenance and scientific work on the exterior of the station, orbiting about 200 miles above the Earth. Russian scientists hope data from the probe installed by Fincke early in the spacewalk will help explain malfunctions that have repeatedly occurred as a Russian module has attempted to separate from the space station. Russia's Soyuz module entered the Earth's atmosphere too steeply in separate descents after detaching from the station in October 2007 and in April this year, leading to faster- and bumpier-than-usual re-entries for the crews. It was Fincke's fifth spacewalk, Lonchakov's first and the 119th spacewalk conducted from the International Space Station.

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