USA

US policy on the Middle East, the counterterrorism war, and an escalating trade dispute over steel were on the agenda for President Bush's summit with European Union leaders Thursday. Romano Prodi, president of the EU-governing European Commission, earlier said the objective is to "take stock of progress achieved ... and to look for solutions on difficult issues." (Related story, page 2.)

Agreements to resume military exchanges and increase cooperation with China followed Bush's talks with Vice President Hu Jintao, widely regarded as his country's next leader. The two discussed terrorism, trade, human rights, and Taiwan, the White House said, mending relations strained by the collision of a US surveillance aircraft and a Chinese combat jet last spring. In a speech to the National Committee on US-China Relations, a pro-business group, Hu (above) called Taiwan "the most important and sensitive issue" in bilateral relations – China considers it a renegade province.

One of the Roman Catholic priests at the center of a sex-abuse scandal in Boston was arrested in San Diego. Police said the Rev. Paul Shanley was detained on three counts of child rape for attacks that allegedly occurred between 1983 and 1990 in Newton, Mass. Shanley already is the focus of a civil lawsuit against the Boston archdiocese. It alleges that church leaders failed to respond sufficiently to dozens of child-abuse claims against Shanley and did not share that information when he moved to a California diocese in 1990. (Related story, page 3.)

The House was expected to approve a $45.1 billion farm bill after three weeks of negotiations to reconcile differing House and Senate versions. Among other provisions, the measure sets federal policies on food stamps for immigrants and farmland conservation, and boosts crop and dairy subsidies. Rep. Ron Kind (D) of Wisconsin wants to lower the top amount farmers could receive, but colleagues say any last-minute changes, which would send the bill back to congressional negotiators, could kill it.

New claims for jobless benefits dipped by a seasonally adjusted 10,000 to 418,000 last week, the Labor Department reported. It was the lowest level since March 23.

A dog that spent 24 days alone on a disabled fuel tanker was to arrive in Honolulu after a long and much-publicized rescue effort. The Coast Guard and Humane Society planned to present Forgea to the news media before a mandatory four-month quarantine. After that, the white terrier has been invited to appear on Jay Leno's late-night talk show. Left behind when the crew abandoned the Insiko 1907 in March, the dog was recovered by the crew of a tug sent to tow the tanker to safety.

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