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Officials say avian flu bound to hit Europe

Russia

MOSCOW -- Russian authorities, struggling to contain an outbreak of avian flu that has killed thousands of birds in Siberia, yesterday acknowledged that a spread of the virus into Europe seems almost inevitable. ''It is quite likely that the flu will creep westward. What else can it do? The infection is picking up momentum," said Viktor Maleyev, deputy director of the Russian Health Ministry's Institute of Epidemiology. Equally worrying, health officials confirmed that the outbreak includes a strain that has been known to affect humans. Scientists fear that expansion of the virus's geography increases the chances of a major outbreak within the human population. Some poultry farms on the west side of the Ural Mountains are under precautionary alerts. (Los Angeles Times)

China

North Korea arms talks still deadlocked

BEIJING -- Diplomats seeking a basic agreement on nuclear disarmament of North Korea decided yesterday to soldier on with more talks despite fundamental differences that have left them deadlocked after 10 days of grueling negotiations. Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and the chief US delegate, said an accord proposed by China to govern dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear programs has been accepted by five of the six nations involved in the talks: the United States, South Korea, Japan, Russia and China. The holdout is North Korea itself. (Washington Post)

United States

Bush lauds Colombia on its antidrug efforts

CRAWFORD, Texas -- President Bush yesterday lauded Colombia's efforts to fight drug cartels and armed guerrillas, though some observers said the Central American ally has a long way to go. Welcoming President Alvaro Uribe to his ranch in Crawford, Bush said the US antidrug initiative ''is producing results" that include lower levels of crime. ''Our two nations are working together to fight drug trafficking and terrorism," Bush said after the meeting, ''and to promote security, democracy, and the rule of law throughout the Americas." (Dallas Morning News)

Canada

Investigators waiting to question hurt pilot

TORONTO -- With the pilot still hospitalized and unable to answer questions, investigators sought answers yesterday from the copilot who apparently was at the controls of the Air France jet that crashed earlier this week without killing any of the 309 people aboard. Real Levasseur, leading the investigation of by Canada's Transportation Safety Board, said he was waiting for doctors to give the OK to question the captain of Flight 358, who suffered back injuries. ''We don't want to cause any more psychological damage to that individual until . . . we have been assured that he is capable of talking to us," Levasseur said at a news conference. The copilot was questioned but Levasseur declined to provide details. Air France has said the copilot was at the controls when the Airbus 340 skidded off the runway Tuesday afternoon. (AP)

United Nations

In first UN vote, Bolton decries Iraq terrorism

Casting his first vote as UN ambassador, John Bolton joined the rest of the Security Council yesterday in condemning terrorism in Iraq. He then set his sights on Syria and Iran, accusing them of not doing enough to stop foreigners from joining the insurgency. The resolution adopted by the council strongly urged a halt to the movement, financing, and arming of international terrorists and emphasized the importance of cooperation particularly from Iraq's neighbors, but no countries were singled out. In speeches immediately after the vote, however, Bolton and Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said Iran and Syria can and should do more to keep terrorists from crossing their borders and must keep their pledges under previous UN resolutions to support stability in Iraq. (AP)

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