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World datelines


KABUL — President Hamid Karzai said an amnesty for former drug smugglers was "not a bad idea" if it could help eliminate Afghanistan's booming narcotics industry, but he suggested Wednesday it was far from becoming government policy. Under pressure from the United States and Europe, Karzai has called for a "holy war" against Afghanistan's drug business, the world's largest, and made it a priority for the five-year term he won in landmark September elections.


LONDON — A British Airways flight from London to New York was forced to turn back Wednesday after U.S. authorities refused to allow one of the passengers to land, saying he posed a terrorist threat, the airline said. Flight BA175 was three hours into its journey to John F. Kennedy International Airport when it was forced to turn back to London's Heathrow Airport, where the passenger was met by police.


SANTIAGO — A Chilean court approved bail of $3,500 Wednesday for former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who is being tried for nine kidnappings and one homicide during his long regime.


BEIJING — China's commerce minister told Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans on Wednesday that the American's four-year tenure has been only 70 percent successful. The minister also said he regrets that Washington hasn't granted China a trade status that would lessen scrutiny of Chinese export prices.


HAVANA — With relatives looking on, 23 men arrested nearly three years ago in the violent occupation of the Mexican Embassy went on trial Wednesday for the assault, which sparked a diplomatic crisis. A government prosecutor sought prison terms of up to 12 years for the men, who allegedly stole a bus and crashed it through the embassy gates in February 2002 amid a wave of rumors the mission was issuing visas to all Cubans who showed up.


ULM — German police stepped up their crackdown on Islamic extremism Wednesday, detaining 22 people during raids of apartments and mosques allegedly used by a network that provided financing and other support to terrorists. About 700 officers searched dozens of apartments, mosques and call centers in five German states, discovering militant Islamic propaganda and forged passports and visas, authorities said.


TEHRAN — A woman who spent seven years on death row in Iran has been spared execution by the family of the police chief she stabbed to death and sexually mutilated for trying to rape her. The death sentence for Afsaneh Nowrouzi raised an outcry from activists and drew the attention of international groups who sought to overturn the order.


JERUSALEM — Israel is trying to halt a weapons deal under which Russia agreed to supply advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, fearing the missiles could fall into the hands of Lebanese guerrillas, Israeli officials said Wednesday.


MOSCOW — HIV/AIDS is spreading at a devastating pace in Russia, with a new study showing an estimated 1 million people infected — three times the number officially reported — U.S. and Russian experts said Wednesday.

South Africa

CAPE TOWN — Sir Mark Thatcher will plead guilty to unwittingly bankrolling an alleged coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, a person close the family said Wednesday. Thatcher, the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, will pay a $563,000 fine in a deal that lets him leave South Africa to rejoin his family in the United States.

Sri Lanka

BATAPOLA — Police have arrested a 63-year-old Sri Lankan man on charges of trying to sell his two young granddaughters after their home was destroyed and their mother killed by the Asian tsunami — a case that highlights the vulnerability of children in the wake of the disaster.


KIEV — Representatives of the loser of Ukraine's presidential election said Wednesday that they would delay filing complaints challenging Viktor Yushchenko's victory because the hundreds of volumes of documents were not yet ready.