At G-20, vows to protect recovery

BUSAN, South Korea - World financial leaders pledged Saturday to push ahead on curbing deficits and crafting financial reforms to safeguard the global recovery, including making banks bear much of the burden for government bailouts.

The finance ministers and central banks gathered in this city finessed what some said were at times heated differences over how to reshape financial regulation and build safety nets for countries stricken by debt crises.

The Group of 20 welcomed measures taken by the European Union, European Central Bank, and IMF, including a $1 trillion bailout, to help countries cope with the fallout from unsustainably high debt.

"All of us have a strong interest in seeing those programs succeed in restoring confidence," U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said after the meetings. - AP

Germany, Russia talk up sanctions

MESEBERG, Germany - Germany and Russia declared Saturday that the five world powers negotiating with Iran support a fresh set of international sanctions, and Chancellor Angela Merkel said they could pass the U.N. Security Council soon.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at a news conference with Merkel that "agreement on the sanctions exists," even though "nobody wants sanctions."

"We hope the voice of the international community will be heard by the Iranian leadership," he said.

Russia has traditionally opposed sanctions for Iran, a longtime trade partner, but recently officials have shown less patience with Iran's refusal to stop enriching uranium and heed other council demands meant to reduce suspicions over its nuclear aims. Moscow has joined the United States, China, Britain, and France to tentatively back a draft fourth set of U.N. sanctions. - AP

Pontiff: Support Mideast Christians

NICOSIA, Cyprus - Pope Benedict XVI appealed Saturday for support for embattled Christian communities in the Middle East, calling them a vital force for peace in the region.

He also met with a Turkish Cypriot Muslim religious leader, part of careful diplomacy reaching out to both sides in the decades-old conflict between ethnic Greeks and Turks on the divided island.

Benedict's three-day pilgrimage to Cyprus is part of preparations for a crisis summit of Middle East bishops in Rome in October. Many bishops from the region have traveled to Cyprus to see Benedict and receive a working paper for the summit that will be made public Sunday.

War and harsh economic conditions have led to the exodus of thousands of Christians from the Holy Land, Iraq, and elsewhere in recent years. - AP


President Obama called Naoto Kan on Saturday to congratulate Japan's new prime minister and promised to consult with him on the nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran.