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ISRAEL

Palestinian arrested in bus stabbing attack

JERUSALEM – A Palestinian man went on a stabbing rampage on a crowded bus at rush hour in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, injuring at least 13 Israelis, some seriously, authorities said.

Police identified the assailant, who was arrested, as Hamza Matrouk, 23, from the West Bank city of Tul Karem.

Authorities said he entered Israel illegally Wednesday morning and boarded the bus in Tel Aviv with a knife. Officials said the bus had traveled about 400 yards when Matrouk attacked driver Herzel Biton, stabbing him deeply several times.

Matrouk then stabbed at least 10 passengers before the driver succeeded in opening the bus’ door to allow commuters to escape, leaving trails of blood and personal belongings. Authorities said the rampage was stopped by members of a special prison service unit who happened to be escorting prisoners to the nearby court when they witnessed the zigzagging bus and stopped their vehicle. Matrouk reportedly told his interrogators he acted alone.

– Los Angeles Times

CUBA

Talks with U.S. reach high level

HAVANA – Cuba and the United States launched their highest-level talks in a generation Wednesday, agreeing to disagree on basic immigration policies but recognizing a new spirit of cooperation.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first of two days of sessions here in the Cuban capital, the first official face-to-face talks since Presidents Obama and Raul Castro announced plans to open diplomatic ties after a half-century of animosity.

As could be expected, however, little progress was made on long-standing disputes.

Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s foreign ministry official in charge of affairs with the United States, criticized the American policies that allow Cubans who enter America illegally to remain there.

Vidal said the ease of immigration was also contributing to a brain drain of doctors and engineers who travel legally to third countries and then defect to the United States.

– Los Angeles Times

YEMEN

President reaches deal with rebels

SANAA, Yemen – President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen appeared to bow Wednesday to the demands made by the Houthi movement, whose militiamen have besieged his presidential palace and residence for days. His accession to the group’s demands defused a violent standoff in the capital that raised fears about the stability of Yemen’s government.

The agreement, announced Wednesday evening, calls for the Houthis to withdraw fighters from several parts of Sanaa, the capital, including the presidential palace, and to immediately release an aide to Hadi who was abducted Saturday, in exchange for a list of concessions from the president. The deal represented a significant victory for the Houthis, a former rebel group. It’s unclear how the agreement will affect Hadi’s relationship with the United States which has relied heavily on the former general for cooperation in carrying out drone strikes against Islamic insurgents.

– New York Times