BBC News with Charles Carroll
The United States has welcomed an announcement by North Korea that it will halt its uranium enrichment programme and suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests. Washington described the measures as a positive first step towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Steve Kingstone reports.
This announcement follows talks between American and North Korean officials in Beijing. In a written statement, Victoria Nuland of the US State Department said the North Koreans had agreed to suspend uranium enrichment at the Yongbyon nuclear plant and to allow UN inspectors to return to the site. In return, the US is offering 240,000 tonnes of food aid. It's come two months after the death of North Korea's long-standing leader Kim Jong-il. The question now is whether his son and successor Kim Jong-un will engage in broader talks about disarmament.
The South African youth leader Julius Malema has been expelled from the governing African National Congress. Mr Malema says he's been persecuted for advocating that the party should adopt a policy to nationalise mines and replace his former ally President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader. Milton Nkosi reports from South Africa.
In a statement, the chairman of the party's disciplinary committee, Derek Hanekom, said the 30-year-old youth league leader violated the ANC's constitution. The controversial youth leader was sentenced to a five-year suspended sentence in November last year, but he appealed against the sentence. The ANC's appeals committee led by veteran leader and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa looked into his plea and still found him guilty on the charges of sowing divisions within the party and for bringing the ANC into disrepute.
Syrian government forces are reported to have tried to advance into the district of Baba Amr in Homs as they unleash their heaviest bombardment so far on the area. Government officials said they would clear out opposition fighters in a matter of hours. Jim Muir reports from neighbouring Lebanon.
Explosions echoed around all parts of Homs as the attack on Baba Amr quarter got underway. Sources on both sides said government troops tried to advance into the embattled quarter on several fronts after weeks of heavy bombardment. Regime officials in Damascus told reporters that clearing out the rebels would only take a few hours and that it had already become a mopping-up operation. But activist postings on the Internet said the Free Syrian Army fighters had repelled repeated attacks by army forces and inflicted heavy losses.
A date has been announced for a presidential election in Egypt a year after Hosni Mubarak was ousted by street protests. The election will be held on 23 and 24 May. The military council that's been governing Egypt since the fall of President Mubarak has come under increasing pressure to honour its promise to hand over power to civilian authorities.
World News from the BBC
Non-governmental organisations operating in Zimbabwe say they will defy a government ban to work in the country. Last weekend at his 88th birthday celebrations, President Robert Mugabe attacked the mainly foreign NGOs for being partisan and ordered them to leave. The NGOs say that intimidation is now happening on a national scale and is being carried out by supporters loyal to the president.
The iPhone and iPod manufacturer Apple is now reckoned to be worth $500bn. Its market capitalisation broke through the $0.5tn mark on the New York Stock Exchange early on Wednesday. Mark Gregory reports.
The latest climb in Apple's stock market value came amid reports that it will unveil a next generation of iPad tablet computers next week.
Apple was already the world's biggest company measured by the value of its shares, worth about $90bn more than its nearest rival, the oil giant Exxon. And now following another surge in the share price, Apple has become only the sixth American corporation ever to have a market capitalisation of above $500bn.
Reports from the Seychelles say the government believes the operation to rescue a stricken cruise liner has been affected because the fishing boat towing it to land refused help from tugboats. The Seychelles' home affairs minister said the financial objectives of the French fishing boat may have been put ahead of the interests of the passengers and crew of the Costa Allegra. A spokesman for the liner said it didn't use the tugs because the fishing vessel guaranteed the smoothest voyage.
The British-born singer and songwriter Davy Jones of the 60s pop group, The Monkees, has died. He was an actor and singer on stage and television in Britain before gaining wider recognition as a pop performer. Among The Monkees' hits were Daydream Believer and Last Train to Clarksville. Davy Jones reportedly died of a heart attack in Florida.
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