Fujimori: Wasn't aware of hit team

LIMA, Peru - Former President Alberto Fujimori, just convicted of abuse of authority, denied yesterday in a second trial that he knew of a military death squad though he lived at army headquarters when the group operated.

"No, never!" Fujimori, 69, said when prosecutor Jose Pelaez asked if he ever heard of the Colina death squad during the time he lived at army headquarters. Fujimori and his family moved there after leftist rebels fired a mortar at the government palace.

Fujimori was questioned on the second day of his trial on murder and kidnapping charges stemming from his alleged use of the death squad to fight a Maoist insurgency. He faces two more trials, on corruption charges.

- AP

U.S. won't expand N. Korea contacts

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration won't expand contacts with North Korea despite signs that U.S. ties with the communist nation are warming, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday.

North Korea, she said in an interview, "is not a regime that the United States is prepared to engage broadly" until its leadership has ended all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program.

President Bush wrote North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Dec. 1, raising the potential for normal relations if Kim fully disclosed his nuclear programs by year's end.

- AP

Climate meeting focuses on poor

BALI, Indonesia - With little progress on the primary goal of U.N. climate talks here - preventing further climate change - a secondary quest to help poor countries cope with the effects of a warming world has now become a central theme of the week-old gathering.

"Climate change affects us all, but it does not affect us all equally," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told newly arrived ministers and heads of state yesterday as the talks moved to a higher level. "Those who are least able to cope are being hit hardest."

Under an agreement delegates reached Tuesday, developing countries will have direct access to an international fund established in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. The fund has been criticized for being too difficult to access and raising only paltry sums. It is meant to aid poor nations most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, such as drought and severe storms.

- N.Y. Times News Service

Elsewhere:

Iran's former president,

Mohammad Khatami, criticized hard-line clerics for disqualifying reformists from parliamentary elections and suppressing student voices. The reformist's remarks were the latest in a wave of criticism of the hard-line bloc of his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Garry Kasparov

, the opposition leader and former chess champion, said he had been forced to withdraw his candidacy for president of Russia because his political movement had been unable to rent a hall in Moscow for a nominating convention, a requirement under Russian law.

A 64-year-old man

nearly died from alcohol poisoning after quaffing two pints of vodka at a security check at Germany's Nuremberg Airport instead of handing the bottle over to comply with new rules barring liquids aboard a plane.