Rice makes surprise visit to Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to volatile Lebanon on Friday to encourage a new democratic government outside Syrian control and better relations between the two Mideast countries.

''We would like to see the day when there are good neighborly relations between Syria and Lebanon based on mutual respect and equality,'' Rice said at a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Foud Saniora earlier in the day.

Hours after Rice left the city, witnesses said an explosion rocked a busy street of restaurants and bars in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut, wounding two. The motive or the target of the attack was not immediately known.

Kidnapped Algerian envoy had refused Iraqi bodyguards

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen fired on a car carrying a newlywed couple and their families on Friday, killing the 23-year-old bride and wounding the Iraqi army captain she had just married. Eleven other people died in violence nationwide.

Algerian authorities, meanwhile, expressed surprise that two of their diplomats were abducted Thursday, saying Algiers has steadfastly refused to take part in the U.S.-led coalition.

Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Al-Khafaji told Al-Jazeera television that the Algerian envoy had refused Iraqi offers to provide him with bodyguards, saying he didn't need protection because ''Algeria's relationship with the Iraqis is good.''

U.N. report slams Zimbabwe slum destruction

UNITED NATIONS - Zimbabwe's destruction of urban slums is a ''disastrous venture'' that has left 700,000 people without homes or jobs, violated international law and created a grave humanitarian crisis, a harshly worded U.N. report said Friday.

The report detailed the devastating extent of Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out Trash, for the first time. It said a further 2.4 million people have been affected by the countrywide campaign that began with little warning on May 19 and has seen thousands of shantytowns, ramshackle markets and makeshift homes demolished.

Clinton pledges to help Kenya with HIV/AIDS treatment

NAIROBI, Kenya - Former President Clinton pledged Friday to help Kenya expand HIV/AIDS care and treatment, particularly for children and people in rural areas who traditionally receive the fewest services in poor countries.

Clinton said his foundation had received grants worth $1.5 million to help train medical workers for rural areas in this East African nation.

The money came from singer Elton John and the Children Investment Fund Foundation, a London-based charity that funds projects to improve the lives of children in poor nations, Clinton said.

Yemeni troops disperse protesters after two days

SAN'A, Yemen - Yemeni troops backed by tanks dispersed groups of protesters after Friday prayers in the capital after two days of clashes over the doubling of fuel prices that have killed at least 36 people nationwide.

Small groups of worshippers departing prayers on Friday,

the Muslim holy day, tried to rally for a third straight day

but police corralled marchers and prevented them from


Convicted spy Pollard loses appeal over life sentence

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court Friday rejected convicted spy Jonathan Pollard's latest effort to reduce the life sentence he received for selling military secrets to Israel while working as an intelligence analyst for the Navy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that Pollard waited too long to try to contest his 1987 sentence and failed to make a convincing case that he got poor legal help.

Five tribal elders shot and killed

LADHA, Pakistan - Assailants killed five tribal elders who had helped Pakistan's army hunt for al-Qaida-linked militants in a remote, lawless region near the Afghan border, residents and officials said.

The elders were gunned down in three attacks in various parts of South Waziristan, a deeply conservative mountainous region run by local tribes, and only nominally ruled by Islamabad.

At least 50 other elders have been killed after they started cooperating with the Pakistani army.

- From wire reports