Sudan's President Says He Will Stop Militias

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Sudan's president promised to send troops to stop militia violence that has forced more than 1 million people from their homes in the western state of Darfur, a Sudanese official said Friday after a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Annan arrived in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, after visiting Sudanese refugees at a camp in Chad on a tour aimed at pressing the government of Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Bashir to end the 16-month conflict.

In particular, the U.N. chief wanted Bashir to make good on promises to disarm the Janjaweed, an Arab militia blamed for attacks on thousands of African villagers in Darfur.

"My message is simple, violence must stop," Annan told reporters after meeting Bashir in Khartoum's heavily guarded military headquarters. "The Janjaweed must be stopped and a cease-fire must be respected by all."

Annan described his talks with the Sudanese leader as "very constructive discussions, very important political talks" on the "deplorable" situation in Darfur.


* ROME -- Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti resigned following a meeting of senior coalition partners, Italian government sources said Saturday.

The decision to quit Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's cabinet came after weeks of fighting within the coalition over economic policy. The fighting has threatened to tear apart the center-right administration. A government source said that Berlusconi was taking over the role of economy minister on an interim basis.

* DINANT, Belgium -- A suspected French serial killer admitted on Friday to killing two more girls, bringing to nine the number of victims in what prosecutors said was a methodical confession that prompted police to reopen decades-old cases.

Belgium said it was willing to send Michel Fourniret, 62, back to France this weekend to help French police as they begin digging for bodies at Fourniret's former chateau near Sedan, more than 60 miles northeast of Paris.

Fourniret, who has been in custody in the Belgian town of Dinant since last year for trying to kidnap a girl, began confessing this week to a string of murders after his estranged wife said he told her he was going out hunting for virgins.


* HONG KONG -- Rejecting Hong Kong's demands for full democracy, China said Saturday it will stick by a decision made in April ruling out the direct election of the territory's next leader.

"The National People's Congress had made a final decision," said Li Gang, deputy head of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, responding to a massive, peaceful pro-democracy march held in Hong Kong on Thursday. "As the top judicial authority, its decisions cannot be changed, so to try to attempt something that's impossible is irrational."

* SRINAGAR, India -- At least 22 people, including seven policemen and three children, were killed in violence in Indian Kashmir, police said.

Six policemen were killed Friday when their vehicle, which was escorting a member of Parliament from the ruling party, ran over a land mine south of Srinagar, the region's main city. A police spokesman said the politician, Lal Singh, was unhurt. Later, two children were killed in an explosion in central Srinagar, police said. Elsewhere, 14 people including a child, eight militants and a policeman were killed in separate shootouts across the region Thursday night and Friday.

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- An Australian journalist feared kidnapped in southern Afghanistan has turned up unharmed, officials said. Australia's SBS television lost track of Carmela Baranowska after she left a hotel in the southern city of Kandahar last weekend. "We have contacted her and confirmed that she is safe and well," said Sandy Pritchard, a spokesman for the Australian High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The Middle East

* JERUSALEM -- Israel will review "every kilometer" of the 310-mile stretch of West Bank barrier not yet built to check whether Palestinian rights and international law are being violated, an Israeli official said.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was quoted Thursday as saying he would be prepared to move the separation barrier closer to Israel wherever possible to avoid trapping Palestinians in fenced-in enclaves.

* ISTANBUL -- An earthquake in a remote, mountainous part of eastern Turkey collapsed dozens of stone and mud houses, killing 18 people and injuring 27 others.


* HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Supporters of President Robert Mugabe used axes, clubs and stones to attack a meeting of opposition politicians, injuring several people, opposition party officials said.

Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change, took shelter in his armored car and was not injured, they said.

The violence erupted in Mvurwi, about 60 miles north of Harare, the capital, as about 400 opposition leaders and supporters discussed preparations for parliamentary elections next March. Witnesses said about 200 ruling party ZANU-PF militants attacked the meeting.

The Americas

* MEXICO CITY -- President Vicente Fox has proposed a new project to fight crime, saying last Sunday's huge march in the capital protesting rising kidnappings and other crime shows that society was "offended and hurt" by injustice in Mexico.

Fox's plan, revealed in a nationally televised, five-minute address late Thursday, calls for better coordination between police and government agencies, more money to combat crime and a new group to help crime victims. He said he would provide details in 60 days.

-- From News Services