MEXICO CITY — Mexico hopes to ask for the extradition from Nicaragua of a fugitive former government minister, accused of embezzling $45 million, by the end of the month, a senior crime-fighting official said Saturday.


BOGOTA — A government peace envoy has met with the leader of the nation's largest rebel group to try to resuscitate talks aimed at ending Colombia's 36-year war.


BAGHDAD — Iraq insisted on Saturday it has the right to sell its oil at a price it deems suitable, sticking to a hard line a day after halting crude exports to back its insistence on a buyers' surcharge.


BUCHAREST — Politicians, intellectuals and journalists in Romania are evincing panic at the possibility that a nationalist extremist running on a fight-rampant-corruption-with-a-machine-gun platform will be their next president.


RIO DE JANEIRO — Hundreds of landless farmworkers in drought-stricken northeastern Brazil barricaded highways and threatened truck drivers with machetes and sickles to steal food, police said Saturday.

RIO DE JANEIRO — The future of the world's third-largest trade bloc, the Brazilian-led Mercosur group, has suddenly been thrown into doubt by Chile's surprise announcement last week that it will defer its request for membership and instead seek a free trade agreement with the United States.


SYDNEY — This multicultural city of 4 million people recently celebrated ethnic diversity and harmony at the 2000 Olympic Games, but local Jews and Muslims are now worried by more than 100 physical and verbal attacks on Jews since the Games finished on Oct. 1.

Sierra Leone

FREETOWN — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived on Saturday in war-ravaged Sierra Leone, where he renewed the world body's commitment to a U.N. peacekeeping force plagued by organizational troubles and rebel attacks on civilians.


ROME — An Italian convicted of U.S. terrorism charges in 1983 has asked Italy's highest tribunal to allow her out of prison for cancer treatment in defiance of terms the United States set for her transfer to Italy.


LAHORE — Thousands of Pakistani lawyers decided Saturday to hold a one-day strike to press their demand for an end to military rule and a swift return to democracy.


TBILISI — Russia's gas and electricity supplies to Georgia's capital Tbilisi were cut off Saturday, apparently over debt disputes, leaving the city of 1.2 million dark and without heat for several hours, officials said.


DAMASCUS — President Bashar al-Assad approved sweeping economic reforms for Syria on Saturday, including the establishment of private banks to end nearly 40 years of government monopoly of the banking sector.


LONDON — Britain announced Saturday that it would forgive more than $1.43 billion in debt from 41 of the world's poorest countries — provided they can ensure the money goes toward health care, education and alleviating poverty.


BEIJING — Rescue workers on Saturday pulled bodies from the rubble of a shopping center that collapsed, killing eight people and injuring 32 others in southeast China, state media and a city official reported.


JAYAPURA — Tensions between Indonesian forces and separatists pushing for Irian Jaya's independence exploded into violence Saturday when police fired on a group wielding bows and arrows during a clash. Eight people were killed.