World

North Korea joined talks Tuesday with the US and four other countries to hash out further details of aid for progress on disarmament. Experts at the two-day meeting on the Korean border were to discuss how to provide North Korea with the equivalent of 950,000 tons of oil in exchange for declaring all its nuclear programs and disabling its facilities under a February agreement.

Relatives of South Korean hostages held in Afghanistan expressed disappointment Tuesday that a summit between the US and Afghan presidents failed to produce concrete measures to bring the captives home. President Bush and his counterpart, Hamid Karzai, ruled out making any concessions to Taliban militants during their meetings at Camp David, Md. Meanwhile, Christian groups in South Korea, the biggest supplier of missionaries to the world after the US, are scaling back operations in trouble spots.

A three-day vehicle ban across Baghdad is to take effect Wednesday night, as authorities seek to protect Shiites gathering for a major religious festival. Last year, gunmen on rooftops ambushed the pilgrims, and the year before, nearly 1,000 Shiites were killed in a stampede when rumors of a suicide bomber circulated in the crowd.

New World Bank chief Robert Zoellick called the transformtion of Vietnam "a tremendous success story" in Hanoi Tuesday, during his first official overseas trip. He said he'd seek extra funding for Vietnam, praising its efforts to root out corruption, spread electricity to the poor, and create a fast-growing economy.

About 200,000 farmers in Spain have signed up to participate in a computer-operated irrigation network that is believed to be the first organized anywhere on a national level. By 2010, closely monitored drip and dispersion methods could replace outdated Moorish-style flood irrigation systems that use three or four times more water than necessary.

Georgia accused Russia on Tuesday of firing a guided missile into its territory in an "act of aggression," but Moscow denied any involvement. The missile burrowed into farmland and did not explode.

Five masked gunmen who stole four paintings valued at $1.4 million from the Museum of Fine Arts in Nice on Sunday are still at large, the police said. The paintings include Claude Monet's "Cliffs near Dieppe" and Alfred Sisley's "Lane of Poplars near Moret." Both were previously stolen in 1998 by the museum's then-curator, who confessed and served 18 months in prison.

Britain asked the US to release five British residents held at the Guantánamo Bay US military prison in Cuba on Tuesday. The decision marks a shift from the policy of former Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, which maintained it was not responsible for detainees of other nationalities who'd simply lived in Britain.

Australia introduced legislation Tuesday to fight what the government says is rampant sexual abuse of children among Aborigines – a plan condemned by critics as discriminatory and an attack on indigenous culture. The government said it was prepared to bypass antidiscrimination legislation "in the interest of saving children."

Ichiro Ozawa, the head of Japan's main opposition Democratic Party, reiterated his opposition to extending support for US-led operations in Afghanistan and said his party might submit a bill to scrap Tokyo's mission to help rebuild war-torn Iraq. He also said, however, that his party would leave open the possibility of Japan taking part in Afghan operations sanctioned by the United Nations.

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