Kerry arrives for talks, meets troops in Iraq
Sen. John Kerry arrived Friday for talks in Syria, which has been accused of doing too little to curb the infiltration of anti-American insurgents into Iraq.
The former Democratic presidential candidate earlier met U.S. troops in the volatile northern Iraqi city of Mosul, scene of a suicide bombing last month on a military base that killed 22 people, including 14 U.S. soldiers and three American contractors.
Kerry, who is on a two-week tour of the Mideast, will hold separate meetings with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa today to discuss Iraq, a U.S. Embassy official said on condition of anonymity.
Other topics will include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a U.N. Security Council demand for Syria to withdraw its military forces from Lebanon.
Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be in the West Bank for the Palestinian election on Sunday and is expected to visit a polling place.
Powell to attend Darfur peace ceremony
Secretary of State Colin Powell turned from the tragedy of the killer tsunami in Asia to the hope of peace in Africa on Friday, ending a damage-inspection tour that left him saddened but impressed with recovery efforts.
Powell, in the final weeks of his tenure as America's top diplomat, will attend a weekend signing ceremony in Nairobi aimed at ending two decades of conflict in southern Sudan. The accord ends Africa's longest civil war without resolving the more recent killing and refugee crisis in Sudan's Darfur region.
Powell spent five days in Asia as President Bush' emissary. He said he would report to Bush on Monday with recommendations for what the United States should do next.
Report: Peacekeepers committed sexual abuse
United Nations peacekeepers in Congo sexually exploited women and girls, some as young as 13, a U.N. watchdog office said Friday in a new confirmation that efforts to curb abuses by U.N. troops were not working.
Peacekeepers regularly had sex with Congolese women and girls, usually in exchange for food or small sums of money, investigators from the world body's Office of Internal Oversight Services found.
"We have had and continue to have a serious problem of sexual exploitation and abuse," William Lacy Swing, the United Nations' special representative to Congo, said at a news conference.
"We are shocked by it, we are outraged, we are sickened by it. Peacekeepers who have been sworn to assist those in need, particularly those who have been victims of sexual violence, instead have caused grievous harm."
Charges of sex abuse and other crimes have been lodged against U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world for decades.
Train collision kills at least 13
A passenger train and a freight train collided head-on Friday in heavy fog in northern Italy, killing at least 13 people, injuring dozens and crushing several cars into a wreck of buckled metal.
The force of the crash, on a line between Bologna and Verona, lifted one train car vertically into the air until it was nearly perpendicular to the tracks. Rescue workers struggled to keep their balance as they scaled the car with ladders. Another passenger car was ripped nearly in half.
Officials originally put the death toll at 14, then lowered it, saying confusion arose because of difficulty identifying bodies. Several seriously injured people were taken to nearby hospitals, and about 50 people were treated at the scene for minor injuries, ANSA said.
Those killed included three train drivers and one other staff member, Italy's Trenitalia rail network said.
Fire kills at least 22 at garment factory
A fire raced through a garment factory in Bangladesh, killing 22 people who were trapped because most of the exits were locked, officials said Friday.
Rescuers recovered the victims' charred bodies after the fire destroyed the Sun Knit garment factory late Thursday in Siddhirganj, an industrial town near the capital, Dhaka, fire brigade official Nurul Islam said.
Nearly 500 workers -- many of them women -- were in the four-story building when the fire started, Islam said, adding the cause was being investigated.
Firefighters stopped searching for more bodies in the debris Friday morning.
Fires in garment factories are common in Bangladesh because of poor safety. Bangladesh exports more than $5 billion in textiles each year.