Flooding, Landslides Kill Dozens

In El Salvador, Eight in Honduras

SAN SALVADOR -- Heavy rains caused flooding and landslides in El Salvador and Honduras, leaving a total of 39 dead in both countries, including 21 people killed when a bus was carried away by floodwaters.

Authorities were still searching for nine people missing after the bus was engulfed late Sunday 35 miles west of San Salvador. It was carrying home about 40 players and fans of a soccer team called Los Leones. Ten passengers have been found alive.

In towns west and southwest of the capital, seven people were killed in landslides and three people were killed when their homes were carried away by floodwaters.

In neighboring Honduras, officials said eight people were killed and 200 homes were damaged during three days of flooding.

THE AMERICAS

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's main leftist rebel group offered to swap three kidnapped American defense contractors for two guerrilla leaders jailed in the United States, but the U.S. government immediately rejected the proposal.

The United States said it would not negotiate with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which the U.S. has blacklisted as a terrorist organization. Tom Howes, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell were captured on Feb. 13, 2003, after their small plane crashed in a rebel stronghold in southern Colombia while on an anti-drug mission. The rebels allegedly killed a fourth American and a Colombian soldier who also were on the plane.

* NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico -- Dozens of kidnap victims were freed in a series of raids by soldiers and federal agents, the most dramatic results yet in a crackdown on crime and corruption in this border city, investigators said.

* TORONTO -- The United States, Canada and Mexico pledged to shore up security by integrating their terrorist watch lists and beefing up joint protection of borders and bridges. They also promised to expand what is already the world's largest trading partnership by developing a single program to facilitate the flow of people and goods across their borders.

The middle east

* CASTINA MILITARY BASE, Israel -- A court convicted a former Israeli soldier of manslaughter in the shooting death of a pro-Palestinian British activist, the first time a soldier has been found guilty of killing a foreign citizen during more than four years of Palestinian-Israeli violence.

Wahid Taysir, a member of the Bedouin Arab minority, was accused of shooting Tom Hurndall, 22, in the head during an army operation in the Gaza Strip in April 2003.

* TEHRAN -- European negotiators urged Iran's president-elect to maintain a suspension of uranium enrichment activities, a day after he reiterated that the country had a right to conduct a peaceful nuclear program.

Two inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, meanwhile, arrived in Iran for talks that were expected to include reports that Iran worked secretly with plutonium, a possible bomb component.

Africa

* NAIROBI -- Kenya's president ordered a nationwide investigation into brewers of illicit alcohol after at least 48 people died from drinking a cocktail laced with methanol over the weekend. Police have already arrested three suspects, including one in possession of an illicit brew, and pledged to bring charges of manslaughter or possession of the illegal drink once investigations were finished.

ASIA

* BEIJING -- More than 200 Chinese children became sick and one child died after being given an unauthorized Hepatitis A vaccine, the government said Tuesday.

EUROPE

* BERLIN -- Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's office asked parliament to hold a vote of confidence in his embattled government, a key step in the German leader's plan to call early national elections and renew his mandate.

-- From News Services