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WORLD IN BRIEF: Afghan leader wraps up talks with insurgents

KABUL -- President Hamid Karzai and representatives of a major militant group wrapped up a first round of peace talks Tuesday, reaching no final deal but pledging to continue a dialogue that if successful would split the ranks of the Taliban-led insurgency.

The talks with Hizb-i-Islami were the first public face-to-face negotiations in the capital between Karzai and representatives of an insurgent group. Hizb-i-Islami, led by former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is far smaller than the Taliban but is active in at least four provinces of eastern Afghanistan and parts of the north.

Its defection from the insurgency would be a coup for Karzai and could encourage some members of the Taliban to explore their own peace deals.

Iraqi PM fights to hold power, risks sectarian war in country

BAGHDAD -- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's post-election strategy suggests he is prepared for a long and bitter fight to hold on to power, even if it alienates the country's Sunni community and risks new sectarian warfare.

The Iraqi leader is trying all sorts of legal maneuvers to deny victory to his chief opponent, former prime minister Ayad Allawi, whose secular, nationalist bloc won the most parliamentary seats in the March 7 elections and presumably the right to try to form a new government.

Even if al-Maliki sticks with nominally legal measures, he risks serious damage to all the efforts to ease sectarian tensions which had begun to bear fruit three years after the U.S. troop surge. A resurgence of major violence would complicate U.S. plans to withdraw all its forces from Iraq by the end of next year.

2 detained for dead babies found along China river

BEIJING -- The bodies of 21 babies, some with hospital identification tags around their tiny ankles, washed ashore on a river in eastern China and two mortuary workers were detained for allegedly dumping them.

News footage Tuesday showed the babies -- at least one of whom was stuffed in a yellow plastic bag marked ''medical waste'' -- strewn along a dirt riverbank near a highway overpass. A few wore diapers. All were caked in mud.