Clinton: Israeli concessions 'unprecedented'

JERUSALEM - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Saturday that Israel is making 'unprecedented' concessions on West Bank settlement construction.

The Palestinians have said they will not return to peace talks with Israel unless it halts all settlement building.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, Clinton said Israel is putting significant limits on settlement activity.

'What the (Israeli) prime minister has offered in specifics on restraints on a policy of settlements ... is unprecedented,' she said.

Abdullah plans runoff boycott in Afghan vote

KABUL - President Hamid Karzai's challenger plans to call for a boycott of next weekend's runoff election in an attempt to force the vote's postponement until spring, his campaign manager said - a move that would dim U.S. hopes for a stable Afghan government for months.

Karzai rejected Abdullah Abdullah's conditions for next Saturday's vote, including removing top election officials whom the challenger accused of involvement in cheating in the first-round balloting in August.

Abdullah has called a press conference for 10 a.m. today to announce his final decision after Afghans and Westerners close to the challenger said he would withdraw. His campaign manager Satar Murad said the candidate might still change his mind, but that 'as of now' he planned to call for a boycott.

Pirates: Western boats 'loot' Somali fish

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somali pirates who are demanding $7 million in ransom for a British sailing couple said Saturday that boats from other countries are plundering Somalia's fish-rich waters.

Ahmed Gadaf, who described himself as a spokesman for the pirates, said Western fishing vessels 'harass' local fishermen and destroy their nets. Gadaf spoke to The Associated Press by satellite phone.

Gadaf said the British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, are safe and will not be harmed.

The British government on Saturday reiterated its refusal to ransom the pair, saying in a statement that officials would not make any 'substantive concessions to hostage-takers, and that includes the payment of ransom.'