During a visit to Jakarta, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave cash-strapped Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, a $1 billion loan to buy military hardware. Indonesia's defense minister said he was happy to be able to "reduce dependence on the United States," once the country's largest supplier of weaponry.

German authorities said Thursday they are searching for a network of possibly 10 Al Qaeda-linked supporters of the three men detained earlier on suspicion that they were plotting major attacks on Americans in Germany. Investigators, who spent six months monitoring the activities of the lead suspects, said whatever supporters are still at large no longer pose a direct security threat.

UN chief Ban Ki Moon and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir agreed Thursday to enter into peace talks, starting Oct. 27 in Libya, in an effort to end a four-year conflict in Sudan's Darfur region. As many as 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million uprooted by the fighting that has seen the government unleash militias against ethnic African rebels. No immediate word was available on whether rebels will join the talks.

Courts in major cities across Pakistan were largely deserted Thursday as hundreds of lawyers rallied and boycotted courts in an effort to pressure President Pervez Musharraf to step down. Lawyers have been at the forefront of a campaign against military rule. Musharraf is expected to seek a new five-year term from lawmakers by mid-October, but has yet to make a commitment to resign as Army chief.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed the rollout of the first "citizens' jury" a step toward re-engaging the public with policymaking, the BBC News said. The first of these juries, made up of between 12 and 20 independently selected community members, is working on children's issues. The juries will hear from a range of experts before making recommendations on topics that include education, crime, and healthcare.

Police in Hyderabad, India, detained but did not arrest 10 Muslim men Thursday in the investigation of two bomb blasts last month that killed 43 people. Islamic militants are suspected of trying to foment unrest with the violence. Seven men who were released accused the police of trying to coerce confessions from them.

Syria accused Israel of bombing its territory Thursday and said Syrian air defenses had opened fire on Israeli planes for air-space violations. Israel Radio quoted an unnamed Israeli army source as denying that there had been an airstrike.

About 150 Moskito Indians, clinging to canoes, buoys, and pieces of wood in the Caribbean near Nicaragua were rescued in the aftermath of hurricane Felix, officials said, with many more believed still "floating on the sea." At least 18 people were reported killed.

About 20 local officials taken hostage by militant Buddhist monks in the northern Burmese town of Pakokku were released Thursday, ending a tense standoff. The officials were seized the day before after they attempted to apologize for soldiers who broke up a demonstration against the military regime's economic policies.

South Africa's third annual nationwide barbecue celebration, to be held Sept. 24, named Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu "Patron of National Braai Day" ("braai" being Afrikaans for barbecue). Organizers of the event, which is part of National Heritage Day, say that braai is an inherent part of the culture enjoyed equally by black and white South Africans. "This has a wonderful potential to bring us all together," said Tutu, serving up barbecued sausages in anticipation of the event.

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