Iraq's Cabinet to vote on security pact with US

BAGHDAD - Iraq's Cabinet will vote today on a security pact with Washington that would keep U.S. forces in the country for another three years, a major step in efforts to balance Iraqi demands for national sovereignty with the security concerns of the two allies.

In a bid to secure support for the agreement from the country's top Shiite cleric, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Saturday dispatched two senior lawmakers to see Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, with a copy of the pact's final draft.

A senior official at al-Sistani's office said the cleric told the two legislators - Khalid al-Attiyah and Ali al-Adeeb - that the document represented 'the best available option' for Iraq, signaling that he would not object to it if the Cabinet and later parliament approve it.

Pakistan agrees to $7.6 billion IMF bailout

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan said Saturday it had agreed to borrow $7.6 billion from the International Monetary Fund in an effort to stabilize the economy of this strategically important U.S. ally on the front lines of the battle against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The government had been reluctant to go to the IMF but had little choice once even close allies the United States, China and Saudi Arabia snubbed its pleas for significant bilateral aid.

US: Afghanistan insurgent leader captured

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces captured an insurgent leader in eastern Afghanistan, and in a separate operation 10 militants were killed in a firefight, the U.S. military said Saturday.

U.S. forces said they grabbed a 'key insurgent leader' in a joint raid with Afghan police Friday in a village in eastern Ghazni province. No shots were fired in the raid, the statement said.

Econ summit vows action

WASHINGTON - World leaders battling a dire and deepening economic crisis vowed Saturday to cooperate more closely, keep a sharper eye out for red-flag problems and give bigger roles to fast-rising nations - but kicked many hard details down the road for their next summit after President-elect Barack Obama takes office.