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WORLD BRIEFS


UNITED NATIONS: Nonproliferation talks

Delegates of 189 nations convene Monday for a twice-a-decade marathon of dickering and deal making over the 40-year-old treaty designed to check the spread of nuclear weapons. The presence of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the only head of state taking part, ensures sharp words will fly over Tehran's nuclear program and Israel's secret bombs. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on NBC's "Meet the Press," suggested Ahmadinejad was coming "to try to divert attention and confuse the issue," Iran's suspected nuclear bomb program.


ITALY: Pope validates shroud

Pope Benedict XVI all but gave an outright endorsement to the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin on Sunday, calling the cloth that some believe is Christ's burial shroud an icon "written with the blood" of a crucified man. On a visit to the northern city of Turin, Benedict didn't raise the scientific questions that surround the linen and whether it might be a medieval forgery. The 14-foot-long, 3.5-foot-wide cloth is on public display for the first time since the 2000 Millennium celebrations and a 2002 restoration.


AFGHANISTAN: Jump in civilian death toll

A roadside bomb tore through a minibus in the east Sunday as the government said civilian casualties are on the rise. The explosion struck the Zurmat district of Paktia province. A witness said he counted seven corpses and 14 wounded. The Interior Ministry said there have been 173 civilian deaths in violence from March 21 to April 21, marking a 33 percent increase over the same time period last year.


SOMALIA: Rebels rout pirates

Dozens of rebels moved Sunday into a northern town, sending pirates fleeing in a development that could upend the piracy trade, witnesses said. Fighters from the militia group Hizbul Islam moved into the strategic pirate den of Haradhere. The Islamists could be looking to take over the trade or simply take a cut of the millions in ransom the pirates take in.

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