Iraq holds talks with Kuwait

BAGHDAD - Iraq took another step toward healing its rift with Kuwait on Thursday as government leaders welcomed the highest-ranking Kuwaiti envoy since Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion.

The timing of the visit by Kuwait's deputy prime minister, Sheik Mohammed Al Sabah, was symbolic - it came as Kuwaitis celebrated the 18th anniversary of the U.S.-led military campaign that drove out Saddam's forces.

But much of tiny Persian Gulf nation was left looted and devastated by the Iraqi occupation, and Kuwait still claims billions of dollars in war reparations.

Al-Qaida offshoot claims Algeria attacks

ALGIERS, Algeria - Al-Qaida's North African offshoot claimed responsibility Thursday for the killing of nine security guards near an Algerian power facility, as well as eight other deadly attacks this month.

The bombing and mortar attack Monday in the Jijel area 215 miles east of Algiers, the capital, targeted the housing compound of security guards working on an electricity dam operated by Sonelgaz, Algeria's national provider.

Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa said in a statement posted on the Internet that it had killed 10 guards, though authorities have only confirmed nine deaths.

4 Americans killed in Dutch plane crash

AMSTERDAM - A Dutch mayor said Thursday the nine people killed when a Turkish Airlines jet slammed into a field near Amsterdam's main airport are five Turks and four Americans.

Haarlemmermeer mayor Theo Weterings said the names of the victims will not be released until the bodies have been formally identified. It was not immediately clear how long that would take.

US dispatches envoy for N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is sending her new envoy for North Korea policy to Asia early next week to work on reviving stalled international nuclear talks with an increasingly hostile Pyongyang.

The trip comes as North Korea threatens to punish anyone trying to disrupt a plan to conduct what the United States and South Korea believe may be a long-range missile test.