Act on Darfur, U.S. Official

Urges New Sudan Leadership

* KHARTOUM, Sudan -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick said a new unity government in Sudan was a step toward improving ties with Washington, but action to end the conflict in Darfur is needed for sanctions to be lifted.

Zoellick attended the swearing-in of former southern rebel chief John Garang as first vice president, which marked a new era after two decades of north-south civil war.

Zoellick said a southern peace deal signed in January needed to extend to a separate conflict in the western region of Darfur.


* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- As many as 200 people were feared dead days after a ferry capsized in rough seas off eastern Indonesia, a rescue official said Sunday. The 150-ton KMP Digul sank Thursday night off the coast of Papua province.

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- Illegal opium production is a greater risk to Afghanistan than terrorism, President Hamid Karzai said, adding that the world would turn its back on Afghans if they failed to curb the trade.

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- The U.S. military freed 76 Taliban suspects as part of an effort to encourage rank-and-file guerrillas to lay down their arms. Groups of suspects have been freed this year despite a surge in fighting.

The men, detained at various stages in the U.S.-led battle against Taliban guerrillas since toppling the fundamentalists from power in 2001, were freed from Bagram air base, north of Kabul.


* MADRID -- Britain's handling of the London bomb attacks has renewed a dispute in Spain over how the former government and opposition reacted to last year's train bombings in Madrid.

The Popular Party government of Jose Maria Aznar was unexpectedly defeated by the Socialists in an election three days after Madrid's train bombings on March 11, 2004, which killed 191 people.

The Popular Party accused the Socialists of taking advantage of the blasts for political gain. Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy used the London bombings to attack the Socialists on Saturday, comparing their behavior after the Madrid bombings unfavorably with the support from the British opposition Conservatives for Prime Minister Tony Blair.


* JERUSALEM -- The forced evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements will begin Aug. 17, and settlers who refuse to leave by then will lose some financial assistance, a senior Israeli official said, giving a start date for the first time.

* ANKARA, Turkey -- A land mine believed to have been planted by Kurdish rebels killed three soldiers in southeastern Turkey.


* SAO PAULO, Brazil -- The head of Brazil's ruling Workers' Party, Jose Genoino, resigned amid a snowballing political scandal that is likely to hurt President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's reelection chances next year.

* CUNDUACAN, Mexico -- A series of explosions at a natural gas pipeline killed two people and set fire to houses, cars and cattle in rural southeastern Mexico.

-- From News Services