Gunmen free Filipino mayor from 7 months in jungle

Updated 06 November 2012
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Gunmen free Filipino mayor from 7 months in jungle

MANILA: Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines have freed a town mayor after seven months of captivity in a southern jungle where he sketched and smoked to ease his ordeal.
Regional army spokesman Capt. Alberto Caber says Jeffrey Lim was freed unharmed before dawn Tuesday near Zamboanga city and has been turned over to his family. Gunmen disguised as policemen kidnapped Lim while he inspected a bus terminal April 2 in his southern town of Salug in Zamboanga del Norte province.
Caber says the kidnappers were not immediately identified but authorities believe they were gunmen belonging to the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for kidnappings.
Jesus Lim, the mayor’s father, told The Associated Press his son, an engineer, sketched trees and learned to smoke during his captivity.


Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

Updated 1 min 32 sec ago
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Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

  • 15 ambassadors will join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
  • The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma.

United Nations, United States: After a week of bitter acrimony over Syria, UN Security Council ambassadors are heading to a farmhouse in southern Sweden for a retreat to try to break the deadlock over how to end the war.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia will be among the 15 ambassadors joining Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that lead to military action by Washington and its allies against Syria.
The council met five times on Syria last week including on Tuesday when Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution setting up a chemical weapons probe while two other proposed measures failed to pass.
The Russia-US rivalry prompted Guterres to declare that the Cold War was “back with a vengeance.”
Asked whether he expected awkward moments during the Swedish retreat, Nebenzia told reporters: “I will see how they feel about dealing with me after all that happened.”
“It’s not news to anyone that the council is divided on Syria,” said Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau. “There is some need for humility and patience at this moment.”
The council will be staying at Backakra, the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the United Nations’ second secretary-general.
The residence located on the southern tip of Sweden, far from Stockholm, is a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy, said Skau.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.
The annual brainstorming session usually takes place in upstate New York, but Sweden, which is a non-permanent council member, offered to host this year’s gathering.
Guterres had told council members that the focus of the meeting would be his plan for a “surge of diplomacy” to address conflicts worldwide, but the council’s deadlock over Syria is emerging as the top priority.