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The world in brief: Lopez Obrador to retire at end of term

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | February 3, 2023 at 3:41 a.m.
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and wife Beatriz Gutierrez Muller wave during a state visit, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Jan. 11, 2023. Lopez Obrador said Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, that after his term ends in September 2024, he will totally withdraw from politics. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, FILE)

Lopez Obrador to retire at end of term

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's president is probably the most powerful political figure the country has had in decades, but he said Thursday that after his term ends in September 2024, he will totally withdraw from politics.

There had been speculation that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would remain a power behind the scenes in his now-dominant Morena party.

But the president vowed at his daily press briefing Thursday that he would not mix with politicians, speak about politics or appear at political events.

Lopez Obrador had previously said he would retire to a ranch he inherited in southern Mexico and write books. But Thursday's declaration was far more categorical than what he has said before.

"I am going to retire completely," he said. "I will never again appear at any public event."

"I do not want to be anybody's adviser ... I will not have any relationship with politicians," the president said, adding "I am not going to talk about politics."

"I am going to write, which does have to do with politics, but that has more to with academics," he said.

Austria expels four Russian diplomats

VIENNA -- Austria's government said Thursday that it has ordered four Russian diplomats based in Vienna, including two at Moscow's mission to U.N. agencies in the city, to leave the country.

The Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement that two diplomats at the Russian Embassy had "engaged in acts incompatible with their diplomatic status" and two at the permanent mission to the United Nations in Vienna "committed acts incompatible with the Headquarters Agreement." It didn't elaborate.

The diplomats were given a week to leave Austria.

Western European nations and Russia have expelled each others' diplomats on several occasions since Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine started nearly a year ago.

Austria, a European Union member that has a policy of military neutrality, was initially hesitant to take such action but expelled four Russian diplomats in April after pressure from the public and EU partners.

An Austrian official with knowledge of the matter said that the diplomats currently being expelled are "higher ranking" than the ones who were sent back in April and had been involved in "technical intelligence gathering to the detriment of Austrian national security."

Iran: Israel to blame for drone attack

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Iran on Thursday blamed Israel for a drone attack that targeted a military workshop in its central city of Isfahan over the weekend, warning that it "reserves its legitimate and inherent right" to retaliate.

Iran's mission to the United Nations, in a letter it published on its website, attributed the attack, which happened late Saturday, to Israel.

"Early investigations suggest that the Israeli regime was responsible for this attempted act of aggression," the letter signed by Iranian Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani said. The letter did not elaborate on what evidence supported Iran's suspicion.

Israeli officials declined to comment. However, Israel has carried out a series of attacks targeting Iran's nuclear program and other sites since the collapse of Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as part of a yearslong shadow war between the Mideast rivals.

Details on the Isfahan attack, which happened around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, still remain scarce, days after the assault. A Defense Ministry statement said three drones were launched at the facility, with two of them successfully shot down. A third apparently made it through to strike the building, causing "minor damage" to its roof and wounding no one, the ministry said.

N. Korea to U.S.: Prepared to use nukes

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea said Thursday it's prepared to counter U.S. military moves with the "most overwhelming nuclear force" as it warned that the expansion of the United States' military exercises with rival South Korea is pushing tensions to an "extreme red line."

The statement by Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry came in response to comments by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said Tuesday in Seoul that the United States would increase its deployment of advanced military assets to the Korean Peninsula, including fighter jets and aircraft carriers, as it strengthens joint training and operational planning with South Korea.

South Korea's security jitters have risen since North Korea test-fired dozens of missiles in 2022, including potentially nuclear-capable ones designed to strike targets in South Korea and the U.S. mainland.

In a statement attributed to an unidentified spokesperson of its Foreign Ministry, North Korea said the expansion of the allies' drills is threatening to turn the Korean Peninsula into a "huge war arsenal and a more critical war zone." The statement said the North is prepared to counter any short- or long-term military challenge with the "most overwhelming nuclear force."

North Korea for decades has described the United States' combined military exercises with South Korea as rehearsals for a potential invasion, although the allies have described those drills as defensive.

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