Lawyer kidnapped; witness to testify despite adjournment

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Ten masked gunmen kidnapped the lawyer for one of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants Thursday, police said.

Saadoun Sughaiyer al-Janabi, who was in the courtroom for Wednesday's opening session of the trial, is one of two lawyers for Awad Hamed al-Bandar, one of seven Baath Party officials being tried with Saddam.

The gunmen pulled up outside al-Janabi's office in Baghdad's eastern Shaab district in the evening, broke into the building and dragged him out, said Police Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi of the Interior Ministry.

Also, a key prosecution witness in Saddam Hussein's trial will testify Sunday because the former intelligence official is seriously ill with cancer, officials said.

The witness, Wadah Ismael Al-Sheik, was a senior Iraqi intelligence officer at the time of the Dujail massacre in 1982 that Saddam and seven other co-defendants are charged with.

Mideast braces

for deadly bird flu

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - As migrating waterfowl begin winging their way toward the warmth of the Middle East, this Persian Gulf nation - with a coastline and wetlands that host millions of wintering birds - is bracing for the arrival of ducks and geese carrying the dreaded bird flu virus.

''We can't sleep, I'm telling you,'' Majid Al Mansouri, who heads the country's bird flu campaign, said Thursday.

Across the Middle East, countries are stockpiling vaccine and medication, banning poultry and live bird imports, and going on high alert.

The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has devastated poultry stocks and killed 61 people in Asia, where another death from the disease was confirmed Thursday in Thailand.

Airlift urged to save quake survivors

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan - The top U.N. relief coordinator warned Thursday that bold initiatives like the Berlin Airlift are needed to save as many as 3 million people left homeless by the South Asian earthquake as winter approaches in the Himalayas.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, reported three quake survivors died of tetanus, reinforcing fears that disease and infected injuries could drive the 79,000 death toll far higher.

Jan Egeland, the U.N. relief coordinator, appealed to NATO and other potential donors to step in with an army of helicopters to fly in relief supplies and evacuate perhaps hundreds of thousands of people.

Clerics outraged over reports of

body desecration

KABUL, Afghanistan - Islamic clerics expressed outrage Thursday at television footage that purportedly shows U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters to taunt other militants and warned of a possible violent anti-American backlash.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the alleged desecration and ordered an inquiry. The operational commander of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, which launched its own criminal probe, said the alleged act, if true, was ''repugnant.''

Bush praises effort of Palestinian leader

WASHINGTON - President Bush heaped praise Thursday on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and said he was more confident than ever there would be peace with Israel and establishment of a Palestinian state.

Bush qualified his optimism a bit by saying ''it's hard'' and ''old feuds aren't settled immediately. And it takes a while.''

His praise of Abbas was unqualified, although he tried to nudge the Palestinian leader toward taking a more assertive approach to extremist groups.

Sudan, rebels end round of peace talks

ABUJA, Nigeria - Sudan's government and rebels ended a sixth round of talks on the crisis in the country's western Darfur region Thursday, announcing no agreements but pledging to reconvene in a month to push forward the slow-moving peace process.

Fighting between two rebel factions, which splintered earlier this year from the main Sudan Liberation Army, complicated more than a month of talks in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. The sides agreed to meet again Nov. 21 in Abuja.

Ambassador says Syria could face sanctions in probe

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council is ready to take action if an investigation identifies those responsible for assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and if Syria is implicated, it might face a call for sanctions, U.S. officials and diplomats said Thursday.

German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis handed the report from the U.N. investigation to Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday. It will be given to Security Council members on Friday and then to the media, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

''We're going to study it very carefully, and based on what's in there, decide what our next course of action might be,'' U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters.

- From wire reports