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World in brief

Mideast summit is set for Jordan

By Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 29, 2003

WASHINGTON - President Bush will cut short his stay at an economic summit in France to meet in Jordan next week with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers, the White House said on Wednesday.

The meeting will take place Wednesday in the Red Sea port of Aqaba - "conditions permitting" - with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, the White House said.

On Tuesday, Bush will meet with Arab leaders at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik. The following day he will go to Aqaba, meeting first with Jordan's King Abdullah II and then, separately, with Sharon and Abbas. If things go well, then he, Sharon and Abbas will meet jointly.

Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority chairman, will not be invited to any of the meetings.

The Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers are planning to meet today, with both sides saying it is time to move forward on an international peace plan.

France asks U.N. for Congo peace force

UNITED NATIONS - France asked for U.N. approval Wednesday to deploy an international force in northeastern Congo, where an upsurge in ethnic violence has killed nearly 400 people.

France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, expressed confidence the Security Council would approve the resolution Friday and said he expects the first troops in Bunia next week.

France will lead the battalion, which is expected to have about 1,000 troops from a number of countries.

Hillary scoffs at imbibing Everest climbers

KATMANDU, Nepal - On the eve of the 50th anniversary of his historic ascent of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary scolded the legions of climbers partying at base camp, saying he doesn't consider "knocking back cans of beer" as mountaineering.

There were about 1,000 people at base camp with "a booze place for drinks and all the other comforts," Hillary said at a news conference Wednesday.

As he spoke in Katmandu, a helicopter with eight people aboard crashed near the main Everest base camp at 17,380 feet. Two Nepalese - a flight attendant and a Sherpa guide - were killed, officials said. The six others on board and a German trekker on the ground were injured.

Colombia extradites rebel to U.S. in murders

BOGOTA, Colombia - A Colombian rebel wanted by the United States for the murders of three Americans was put on a plane under heavy security Wednesday - the first rebel extradited by Colombia to the United States for trial.

Nelson Vargas Rueda, a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, faces murder charges in the 1999 executions of Terence Freitas, 24, of Los Angeles; Ingrid Washinawatok, 41, of New York City; and Lahe'ena'e Gay, 39, of Pahoa, Hawaii.

The U.S. Justice Department said Vargas was first being brought to Miami, with a probable initial court appearance today.

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