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In brief


March 17. 2013 3:02AM
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BEIRUT
Syria official floats plan

Syria's foreign minister invited the country's rebels on Saturday to lay down their weapons and take part in a national dialogue, saying everyone who participates will be included in a new Cabinet with wide executive powers.


Walid al-Moallem said in a live interview on state TV late Saturday that any opposition parties could join the Cabinet as long as they reject foreign intervention in Syria. The Syrian government has started contacting representatives of the Syrian people, he added.


Earlier this month, President Bashar Assad dismissed calls that he step down, vowing to keep fighting the rebels. Assad also proposed a national reconciliation conference, elections and a new constitution – concessions offered previously over the course of the uprising that began in March 2011.


HARRISBURG
PLCB chief to step down

The chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has announced plans to step down after six years in the position.


A statement Saturday says Joe Conti will retire Feb. 2 to pursue future opportunities in higher education and the private sector.


Conti was appointed to the position in December 2006. During his tenure, the statement said, the agency reorganized, launched a major rebranding initiative, upgraded business technology systems and instituted professional development opportunities for staff to assist wine and spirit consumers.


Conti is to stay on temporarily to help with the transition.


CAIRO
Egyptians protest trial

Riot police fired tear gas Saturday to disperse dozens of demonstrators throwing rocks outside an Alexandria courthouse where the city's ex-security director and other officers are on trial for the killing of protesters during Egypt's 2011 uprising.


The confrontation comes a week before the country marks the second anniversary of the revolt that ousted the country's longtime autocratic ruler, Hosni Mubarak, and highlights the frustration expressed by many over the pace of reform in the Arab world's most populous nation.


Alexandria's former security director Mohammed Ibrahim is on trial along with five other police officers accused of using excessive violence to put down the 18-day revolt.


It is one long chain of corruption, said Ramadan Ahmed, whose 16-year-old son Mohammed was shot dead in clashes outside an Alexandria police station.


BAMAKO, Mali
Radical Muslims leave town

Radical Islamists have fled a key Malian town on foot following French airstrikes that began after they seized Diabaly nearly one week ago, the Malian military and fleeing residents said late Saturday.


Malian military spokesman Capt. Modibo Traore said that soldiers had secured the town.


The departure of the Islamists from Diabaly marks a success for the French-led military intervention that began Jan. 11 to oust the Islamists from northern and central Mali.


Meanwhile, France's foreign minister said Saturday that our African friends need to take the lead in a military intervention to oust extremists from power in northern Mali, though he acknowledged it could be weeks before neighbors are able to do so.




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