U.S. Episcopal Church Restates

Approval of Homosexual Clergy

NOTTINGHAM, England -- The U.S. Episcopal Church on Tuesday affirmed its support for homosexual clergy and appealed for the contentious issue not to split the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion.

"We believe that God has been opening our eyes to acts of God that we had not known how to see before," the church said in a document prepared for the Anglican Consultative Council, an international body of bishops, priests and lay people that meets every three years. The statement affirmed "the eligibility for ordination of those in covenanted same-sex unions."

Some Anglican conservatives said such a stance made schism inevitable.

The Anglicans' spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, called for listening and reflection during the council meeting, which runs through June 28. Any decisions the council makes must be accepted or rejected by national Anglican churches.

AFRICA

* AGADIR, Morocco -- A Moroccan acquitted in Germany of charges that he helped the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers was welcomed home by his family after German authorities deported him.

Abdelghani Mzoudi, 32, said he was arrested because he knew the hijackers, who lived in Hamburg before the attacks. "All Arabs knew each other" there, he said.

Mzoudi was acquitted in February 2004 of charges that he helped hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Samir Jarrah in their plot to attack the United States. He faced more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and membership in a terrorist organization.

According to trial testimony, Mzoudi traveled to Afghanistan and stayed at a guesthouse that was part of Osama bin Laden's organization, and was close friends with the hijackers in Hamburg. But German judges ruled that there was no proof that he knew about the plot.

* JOWHAR, Somalia -- Somalia's fledgling government has set up base in the city of Jowhar until security is restored to the capital, Mogadishu, the prime minister said.

The interim government, formed in neighboring Kenya last year, has repeatedly postponed plans to return to Somalia, citing lawlessness.

ASIA

A U.S. Air Force U-2 aircraft crashed in Southwest Asia at 7:30 p.m. EST, the U.S. military said in a statement. It did not say where the single-seat surveillance plane went down.

"The cause of the crash and status of the pilot are not known at this time," said the statement from U.S. Central Command Air Forces.

* SEOUL -- South Korea urged North Korea at talks on Wednesday to return to six-party negotiations on the North's nuclear program, a South Korean official said.

The South's unification minister also told the North Korean delegation that the nuclear crisis could and should also be discussed and solved at bilateral talks between the Koreas, a ministry official told reporters.

On Tuesday, South Korea's prime minister, Lee Hae Chan, met with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing to try to secure China's help in bringing the North back to nuclear talks.

* ULSAN, South Korea -- Countries opposed to the resumption of commercial whaling claimed victory after the international body that regulates whale hunts upheld a moratorium it calls essential to protecting the mammals.

* SUAO, Taiwan -- Taiwan sent two warships to protect fishermen who have repeatedly been chased away by Japanese patrol boats from an area near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

THE AMERICAS

* MEXICO CITY -- Popular Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took a rare bashing as local newspapers griped about problems with a new city bus system he implemented to cut congestion.

-- From News Services