Bush calls for Mideast peace conference

WASHINGTON - Declaring a 'moment of choice' in the Middle East, President Bush said Monday he would call Israel, the Palestinians and others in the region to a peace conference aimed at restarting stalled talks and moving faster toward a Palestinian state.

Such a session could result in Israelis sitting at the same conference table as countries such as Saudi Arabia that do not recognize Israel diplomatically.

Bush said the conference, open to countries in the region that support a two-state solution to the long Israeli-Palestinian standoff, would be headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Pakistan works to save accord with tribal leaders

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistani officials struggled Monday to salvage a peace deal meant to contain militants near the Afghan border and urged tribal elders to halt violence surging across the northwest.

Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, long insisted the 10-month-old accord was key to ending extremism in the tribal region, although U.S. officials complained it provided the Taliban and al-Qaida with a safe haven.

Pro-Taliban militants in the lawless North Waziristan region renounced the agreement amid weekend bombings and suicide attacks that killed more than 70 people across the northwest, most of them policemen and soldiers.

Britain to expel Russian diplomats over spy slaying

LONDON - Prime Minister Gordon Brown's new government ordered the expulsion of four Russian diplomats Monday over the Kremlin's refusal to extradite the key suspect in the fatal poisoning of a former KGB spy - Britain's first use of the sanction in more than 10 years. Russia quickly threatened retaliation, marking a new low point in Britain's relations with Moscow under President Vladimir Putin.

Alexander Litvinenko died Nov. 23 in a London hospital after ingesting radioactive polonium-210. In a deathbed statement, the 43-year-old accused Putin of being behind his killing.

British prosecutors have named Russian businessman and former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi as the chief suspect. But Russia has refused to extradite Lugovoi, saying its constitution prevents that.

Ethiopian court sentences 35 to life imprisonment

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - A court sentenced 35 opposition politicians and activists to life in prison on Monday and denied them the right to vote or run for public office for inciting violence in an attempt to overthrow the government.

The prosecution had called for death sentences against the defendants, who included Ethiopia's top opposition leaders and five people charged, tried and convicted in absentia. Another eight defendants facing similar charges were sentenced to between 18 months and 18 years in prison, said Judge Adil Ahmed, reading the sentences on behalf of the three-judge panel.

Bombing in Iraq kills more than 80

BAGHDAD - A triple bombing, including a massive suicide truck blast, killed more than 80 people Monday in Kirkuk, the deadliest attack yet in the oil-rich northern city. The bloodshed reinforced concern that extremists are heading north as U.S.-led forces step up pressure around Baghdad.

The vast majority of the casualties came in the truck bombing, which blasted a 30-foot-deep crater and damaged part of the roof of the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party of President Jalal Talabani. The explosion took place in a crowded commercial area and appeared aimed at causing as many civilian deaths as possible.

U.S. sets ambitious agenda following N. Korean shutdown

SEOUL, South Korea - The United States is looking to build on momentum created by North Korea shutting down its nuclear reactor and will start deliberations on removing the regime from a list of terrorism-sponsoring states, the main U.S. envoy on the issue said Monday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill laid out a busy agenda for steps Washington hopes can be made in the reconciliation process as Pyongyang lays aside its nuclear weapons program. Among them, he said, are negotiations on a permanent peace treaty to replace the 54-year-old cease-fire that halted the Korean War and talks on setting up a regional security forum in northeast Asia.