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World in brief

Rebels fight their way into Liberia's capital

By Times Wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 20, 2003

MONROVIA, Liberia - Heavy explosions and machine-gun fire shook Liberia's war-battered capital Saturday as rebels punched into the city, sending tens of thousands of panicked residents and weary fighters streaming downtown.

Warlord-turned-President Charles Taylor vowed to "fight street to street, house to house" until the rebels are defeated.

"I will never desert the city, I will never desert my people," he said. "I will stand and fight to the last man until they stop killing my own people."

The rebel assault was the third against Monrovia since last month.

Chinese leaders reaffirm support for executive

BEIJING - China's government renewed efforts Saturday to push through a security law feared as a threat to Hong Kong's civil liberties, backing the territory's embattled leader in his refusal to quit after mass protests.

The official Xinhua News Agency said President Hu Jintao "pledged firm support" for Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, who was in Beijing to report on the uproar over the antisubversion bill demanded by the communist government.

On July 1, a half-million people protested the bill and critics urged Tung to resign.

Danny weakens into a tropical storm

MIAMI - Hurricane Danny weakened into a tropical storm Saturday, and forecasters said it was no threat to land as it swirled in the upper Atlantic.

The storm had sustained winds of 70 mph, down from 75 mph earlier in the day. At 5 p.m., the center of Danny was about 490 miles southeast of St. John's, Newfoundland. It was moving east at about 17 mph.

"It's over cold water and it's already weakening," said Lixion Avila, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center.

Hewitt offers to give Di's letters to Prince Charles

LONDON - Princess Diana's one-time lover is willing to give love letters from her to Prince Charles if the heir to the throne asks for them in a "civilized and respectful way," a newspaper reported Sunday.

Vilified in Britain for once trying to sell the letters for a reported $16-million, James Hewitt is offering to hand the letters over to the prince for free, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

"Were I to be invited by the prince for tea and given the opportunity to discuss this matter in a reasoned way, I would of course be willing to respond," the newspaper quoted Hewitt as saying.

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