World's Health Ministers Set

Plan to Fight Obesity Trend

GENEVA -- The world's health ministers tentatively agreed Friday on a plan to fight a growing trend of obesity and diseases caused by poor diet and exercise habits.

The nonbinding agreement, expected to be formally approved Saturday by the governing body of the World Health Organization, is a blueprint for countries trying to develop policies that make it easier for people to eat healthier food and exercise more.

It offers a comprehensive menu of options for heading off a worldwide explosion in obesity and other diseases linked to diet and physical activity, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, malnutrition and tooth decay.

The plan's recommendation to limit sugar intake became the focus of controversy earlier as health advocates feared that objections by sugar-producing countries were going to derail it.

"It is a victory for public health that this went through without the sugar industry destroying it," said Kaare Norum, a Norwegian obesity expert who advised WHO on the development of the plan.

Asia

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- American troops backed by air support killed three people in overnight raids on suspected militants in southeastern Afghanistan, the military said, and U.S. forces were reported by Afghan officials to have killed three Taliban commanders elsewhere.

Separately, two police officers were shot dead after escorting U.N. staff in the west, part of a wave of violence threatening plans for September elections.

The U.S. military said three suspected militants were killed and 23 people detained after four U.S. soldiers were shot and wounded during raids Thursday against militia forces in the Tani district, part of the volatile Khost province, 150 miles south of the capital, Kabul. Sgt. Cindy Beam, a military spokeswoman, said that "precision air support was used and all rounds were on target."

But residents and Afghan officials gave a different account, saying a U.S. patrol was driving through Tani when a resident, upset because of a local feud, fired on the vehicles in the darkness, fearing they were part of a plot against him.

* DHAKA, Bangladesh -- A bomb exploded at a Muslim shrine in northeastern Bangladesh, killing two people. The British ambassador was among more than 40 people wounded, including senior government officials, police and media reports said. British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury was taken to Osmani Medical College Hospital in Sylhet. Doctors were reported as saying his condition was not serious.

Europe

* MOSCOW -- Russia's audit office accused a remote Arctic region governed by Roman Abramovich, the country's second-wealthiest man, of financial abuse, saying it would send its findings to the government and to prosecutors. State auditors said the Chukotka region had misspent millions of dollars, was bankrupt and had awarded tax breaks to firms linked to Abramovich's former firm, Sibneft, which did no business there.

-- From News Services