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Briefs (right)

Yahoo Seeks Bigger
Market Share In Europe

By Dan Bilefsky


Yahoo said on Monday that it would pay $500 million to buy the remaining shares of its British, German, French, and South Korean units to reduce its dependence on the U.S. market and to better compete with Google.

Technology analysts said on Monday that Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., was eager to cement its control of its European businesses so it could take better advantage of the European online advertising market. But they said that Yahoo also wanted to catch up with Google’s aggressive international expansion.

“The U.S. online advertising market is much bigger than Europe’s, but it is a crowded market and the room for growth is shrinking,” said Julian Smith, an analyst at Jupiter Research, a market research firm in London. “In Europe, online advertising is growing much faster and portals like Yahoo want to tap into that.”

In Europe, revenue from online advertising is expected to reach 6.5 billion euros in 2010, from 3.2 billion euros, or $3.8 billion, in 2005, according to Jupiter Research. In the United States, it said, annual online advertising revenue will increase to $16.04 billion, from $10.1 billion, during the same period.

U.N. Seeks to Question
Six Syrians in Killing of Hariri

By Katherine Zoepf


A U.N. team investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon, has formally requested that six Syrian officials travel to Lebanon for questioning, Syrian officials confirmed Monday.

Detlev Mehlis, the German prosecutor leading the investigation, sent the request last week in a letter to the U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan. Syria’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday that it had received the demand through the United Nations in New York, but it made no immediate comment about whether Syria would comply.

The names of the six officials have not been released.

But the list is believed to include Asef Shawkat, the brother-in-law of President Bashar Assad and chief of military intelligence, who was named as a prime suspect in a preliminary report on Hariri’s death.

Syria has repeatedly said it would cooperate with the investigation. But Mehlis’ request that the officials travel to Lebanon poses a serious problem for the government.

There are fears, for example, that the officials could be arrested on foreign soil. While Mehlis does not have the authority to issue arrest warrants, he can recommend that the Lebanese police do so. It was on his recommendation, in September, that the Lebanese authorities arrested four generals with ties to Syria in connection with Hariri’s death.

Monitors Report Fraud
In Azerbaijan Parliamentary Vote

By C.j. Chivers

International election monitors said Monday that Azerbaijan’s parliamentary election on Sunday had been tainted by fraud and abuse and failed to meet democratic standards. The monitors expressed Western disappointment that the nation had not lived up to the pledges of its president to hold a fair vote.

The unsparing assessment, issued by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, lent credibility to a bloc of opposition parties that had already declared the vote fraudulent. And it moved this small, oil-rich country on the Caspian Sea toward the possibility of clashes between opposition members and the police, who have dispersed antigovernment street rallies this year with force.

The bloc, known as Azadliq, the Azerbaijani word for freedom, vowed to hold peaceful demonstrations beginning on Wednesday, seeking to overturn many results in districts throughout the country.

“These elections were falsified,” said Ali Kerimli, the head of one party, the Popular Front of Azerbaijan. His own bid to return to parliament ended on Sunday night when the police and election officials seized ballots and election documents indicating that he was leading in several polling stations.

Chile Arrests Peru Ex-Leader
After a Flight From Japan

By Larry Rohter


Alberto Fujimori, the disgraced fugitive former president of Peru, was arrested early Monday in Santiago, Chile, hours after his arrival on what was supposed to be the first leg of a triumphant political comeback.

The Peruvian government immediately sent a delegation to Chile to seek his extradition to stand trial in his homeland, but it was not immediately clear what would happen next, in part because of the countries’ testy relations.

Under a longstanding international warrant, Fujimori, 67, has been wanted on charges involving 21 violations of human rights and acts of corruption committed during the decade he was in power. He has been stripped of his political rights, including the right to hold public office until 2011, but last month announced that he planned to defy that ban and return to Peru to run for president again in elections scheduled for April.

Fujimori governed Peru from 1990 to 2000. He took office after winning a popular vote, but shut down Congress in April 1992. After that, he ruled autocratically, maintaining control through a combination of corruption and intimidation with the assistance of an intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, who is already in custody.