Bolivia assembly approves charter

ORURO, Bolivia - Defying an opposition boycott, Bolivia's constitutional assembly approved a new charter yesterday that would empower the poor South American nation's indigenous majority and let President Evo Morales run for reelection indefinitely.

The new constitution must now be approved by Bolivians in a national referendum. No date has been set for the vote, and it is not expected to be held until September 2008.

Opposition leaders vowed to launch protests and legal challenges against the new document, which they say does not represent all Bolivians. But supporters say the charter is needed to give Bolivia's indigenous peoples - about 62 percent of the population - greater autonomy and control over their traditional lands, redressing what Morales calls centuries of discrimination by a corrupt political class dominated by a European-descended elite.

- AP

Compromise on Jerusalem raised

JERUSALEM - A key ally of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday that Israel would hold on to all Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem but would have to relinquish Arab neighborhoods in a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The comments by Vice Premier Haim Ramon appeared aimed at defusing U.S. criticism of an Israeli plan to expand one of its Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the section Palestinians claim as capital of a future state.

Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations are set to resume Wednesday under an agreement reached at last month's Mideast peace conference in Annapolis, Md.

- AP

EU-African talks end in acrimony

LISBON, Portugal - The first summit between Europe and Africa in seven years came to an acrimonious end yesterday with leaders squabbling over human rights and with no progress on a looming trade-pact deadline.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said most African leaders had rejected the European Union's free trade proposals, known as Economic Partnership Agreements, and wouldn't discuss them further. The proposals "aren't in Africa's interest," he said.

Negotiations on the pacts have lasted five years and officials had hoped the summit would bring a breakthrough by Dec. 31.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Police arrested a British woman

on suspicion of fraud yesterday after she claimed her husband had died five years earlier in a canoeing accident and cashed in his life insurance.

Pope Benedict XVI

yesterday criticized "materialistic" ways of celebrating Christmas, pressing the Vatican's campaign against unbridled consumerism.

South Korea plans

to send 5,010 tons of steel to North Korea next week as part of an aid-for-disarmament deal, an official said yesterday.