Iran Leader Wants Israel

'Wiped Off the Map'

TEHRAN -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Wednesday that Israel was a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the map."

Ahmadinejad's speech to thousands of students at a "World Without Zionism" conference set a hard-line foreign policy course sharply at odds with that of his moderate predecessor, Mohammad Khatami. The remarks instead echoed the sentiments of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran's Islamic revolution. U.S. officials said the comments showed that their fears about Iran's nuclear program were accurate.

Ahmadinejad also condemned Iran's neighbors that seek to break new ground in their relations with Israel. "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury," state-run television quoted him as saying.

EUROPE

* BELGRADE -- Serbia has arrested nine policemen in the 1999 slayings of 48 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo found buried with hundreds of others in a mass grave near Belgrade, a Serb court official said.

It was the first arrest linked to the discovery in 2001 of pits filled with the remains of more than 800 victims of the 1998-99 Kosovo war. The biggest site was found in a police compound in Batajnica, near Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

* ZURICH -- A Russian architect whose family died when two planes collided was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for killing an air traffic controller who was on duty at the time of the 2002 crash.

The Zurich Superior Court found Vitaly Kaloyev guilty of premeditated homicide in the stabbing death of Peter Nielsen, the air traffic controller. The charge, which was less than murder, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison under Swiss law. Kaloyev, 49, acknowledged in court Tuesday that he must have killed the air traffic controller but said he could not remember doing it.

* AMSTERDAM -- A fire broke out at a detention center at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport overnight, killing 10 people and injuring 15, Dutch police said early Thursday.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. The detention complex mainly houses suspected drug traffickers, police said.

* BERLIN -- Germany's highest administrative court has upheld claims to real estate in Berlin by heirs of a Jewish family who lost their department store fortune under the Nazis.

The ruling is a victory for the Wertheim heirs and delivers a setback to KarstadtQuelle, a large retailer that had fought the family's claim to the site of its former department store in downtown Berlin near the city's glitzy, redeveloped Potsdamer Platz.

ASIA

* TOKYO -- A Japanese government panel has agreed to recommend that female members of the imperial family be allowed to ascend the throne to maintain a stable succession.

At its 14th meeting, the advisory panel to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi unanimously agreed Tuesday to recommend that a female monarch and her children be allowed to reign. The panel intends to include the recommendation in a report it plans to compile in late November.

THE AMERICAS

* BRASILIA -- About 6,000 demonstrators marched through Brazil's capital in a protest against President Bush and his planned visit to the Latin American country on Nov. 6 after he attends the Summit of the Americas in Argentina.

* CARACAS, Venezuela -- The Mormon Church, citing difficulties with the government of President Hugo Chavez in renewing visas or obtaining new ones, said it was pulling its foreign missionaries out of Venezuela.

The decision comes nearly two months after the government said it was temporarily suspending the granting of visas for foreign missionaries and two weeks after Chavez said he was expelling the U.S.-based New Tribes Mission, accusing it of links to the CIA.

Africa

* NAIROBI -- A key ally of Kenya's president, Transport Minister Chris Murungaru, has been barred from entering the United States for alleged graft, three months after Britain also denied him entry, the minister said.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Murungaru had not applied for a visa and he could not comment on individual cases. But he said "we do not deny" Kenyan media reports that the embassy informed the Kenyan government last week that Murungaru would be barred entry if he sought to travel to the United States.

-- From News Services

Djamel Mustafa, one of several men convicted in Dusseldorf, Germany, of plotting to attack Jewish sites and supporting a terrorist group, was sentenced to five years in prison. Woman at left is unidentified.