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World datelines

Costa Rica

SAN JOSE — Costa Rica's president on Monday asked his predecessor, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, to resign as secretary-general of the Organization of American States because of alleged payments from a government contractor. "For the good name of Costa Rica and of the OAS itself, I ask that you immediately leave the post of secretary and return to the country" to face the allegations, President Abel Pacheco said in a publicly released letter to Rodriguez.


LONDON — Perhaps they had a sweet tooth. Robbers with their own trucks stole six trailer loads of chocolates worth more than $900,000 from an industrial park in northeast England, police said Monday. Since the chocolate heist at the Great Bear Distribution Center in Skelmersdale in the early hours of Sunday, five of the trailers have been recovered: four of them empty and the fifth still containing its load of Easter eggs.


ATHENS — A Greek airliner bound from Athens to London was diverted Monday to the Ionian Sea island of Corfu after a bomb threat, police said. The Olympic Airlines Airbus A300-600 jet, carrying 215 passengers and nine crew members, landed at Corfu airport after an anonymous telephone call to the company's Athens headquarters.


JAKARTA — Outgoing President Megawati Sukarnoputri tearfully conceded defeat Tuesday in last month's elections, clearing the way for the winner to begin forming a new government. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had been waiting for Megawati to concede before claiming victory, respecting the decorum of Indonesia's fledgling democracy, despite his landslide victory in the Sept. 20 polls.

North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said the United States was the "world's worst violator" of human rights in an angry reaction to new U.S. legislation aimed at improving human rights in the communist state. In its first response to the legislation, North Korea said that the North Korean Human Rights Act proves that Washington's intention is to topple its state.

Pitcairn Island

One of the seven men on trial for sexual abuse on remote Pitcairn Island has pleaded guilty to three charges, including one of indecent assault against a 12-year-old girl. The unprecedented trials unfolding on the tiny Pacific island — home to descendants of the 18th-century mutineers from the British ship H.M.S. Bounty — involve more than half the island's adult male population.


WARSAW — Poland should withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of next year, Polish leaders said Monday, the first time the key U.S. ally has indicated a time frame for pulling its soldiers out of the wartorn nation. President Aleksander Kwasniewski said no final decision has been made on when to withdraw forces but Warsaw was considering the late 2005 deadline with the hopes that elections scheduled for January in Iraq would bring stability to the country.


MOSCOW — Russia's parliament is moving toward a vote this month on the Kyoto Protocol, action that could bring the international treaty on climate change into effect after years of delay, the deputy prime minister said Monday. A vote by the State Duma, or lower house, hadn't yet been scheduled, but First Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said it was expected this month.

Saudi Arabia

RIYADH — A fire Monday at a girls school in the holy city of Mecca injured 22 students, some of them seriously, security officials said. Preliminary information indicates a short circuit likely caused the fire at Um Salama school, the officials said on customary condition of anonymity. Most of the school's students are African and there were no reports of Saudi casualties, they said.


DAMASCUS — President Bashar Assad shuffled his Cabinet on Monday, just weeks after the United States and the United Nations challenged Syria over its military presence in Lebanon and the security situation along its border with Iraq.


TUNIS — A ship carrying illegal immigrants to Italy sank off Tunisia, killing at least 22 people and leaving another 42 missing, news reports said Monday, sharpening the debate in Italy over how to deal with hundreds of people trying to slip into Europe through its shores.