The Taliban vowed to stand and fight for the small territory in Afghanistan they still control, including their home base, Kandahar, after a week of sweeping retreats across the country. The US commander, however, said allies would drive them from their stronghold and destroy Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network. Having clinched control of three-quarters of the country, anti-Taliban forces were preparing for talks in Berlin about setting up a multiethnic government in Afghanistan.

Top Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is in a secret location near Kandahar and will never leave there, his spokesman said. He also claimed, as the militia has before, to know nothing about bin Laden's whereabouts. The Saudi-born Islamic militant is believed to be on the run.

Three agricultural companies became the first US firms in 40 years to sign trade deals with Cuba and will supply $20 million of foodstuffs. The companies were responding to an appeal from Cuba to buy food to replenish stocks following Hurricane Michelle. Representatives of Archer Daniels Midland Company, Cargill, and Riceland Foods signed the agreement in Havana with Cuban state company Alimport.

Israel said it will hold onto parts of a Palestinian town, despite US demands for a quick pullback, and Israeli undercover troops snatched two suspected Palestinian militants from a West Bank village. Israel's Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said mobile homes in a Jewish area in the West Bank town of Hebron will be replaced with permanent housing, despite US calls Israel halt settlement activity. Two US mediators will arrive in the region Sunday to try to restart peace talks.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Moscow wants to overhaul its relationship with NATO so the country can play a greater role in decision-making, including voting rights. Ivanov was to meet with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson on strengthening Russia's ties with the western military alliance and devising ways of making joint decisions in the war against terror. Russia's ties with NATO suffered a setback in 1999 as a result of NATO's bombing against Serbs. Relations have since improved.

In its latest attempt to curb subversion, the Zimbabwean government was to introduce legislation allowing the hanging of people found guilty of trying to overthrow the government. Describing opposition work as "terrorist activities," President Robert Mugabe's government said the bill would also prohibit courts from granting bail to suspects in politically motivated crimes. The news comes after the Supreme Court dismissed subversion charges against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, ruling that a colonial-era law to prosecute him violated his right to a fair trial.

Denmark's long-standing Social Democrat Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen resigned after his party suffered crushing defeat in parliamentary elections. In a landslide victory, center-right opposition parties won 98 seats in parliament - their strongest showing since the 1920s - against 77 for Nyrup Rasmussen's centre-left bloc.

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