— From wire reports

Merkel reaches deal to form government — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany agreed on a coalition deal on Wednesday with her previous governing partners, including the Social Democrats, bringing her within striking distance of forming a new government after five months of political limbo. But the pact came at a steep price for her conservative party, which gave up the powerful Finance Ministry. Nearly half a million registered members of the center-left Social Democratic Party, many of whom oppose joining another administration led by Merkel, will get the final say; the deal is contingent on their approval in a postal vote that analysts say is too close to call.

China detains man with ties to former premier — Authorities in China have detained a wealthy investor who went into business with relatives of the previous prime minister, a sign that the anti-corruption campaign initiated five years ago by President Xi Jinping may again be closing in on a former top leader. Duan Weihong, 49, who set up companies with relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s premier from 2003 to 2013, was detained before a Communist Party congress last year, according to three friends and business associates who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals by the authorities. There has been no official acknowledgment of Duan’s detention, and it is not clear who detained her.

Grandparents in Brazil abduction case arrested — Chris Brann, a Houston physician, has found a unique way to gain leverage over his former spouse, enlisting federal prosecutors to step in. On Wednesday, FBI agents arrested his ex-wife’s parents, Carlos Otavio Guimaraes, 67, and Jemima Guimaraes, 65, when they landed in Miami and charged them with international parental abduction. Brann then signaled that the criminal case against them might be dismissed if his ex-wife were to return their son, Nicolas, to the United States immediately. The complaint alleges that the couple helped their daughter, Marcelle Guimaraes, move her son to her native Brazil, where she applied for sole custody of him, in violation of a legal agreement with Brann.

Pence threatens tougher North Korea sanctions — Vice President Mike Pence, dispatched to Asia to blunt a North Korean charm offensive at South Korea’s Olympic Games, said Wednesday that the United States planned to levy the toughest sanctions yet on the North over its nuclear and missile programs. Pence’s threat, delivered in Tokyo, came two days after he had signaled openness to meeting with North Korean officials at the games, somewhat muddying the harsh message he had been sent to project. The Olympics, which open this week, are likely to showcase the diplomatic thaw between North and South.

U.S., Turkey head into tense faceoff in Syria — Two senior U.S. generals came to the front line outside the Syrian city of Manbij on Wednesday flying U.S. flags on their vehicles, in case pro-Turkish forces just the other side of the no man’s land, 20 yards away, did not realize who they were. The trip was the first by such senior U.S. military officers to the front in northern Syria since Turkey’s president threatened to attack the city of Manbij, calling it a bastion of terrorists and demanding that U.S. forces leave. But the Americans have refused, creating the potential for an unprecedented armed conflict between two NATO allies, the United States and Turkey.

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