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Arms spending up 6% worldwide

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Global weapons spending rose 6 percent last year, a Swedish think tank said yesterday. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said nations spent $1.3 trillion on weapons in 2007. It attributed the rise partly to a strong global economy, which allowed countries to spend more on arms.

The institute's report said the United States spent $547 billion on weapons, an increase of 3.4 percent over 2006 and 45 percent of the global total. Britain was next, with $59.7 billion, followed by China, which pushed past France into third place with $58.3 billion, the report said.

Regionally, Eastern Europe increased military expenditure the most, mainly because of high spending by Russia, which used $35.4 billion on weaponry, up slightly from $34.7 billion.

- AP

German suit seeks CIA extradition

BERLIN - A group of German civil rights attorneys sued the German government yesterday to demand that it pursue the extradition of 13 CIA operatives sought in the alleged kidnapping of a German citizen.

The civil suit filed with a Berlin administrative court seeks to force the Justice Ministry to demand the extradition of those involved in the case of Khaled al-Masri, attorney Wolfgang Kaleck told reporters. "We are demanding accountability," Kaleck said.

Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, maintains he was abducted in December 2003 at the Serbian-Macedonian border and flown by the CIA to a detention center in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was interrogated and abused. Masri says he was released in Albania in May 2004, and that his captors told him he was seized in a case of mistaken identity.

Munich prosecutors issued warrants for the 13 in January 2007, but when Washington resisted, citing national security, the German Justice Ministry let the matter drop.

- AP

MI5 stays out of antiterror debate

LONDON - In a rare public comment, the head of Britain's MI5 domestic spy agency said yesterday it had not offered the government any advice on proposals for tougher antiterrorism laws. Jonathan Evans' statement appeared designed to prevent those on either side of the debate from casting the agency's silence as an endorsement of their views.

Lawmakers vote tomorrow on Prime Minister Gordon Brown's proposal to lengthen the period suspected terrorists can be detained without charge from 28 to 42 days. The proposal has triggered a fierce debate.

In a weekend TV interview, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith appeared to imply MI5 had endorsed the government proposal. Evans said the agency had no view on it, noting that it is police departments, not MI5, that are responsible for arresting and detaining criminals, including terror suspects.

- AP


Jacques Chirac,

75, emerging from the shadows a year after exiting France's presidency, launched a new foundation yesterday aimed at saving dying languages and cultures and protecting the environment in poor countries.

Greek authorities

evacuated three villages in the country's southwest after seismologists warned that a strong aftershock was expected in areas where a powerful earthquake killed two people and injured more than 200 on Sunday.