Kerry speaks on settlements

TEL AVIV, Israel - Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that he hopes Israel will refrain from further Jewish settlement expansion on land Palestinians claim for a future state. But he would not say whether he had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze home building, an issue that has been the major obstacle to peace talks.

"I'm not going to comment on what was asked for or not asked for," Kerry told reporters at Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv at the conclusion of a two-day visit shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He was headed to Ethiopia for the next leg of his overseas trip.

Kerry called on Israel and the Palestinians to refrain from "provocative" actions that could derail U.S. attempts to inaugurate a new round of peace talks.

He reiterated U.S. opposition to Israeli settlement building but said the issue should not be a blockade to talks. - Washington Post

Taliban attacks aid guesthouse

KABUL, Afghanistan - In the latest militant strike on the Afghan capital, Taliban gunmen backed by a suicide car bomber attacked an international aid group's compound on Friday, killing two guards and setting off an hours-long street battle with police in the heart of Kabul.

The attack, the second in the city in just over a week, also left four International Organization for Migration workers wounded including an Italian woman badly burned by a grenade. Thirteen police were wounded while all six attackers died in the assault, authorities said.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack on a guesthouse used by the IOM in an upscale neighborhood of Kabul. - AP

British fighters intercept flight

LONDON - Britain scrambled fighter jets Friday to intercept a commercial airliner carrying more than 300 people from Pakistan, diverting it to an isolated runway at an airport on the outskirts of London and arresting two British passengers.

A British security official said the situation involving the Pakistan International Airlines flight did not appear terror-related, but the incident further rattled the U.K. just days after a soldier was killed on a London street in a suspected terror attack.

A Pakistani official said the suspects allegedly threatened to "destroy the plane" after an argument with crew. - AP

Elsewhere:

Ex-Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo was extradited on Friday to the United States to face charges of laundering $70 million through U.S. bank accounts. Portillo, who was president from 2000-2004, was taken from a military hospital where he was recovering from liver surgery and a heart condition, according to his attorney, Mauricio Berreondo.