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KABUL — John W. Snow, the U.S. treasury secretary, promised on Thursday $1.2 billion in new American aid to Afghanistan and said he would urge foreign allies to donate at least a further $1 billion in reconstruction funds during a financial conference this weekend in Dubai.

BRUSSELS, Belgium — NATO ordered its military experts Thursday to draw up plans for expanding the alliance's mission in Afghanistan — a move that could lead to peacekeepers fanning out into provincial cities and lessen the burden on the separate, U.S.-led forces fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban.


LONDON — The overthrow of Saddam Hussein has improved human rights in Iraq, but elsewhere in the world authoritarian regimes are using torture and execution as tools of oppression, Prime Minister Tony Blair's government said in a report published Thursday.


TORONTO — A married gay couple on their way from Canada to a human rights conference in Georgia were not allowed to enter the United States on Thursday because the two men insisted on filling out a single Customs clearance form declaring themselves a family.


BEIJING — China denied moving 150,000 soldiers to its border with North Korea because of nuclear tensions, insisting Thursday the frontier was calm and it was working with its reclusive neighbor to safeguard "stability and tranquility" there.


BALI — A Muslim radical who testified against his fellow defendants and tearfully apologized for his role in the Bali terrorist bombings was spared the firing squad Thursday and instead received life in prison.


BAGHDAD — The 5,200-year-old Lady of Warka, one of the two most precious relics looted from the Iraqi National Museum in the chaos that followed the April 9 fall of Baghdad, has been recovered by U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police, the head of Iraq's Antiquities Department said on Thursday. It had been buried in an orchard on the outskirts of Baghdad.


ROME — A New York-based organization that fights anti-Semitism is giving Premier Silvio Berlusconi its Distinguished Statesman Award next week, despite controversy over the Italian leader's recent comment that Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini never killed anyone.


NAIROBI — Kenya's High Court charged a sixth man with murder Thursday for a terrorist attack that killed at least 10 Kenyans and three Israeli tourists last November. It set the trial date for Oct. 27.


RABAT — A French convert to Islam was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on Thursday on charges of trying to organize an uprising in the North African nation. Pierre Robert, 31, had faced the death penalty for terrorism-related charges. The three-judge panel deliberated for more than 12 hours in the Moroccan capital of Rabat before reaching its verdict.


YANGON — Detained Myanmar dissident Aung San Suu Kyi underwent surgery Thursday for an unspecified gynecological condition, hospital officials said.


MOSCOW — Russia's leading human rights groups on Thursday announced a project to monitor cases of racism, anti-Semitism and ethnic discrimination that have flourished in Russia.


KHARTOUM — Sudan's government and the main rebel force said Thursday that peace talks were progressing well, with the foreign minister adding the negotiations could produce a final settlement "within days."


STOCKHOLM — Sweden plans to ban private flights over the center of Stockholm and seal off a section of downtown with armed police during a memorial today for slain Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.


DAMASCUS — Syria's new prime minister formed a 31-member Cabinet on Thursday, touted as a new effort to carry out economic and bureaucratic reforms, the state news agency reported.