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WORLD IN BRIEF: Conference of Afghanis calls for talks with the Taliban

Conference of Afghanis calls for talks with the Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai got a boost Friday from a national conference of tribal, religious and civic leaders for his plans to approach the Taliban to talk peace. Karzai's more difficult challenge: convincing insurgent leaders and the Obama administration.

The United States supports overtures to lower-level militants but thinks talks with top leaders will go nowhere until NATO-led and Afghan forces are successful in weakening the Taliban and strengthening the Afghan government in Kandahar province and elsewhere in the south.

The Taliban insist no talks are possible until foreign troops withdraw from the country -- a step Karzai cannot afford with the insurgency raging. U.S. officials contend the Taliban leadership feels it has little reason to negotiate because it believes it is winning the war.

Gaza boat aid organizers say they won't be stopped

LARNACA, Cyprus -- They were well-to-do, liberal California residents who bonded over the plight of Gaza's Palestinians.

Four years after forming the Free Gaza movement, a handful of American and Australian core members remain bent on breaching Israel's military blockade of the narrow coastal strip, despite the bloody Israeli raid that killed nine activists on an aid flotilla that the group helped organize.

Another Free Gaza-sponsored aid ship set sail Friday from Cyprus with a Nobel Peace laureate among its 11 pro-Palestinian activists and thousands of tons of aid on board.

Spokeswoman and founding member Greta Berlin, 69, said Cyprus-based Free Gaza is assembling another convoy to sail in the early fall.

Murder suspect van der Sloot moved to Peru

TACNA, Peru -- Chilean police have turned over Dutch murder suspect Joran van der Sloot to Peruvian authorities at the countries' border.

Authorities said he has declared himself innocent of Sunday's murder of a 21-year-old student in a Lima hotel but acknowledged meeting the girl in a casino in the Peruvian capital.

Van der Sloot also remains the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teen Natalie Holloway on the Caribbean island of Aruba.