Opposition appears set to retain parliament gains in Zimbabwe

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's opposition appeared set to retain its gains in parliament Saturday, as international pressure mounted for the release of results from the presidential vote that longtime leader Robert Mugabe is believed to have lost.

Mugabe has been accused of using delays, fraud and violence to hold onto power. Even if he retains the presidency, he will have to deal with a defiant parliament.

Early results showed his party losing control of parliament for the first time since independence in 1980. His regime reacted by calling for recounts in 23 seats, but so far, the recounts have only confirmed the original tallies.

On Saturday, the electoral commission confirmed the results in 10 disputed parliamentary votes: six seats were taken by the opposition and four by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Iraq's Sunni VP wants return to government

BAGHDAD - Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president on Saturday called the return of his boycotting political bloc to the Shiite-led Cabinet a priority, saying the government needs to reconcile quickly to 'save Iraq.'

Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi's comments were the latest to signal readiness by the main Sunni bloc, the National Accordance Front, to rejoin the government after an absence of nearly nine months.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also said Friday that he expected to present a new Cabinet list 'within a few days' - a step that would be a boost to his government and seen by Washington as a significant step forward.

But while the two sides have said they were prepared to join forces for more than a week, internal power struggles within the National Accordance Front have delayed a formal announcement, according to a Sunni official familiar with the negotiations.

US Marines deploy in Afghanistan

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Marines are crossing the sands of southern Afghanistan for the first time in years, providing a boost to a NATO coalition that is growing but still short on manpower.

They hope to retake the 10 percent of Afghanistan the Taliban holds.

Some of the Marines that make up the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit helped to tame a thriving insurgency in western Iraq. The newly arrived forces hope to move into regions of Afghanistan now controlled by the Taliban.

The troops are working alongside British forces in Helmand province - the world's largest opium-poppy region and site of the fiercest Taliban resistance over the last two years. The director of U.S. intelligence has said the Taliban controls 10 percent of Afghanistan - much of that in Helmand.

Dalai Lama is ready for serious talks with China

DHARMSALA, India - The Dalai Lama said Saturday he welcomed China's offer to hold talks with his envoy but cautioned it would be meaningless to meet if Beijing was not serious about trying to solve the problems that caused recent unrest in Tibet.

But just as it appeared China was reaching out to the Tibetan spiritual leader, Beijing's state media on Saturday blamed him for the deadly violence in the Tibetan capital that threatens to overshadow this summer's Olympics.

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile here in this northern Indian town, said the two sides needed to talk seriously about how to resolve the problems that triggered the riots in the Tibetan capital last month.

Factory fire in Morocco kills 55

CASABLANCA, Morocco - Morocco's official news agency says 55 people have been killed in a fire at a mattress factory in Casablanca.

About a dozen others were injured, according to a statement by the city government.

The MAP news agency says the blaze broke out on the ground floor of the factory.

Official: 14-year-old Palestinian girl killed in Gaza clash

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli forces entered a northern Gaza town early Saturday and seized a local Hamas leader from his home amid heavy fighting with Palestinian gunmen, Hamas militants and a Palestinian health official said. The wanted man's 14-year-old daughter was killed in the clashes.

The fighting erupted in the town of Beit Lahiya, near the border with Israel. The army confirmed the raid, saying its forces exchanged fire with Palestinian militants.