Sex Abuse by U.N. Staff

In Congo Angers Annan

UNITED NATIONS -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed outrage Friday over evidence of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers in Congo, which he called a "shameful thing" for the world organization.

About 30 cases of abuse, including the sexual abuse of minors, involving both U.N. military and civilian staff, were reported in the spring in the northeastern town of Bunia.

"I am afraid there is clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place," said Annan, who is in Tanzania attending a summit. "This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say, and I am absolutely outraged by it."

EUROPE

* MOSCOW -- Russian police have arrested a third Chechen in their investigation into the killing of Paul Klebnikov, the American editor of Forbes magazine's Russia edition, who was gunned down outside his Moscow office in July, local media reported.

Two Chechens were detained in September. Russia's Interfax news agency reported that a 40-year-old Chechen man had been arrested as part of the investigation.

* PARIS -- Yasser Arafat's widow took possession of the late Palestinian leader's widely sought medical records and was deciding whether to make the file public to "stop all these false ideas" of what caused his death, her lawyer said.

Suha Arafat obtained the file from the Percy Military Training Hospital outside Paris and was studying it, the attorney, Jean-Marie Burguburu, said. A week after his death, speculation continued about what killed Arafat.

* BRUSSELS -- The European Union will have four rapid-reaction battle groups ready to tackle crisis spots around the world next year and eight more are being considered for 2007, officials said.

The first four battalions will come from Britain, France, Italy and Spain. A senior E.U. military official said the 25-nation body would coordinate closely with NATO, which is setting up a rapid-response force of its own.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* JERUSALEM -- The Palestinian prime minister urged the United States to stick to its original 2005 deadline for Palestinian statehood, arguing that President Bush's recent proposal to extend it by as much as four years would give Israel time to grab more land in the disputed West Bank.

Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said the Palestinians would seek assurances from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in meetings next week that the timetable in the so-called "road map" peace plan would be honored.

AFRICA

* NAIROBI -- Rebel officials and the Sudanese government committed to ending the 21-year civil war in southern Sudan before January, signing an agreement at a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council in Africa.

Sudan's vice president, Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha, and southern rebel leader John Garang made a similar pledge last year that never came to fruition. But this is the first time the warring sides have put a deadline in writing before the U.N. panel.

ASIA

* NEW DELHI -- India's foreign minister, meeting in Washington with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, criticized a reported U.S. decision to sell $1 billion in weapons to Pakistan, saying it could cast a shadow on New Delhi's relations with the United States as well as Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran "conveyed the government of India's strong concern at the reports of sales by the United States to Pakistan," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said in New Delhi.

* TOKYO -- North Korean agents in 1978 mistakenly abducted a Japanese woman who later married U.S. Army deserter Charles Robert Jenkins, believing she was a teacher, Jenkins said in a TV interview.

Hitomi Soga disappeared from an island off northern Japan after going out to shop. Two years ago, Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, admitted that Soga was one of 13 Japanese who were kidnapped to teach Japanese language and culture to North Korean spies.

Jenkins, who deserted in 1965, married Soga in 1980.

-- From News Services