World briefs 10/18/05

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

U.S. envoy to press North Korea to dismantle nukes

TOKYO -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, on his way to North Korea for three days of talks, said Monday he would press the communist country for "concrete steps" to dismantle its atomic weapons program and a commitment to allow verification that it will remain nuclear-free. Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also said that he would urge North Korean officials to cooperate with humanitarian aid organizations and allow them to operate more freely in the reclusive country.

WHO: Expect more bird flu in other countries

LONDON -- Bird flu can be expected to spread to other countries, but the biggest threat of it mutating into a human virus that could kill millions remains in Asia, the World Health Organization said Monday. The U.N.'s flu czar, meanwhile, called for resources to be focused on the continent that has seen its flocks devastated by the virus and 60 people killed since 2003. Local authorities moved quickly to stamp out the disease where it was found in Romania and Turkey in recent days, but in Asia the virus has become widespread and the continued mixing of people and domestic fowl creates conditions more favorable for its mutation into a strain that could catastrophically affect humans.

Aid workers fear second wave of deaths in Pakistan

KANUR, Pakistan -- Aid workers warned Monday that exposure and infection could trigger a second wave of deaths if thousands of injured and hungry quake victims across the stricken Himalayas are not reached soon. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said more than 80,000 people were injured in the Oct. 8 earthquake, and relief officials say many people who were seriously hurt by falling debris remain cut off in the isolated mountains Kashmir. "It's the injured who most urgently need help," said Bill Berger, leader of the USAID disaster assistance response team.

Chechen warlord says he was behind Nalchik attack

MOSCOW -- Chechnya's top warlord said Monday he was behind last week's deadly assault in southern Russia, but added it was carried out by regional fighters -- indicating an increasingly organized effort to set up militant cells in the area. Shamil Basayev, who is the author of Russia's worst terrorist attacks, claimed responsibility for the assault in the city of Nalchik that officials say left at least 137 dead. "I carried out the general operative management," Basayev said, according to the statement on the Web site of Kavkaz Center, seen as a mouthpiece for the Chechnya's Islamic separatist rebels.

-- From wire reports

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