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Two U.S. Senators detained in Russia

Moscow Two U.S. senators visiting sites where weapons of mass destruction are being stored were held for several hours Sunday at a Siberian airport while trying to leave Russia, a U.S. Embassy spokesperson said.

Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., were held at the airport in Perm but allowed to leave after discussions between U.S. and Russian officials, the embassy spokesperson said on condition of anonymity.

Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Obama spent three days in Russia visiting sites where warheads are stored before destruction under the U.S.-funded Comprehensive Threat Reduction program.

The spokesperson did not have information on the nature of the dispute that resulted in the senators being held. Telephone calls to the Russian border guard service and Foreign Ministry were not answered Sunday evening.

Jesse Jackson voices support for Chavez

Caracas, Venezuela The Rev. Jesse Jackson offered support for President Hugo Chavez on Sunday, saying a call for his assassination by a U.S. religious broadcaster was a criminal act and that Washington and Venezuela should work out their differences through diplomacy.

The U.S. civil rights leader condemned last week’s suggestion by Pat Robertson that American agents should kill the leftist Venezuelan leader, calling the conservative commentator’s statements “immoral” and “illegal.”

Jackson urged U.S. authorities to take action, and said the U.S. government must choose “diplomacy over any threats of sabotage or isolation or assassination.”

“We must choose a civilized policy of rational conversation,” he told reporters at a news conference.

Chavez, a self-styled “revolutionary,” has repeatedly accused President Bush’s government of planning to overthrow him. He warned Friday that some American leaders have considered killing him.

U.S. officials have repeatedly denied such claims.

Units sweep Egypt for bombing suspects

Cairo, Egypt Army sappers joined a 5,000-strong security force Sunday in a sweep through the Sinai, as authorities stepped up their search for militants behind recent bombings of tourist centers on the rugged peninsula.

Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the operation was still underway, said at least two army units responsible for clearing mines and one border-guard unit had joined the hunt, which entered its second week Sunday.

The force was focused on Halal mountain, a 5,900-foot peak near the Israeli border that is full of caves and deep ravines.

The security force suffered a major blow on Thursday, when a police major general and a lieutenant colonel were killed in a land mine explosion. Those killed were believed to be the highest ranking police officers to die in a conflict since Egypt put down a violent Islamist insurgency in the mid-1990s.