India: Quake victims may cross disputed Kashmir line for aid

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan - In another sign of growing cooperation between South Asia's nuclear rivals, India offered on Saturday to let Pakistani earthquake victims cross the cease-fire line in Kashmir to receive aid at three relief camps it was setting up.

Islamabad, however, was guarded in its initial response, saying the two sides would have to meet to discuss the proposal, which followed calls from Pakistan's president to open up the heavily militarized frontier for Kashmiris seeking relief.

Meanwhile, a U.S.-based human rights groups accused Pakistani officials of storing tents and other relief supplies instead of immediately distributing them to survivors of the Oct. 8 earthquake that leveled huge swaths of the region.

The allegations came as the United Nations appealed for nations to give more aid, warning of another wave of deaths unless relief arrives for the more than 3 million people left homeless by the quake before the harsh Himalayan winter hits in less than a month.

Syria denies failing to cooperate in U.N. assassination probe

DAMASCUS, Syria - Facing possible economic sanctions, Syria argued Saturday that it cooperated fully with a U.N. probe into the assassination of a former Lebanese leader and accused anti-Syrian witnesses of lying to tie the Damascus regime to the murder.

But Saad Hariri, son and political heir of slain billionaire Rafik Hariri, praised the United Nations investigation and called for an international tribunal to try the alleged plotters.

Damascus sought for a second straight day to dispute a U.N. report that implicated Syrian and Lebanese officials in the Feb. 14 bombing that killed Rafik Hariri, a former prime minister and opponent of Syria's domination of his country, and 20 others in central Beirut.

Bishops reaffirm church's stance on celibacy for priests

VATICAN CITY- While acknowledging the acute shortage of priests in the Roman Catholic Church, bishops from around the world reaffirmed the church's stance on celibacy for priests Saturday in a set of 50 recommendations they agreed to submit to Pope Benedict XVI.

The proposals, meant for the pope to consider in a future document on the Eucharist, also dealt with whether Communion should be denied to Catholic politicians who support laws that contradict church teaching, such as the right to abortion, as well as the plight of Catholics who divorce and remarry without getting an annulment.

American forces kill 20 insurgents

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. troops and warplanes killed 20 insurgents Saturday while destroying safehouses for foreign militants near the Syrian border, and four more American military deaths edged the war's U.S. death toll closer to 2,000.

Iraqi election officials, meanwhile, said no significant fraud had been detected in last weekend's constitutional referendum as they released partial results. Officials indicated the final count would not come for at least a few more days.

The day's heaviest fighting came when U.S.-led forces raided five houses suspected of sheltering foreign fighters in Husaybah, a town near Iraq's border with Syria, the military said. The troops reportedly killed 20 insurgents and captured one.

Rumsfeld wants expedited probe of body burning

VILNIUS, Lithuania - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Saturday that he wants American commanders in Afghanistan to expedite their investigation of allegations that U.S. soldiers burned the remains of Taliban fighters they had killed and then used the scene for propaganda purposes.

Investigators should proceed with a "sense of urgency," Rumsfeld said, in light of potential damage to U.S. interests from a backlash in the Muslim world, which has expressed outrage at the allegations.

Explosion rocks home in Austria

SALZBURG, Austria - An explosion reportedly caused by a gas canister in a home rocked a street in downtown Salzburg on Saturday, and authorities said several people were injured, at least one seriously.

The explosion occurred at about 3:30 p.m. in a home on the Bachstrasse, a residential street, and Austrian media reported that it involved a bottle of liquefied natural gas.

A dispatcher who answered the phone at Salzburg's main fire department said paramedics at the scene had taken one person to the hospital with critical injuries and were treating others.

- From wire reports