New pope more popular in Poland than native land

WARSAW, Poland - Pope Benedict XVI made a tiny slip in Polish when he thanked Poles ''with'' their kindness instead of ''for.'' No matter: the German pontiff found understanding in the homeland of John Paul II, and many hope that may offer some balm for German-Polish relations.

Poles have embraced Bavarian-born Benedict with noticeably more warmth than his fellow Germans, urging him to visit and commenting favorably on his devotion to John Paul during his years as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy.

Peru's 'mermaid' baby turns 1, ready for surgery

LIMA, Peru - Peru's ''little mermaid'' - the baby born with legs fused together from her thighs to her ankles - celebrated her first birthday Friday in the public hospital where doctors hope to perform risky surgery to repair her rare birth defect.

Milagros was born with a rare congenital defect known as sirenomelia, or ''mermaid syndrome,'' which occurs in one out of every 70,000 births. There are only three known cases of children with the affliction alive in the world today.

Babies born with the deformity almost always die within seven to 10 days of birth because of serious defects to vital organs, Rubio said.

WHO: 18 new cases of polio detected in Yemen

GENEVA - The U.N. health agency on Friday reported 18 new cases of polio in Yemen and said more people are believed infected, sparking fears of an epidemic in the Middle Eastern country with a low immunization rate among children.

The disease spread across the country from four cases that were recorded in the Red Sea port of Al-Hudaydah last week. Yemen previously was believed to be free of the disease.

China, Taiwan seek closer economic ties

BEIJING - China lavished hospitality Friday on Taiwan's opposition leader as he met President Hu Jintao in the highest-level contact since the communists and nationalists split amid civil war nearly six decades ago.

Hu and Nationalist Party Chairman Lien Chan pledged to promote an end to hostilities and to seek closer economic ties - a boon to Beijing, which hopes to woo Taiwan's business leaders by touting the payoff from integration into the booming Chinese economy.

- From wire reports