British and French teams on Tuesday rescued the crews of two yachts that had capsized and a third that had lost its mast in "ferocious"...

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The United States stood its ground today as a new round of six-country talks on North Korea began, saying the reclusive country had to abandon its nuclear-weapons program before it could win energy aid.

Chief U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill restated the U.S. position that North Korea must allow disarmament inspectors in return for a new light-water nuclear reactor for atomic energy.

A North Korean spokesman said on Tuesday that President Bush’s reference last weekend to a tyrant in the North was a “blatant violation of the spirit of the joint statement of the six-party talks.”

South Korea, China, Japan and Russia are also taking part in the talks, intended to build on an accord struck in the last round in September. The six-party talks began in 2003 when China sought to broker a peaceful compromise after North Korea said in February it had nuclear weapons.

United Nations

Assembly backs end to embargo

The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly urged the United States on Tuesday to end its 44-year-old trade embargo against Cuba for the 14th straight year.

The vote was 182-4, with one abstention, a higher “yes” vote than last year’s vote of 179-4 with one abstention.

The United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands voted against the resolution, while Micronesia abstained.

Santiago, Chile

Former president loses in court

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori lost his first legal battle in Chile on Tuesday, and Peruvian officials predicted he would remain under arrest until after Peru’s presidential election in April.

Chilean Supreme Court Justice Orlando Alvarez refused to release Fujimori on bond, saying Chile’s 1932 extradition treaty with Peru didn’t allow such action until after a formal extradition request had been received.

Fujimori has vowed to compete in April’s elections, despite facing 21 charges of human-rights violations and corruption.

Lucknow, India

Bandit shot, killed in central India

One of India’s most dreaded and colorful bandits has been shot to death by police in the forests of central India, ending a nearly three-decade career in crime that included murders, kidnappings and looting, police said Tuesday.

Nirbhay Singh Gujjar — a frightening figure with a handlebar mustache, long beard and bloodshot eyes — was killed Monday night in a police ambush that ended in a shootout, according to senior superintendent of police Akhilesh Kumar.

Gujjar, 64, led one of the few remaining bands of outlaws, known as dacoits, who for centuries have roamed the forests and ravines of Chambal in central India, and whose exploits have been romanticized in several Bollywood movies.

Darmstadt, Germany

“Venus Express” launched in Europe

Europe’s first space probe to Venus was launched today, on a mission that aims to shed new light on Earth’s closest planetary neighbor.

From its Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, the European Space Agency said the 1.3-ton “Venus Express” probe had taken off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on board a Soyuz rocket, two weeks after its Oct. 26 launch was delayed by technical difficulties.

The Venus Express will travel through space for around 163 days and once captured by Venus’ gravity, it will orbit the planet and analyze its atmosphere and clouds.

Among the riddles the mission hopes to solve is why a planet so similar to Earth in size, mass and composition has evolved so differently over the past 4,600 million years.


British and French teams on Tuesday rescued the crews of two yachts that had capsized and a third that had lost its mast in “ferocious” conditions during an Atlantic race in heavy seas west of the Bay of Biscay. The yachts were part of a 34-strong fleet racing from France to Brazil in the Transat Jacques Vabre race.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Knight Ridder Newspapers and Reuters reports