Bite-sized briefing: world

Hamid Karzai was declared president of Afghanistan on 2 November, after his closest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from a planned presidential run-off. Despite concerns over the legitimacy of his election, the west has welcomed the move. Karzai has vowed to crack down on corruption and to lead an inclusive government.

African nations boycotted UN climate talks in Barcelona on 3 November, demanding that rich countries make greater cuts to greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The negotiations are the last formal talks before December's Copenhagen Climate Summit.

Iraqi MPs delayed voting on an election law that urgently needs to be approved if polls are to be held on schedule in January. There are fears that delaying the election will destabilise the country's recovery.

Hillary Clinton visited Egypt on 4 November for talks with its president, Hosni Mubarak, on US attempts to revive the Middle East peace process. The US secretary of state faces a backlash in the Arab world over her praise for Israel's pledge to limit settlement growth.

The Czech president, Václav Klaus, signed the Lisbon Treaty on 3 November. The Czech Republic was the only EU country that had not ratified the treaty, drawn up to streamline decision-making. It could now come into effect by 1 December.

Clashes in southern Sudan have killed at least eight people as officials begin registering voters for the first full election in 24 years. The UN estimates that more than 2,000 people have died and 250,000 have been displaced in the semi-autonomous region this year.

North Korea has reprocessed 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods for weapons-grade plutonium, its official news agency claims. Analysts say this is enough plutonium to make at least one atomic bomb. The announcement is intended to put pressure on the US for direct talks.

Radovan Karadzic appeared at The Hague for his war crimes trial on 3 November, after boycotting its opening on 26 October. He has demanded another ten months to prepare his defence.

Crucifixes have been banned from Italian classrooms by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that they violate children's right to freedom of religion, as well as parents' right to educate their children as they see fit. The government will appeal the decision.

The Chinese authorities in Xinjiang Province have launched a "strike hard and rectify" security campaign, after ethnic violence killed almost 200 people in July. Twelve people have been sentenced to death.

Floods in Vietnam have killed at least 90 people and destroyed around 2,600 homes. More than 50,000 people were evacuated from coastal regions before the tropical storm Mirinae hit.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, addressed both houses of the US Congress on 3 November, calling on the US to join European efforts to tackle global warming. She was the second German chancellor to be accorded the honour. Konrad Adenauer was the first, in 1957.

Argentina's last military ruler, Reynaldo Bignone, is on trial for the alleged kidnap and torture of 56 opponents to the military government. Human rights groups say that up to 30,000 were killed or disappeared in Argentina between 1976 and 1983.

The Republicans won two elections for governor, in Virginia and New Jersey. Local issues dominated both races. Many see the victories as blows for Obama, a year after his election. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, was elected a third time.

Sri Lanka has protested against US plans to question General Sarath Fonseka, its top military commander, over alleged war crimes committed during the conflict with the Tamil Tigers. Nearly 300,000 Tamils have been detained in camps since being displaced in the battle