Honduran talks are delayed

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - A planned meeting between the ousted and incoming leaders of Honduras to end a political crisis that has isolated Honduras in the region has been delayed, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez said yesterday.

Fernandez had announced Friday that he expected the ousted Manuel Zelaya and President-elect Porfirio Lobo to meet in the Caribbean nation's capital today - implying that Zelaya would be able to leave the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras, where he has taken refuge for nearly three months.

But Fernandez issued a statement yesterday saying the interim Honduran government had not granted Zelaya safe passage to leave the country. Zelaya faces treason charges for ignoring court orders not to hold a referendum on rewriting the constitution.

The interim government took over after Zelaya was removed by the army in late June and is due to hand over power to Lobo in late January. It has taken a hard line on dealings with Zelaya. - AP

Philippine rebels stage jail break

MANILA, Philippines - Islamist radicals staged a jail break in which dozens of inmates were freed, including comrades accused of beheading marines, in the southern Philippines yesterday, even as another set of tribal gunmen freed 47 hostages in the region.

On southern Basilan island, a new security dilemma unfolded early yesterday when about 70 suspected radicals stormed their way into the provincial jail with a sledgehammer, bolt cutters, and guns, provincial Vice Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul said.

They freed several insurgents, including a rebel commander and another guerrilla accused of involvement in the beheading of 10 marines in a 2007 clash.

The jail assault - in which a total of 31 inmates were freed - sparked a brief clash that killed a jail guard and one of the attackers, he said. - AP

Sudan standoff said to be settled

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudan's official news agency said the country's leaders had settled differences on a law that would govern a planned 2011 referendum on southern independence. The accord cleared a key risk to a fragile four-year-old north-south peace deal

Northern officials had demanded that at least 75 percent of registered southern voters turn out in order for the referendum results to be valid. The south insisted on a lower threshold.

SUNA news agency quoted southern official Pagan Amum yesterday as saying the leaders had ended their disagreement, but did not explain how.

The 2005 peace agreement ended more than 20 years of civil war that left two million dead. It created a unity government and a semiautonomous south, and called for elections and a referendum in the south. - AP

Elsewhere:

The president of the separatist Abkhazia region of Georgia, Sergei Bagapsh, vowed to maintain close ties with Russia after officials announced he had won a second term in office. Georgia denounced the election as illegitimate.

French police said vandals scrawled a Nazi slogan and hung pig feet on a mosque in southern France. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux denounced the "vile and racist desecration" of the mosque in Castres and vowed to punish those responsible.