USA

A US delegation is heading for scheduled talks, hosted by Beijing, on North Korea's revived nuclear program, a State Department official said. The group is reportedly being led by James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs. Last October, Kelly prompted North Korea's reclusive regime to acknowledge a secret nuclear project. This week's talks would mark the first high-level contact between the Bush administration and Pyongyang since then.

The US military may have found a key lead in the hunt for Iraq's alleged chemical and biological weapons, The New York Times reported. An Iraqi scientist led a US team to a cache of supplies for making illegal weapons, the Times said, citing members of the team. The unidentified scientist also alleged that Iraq was destroying unconventional weapons and related equipment in the days before the war began last month, and had been transferring some stockpiles and technology to Syria for almost a decade.

The US Supreme Court agreed to take up an appeal from a death row inmate in Texas. Lawyers for Delma Banks assert that prosecutors improperly suppressed evidence favorable to their client at his 1980 trial on murder charges, and that Banks was ineptly represented at the time. Banks was minutes away from execution when the High Court granted him a reprieve last month, now extended at least until its decision next fall.

Two men were detained near a busy bridge linking Detroit with Windsor, Ontario, after police found two quarter-sticks of dynamite, a collapsible baton, and shotgun shells in their car Sunday. The men, reportedly seen videotaping the Ambassador Bridge, are being questioned by the FBI, a police spokeswoman said. She noted that the explosives were not sufficient to damage the bridge.

The index of leading economic indicators fell 0.2 percent in March to 110.6, said the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group. The second straight monthly decline was in line with expectations, but the board suggested that its closely watched forecast may pick up for April.

A suspect accused of kidnapping his teenage niece and murdering her parents is in custody, after a high-speed chase and armed standoff with police near Rehrersburg, Pa., Sunday. Robert Lee Hixson may have been obsessed with the girl, the district attorney said.

More than 20,000 runners were participating in the 107th Boston Marathon, including defending men's and women's champions Rodgers Rop and Margaret Okayo of Kenya. Marla Runyan, who is visually impaired, was among the few Americans expected to be among the top finishers.

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