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Rights activist buried at plaza of the missing

Argentina

BUENOS AIRES -- The founder of Argentina's leading human rights group was laid to rest yesterday, 28 years after she was abducted during the country's military dictatorship. Family and friends buried the ashes of Azucena Villaflor on a prominent Buenos Aires plaza that for many Argentines has come to symbolize the fight for justice by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The group of mothers, often seen wearing white handkerchiefs, have pressed for a full accounting of their sons and daughters, who went missing during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship known as the ''Dirty War." ''Azucena rest in peace, this is your place," said Marta Vazquez, one of the mothers. Villaflor was kidnapped by state security agents in December 1977. Forensic experts identified her remains in July after they were unearthed in a cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital. (Reuters)

United Nations

Annan backs his aide in debate on torture
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan defended his high commissioner for human rights yesterday after US Ambassador John Bolton rebuked her for criticizing the US stance on torture, a UN spokesman said. Annan wants to take up the matter with Bolton as soon as possible, the spokesman said, revealing a rare public expression of displeasure with a UN ambassador. High Commissioner Louise Arbour said Wednesday the US-led war on terror undermined the global ban on torture, a criticism Bolton called inappropriate and illegitimate. ''The secretary-general has no disagreement with the statement she made yesterday, and he sees no reason to object to any of it," Annan spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. (Reuters)

Official to visit Eritrea to contest UN's ouster
The UN's head of peacekeeping plans to visit Eritrea in an effort to convince the northeast African nation that its move to expel UN peacekeepers is unacceptable, a spokesman said yesterday. Eritrea this week ordered UN peacekeepers from the United States, Canada, and European nations to leave the country within 10 days, a move likely to make the world body's observation of the tense border with Ethiopia impossible. In what appears to be a last-ditch effort to rescue the situation, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan dispatched Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. (Reuters)

Britain

Thatcher released after one-day hospital stay
LONDON -- Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who dominated British politics for more than a decade, left a hospital yesterday after being admitted a day earlier feeling faint. Thatcher, 80, smiled and waved as she walked from the hospital and was driven away. She was kept overnight as a precautionary measure after falling ill at her hairdresser's. (Reuters)

Singapore

13 foreigners arrested on drug charges
Police in Singapore said yesterday they have arrested 13 foreigners, including an American, in an antidrug operation, less than a week after an Australian was put to death for a narcotics conviction. Not all of the suspects have been charged. Those who were charged do not face the death penalty if convicted. The defendants include three Britons, an American, seven Thais, a Malaysian, and a Japanese. A Singaporean also was arrested. It was not immediately clear if the suspects had entered pleas. Authorities seized marijuana, ecstasy, three-quarters of an ounce of cocaine, a third of an ounce of methamphetamine, and about one-10th of an ounce of ketamine from the 14 suspects, the Central Narcotics Bureau said. Singapore has some of the world's toughest drug laws, including a mandatory death penalty for anyone caught with more than a half-ounce of heroin or more than 17.6 ounces of marijuana. (AP)

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