World

North Korea is "fully committed" to abandoning its nuclear program, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said, even though the nation's senior negotiator was "too busy" to see him on a critical visit to Pyongyang. ElBaradei was in the communist-led nation to discuss the return of UN inspectors, a concession to which the North agreed as part of a deal to close its Yongbyon reactor and weapons-building facilities in return for fuel oil and other economic assistance.

Nominees for cabinet posts in a new Palestinian unity government will be presented to parliament Saturday for its approval, spokesmen for Hamas and Fatah said. The rivals have been negotiating over a coalition since last fall in hopes of appeasing Western donors who refuse to support a Hamas-led administration that refuses to recognize Israel. The new cabinet will have nine Hamas ministers and six from Fatah, the spokesmen said.

The leader of the political opposition in Zimbabwe was in intensive care at a hospital for treatment of severe head injuries. Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change was beaten by police Sunday when they charged an antigovernment prayer meeting on the outskirts of Harare. Along with other MDC participants who were arrested, he made a required court appearance Tuesday – defiantly but in obvious physical distress.

In separate meetings Wednesday, the Protestant and Catholic political leaders of Northern Ireland were expected to discuss with British Prime Minister Tony Blair their prices for sharing power in the province. The Rev. Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party, the biggest winner in last week's election for a new Northern Ireland Assembly, was seeking a reported $2 billion in extra subsidies for the self-rule government. Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, the party allied with the outlawed Irish Republican Army, also was believed to want additional funds. Their parties face a March 26 deadline to cobble together a joint administration or the assembly will be disbanded.

Only the driver of a commuter van survived a new attack by Muslim separatists in southern Thailand Wednesday. Nine Buddhist passengers were killed after the attackers blocked the van's path with logs, forcing it off the road. The incident took place on the anniversary of the founding of a movement that seeks autonomy for three majority-Muslim provinces. Above, a policeman inspects the vehicle after the shootings.

Calm has returned to a town in southern China where thousands of residents fought with police last week over a doubling of bus fares, authorities said. But the "mass incident" apparently lasted longer and resulted in more property damage than was originally reported. Residents told the Associated Press that the town, Zhushan, was sealed off and that police were encouraging participants to turn themselves in. One witness said he'd been ordered to have no further "conversations with the media." The official Xinhua news agency disputed eyewitness accounts that at least one person died in the violence.

Five tourists held hostage for almost two weeks by rebels in a remote area of Ethiopia were freed Wednesday and awaited reunions with their families. The four Britons and a Frenchwoman had been sightseeing when they were kidnapped. The fate of eight Ethiopian driver/ guides who were seized with them was not known. Five other Ethiopians in the party escaped.

Political warfare worsened in Ecuador Tuesday as 20 ousted members of Congress fought through police lines to reach their seats. But lacking a quorum, they left the building, only to be confronted by angry supporters of leftist President Eduardo Correa. One legislator was hospitalized after being attacked (above); two aides were wounded by gunfire. Correa is feuding with Congress over a referendum to rewrite the Constitution to curb the influence of conservative opposition parties.

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