Sri Lanka's government decided to formally annul a cease-fire agreement with the Tamil Tigers, a senior government official said Wednesday. The military and rebels have been fighting a new phase in a two-decade civil war since early last year, leaving a 2002 cease-fire in tatters. But neither side had wanted to be regarded as being responsible for its formal collapse. The Tigers have been labeled a terrorist group by a host of nations, including the US, Britain, and EU countries, after a series of attacks and assassinations.

The death toll from a suicide bombing in Baghdad Tuesday reached 36, police said of the deadliest attack in Iraq's capital city since Aug. 1, when a suicide bomber detonated a truck near a gas station, killing 50 people. The latest bombing occurred as men gathered for a retired Iraqi Army officer's funeral. Despite continuing attacks, there's been a noticeable decrease in violence across the country since early 2007.

A meeting between Catholics and Muslims is planned in Rome this spring to start a dialogue between the faiths after relations were soured by Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 comments about Islam and holy war, Vatican officials said. The agenda will cover respect for the dignity of each person, interreligious dialogue, and instruction of tolerance among the young.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (above l.) and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi (r.) met in Cairo Jan. 1 to discuss the situation in Darfur, Sudan's war-torn western region. Qaddafi has criticized international efforts to resolve the conflict and said it would be worked out if the region were left alone.

Sudanese authorities continued their investigation Wednesday of the slaying of American diplomat John Granville in a drive-by shooting that also killed Granville's Sudanese driver. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, which occurred at 4 a.m. Granville, an official for the US Agency for International Development, was working to implement a 2005 peace agreement between Sudan's north and south.

Chua Soi Lek, Malaysia's Health Minister and one of the country's fastest rising political stars, said Wednesday he had no intention of resigning his cabinet post after a secretly made video of his sexual activities with an unidentified woman began circulating. Chua, who is married, apologized to his family and said he would leave the final decision about whether he stays or goes up to the prime minister.

Israel's decision to keep a network of roadblocks in place across the West Bank soured an already tense atmosphere between Israel and the Palestinians in the days before President Bush's first visit to the region as US president. He's scheduled to arrive Jan. 9. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the roadblocks have proved effective against Palestinian attacks.

Without warning, the military junta of Burma (Myanmar) dramatically raised the annual fee for TV satellite dishes, an apparent move to block foreign news channels that beamed in global criticism of its recent crackdown on pro-democracy protests. The license fee has rocketed from $5 to $800.

Worldwide air travel grew safer last year even as more people flew, according to industry statistics. There were 136 serious accidents in 2007, the lowest number since 1963 and down from 164 during the previous year, the Aircraft Crashes Record Office in Geneva reported. Meanwhile, preliminary estimates by the International Civil Aviation Organization show air travel increased by over 3 percent to about 2.2 billion passengers.

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