6 U.S. deaths make '07 deadliest since '01 in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - Militants ambushed and killed six U.S. troops walking in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan - the most lethal attack of the year. The deaths made 2007 the deadliest for the U.S. military here since the 2001 invasion, mirroring the record U.S. toll in Iraq.

Both conflicts have seen an increase in troop levels this year that has put more soldiers in harm's way, including those killed Friday while returning from a meeting with village elders in Nuristan province. Militants wielding rocket propelled grenades killed the six Americans and three Afghan soldiers. Eight U.S. troops were wounded.

Pakistan says emergency rule will end in 1 month

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan eased its crackdown on opponents Saturday, releasing opposition leader Benazir Bhutto from house arrest and saying it will lift a state of emergency within a month. But the government blocked a meeting between the deposed Supreme Court justice and Bhutto, who pledged to lead a 185-mile protest march.

President Bush called President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's promises 'positive steps,' throwing U.S. support firmly behind the Pakistani leader in the fight against Islamic militants.

Bhutto, apparently unbowed by her brief detention, said she would defy Musharraf's ban on public gatherings and lead supporters on a march from the eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad on Tuesday.

Palestine unveils mausoleum of Yasser Arafat

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dedicated Yasser Arafat's sleek new mausoleum in a ceremony Saturday, drawing on his predecessor's continued popularity as he heads into peace negotiations with Israel.

Abbas aides, meanwhile, reported new difficulties in preparations for the U.S.-hosted Mideast conference later this month. Abbas called U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to complain that Israel had backed away from a promise to accept U.S. monitoring of its initial peace obligations, officials said. Israel declined to comment.

Saturday's dedication of the mausoleum, on the third anniversary of Arafat's death, was meant to boost Abbas' legitimacy as he faces a stiff challenge from the rival Hamas. The Islamic militant group, which violently seized control of Gaza from Abbas' security forces in June, maintains Abbas has no mandate to negotiate with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

U.N. report: Agree on ban or expect human clone soon

LONDON - The international community faces a stark choice: outlaw human cloning or prepare for the creation of cloned humans, U.N. researchers said Saturday.

Previous attempts to reach a binding worldwide treaty foundered over divisions on whether to outlaw all cloning or permit cloning of cells for research.

The best solution may be to ban human cloning but allow countries to conduct strictly controlled therapeutic research, including stem cell research, according to the report from the Japan-based United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies.

Almost all countries oppose human cloning and more than 50 nations have introduced laws banning it. But lack of binding global legislation gives scientists an opening to create human clones in countries where bans do not exist.

Iraqi police say 18 killed in clashes with al-Qaida

BAGHDAD - At least 18 people were killed in clashes between al-Qaida fighters and former insurgents who turned against the terror network, Iraqi police and a former insurgent leader said Saturday.

Most members of the Islamic Army, a major Sunni Arab insurgent group that includes former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, joined U.S. forces battling al-Qaida in Iraq earlier this year, though some of the group's leaders deny any contact with American troops.

Pilot charged in kidnap plot says he has no regrets

N'DJAMENA, Chad - An ailing Belgian pilot charged with complicity in an alleged kidnapping attempt by a French charity working in Chad said Saturday he had no regrets about his role in transporting the group.

Chadian authorities released Jacques Wilmart on Friday, along with three Spanish flight crew members. All are charged with complicity in a plan to fly children to Europe whom the group claims were orphans from the conflict-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan. The Spaniards returned home Friday.