By Mehreen Zahra-Malik ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's cities are unsafe from Islamist militant attacks due to their porous security, the country's defense minister said after suicide bombers and gunmen killed 11 people in an assault on a court in the capital earlier this week. Carried out by a splinter group of the Paksitani Taliban, the attack will complicate the government's efforts to open peace talks as it destroyed trust on all sides, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters. "It is scary," Asif said in the wake of the worst attack in Islamabad since the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in 2008. Responsibility for Monday's attack was claimed by a group called Ahrar-ul-Hind, or "Liberators of India", that had splintered from the Pakistani Taliban just a month earlier.
By Noah Barkin BERLIN (Reuters) - After one of her first encounters with Vladimir Putin in 2002, Angela Merkel joked to aides that she had passed the "KGB test" by staring straight into his eyes without averting her gaze. Unlike presidents in Washington - George W. Bush claimed to have gotten a glimpse of Putin's soul and Barack Obama promised to "reset" relations with Russia - the German chancellor has never harbored any illusions about the former Soviet agent, nor hopes that she might change him. It is this hard-nosed realism, born of Merkel's own experience growing up in a Soviet garrison town in East Germany and reinforced over a turbulent 14-year relationship with Putin, that has earned her respect in the Kremlin and thrust her into the potentially risky role of chief mediator in the Ukraine crisis.