Defense Minister Quits

In Strife-Torn Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's defense minister resigned amid criticism over his handling of the country's counterinsurgency war and his alleged relationship with a jailed female drug trafficker.

Jorge Alberto Uribe will be replaced by Camilo Ospina, a lawyer who currently serves as President Alvaro Uribe's judicial counsel, officials said. The Uribes are not related.

The decision of Uribe the defense minister to quit follows a series of guerrilla attacks that have killed more than 300 troops this year and shattered government claims that the rebels were nearing defeat.

Last month, he narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in Congress that left him politically weakened.


* CANBERRA, Australia -- An 86-year-old man accused of war crimes in Hungary in 1944 was arrested by Australian police, clearing the way for Hungarian authorities to seek his extradition.

Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison said a warrant was issued Friday for the arrest of Hungarian-born Charles Zentai, a dual Australian-Hungarian national who immigrated to Australia in the 1950s.

Zentai, who has denied the accusation, was arrested at his home in the west Australian city of Perth.

An Australian court was to rule on whether Zentai was eligible for extradition, after which Ellison would make a final decision on whether Zentai should be sent to Hungary to face trial.


* JERUSALEM -- An Israeli security guard shot dead a Palestinian teenager while shooting to disperse stone-throwing protesters at a barrier being built near the Israeli-West Bank boundary, Israeli police said.

The demonstration near the West Bank village of Beit Laqia marked the first anniversary of a ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague that the barrier, a network of ditches, barbed wire and concrete blocks, violates international law and must be taken down.

The guard was taken into custody and his weapon confiscated pending an investigation, said West Bank police spokesman Shlomi Sagi. Palestinian hospital staff members identified the dead boy as Mahyoub Assi, 16.


* BRASILIA -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva named a union leader as his new labor minister in a cabinet shuffle aimed at strengthening his government as it battles a bribery scandal.

Luiz Marinho, head of the umbrella trade union CUT, told reporters after meeting Lula that he had accepted the president's offer and would replace Ricardo Berzoini as labor minister. Berzoini will return to the lower house of parliament on Lula's Workers' Party ticket.

Lula, himself a former union leader, spoke to Marinho, who is also from the Workers' Party, upon return from the G-8 summit in Scotland.

* LA PAZ, Bolivia -- Bolivia is determined to eradicate coca plants used to make cocaine, but it will honor a pact that allows indigenous farmers to grow the crop for traditional uses, caretaker President Eduardo Rodriguez said.

A U.S.-funded coca eradication program in Bolivia, the world's third-largest producer of coca, aims to destroy all the country's coca except for about 29,000 acres in the Yungas Valley, the country's biggest source of illegal coca.

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- President Hamid Karzai said that Osama bin Laden wasn't in Afghanistan, saying his government has no idea of his whereabouts.

The comments come just days after Pakisani Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said the al Qaeda leader wasn't in Pakistan and could be hiding in southeastern Afghanistan.


* ROME -- A judge convicted and sentenced to life in prison three members of the Red Brigades terrorist group for the 1999 killing of a government labor adviser, court officials said. A fourth was convicted and sentenced to nine years.

Sentenced to life terms were Nadia Desdemona Lioce, Marco Mezzasalma and Roberto Morandi. Paolo Broccatelli received a nine-year term.

* TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia has foiled at least four attempts to smuggle out highly enriched uranium in the past two years, a senior nuclear official said.

"There were four attempts at smuggling highly enriched uranium via Georgia during the last two years," said Soso Kakushadze, head of Georgia's Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department at Georgia's Ministry of Environment.

When enriched to low levels, uranium can be used in nuclear power plants to generate electricity. But when enriched to very high levels, it can be used in atomic weapons.

Before the newly reported incidents, the last smuggling attempt Georgia reported was in September 2000 and involved a small amount of plutonium, which can also be used in weapons if it is pure enough.


* ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's ruling party led the main opposition coalition in partial results released from a contested May 15 election hit by fraud claims and protests that killed 36.

In long-awaited official results, the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front took 139 out of 307 seats counted so far, compared with 93 for the main opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy.

Results from most of the remaining constituencies for the 524-seat Parliament are pending a review of fraud allegations and may take weeks.

-- From News Services