Sharon wants work sped up on barrier
JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered quicker work to finish Israel's contentious West Bank separation barrier, a senior official said Wednesday, setting off Palestinian accusations that he's undermining peace prospects.
Begun more than two years ago, the 425-mile barrier is still only about one-third completed, blocking access from the West Bank across Israel's narrowest point, nine miles from the Mediterranean Sea and Israel's main population centers.
Palestinians complain that the barrier dips into their territory to encircle settlement blocs, in effect annexing about 7 percent of the West Bank to Israel. The most sensitive section is Jerusalem, where the route of the barrier cuts the West Bank off from east Jerusalem, a traditionally Arab section that Palestinians claim as the capital of the state they want to create.
London beats Paris to secure Olympics
SINGAPORE - London vs. Paris. Tea and crumpets vs. wine and cheese. British determination vs. French confidence. The hotly contested race to host the 2012 Olympics came down to an Old World battle of rival cities separated for centuries by culture and Channel.
Surprise. London won.
The British capital, which last had the games in 1948 while continental Europe was rebuilding in the aftermath of World War II, upset Paris 54-50 on the fourth ballot Wednesday.
Moscow, New York and Madrid were knocked out in the first three rounds of the International Olympic Committee vote.
Envoy's kidnappers threaten to kill him
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Kidnappers linked to al-Qaida's branch in Iraq threatened Wednesday to kill Egypt's top envoy here, as Iraq's prime minister called on other countries to stay the course and keep their diplomats in Baghdad.
But with three attacks on diplomats in four days, at least some Arab and Muslim governments were raising questions about security as a condition for upgrading diplomatic ties to the new Iraqi government, as the United States wants.
The threat to kill Ihab al-Sherif, seized by gunmen in western Baghdad on Saturday, marks a dramatic escalation in a campaign to isolate Iraq diplomatically in the Arab and Muslim worlds. On Tuesday, gunmen fired on senior envoys from Bahrain and Pakistan in apparent kidnap attempts.
Chilean court strips Pinochet's immunity from prosecution
SANTIAGO, Chile - A Chilean court stripped Gen. Augusto Pinochet of immunity from prosecution Wednesday for his alleged role in the killing of 119 dissidents in the early years of his dictatorship.
The Santiago Court of Appeals voted 11-10 to strip the 89-year-old former dictator of the legal immunity he enjoys as former president for a case known as ''Operation Colombo'' during his 1973-90 regime.
Pinochet also faces court battles in a number of other lawsuits arising from human rights abuses during his long reign, and has been four times stripped of his immunity and the courts have twice blocked his trial on health grounds.
A report prepared by an independent commission for the civilian government that succeeded Pinochet said 3,197 people died or disappeared during his 17-year regime.
Iran negotiator's fate in question
TEHRAN, Iran - The fate of Iran's top negotiator in nuclear talks with Europe was thrown into question Wednesday with conflicting reports on whether he had resigned or would stay in his post.
The issue is crucial, because the future of Iran's nuclear talks with Europe has been viewed as a key issue in determining relations between the West and the government of ultraconservative president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
If, in fact, moderate Hasan Rowhani is out, Ahmadinejad may select a more hard-line team for the delicate talks.
Iran's media has suggested Ali Larijani might be named to replace him. Larijani, a former Revolutionary Guards commander, advocates taking a stronger position against the Europeans for talks and likely would be a much tougher negotiator.
World leaders arrive at G-8, debate level of aid to Africa
GLENEAGLES, Scotland - World leaders faced pressure from the United States to scale back goals for relieving African poverty and combatting disease on the world's poorest continent. But British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday he planned to keep campaigning for his ambitious objectives with other world leaders.
The heads of the Group of Eight nations began arriving Wednesday at this posh golf resort for three days of discussions.
Blair commented at a joint appearance with Irish rock star Bono and Bob Geldof, who organized the Live 8 concerts last weekend aimed at pressuring G-8 leaders to do more to fight poverty and disease in Africa.
Riot police with attack dogs beat back demonstrators Wednesday as thousands marched near the site of the Group of Eight summit, demanding action from the world's leaders on poverty reduction and climate change.
The protesters - banging drums, blowing whistles and led by a bagpiper dressed in a kilt - marched through the narrow streets of Auchterarder, a village of about 4,000 people, to the nearby fenced-off perimeter of the Gleneagles resort.
- From wire reports