Jordan's King Abdullah

Names Aide as Premier

AMMAN, Jordan -- King Abdullah appointed a top aide as prime minister Thursday and urged him to launch an all-out war against Islamic militancy in the wake of the deadly bombings of three hotels in the capital this month.

Abdullah also called for a new anti-terrorism law to replace the current, general one that does not specify punishment for specific terrorist acts.

In a letter to the newly appointed prime minister, Marouf Bakhit -- who was named hours after the resignation of Adnan Badran -- Abdullah said the Nov. 9 attacks that killed 60 people "increase our determination to stick to our reform and democratization process, which is irreversible."

A new cabinet was likely to be named Sunday.


* JERUSALEM -- Ariel Sharon's fledgling political party officially registered itself under the name Forward, ending three days of indecision since the prime minister quit his hard-line Likud Party to set up his own group. Opinion polls show his party has the best chance of winning in March 28 parliamentary elections.

* BEIRUT -- Israel agreed to return the remains of three Hezbollah guerrillas killed in border clashes this week after Lebanon said such a move was vital to restoring calm to the area.


* TORONTO -- Opposition parties introduced a no-confidence motion that could topple Prime Minister Paul Martin's government and force a parliamentary election campaign during the Christmas holidays. Canada's three opposition party leaders said their members would vote in Parliament on Monday to bring down Martin's minority government, asserting his Liberal Party no longer has the moral authority to lead because of a corruption scandal.

* SANTIAGO, Chile -- Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the former dictator, was indicted on human rights charges and placed under house arrest, hours after he made bail on unrelated corruption charges filed a day earlier.

Judge Victor Montiglio charged Pinochet in connection with the kidnapping and disappearance of six dissidents in the early years of his 1973-90 dictatorship, his office said.

* PARAGUANA, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, signed energy deals that include an accord to start building a $230 million gas pipeline next year between the two countries.


* MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin said he would consider making amendments to controversial legislation aimed at clamping down on foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations in Russia. He warned, however, that his administration would pay close attention to foreign governments funding NGOs.

* BELGRADE -- Serbia's president formally proposed dividing Kosovo between its independence-seeking ethnic Albanian majority and a Serb minority as the chief U.N. mediator met with government officials.

* MADRID -- The Spanish government, responding to allegations that CIA planes used a Spanish airport as a base to transport Muslim terrorism suspects, said it was convinced U.S. aircraft had broken none of its laws.

* ROME -- Factories, trains, banks and planes will come to a standstill for four hours in Italy on Friday as the country's three largest trade unions stage a general strike against the government's 2006 budget. It will be the sixth general strike since Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi took office in 2001.


* NAIROBI -- Kenya's opposition called for early elections after President Mwai Kibaki dissolved his cabinet in response to a humiliating referendum defeat on a new constitution. The government dismissed the call as a power grab. Several hours later Kibaki announced he would postpone parliament's opening from Tuesday to next March.

* KAMPALA, Uganda -- Uganda filed new charges of terrorism and illegal firearms possession against jailed opposition leader Kizza Besigye in a military court controlled by the president's trusted aides.


* BEIJING -- A Chinese court sentenced one person to death and jailed nine others for running a child-trafficking ring in the southern province of Guangdong, the New China News Agency reported. The gang had kidnapped 38 children, most of them from crowded markets, and sold them in 2001-04.

-- From News Services