World Briefs

Hundreds of Buddhist nuns wait in line Saturday at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to pay their respects to the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk. Sihanouk’s body had been lying in state after being flown from Beijing, where he died Oct. 15 of a heart attack at the age of 89. Enlarge photo

Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

Hundreds of Buddhist nuns wait in line Saturday at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to pay their respects to the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk. Sihanouk’s body had been lying in state after being flown from Beijing, where he died Oct. 15 of a heart attack at the age of 89.

Netanyahu to form next Israeli government

JERUSALEM – Israel’s president on Saturday asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government, and Netanyahu pledged that his new administration will be committed to advancing peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israeli President Shimon Peres formally requested Netanyahu to build a governing coalition, after conducting consultations with all 12 parties that won seats in last week’s election. A majority of newly elected lawmakers recommended Netanyahu as prime minister-designate.

Netanyahu now has six weeks to form a coalition government, with an extension of 14 days if needed. If he succeeds, he will begin his third term as Israeli premier.

French president cheered in Mali visit

TIMBUKTU, Mali – French President François Hollande bathed in the cheers and accolades of the thousands of people of this embattled city Saturday, making a triumphant stop six days after French forces parachuted into Timbuktu to liberate the fabled city from the radical Islamists occupying it.

His arrival came three weeks after France unilaterally launched a military intervention in order to stem the advance of the al-Qaida-linked fighters, and since then, French troops have succeeded in ousting the rebels from the three main northern cities they occupied, including Timbuktu.

Strong quake hits Japan; no tsunami

TOKYO – A strong earthquake struck Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido late Saturday, but authorities said there was no danger of a tsunami and there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the quake had a magnitude of 6.4 and hit at 11:17 p.m. Saturday in the Tokachi region in southern Hokkaido, at a depth of 75 miles. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake’s magnitude was 6.9.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK said nearby nuclear power plants, including Tomari and Higashidori, which currently are idled for safety inspections, have reported no abnormalities.

Illegal fireworks blamed for deadly blast in China

BEIJING – A truck that exploded and caused an elevated stretch of highway to collapse in central China, killing 10 people, was loaded with holiday fireworks that were illegally produced and transported, authorities said Saturday.

Local authorities shut down the company that made the fireworks, Hongsheng Fireworks Manufacturing Co. Ltd., and detained four company officials after Friday’s blast, state media reported.

It remained unclear what set off the fireworks as they were shipped eastward on a major highway through Henan province. State-run China Central Television said witnesses believed a collision caused by heavy smog might have triggered the blast, which occurred about 55 miles west of the ancient city of Luoyang.

Associated Press