Former Gaza Security Chief

Endorses Abbas as Leader

GAZA CITY -- Mohammed Dahlan, once seen as a possible successor to Yasser Arafat, said Tuesday that he would not run in the Jan. 9 elections and instead endorsed the interim president of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Mahmoud Abbas.

Dahlan, former chief of a powerful security service, commands a strong following in the Gaza Strip. His support could boost Abbas's chances of maintaining order in what might be a turbulent transition period.

Meanwhile, France's foreign minister said authorities would not make Arafat's medical records public and would leave the decision about what to do with them up to his family.

Arafat died at the age of 75 on Thursday in a French hospital, where he was taken for treatment on Oct. 29 after his health deteriorated. Neither Palestinian officials nor Arafat's French medical team have announced the cause of death.

africa

* MALABO, Equatorial Guinea -- Equatorial Guinea has decided to seek the extradition of Mark Thatcher, son of the former British prime minister, for trial in an alleged coup plot in the oil-rich central African nation, a legal official close to the government said.

Prosecutors have added Thatcher and seven others to the list of those charged in the alleged March takeover plot, legal officials said. Thatcher, a 51-year-old businessman, is under arrest in South Africa in connection with the alleged plot.

Asia

* NEW DELHI -- India will begin to pull some of its troops out of Kashmir on Wednesday, an army official said, coinciding with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's first trip to the troubled region.

"About 20,000 soldiers will be pulled out in a phased manner and systematically," said Col. Anil Shorey. Indian authorities have never said how many troops are posted in Kashmir, but newspapers have put the number in the hundreds of thousands and perhaps as high as a million.

EUROPE

* MADRID -- A 16-year-old Spaniard was sentenced to six years in a juvenile detention center on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to charges he helped steal and transport dynamite used in the March 11 Madrid train bombings.

It was the first trial arising from the bombings, which killed 191 people and wounded 1,900 in the most devastating attack in modern Spanish history.

-- From News Services