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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / May 18, 2007



The discussions on Iraqi security between the US and Iran will open May 28, the latter's foreign minister said Thursday. US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said he would press the Iranians on the allegation that their government provides terrorists in Iraq with powerful roadside bombs that have killed or wounded American soldiers. Iran is expected to raise objections to the ongoing presence of the US forces.

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Israeli forces added a new layer to the internal fighting in the Gaza Strip Thursday, targeting a Hamas compound in an airstrike that killed one person and wounded at least 45 others. Hamas vowed to retaliate and suggested that it would resume suicide bombings.The collapse of yet another cease-fire between Hamas and Fatah supporters caused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to postpone a planned visit to Gaza.

An employee of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Doctors Without Borders, was indicted in Jerusalem Thursday on charges that he planned to assassinate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Mazar Bashir, a Gaza Strip resident, was chosen for the mission by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after undergoing firearms training, the Jerusalem Post reported. It quoted the head of the aid organization as saying, "We make a distinction between his professional work and what he does on his personal time."

Two more soldiers died Thursday in Afghanistan in an exchange of gunfire across the border with Pakistan that each side blamed the other for starting. Afghan government officials said the latest losses bring the number of casualties to at least 13 since the skirmishes erupted last weekend. The neighbors accuse each other of not doing enough to stem the flow of terrorists infiltrating Afghanistan, but they also have feuded for years over the demarcation of their border.

Despite renewed violence, Algerians voted Thursday for a new parliament, even though analysts said the outcome is not likely to bring significant change to the political landscape. Islamists are still banned from participation in Algerian politics 15 years after the Army intervened to prevent them from assuming power in an election they were virtually certain to win. As many as 200,000 people have died in violence since then, among them a policeman who was killed in a bombing Wednesday, only hours before the polls opened.

At least 20 people were killed in an ambush and accompanying gun battle between police and assailants in northern Mexico. The incident late Wednesday took place about 30 miles from the border with Arizona. Reports said the weapons and tactics used by the assailants suggested they were members of a drug gang.

A police patrol in southeastern Colombia found an escaped hostage who'd been held since 1998 by rebels of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces. Jhon Frank Pinchao, himself a police officer, was among 60 captives being held for an exchange of prisoners with the government. Until late last month, he told a news conference Wednesday, that group included three American contractors seized in 2003 and Ingrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped as she campaigned for the presidency in 2002.

In ceremonies attended by President Vladimir Putin, leaders of competing factions of the Russian Orthodox Church ended an 80-year rift Thursday in Moscow. Putin called the occasion "an important condition for rediscovering the lost unity of the Russian people." The church split in 1927 after one faction declared loyalty to Russia's communist government, with the other exiling itself to Serbia before ultimately establishing its headquarters in New York.

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