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Bush cuts stay at summit short

WASHINGTON — President Bush is cutting short his stay at this year’s Asia-Pacific summit, but the fact that he’s going — at a pivotal moment in the debate over his Iraq policy — is meant to show he’s not neglecting the neighborhood.

Iraq, however, will weigh heavily on his mind during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum being held in Sydney, Australia.

Bush will spending Tuesday night through Saturday in Sydney. But he is leaving a day before the summit ends to rush back to the White House.

Suspected Taliban killed during raids

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S.-led coalition and Afghan security forces aided by airstrikes killed about 25 suspected militants in raids on a Taliban command center in Afghanistan, the coalition said Sunday. The joint force targeted two compounds southwest of Kandahar city late Saturday after weeks of observing the area, it said.

“Local residents had been seen leaving the area for the last few weeks and intelligence has suggested that insurgent commanders were attempting to re-establish their control in the area,” it said.

British withdraw from base in Basra

LONDON — British soldiers began withdrawing Sunday from their last base in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, paving the way for fresh troop cuts and fueling worries about the security of the country’s second-largest city.

U.S. and Iraqi authorities have expressed concern that a broader British drawdown could jeopardize the region’s oil resources and the land supply line from Kuwait to Baghdad and beyond. Some analysts also fear that British withdrawal could exacerbate a power struggle between rival Shiite groups in the sect’s southern heartland.

Palestinian head overhauls elections

RAMALLAH, West Bank — President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday announced a series of changes to Palestinian election laws aimed at bolstering his Fatah Party, the latest attempt by the Palestinian leader to marginalize Hamas.

With Abbas’ decree, Palestinians will now vote solely for party lists, while district voting will be eliminated. Hamas swept parliamentary elections last year largely because of a strong showing at the district level.

The decree also requires all candidates to recognize the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization as the “sole, legitimate representative” of the Palestinian people.

Iran claims goal for enrichment

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s president claimed Sunday that his country is now running 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium for its controversial nuclear program — a long-sought Iranian goal. The claim contradicted a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Thursday that put the number much lower — at close to 2,000.

The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said enrichment had slowed and Iran was cooperating with its nuclear probe, which could fend off calls for a third round of sanctions.

Senator says plea sealed Craig’s fate

WASHINGTON — A GOP leader Sunday denied a double standard in pushing Sen. Larry Craig to resign after a sex sting guilty plea, while remaining silent over GOP Sen. David Vitter’s involvement with an escort service.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., the Senate Republican campaign chairman, said Craig “admitted guilt. That is a big difference between being accused of something and actually admitting guilt.”

“David Vitter never did that. Larry Craig did,” continued Ensign on ABC’s “This Week” program.

Compiled From Wire Reports

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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