World

North Korea vowed to work for peace and prosperity in its annual New Year message published Saturday by the country's main newspapers. The message, which made no mention of stalled six-party talks on swapping its nuclear programs for international aid, urged the US to end its hostility toward the reclusive communist regime.

More than $2 billion has been pledged in tsunami disaster relief, topping in one week total donations promised to the UN in 2004, UN officials said this weekend. Despite heavy rains and fresh floods in Indonesia, aid distribution efforts there met with fewer logistical difficulties Sunday as the UN refugee agency began a 400-ton airlift to provide shelter and other supplies to survivors. US and Australian helicopters aided the distribution of supplies to areas inaccessible by trucks, but the UN said some remote villages may not receive help for a couple of weeks.

Colombia extradited a top leftist rebel, Ricardo Palmera, to the US Friday to face drug and terror charges, an unprecedented move that followed his group's refusal to free dozens of hostages, including three Americans. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has battled for 40 years to topple the government, was suspected in the killing of 16 Colombian peasants later that day.

Several hundred Argentinians took to the streets of Buenos Aires Saturday, calling on city officials to toughen safety codes for concert halls and rock clubs after an overcrowded nightclub caught fire Thursday, killing nearly 200. The building, which had a capacity for 1,500, was packed with over 4,000 mostly teenage fans of the Argentine rock band Los Callejeros.

Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo declared a state of emergency late Saturday in Peru's Andahuaylas province after a group of nationalist dissidents seized a police station and held officers hostage to demand his resignation. Four police officers were killed in a shootout with the dissidents early Sunday. Toledo, whose approval rating hovers at 9 percent, refused to step down.

The German government rang in the New Year with expectations of nearly $4 billion in yearly revenue from a new toll system for trucks over 12 tons. The system, whose development was plagued by technical difficulties, uses a Global Positioning System satellite to track the distance trucks travel on toll roads, levying an average charge of 26 cents per mile.

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