U.S. Diplomat Is Kept

From Zimbabwe Site

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Security officers barred a U.S. diplomat from visiting a site near the capital to investigate claims that 700,000 urban poor were left homeless or without jobs by an eight-week mass eviction campaign.

Tony Hall, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization, criticized the Zimbabwean government for interfering with aid efforts, but said the United States would donate $51.8 in food aid for Zimbabwe and the drought-stricken neighboring countries of Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland.

The World Food Program says up to a third of Zimbabwe's 12 million people may suffer from food shortages.

THE AMERICAS

* EL CARMEN PATATE, Mexico -- The Zapatista rebel leader, Subcomandante Marcos, said leftist groups in Mexico would fight for labor, social and indigenous rights in a broad new political front that would influence candidates but not seek office itself.

"What follows is not a new political party on the left, but a huge front made up of political and social organizations," Marcos told reporters in rural Chiapas state, one week after emerging from the jungle for the first time in four years.

He said the Zapatistas would not endorse the 2006 presidential candidacy of former Mexico City mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, calling the leftist a "shameless scoundrel."

* HAVANA -- Cuba honored President Fidel Castro's 79th birthday, revisiting his nearly five decades in power with tributes in state-run newspapers and documentaries. Dozens of Cuban children danced and cut an enormous cake for Castro, the world's longest-ruling head of government.

* LIMA, Peru -- The country's new foreign minister said he was resigning his post, just two days after an uproar over his appointment sparked a major shake-up of President Alejandro Toledo's cabinet. Fernando Olivera said Toledo asked him to step aside after the prime minister quit over Olivera's support for local ordinances legalizing expanded cultivation of coca.

ASIA

* KARACHI, Pakistan -- Authorities are preparing to send home 648 foreign students studying in Islamic religious schools in the southern Sindh province, a senior government official said.

President Pervez Musharraf banned foreign students coming to Pakistan for religious education after the July 7 London bombings and because of reports that some Islamic religious schools, or madrassas, were recruiting grounds for militants.

Madrassas have been told to register with the government by December, part of a plan to introduce a mainstream curriculum in the schools and to check preaching of radical ideas.

-- From News Services