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Kurdish rebels, army clash

The Turkish army clashed with Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq in their deadliest battle in eight months, and the government vowed Saturday to fight the rebels at full force.

Fifteen soldiers and at least 23 insurgents were killed, the military said Saturday. Twenty more soldiers were wounded, the government said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned early to Ankara from an official visit to Turkmenistan to lead an emergency security meeting, and President Abdullah Gul canceled a planned visit to France on Sunday.

Outraged Turks demonstrated in the streets in several cities, politicians denounced the rebels, and images of grieving families of fallen soldiers covered the Web sites of almost all newspapers.

The Iraqi government, the European Union, NATO and the U.S. Embassy in Ankara all condemned the rebels and supported Turkey. Iraq also called on Ankara to show restraint in its response.


Civilian nuclear deal still unsigned

The top American and Indian diplomats lauded a new agreement that opens up U.S. nuclear trade with India, but they stopped short of signing the deal Saturday. Some private U.S. arms control experts said the pact probably will speed up nuclear arms competition in Asia.

Some U.S. officials had said as recently as Friday that they expected Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, to sign the agreement Saturday. The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation authorizing President Bush to make the deal.

At a joint news conference with Mukherjee, Rice said no substantive issues stand in the way of signing the deal; she said it was only a matter of waiting for a series of administrative steps by the Congress to transmit enabling legislation to the White House for Bush to sign.


Helicopters collide, killing Iraqi soldier

Two U.S. helicopters collided while landing at a base in Baghdad on Saturday, killing one Iraqi soldier and wounding four people, including two Americans, the military said. It was the second helicopter crash in two weeks.

The U.S. military said hostile fire did not appear to be the cause.

Also Saturday, the military said it killed an al-Qaida in Iraq leader suspected of masterminding one of the deadliest attacks in Baghdad, several other recent bombings and the 2006 videotaped killing of a Russian official.

TBILISI, Georgia

Navy confirms training Georgians

Georgian coast guard personnel began training Saturday aboard a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea, a Georgian official said.

The training is likely to irritate Russia, which has criticized U.S. aid shipments to its tiny southern neighbor and alleged they could have been a cover for delivering weapons — a claim the United States has denied.

In Washington, the U.S. Navy confirmed that Georgian midshipmen received training Saturday aboard the destroyer USS Mason just outside Georgian waters.

A deputy chief of the Georgian border guard department, David Gulua, said the training would continue through Friday, but he did not say how many personnel were taking part.

He said the U.S. ship was not in Georgia’s territorial waters.


U.S. won’t put diplomats in Iran

The Bush administration has shelved plans to set up a diplomatic outpost in Iran, in part over fears it could affect the U.S. presidential race or be interpreted as political meddling, the Associated Press has learned.

The proposal to send U.S. diplomats to Tehran for the first time in three decades attracted great attention when it was floated over the summer, but it has now been placed on indefinite hold as November’s election nears and Iran continues to defy demands to halt suspect nuclear activities, officials said.

SEOUL, South Korea

Agency reports Kim appearance

North Korea’s state news agency reported a public appearance by reclusive leader Kim Jong Il for the first time in nearly two months, an absence that prompted speculation he was seriously ill.

Kim watched a university soccer game, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday. It did not say anything about his health condition or when he made the appearance.

The 66-year-old leader had not been seen in public since mid-August. U.S. and South Korean officials said last month Kim suffered a stroke and underwent brain surgery but North Korea has denied it.

VIENNA, Austria

Man sets fire to his in-laws

A man killed his parents-in-law by setting them on fire with a homemade flame-thrower, Austrian police said Saturday.

The 48-year-old man used a flame-thrower he had created from a propane gas container on the elderly couple as they lay in bed, chief police investigator Anton Kiesl said.

From wire reports


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