Not one difference has been narrowed, and the six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program again are stalemated, US negotiator Christopher Hill said. He described his own discussions with the North's representatives Wednesday as "difficult." The latest round has focused on rules for verifying the declaration of activities that North Korea belatedly submitted last June.

"Significant progress" in improving security in southern Iraq will make the withdrawal of almost all remaining British forces possible early next year, the defense ministry said Wednesday. But it would not confirm published reports that most of the remaining 4,100 troops would return starting in March. The British mission has not been popular at home, and analysts said the pullout could improve embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown's election prospects.

Citing "the unprecedented severity of the global economic downturn," mining industry giant Rio Tinto said it will eliminate 14,000 jobs by the end of next year. It also will try to sell unspecified "significant assets." The moves are aimed at trimming debt by $6.6 billion by the end of next year. The company, based in London, fended off a prolonged hostile takeover bid only last month by larger rival BHP Billiton.

Voters in Ghana will have to return to the polls Dec. 28 for a runoff to decide the presidential race, officials said Wednesday. With ballot-counting from last Sunday's election all but complete, opposition leader John Atta Mills has a 1 percent lead over ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo, but neither will be able to claim a majority, the officials said. Ghana is one of Africa's few stable democracies, and international monitors have called the first round of voting free and fair.

Sky Real Lives, a British TV channel, was bracing for reaction Wednesday over its plan to show a gravely ill medical patient committing suicide on camera. The program has aired in Canada without stirring much controversy, but opinion on assisted suicide and euthanasia is split in Britain, where both are banned. In "Right to Die: The Suicide Tourist," a former American university lecturer travels to Switzerland, where he self-administers a fatal dose of drugs as his wife looks on. Sky Real Lives has defended the program as "an informative ... and educated insight into the decisions some people have to make."

A plan that would have extended an artificial peninsula into the Mediterranean Sea, giving the city-state of Monaco new space for housing, retail shops, and tourist attractions, has been dropped, its ruler announced. Prince Albert II said "it would be irresponsible to launch a project of this scale" in the current global economic climate. Work on the project, which would have cost up to $10 billion, had been expected to start in 2011.

At least 63 Hindu pilgrims died in northern India Tuesday night when the bus in which they were riding caught fire. Police said the casualty-count could have been far higher if others riding on top of the vehicle hadn't jumped to safety. The incident was blamed on sparks igniting leaking fuel.

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