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World datelines


BEIJING — China on Monday ordered some 10,000 civet cats in wildlife markets killed in its southern province of Guangdong after genetic tests suggested a link to a suspected SARS case. All wildlife markets in Guangdong were ordered to close, Feng Liuxiang, deputy director of the province's health department, said on national television. Civets are served in wild game restaurants in Guangdong. The announcement came after researchers at Hong Kong University said they found similarities between a virus found in the cats and in a suspected SARS patient in Guangdong, suggesting the disease might have jumped from animals.


SHARM EL-SHEIK — Questions were raised Sunday about a charter airline's safety standards after one of its planes crashed into the Red Sea, killing 148 people. Swiss authorities said they banned Flash Airlines 14 months ago after it flunked an inspection and an Italian passenger recalled a flight when an engine burst into flames.


LONDON — Princess Anne will send her dog to an animal psychologist to avoid having it euthanized after it attacked a royal maid and fatally mauled one of Queen Elizabeth II's beloved corgis, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Psychologist Roger Mugford said he expected to begin work with Florence the bull terrier next week.


TBILISI — Georgians lined up patiently at slow-moving voting stations Sunday to elect a successor to Eduard Shevardnadze, who stepped down six weeks ago in the face of massive protests over parliamentary election fraud. The overwhelming favorite among the six candidates on the ballot was Mikhail Saakashvili, the driving force behind the peaceful demonstrations that brought down Shevardnadze in what became known as the "rose revolution."


TEHRAN — Iran rebuffed Washington's suggestion that a high-profile U.S. delegation fly in with earthquake relief, saying Sunday the time "is not ripe" for such an exchange — which could be seen as a sign of smoother ties between the two. The U.S. administration had proposed dispatching Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, a former president of the American Red Cross, to bring in aid after a magnitude 6.6 quake devastated the ancient city of Bam in southeast Iran on Dec. 26, killing more than 30,000 people.


ROME — Three passengers aboard a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Rome were detained Sunday after one of them allegedly said the aircraft was being hijacked, then quickly said it was all a joke, an airline official said. Authorities at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport confirmed that three men were being held but did not immediately give other details.


AMMAN — Jordan's parliament on Sunday rejected a measure allowing the state to bar parents from giving their children controversial names such as Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. Opponents of the bill argued that the ban violated the privacy and constitutional rights of Jordanians.


ACAPULCO — Isidro Galeana, a former state police commander and the first former government official to face arrest for his role in Mexico's "dirty war" of the 1960s and 1970s, has died of a heart attack, family members said Sunday. He was 65.

North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — A new round of six-nation talks aimed at ending the international standoff over North Korea's nuclear programs is unlikely to happen this month, a South Korean official said Monday. South Korea's National Security Adviser Ra Jong-il said today that a new round of talks was unlikely to happen this month because of scheduling conflicts with the Russian Christmas holiday and the Chinese Lunar New Year, both of which are celebrated in January.


COTABATO — A bomb exploded Sunday at a packed basketball game in the southern Philippines, killing at least 11 people and wounding more than 40, including the town mayor. Authorities said he was the likely target of the attack.


BANGKOK — Assailants set fire to 18 schools and stormed a military armory, killing four soldiers in nearly simultaneous raids in southern Thailand on Sunday, an official said. Government officials have described the perpetrators variously as Muslim separatists, bandits and criminals.